Markku, a decorated rebel soldier, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Borealis, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the decrepit space station?
Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.
Two thugs stalked away to follow the cheetah.
"Go after that cat and you're dead!" The strong baritone voice came from a tall man aiming a blaster at the two hoodlums.
He stepped out of the shadows, in full paramilitary gear. His left hand held a long knife. He sidled toward Akira, circling the thugs, who started to retreat at the sight of his blaster.
"Mind your own business." Akira didn't appreciate unwanted help.
The man stepped closer. "These goons know nothing about civilized rules of fighting. They want your body, your hide, your cat for its meat, and your armor and weapons."
"I know that." Who did this man think she was? A neophyte? "There is no honor in killing defenseless creatures."
"There is no honor in this place." His gaze skimmed the sorry lot holding an assortment of blades and clubs, some with protruding metal spikes. "Believe me, they are far from defenseless."
The thugs kept their distance from the blaster aimed at them, but they did not retreat.
"Still. I refuse to kill if there is another way." None of those rejects would threaten her individually, but their number could present a challenge. As more joined the group, she counted two dozen.
The louts glanced at one another with indecision. At least, they understood the warning. She was trained and dangerous. Not to be trifled with. They widened their half circle in front of her, still hesitating, but they held their ground. Chikusho.
In a few long steps, the stranger joined her side. From his walk and the way he held his weapons, she could tell he had military training. He didn't look like a TPP soldier, though. Something wild lurked in his clear blue gaze. A free thinker. A bounty hunter like her? Or perhaps a rebel?
"You look like you could use some help."
"Do I?" Unbelievable. "Why should I trust you?" She couldn't help the derision in her voice. "For all I know, you could be their leader, luring me into a trap."
He chuckled and shook his head. "I'm not one of them, and you are in more trouble than you know."
"Get out of my way." Akira clicked open the metal claws of her forearm braces then unsheathed a titanium short sword and adopted a defensive stance. "I work alone."
He laughed. "And I'm telling you, this is no place for a warrior from a distant past. Especially, one who cares about something as futile as honor.