Stolen by the Zandian - Renee Rose Page 0,1

me this way, to be dependent on the medicine, and without it, I can’t survive.

“There is nothing unreachable,” I mouth. I have about fifteen minutes before it hits, and I’ll use every single second to reformulate my escape plan.

They designed me, but they don’t control my mind. And I’d rather die during a failed escape attempt than go into Ocretion ownership.

I count the time even as I think, my neurons working overtime. I wind my fingers together and stare into the black. “There is nothing…”

And then the wave of pain washes over me, and I’m gone.

Khrys

“I heard what happened.” Arnie, the Zandian warrior beside me shakes his head. “I wouldn’t want to be in your boots when you talk to King Zander.” He wipes his arm along his smooth purple forehead. One of his horns was smashed during the war to recapture our planet, and it leans to the left. “Especially with what’s going on with the King’s young—and all the half-breeds on the planet taken ill. He’s not going to have any patience for mistakes.”

I swallow. It’s true—a sickness has overtaken most of the young on Zandia—all the half-breeds are ill with it, and despite the work of Dr. Daneth and all the medics, a cure hasn’t yet been found. Every being on the planet is on edge about it. The thought of our already near-extinct population losing its newest generation is devastating.

Veck.

I glower at him. “It was an accident.” My voice is curt. I already can’t stand myself for the destruction to the Zandian ship while trainees were under my watch. I sure as veck don’t want to answer to this jaghole about it. Not when I’m about to face the king, himself.

The truth is, It was an accident that could have been prevented had I not frozen.

“It’s not the first accident under your watch.” He eyes me. “Maybe it’s time for you to find a new position.”

“Veck off.”

“No offense.” He shakes his head. “But it would be for the good of every being. Think of the damage done to the confidence of the trainees who wrecked. Your job is to provide them successes, not failures.”

My fingers curl into fists, and I leave Arnie without answering.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he calls to my back. “What happened to your brother. But this is. You need to get your head on straight, warrior.”

I want to kill him for mentioning Kyl, my younger brother, who died during the battle to reclaim Zandia.

It was my fault. I was the one who commanded Kyl, and if I’d done a better job, he’d still be alive now.

Grinding my teeth, I head towards the royal dwelling, dusting off my tunic and straightening my sword as I enter the palace. I nod to the guards at the door. Better to get this over with.

I wait outside the throne room until I’m summoned.

“My lord.” I drop my eyes and lift my arm at a ninety degree angle in the traditional Zandian greeting, showing my deference and admiration for our fearless Zandian ruler. When I lift them, I see the king’s face appears older. He’s aged in the past six lunar cycles since the epidemic first hit our human population. His own daughter, Princess Kaylar, is said to be fighting for her life from the Z4-A virus. The adult humans have mostly been able to handle the virus, but it’s our halfling population that’s been hit hard.

“Captain Khrys.” King Zander’s voice is sharp and serious. “What happened?”

I look up and clear my throat.

Veck.

My species are known for being stoic and strong. Guided by logic not emotion. At least until they come in contact with a human female—or so the tales go.

But since Kyl’s death, I’m constantly plagued with doubt. My decisions have become less logical and more impulsive, sometimes with devastating results.

“It was an issue with the navigation settings. I let my newest trainee handle the landing on his own. He entered the numbers on the test run this morning. I should have double-checked them, but I wished to show my confidence in his abilities. Unfortunately, his coordinates were off, and we brushed the landing gear on the craft.”

“By brushed, you mean crushed?” The king raises his brow at me, his voice stern.

“Yes, my lord.” I wince, thinking of the awful screech of metal, the smoking damage, and worse–the fact that the crew were, for no matter how short a time, in jeopardy. “Repairs are underway, and we’ll be ready for testing tomorrow.”

The king purses his lips. “This

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