Delroi Connection 1
In the distant future, Earth is ravaged by war and famine, and after generations of bloodshed settles into peace only to be invaded by the alien Delroi. General Alrik Torfa needs a mate and his seers promise mates for many of his people on the distant planet Earth. He doesn’t expect her to come easily, but is more than a little surprised to find her leading an enemy army. Outmanned and outgunned, there is no way the Earth forces can win.
Sergeant Major Laney Bradford has always played her part and served her people well, but the Delroi’s surrender demands are a bit extreme. Marriage to one of them? Not likely. But she’s fought for peace her entire life and when surrender talks are threatened by a conspiracy lead by her people, Laney must choose. Will she submit to the alien invader or lead the fight against him?
Originally published in 2008.
Sergeant Major Laney Bradford stood on a ledge cut into the cliff side, watching over the battlefield through binoculars. The valley spread out before her, dust swirling around troops and sending plumes into the air. Hazy heat shimmers obstructed her field of vision. At least from this lofty position the smells of battle didn’t assault her nostrils—the too old latrines and lingering blood from the night before. The cordite from discharged weapons drifting on the breezy updraft provided a harsh enough reminder of the carnage.
Things weren’t going well. She snorted. That was a laughable understatement. The Alliance army, her army, had called for a temporary cease-fire and the enemy, in an odd show of largess, had granted a small reprieve. Laney clenched her jaw and resisted the urge to stomp her feet in frustration. Acting like a petulant child had never been her style and it wouldn’t get her far anyway.
The Alliance had managed to hold back the invaders from the mainland for a year, sacrificing outlying territories here and there, but it was a wasted effort. The Delroi were winning. They knew it. The Alliance knew it. Hell, everyone knew it.
She studied the enemy’s array on the valley floor below. The Alliance’s superior numbers were insignificant in the face of the Delroi’s superior technology. Laney’s spies stole it when they could but there was no way to put anything into production in time to save the Alliance.
A truck lumbered to the front of the enemy’s lines and she watched with apprehensive interest, a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. This was something new and couldn’t be good. She heard the agitated murmurs of the others around her and knew they’d reached the same conclusion. The vehicle’s driver and team exited. They looked human—any one of them could have passed for one of her soldiers, except the Delroi tended to be a few inches taller than average and most of them didn’t keep their hair cut to the short military precision demanded of the Alliance’s male soldiers. They set to work quickly removing the vehicle’s sides, then removed a tarp from the top to reveal its contents. Laney felt more than heard the collective gasp of the soldiers around her. Lowering the binoculars, she reached for her radio and turned to the man beside her.
While she admired the enemy’s ingenuity and wished she could counteract it, dismay was uppermost in her mind. She couldn’t even find it in herself to be angry. She’d fought too long and too hard to create peace for the Alliance to see it destroyed by their own damned weapon. Damned being the operative word. Fear added an unfamiliar tremble to her voice.
“General, that’s one of ours. We should order a retreat and clear as much of the surrounding area as we can,” she said.
He nodded. “They’ll want to discuss terms for surrender, not retreat.”
She shrugged, hiding her unease behind her usual cool and professional facade. The wishes of the Delroi were not her immediate concern. She keyed the mike and sent the order to move out down the chain of command.
The alien enemy had uncovered an experimental bomb. Called the Doomsayer, it gave new vision to the ancient Roman practice of salting the earth. If detonated, it would poison the land for a hundred square miles, killing everything in its path. A truly horrifying weapon that should have never been created. She’d protested its creation and had been overruled. She would do whatever was necessary to dismantle it now including agreeing to a surrender and forcing her superiors, the generals behind her, to accept it.
Laney trained the field glasses on the enemy command center on the opposite cliff. While she watched, commotion erupted in their ranks after someone pointed out the Alliance’s preparation for retreat. A newly arrived general lifted his field glasses, studied the valley floor, and then turned them on her.
Laney bit back a gasp. She had seen this one before, and he was quite the specimen. He made her heart pound wildly, had since the first time she’d spotted him. Tall, at least six-foot-four with a broad chest that she was certain was chiseled under his tight tunic, he had long golden hair and a hard jaw. A shiver worked down her spine and she shifted under the weight of his gaze from across the distance.
Snap out of it, Laney. He’s the enemy. He was also gorgeous. What could lusting from afar hurt? Her radio crackled to life, interrupting her thoughts. Handing it to the general standing beside her, she continued watching the Delroi general. She’d never met his gaze before, if this could count, and was loath to break it. She wished she could tell what color his eyes were, if they were as intense close up as his regard was at this distance. Like a childish game of chicken, she refused to look away first and somehow knew he felt the same way. Did kids play chicken on his world? She shook her head and focused on the match at hand.
“Sergeant Major,” a low voice called behind her. She slowly lowered the binoculars, unwilling to break contact first, and turned.
“Yes?” She sized up the circle of generals, noting her old friend, General Bob Darren, at the center.
“They sent a message and a radio frequency. He said he’ll only speak with you. You’re on,” Bob said, his face solemn.
She reached for the radio he held out and turned back to face the enemy command center, glasses zeroing in on the blond. He was still watching. As she stared, he lifted a corresponding radio to his lips. They were full, firm. Totally kissable. She scowled. Where the hell had that thought come from? She hadn’t combined male and kiss in her thoughts in longer than she could remember, not even the last time she’d seen him. She lifted the radio, which now had the proper frequency, forcing herself to focus on the situation at hand, and a gravelly voice came over it. His voice.
“Are you ready to discuss terms?”
Laney took a deep breath, fighting her body’s reaction to his voice, reminding herself sharply that she had an audience who would wonder at her uneven breathing, at the flush she felt on her cheeks and neck. “Yes. But first, I want to disperse these armies and secure that weapon.”
“It will take several days to clear this area.”
His tone was low and commanding. There was something indefinable in it, something that made her heart thump and her knees a little weak. His gaze intensified, focused solely on her, and she swore she felt his big hands stroking her, urging her to take him deep inside her. With a mental nudge, she shook it off just as Bob gave her a concerned look.
“Yes,” she answered. Did she hear a tremble in her voice? God, she hoped not. “Days which will give us time to find a neutral location for talks and our leaders to join us.” She thought he would refuse, but after several minutes, he nodded.
“We will secure the weapon and make arrangements for talks to be held on one of our ships in three days time.”
The generals around her murmured their reluctant assent. It may have been because they were less willing to argue with her if they refused, than face the Prime Minister’s disapproval over surrender. She didn’t care. She would not risk the lives of a hundred thousand soldiers for someone’s hubris. “Fine.”