A Perfect Bond
They have A PERFECT BOND.
When Destiny walked through the doors of a bar on the science station Elmertia works on she thought all her dreams had come true, until the mysterious man disappeared without a trace. Tormented by that one brief contact she throws herself into unlocking the secrets of an alien’s nanites until an ultimatum from her employer threatens to lose her not only her dreams but her future.
Drawn to the small female he met by chance Manik searches for a reason to return to her station. When the crew of pirates stumble across a woman in stasis floating in space who has cranial implants and nanites the medic has found the perfect reason to return to one of the universes most knowledgeable scientists and the female who has been haunting his thoughts.
With time running out on her research, Ellie is shocked by the sudden arrival of her mate and his proposal, but she has more to lose than her life’s work. Being with Manik might cost her everything including her life.
Length: 90 pages.
“Merty, when was the last time you ate?”
I looked up from my microscope to see my friend Prixy. She was standing just inside the door of my lab, holding a tray of food.
“I don’t know,” I told her. “I can’t remember.”
“Well, you should remember,” she said as she walked forwards and put the tray down on the only clear piece of counter in the room. “You should be looking after yourself better. You haven’t been home in three cycles. You’re still wearing the same clothes you left in. You need to cleanse and get some sleep.”
“I have slept.” I waved my hand at the cot across the room, “And I don’t have time to come home. I have to figure this out, Prixy. The key is right there at the tips of my fingers, and I just can’t get it.”
Prixy glanced across the room at the unmade cot pushed up against a spare section of wall in my cluttered lab before turning back to me, a disgusted look on her face.
“You’ve been saying that for the last thirty cycles. What would you do if this illusive mate of yours walked through the door? You’re a mess, you smell, you’re too skinny and all you ever do is work.”
Trust Prixy to tell me the hard truth, but she was right. If my mate, a man I’d met once for a brief hour—the best hour of my life—walked through my door, I’d be mortified. He wasn’t coming, though. I’d given up hope that he’d return to me. He’d disappeared after that one hour of time I cherished, and I’d never seen or heard from him again.
“He’s not coming, so what’s the point?” I asked Prixy.
I watched her face change to a look I’d never seen before.
“You can’t give up, Merty. If you give up, then what hope is there for me? At least you’ve met him. At least you know he’s out there.” She walked towards me and stopped next to me, looking down, her green eyes large in her small face. “He’ll come back, Merty. You’ll see, but you need to be ready. Come home and clean up, eat the food I brought you and do something other than work for a while. You’ll be no good to him if you waste away. Oh, and clean up this mess,” she added, waving her hand around at my workspace.
I looked around my lab, seeing the mess it had become for the first time. Trays of partially eaten food littered the counters, and clothes hung over the chairs and lay in piles on the floor. I noticed my equipment and testing materials spread out in a haphazard way over the counters not filled with trays of food.
Something in Prixy’s voice made me look back at her.
“It’s been three hundred and twenty-nine cycles since he left me in the bar. He’s not coming back. If he had any idea that we’re mates, he would have come back for me. He would have tried to contact me or something. Sent a message, something—Prixy, there would have been something!”
We’d been over this what felt like a billion times before. Prixy always maintained her hope. I could understand why. If she gave up hope, then she was giving up on her own mate, giving up on the hope that he was out there somewhere and that one day she’d meet him. However, I’d met my mate, and he’d left me before I’d had the chance to tell him we were mates. Maybe if he knew, he would have come back for me—then again, maybe he wouldn’t.
I’d clung to my own hope for too many cycles, but it had dried up along with the progress I’d been making in my work. Now I had none, and every time we talked about it, the discussion ended the same way. Prixy always managed to stir my hope, and then I’d come crashing down cycles later when he still hadn’t turned up. This time I wasn’t going to let her get my hopes up. I was going to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground and keep my head.
“Well maybe he’s in a situation where he can’t get a message to you, or maybe…”
I looked at Prixy staring back at me with wide eyes, shock on her face.
“What if…What if he had something to do with Vrentis’ stolen research?”
I looked back at her, my own eyes wide. We’d never thought of that. It was a possibility I didn’t know if I wanted to consider. It would make him a thief, and I didn’t know how I felt about that.
“Maybe that was why he had to leave without telling you. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t come back,” Prixy said, her voice filled with the hope shining in her eyes.
“Yes, but that would make him a thief.”
“Yes, yes, but that doesn’t matter.” She waved her hand in front of her, a shooing motion that along with her words, had my eyes popping out.
“Of course it matters, Prixy! They stole valuable research. Vrentis lost his fundings. It was his life’s work, and it destroyed him.”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right, but how exciting! A thief. What an exciting life he must live.”
I could almost see the stars twinkling in her eyes as she looked back at me, lost in her own world of imagination.
A beep from my comm console made me rise from my chair to walk around Prixy, who hadn’t moved, still lost in her own world.
“Computer, accept call,” I said when I was standing in front of the view screen.
The image of my employer flickered onto the screen. Cyakt Ralt. My heart gave a small lurch in my chest. My employer scared the willies out of me and always had. Thankfully, he usually left me to my research, with only the occasional call to check on my progress.
“Sir, I wasn’t expecting your call.”
“I called to inform you, Elmertia, that you are now on a deadline. How much progress have you made since our last conversation?”
I had good news and bad news for him.
“I’ve completed the device. It’s now ready to receive the nanites, but I haven’t made any progress in activating them. The original sample and the cloned nanites are still inactive.”
The look from his black eyes burned into mine until all I wanted to do was look away, but I held his gaze and waited for his response.
“That’s disappointing to hear. I had hoped you had made some progress on the nanites, Elmertia.”
I shifted uncomfortably, because I didn’t like disappointing people and this man was paying me. He was funding my research. Admittedly, it would be of benefit to him and his people that I find a way to activate the nanites.
“Is there a reason for the deadline, sir? I believed we had plenty of time to make sure I had a thorough understanding of how they worked.”
He stared back at me for a long moment, then said, “The situation has become untenable. My son has contracted the infection, and our healers have given him a year at the most. The only hope we have is the nanites and your device.”
I hadn’t known he had a son. It made him seem more of a person and less of a monster. I’d always felt he was a bit scary, his black eyes and dark countenance making him seem sinister and a little overwhelming. He wielded an immense amount of power across his planet and his sector of its galaxy. I’d been in his presence once, when he first approached me about taking on this research project, and once had been enough. His very presence made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I’d wanted to run with my tail between my legs and get as far away from him as possible.
“I’m working as fast as I can, trying every scenario I can think of to activate the nanites, but so far, nothing I’ve done has worked.”
“I’ve been extremely patient with you up to this point, Elmertia, but unfortunately, I cannot afford you to persist without results any longer. I will call you back in seven cycles to check on your progress, and if you haven’t made any, perhaps it will be time to bring in someone else.”
The screen went blank, leaving me with his words ringing in my ears. I stared at the black screen, disbelief swirling inside me.
I turned to Prixy, “He’s going to replace me.”
“Can he do that? This is your project.”
I looked back at her, at the concern on her face, and felt a stirring inside me. He could replace me, since he was funding the project, so if he wanted another scientist to work on it, then that was his prerogative, but I hadn’t been replaced yet. I had one week to make a breakthrough. I had one week to activate the nanites, and replacing me wouldn’t be necessary.
“Yes, he can replace me, Prixy, but that’s not going to happen.”
Determination propelled me across the room, back towards my microscope.
“What are you going to do?”
“What I do best. I’m going to figure out how to make these nanites work before the time’s up.”