His pain receptor implants had been disabled. He was no longer capable of controlling the pain his captors inflicted. Agony streamed from almost every nerve ending in his body. He remembered all the horrific things the guards had done to him over the past days and couldn’t even wish for death. They wouldn’t allow him to die until they deemed his punishment complete.
The room was hazed in blue lights and the machines provided a steady source of sound to assure him he lived, if his existence could be called such. It hurt to move his head when he looked down his body as he lay sprawled on an examining table. They’d given him a low dose of poison to keep him down, weakened and suffering, while they exacted revenge for his defiance. He’d been tortured, severe damage done to almost every part of him, and it would be hours before he healed.
Cuts and bruises marred his chest. A bloody gash on his shoulder hurt the worst. A guard had enjoyed making that wound, a smile on his face when he’d wielded the machete-style weapon. He’d refused a direct order when he’d attacked the guards instead of meekly stepping inside the large room they’d indicated he should enter. He understood it was an incinerator. It meant death. He wanted to live.
Doors whooshed open and he closed his eyes, not wanting to see another face hovering over him as they relished their cruel handiwork. Strong shackles restrained his wrists and ankles or he’d fight until they ended his suffering.
“Oh god,” a feminine voice whispered. Gentle fingers trembled as they stroked along his jawline.
Curiosity forced him to look at the woman. Her eyes were full of unmasked concern.
“What have they done to you?”
It was impossible to believe that she felt any semblance of compassion for him. No one ever showed emotion unless it was disdain, cold indifference, or malicious glee. Her hand left his face to push buttons on the table and the restraints released his limbs.
“You are going to be okay. I’ll get you out of here.” She turned her head, glancing around. “You have to help me. You’re a big one.” She looked back at him, peering deeply into his eyes. “Can you walk?”
“Yes,” he rasped, his voice coming out unusually harsh after his earlier screams. They’d inflicted so much pain he had been unable to remain silent during the worst of the torture.
She backed up a little and he struggled to sit up. The woman must have realized his dilemma and she wrapped a thin arm around his waist, assisting him as he managed to struggle upright.
“Lean on me.”
She was little, the top of her head not quite reaching his shoulder when he stood. She had pale skin and was clearly human. He wondered why she was there. No one cared about him. No one like her ever would. It was almost as if she was there to help him escape but that didn’t make sense. She probably worked in the hellish place. He tried to stay upright without assistance but his damaged legs shook as he fully settled on them.
“Listen to me,” she urged, pushing against his side to support more of his weight. “All prototypes have general information downloaded during their growth cycle inside the lab. You’ll know how to fly the transport I’m taking you to. Trust your instincts if your mind is fuzzy. You can talk and understand me so I know they didn’t wipe your mind.”
They reached the door and she paused, staring intently through the glass. He followed her gaze but didn’t see anyone. Her hand settled on the door and she pushed the release to open it. They stepped into the hallway together.
“Remember this mission call signal—895589. Program that into the locator. It will take you to the others. Trust them. They are going to help you. Repeat the numbers now.”
“Good.” She staggered a bit under his weight but kept them on the move.
He tried to straighten to keep from crushing her.
“The transport will take you to safety when you order it to.”
He noticed the cameras and came to a halt.
“Don’t worry about those. I put the feed for them on a loop. We have a five-minute window while the guards are changing shifts, plus however long it takes them to realize it’s the same footage.” She tugged on him until they reached a set of sealed doors.
The thick metal panels swished apart when she tapped the electronic pad, revealing a small room. He knew it was an elevator despite never remembering seeing one before. She urged him inside and the doors closed, sealing them in the confined space.
“This is the hard part.” She wiggled a little until her chest pressed against his, still holding on to him. Her chin lifted and she stared at him with big blue eyes. “Disable the pilot even if you have to kill him. You know how to fight, it’s standard downloaded information. I know you’re hurt but you’re stronger than you think.” She reached up, cupped his cheek. “You’re healing already. You will fully recover.”
“Downloaded?” He was having a difficult time understanding what she meant.
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but you were grown in a vat.” Sympathy flashed in her eyes and her voice softened, perhaps from pity. “It takes a while for you to develop physically so they use that time to install programs while you’re kept unconscious. It’s more efficient if they have fully functioning units when you’re woken and pulled from the growth labs. They can actually put you in uniform and send you off to work within the same hour.”
He wanted to ask questions but she cut him off.
“It’s how you can talk and understand me. Language skills. They have a whole list of standard programs they download until you just wake up knowing stuff. Fighting. Flying. I could list more since there’re hundreds of them, including how to dress, eat and do the jobs they created you for. You’re just going to have to trust me.”
He gripped her wrist to keep her hand in place. “Who are you? Why are you helping me? Why did they want to burn me alive?”
