Breathing Vapor, the standalone sidequel to Releasing Rage, is releasing on November 17th (you can pre-order it now). Here is the first scene from the first chapter.
Honesty was part of the cyborg code. Vapor and his cyborg brethren were unable to tell a lie. They also believed in freedom and honor and seeking vengeance on those who harmed them. They’d been manufactured with these traits.
That didn’t mean they didn’t have differences of opinion.
Vapor leaned against an interior wall of the final stage holding structure and watched Ace and Thrasher argue. His friends, one driven primarily by logic, the other primarily by instinct, faced each other, standing closer than two males would normally stand.
They were surrounded by K model cyborgs. Half of them supported Ace. Half of them supported Thrasher.
Vapor stayed out of the discussion. He’d known the two males his entire lifespan. They liked to disagree, didn’t appreciate any interference in their spats, had levels to their conversations that he didn’t understand.
Talking was their forte. Killing beings was his. He spun his favorite daggers.
We should escape now when the humans don’t expect it, Thrasher shouted through their private transmission lines. His group of cyborgs cheered.
The humans had given them the ability to communicate without making a sound. The foolish beings hadn’t devised a means of monitoring the cyborgs’ transmissions.
They didn’t believe there was a need. Cyborgs, in their opinions, were processor-free weapons of war, command-driven machines, devoid of motivation, of independent logic.
They’d never witnessed a confrontation between Ace and Thrasher.
And how would we escape, genius? Ace’s tone was level, less emotional. We don’t have a ship.
We’ll steal one. Thrasher was undaunted.
From where and from whom? Ace shook his head. That plan has too many variables. I say we keep it simple and wait for deployment. In four or five planet rotations, the Humanoid Alliance will deliver a ship to us.
We’ll use their own ship against them. Strive, one of Thrasher’s supporters, nodded, approving of that idea.
The rumblings from both sides indicated a win for logic.
Is that all of the vengeance we’ll have against our foes? Thrasher held out his arms, appealing to the group. They torment us, kill our brethren, and we retaliate by stealing one of their ships?
We’ll kill every being on board. Ace might be more logical but he had a cyborg’s thirst for violence. Slowly, painfully.
And what will happen to the beings here? In this compound? His opponent turned, surveying the chambers. Except for the model numbers inked under their right eyes, they looked like the enemy, their skin tanned rather than the cyborg gray, their physiques large yet in the range of human possibility, their eyes appearing human. Are the humans who tortured us to suffer no losses? I say we return here and kill them all.
The cyborgs cheered. They had suffered at the hands of the humans, had been humiliated physically and mentally, part of the so-called training to toughen them for battle, and they wanted revenge.
Ace’s lips flattened. By all, are you referring to every being on the planet? Because we can conceal the deaths on the ship. Ships disappear every planet rotation. But we won’t be able to hide the killings within the compound. The humans will realize we’re not under their control, and they’ll strike back at us. They’ll target not only us…he waved at the cyborgs around them…but the millions of cyborgs stored on battle stations and planets throughout the universe. None of us will escape. None of us will reach the Homeland. We’ll all die.
There was silence. No one wanted to put other batches of cyborgs in danger. And reaching the Homeland, a planet where cyborgs ruled, was their shared goal.
When freed, Vapor would continue to fight. He was designed for battle, enjoyed the thrill of it. But he could decide whom he killed.
Until then, he and his brethren would be forced to hone their skills on beings the Humanoid Alliance had sentenced to death. They had no input on choosing their opponents and refusing to fight resulted in immediate decommissioning, the most painful of deaths.
Vapor could tolerate ending the lives of the violent criminals. They had some skills, though not enough to challenge him. He was the most advanced warrior ever designed. But they had killed others in the past. And a bloody death for a bloody lifespan was fitting. He’d wish to die the same way, with his weapons in both of his hands.
He doubted the chubby-cheeked, innocent-eyed kid he’d killed last planet rotation yearned for such an end. When he faced Vapor, the youngster had dropped to his knees in the urine-soaked dirt and pleaded for his life.
Vapor hadn’t had the option of granting him that wish. He’d made the death as fast and as painless as possible, but it had left a bad taste in his mouth. He was a warrior, not an executioner.
Some humans here must die, Thrasher insisted. We can’t allow them all to go unpunished.
The other cyborgs nodded.
The humans will seek revenge. Ace’s reply was weak. He wanted vengeance also.
Another stretch of silence followed.
Fraggin’ hole. The solution was obvious. Couldn’t they see that?
Vapor pushed himself away from the wall, reluctantly joining the discussion. They’ll seek revenge if we’re caught, if the kill is traced back to us. Heads turned, the cyborgs looking to him for leadership. It won’t be. His blades turned faster and faster, blurring in his hands. Because I’ll make the deaths look like accidents.
There won’t be multiple deaths. We’ll have one kill only. Ace didn’t question his ability. The cyborg knew Vapor could carry off an assassination and not be caught. We make a strategic kill, taking out one of the humans and that’s it.
Vapor straightened to his full height. Assign me a target and he’ll die.
Vapor is the most advanced cyborg the Humanoid Alliance has ever developed. He’s a finely honed weapon, a warrior without parallel, half man and half machine. No lock can contain him. No being can stop him. Whatever he wants, he takes.
He wants Mira Breazeal, the Designer’s daughter.
She’s his one temptation, his sexy target. Vapor shouldn’t crave her caresses, steal her kisses, make her scream with ecstasy. The cyborgs want her dead and they would question his loyalty if he didn’t kill her. The humans would shoot him on sight if he dared to touch her.
Their love is forbidden. Their desire could be lethal. One human and one cyborg will risk everything for a moment of passion.