“They turned this place into a termination center. It’s a long story we don’t have time to go over. You aren’t the first they’ve tried to kill but you’ll be the last if I have my way. You need to disable the pilot by any means necessary. They are bad so don’t feel guilty if you have to take a life. He’ll kill you if given the chance. No one here is innocent. They’ve killed plenty of your units. Compassion is something you can’t afford when they have none. You have three objectives at this moment. Take out the pilot, flee this place and program 895589 into the onboard computer. You have the ability to mentally link to it and it will tell you where to go. You have active receptors that make it possible for your mind to talk to computers. It’s how I found you.”
“You work here.”
The doors swished open behind them. The loud sound of an engine made her pale. “We missed it. Shit! It’s okay. Another will come in a few minutes.”
She pulled out of his hold by jerking her hand down then wrapping her arm around his waist and tugging on him. He didn’t resist.
“You have to hide. Don’t come out until the next transport arrives. Take the pilot out fast before he can alert security. You need to surprise him since they are armed.” She glanced at his chest. “Your skin will alert them that you’re a cyborg. You’ll be terminated on sight.”
Fresh air filled his lungs—crisp, exhilarating. It was dark outside but lights illuminated a large red circle in front of them. They were on top of the building. He contemplated her words. Part of him knew she told the truth but he couldn’t remember why anyone would wish to kill him. That assumption was just there somehow, giving credence to everything she’d told him about having knowledge he wasn’t aware existed. His mind remained muddled though and connecting thoughts was hard to do, probably due to by the poison still working through his system.
She led him to one of the large boxes along the side of the open area and pulled him down until his back rested against cool metal. He sat on the rough surface while she crouched next to him.
“All the knowledge will come back to you. You’re suffering blood loss and they’ve purposely kept you in a confused state. Don’t think. Just do. Trust your instincts.”
He suddenly grabbed her by the neck. He didn’t know why he did but it happened so fast he couldn’t stop until his fingers were curled around the delicate column of her throat.
Her eyes widened and he identified fear as the emotion that filled them. She didn’t fight but instead gently rested her hands on the curves of his bare shoulders. “Please don’t hurt me.”
He didn’t want to. He just couldn’t let her go. He did resist the urge to tighten his grip.
“Your instincts are kicking in. That’s good. They’re telling you that I’m the enemy after what was done to you, but I’m not.”
She moved slowly and stunned him by lifting a leg to straddle his lap. He became aware of her ass resting over his thighs and how she didn’t weigh much when she scooted higher until their bellies touched.
“You’re a C-46 unit. I can tell by your black hair, skin coloring and handsome features. You also have facial hair. Dr. Marlito designed you.” She let go of his shoulders and fisted the top of her shirt, tugging it low.
He glanced down to see what she was doing but ended up staring at the tops of her br**sts. Her skin was pale, almost white, and the soft mounds were pushed high by a tight material that covered part of them. Thin straps from the little top ran up over her shoulders. It was an appealing sight that made him aware of movement below his waist.
“That’s it,” she whispered. “Instincts. I’m all woman and you’re one big male from what I’m feeling. See? You don’t want to kill me.”
“I feel strange.”
“You’re turned-on. You want to f**k me.”
An image filled his head, of him running his hands all over her na**d body. He wanted to tear off her clothes and touch every inch of her, explore it with his mouth too. A throbbing began to radiate from his groin area. His shaft was hard and achy. He wanted to lay her on her back, spread her thighs and drive his dick inside her. He just knew it would feel incredible, despite no real memory of ever pinning down a woman before.
She wiggled on his lap, her tight black pants stroking his rigid member through the shorts he wore. Pleasure rocketed through his system, replacing the pain from all his injuries. His fingers released her throat and tangled in her short blonde hair instead.
“Oh yeah, you’re a C-46,” she whispered. The fear left her eyes and she glanced at his chest. “You’re going to have to hold that thought though. We don’t have time.”
His other hand curved around her hip. He didn’t want to let her go.
She leaned in closer and his attention focused on her lips. They tempted him to kiss them. He suddenly knew how to do that. His mouth would fit over hers, she’d open up to him, and he’d—
“Look at me now.”
He forced his focus to her eyes.
“You have super-high levels of testosterone. It means you’re prone to feeling the way you do right now since they disengaged your implants so they could get their jollies by watching you suffer. You need to gain control of your emotions immediately. I have to go back before I’m missed.”
“No,” he rasped. He wanted her. His hold on her hip tightened.
“You were designed to have a high sex drive. Do you understand? Let’s say that Dr. Marlito is a pervert who really enjoys her work. She had to make your line that way to even have a chance of getting one of you to touch her. You have to release me and let me go back inside. There are others who need my help.”
“No,” he asserted louder. He wanted her and was going to have her.
A siren blared and she gasped. “Shit! They know you’re gone. Someone must have noticed the loop.” She wiggled on his lap, tried to get off, but he held firm.