Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sons of Amber: Ezekiel by Bianca D'Arc

Zeke looked about and grimaced. The dark earth beckoned to him, but he couldn't drop yet. He had to find shelter before the sun rose higher, or he would burn to a cinder on this godforsaken rock.

Zeke had more than his share of stamina. It was a gift of his genetics. Designed and raised by Dr. Amber Waithe and her team of geneticists, he knew he had a mission in life: to spread his seed far and wide, bringing his fertile offerings to every woman who would have him. By the Maker, he enjoyed his job.

But even his enormous strength was taxed by the huge binary stars that were just a little too close to this dry, arid planet. Too bad his Risker's nature had brought him here but he was usually able to roll with the punches. Riskers had to be able to deal with the results of their actions, and he was one of the best at making lemonade out of lemons.

This time, however, he might just die for his troubles. The suns were rising all too quickly, and he was caught out in the open. He took one last, long, weary look at the suns and kept on trekking. Minutes, or maybe hours later, he felt himself fading under the onslaught of oppressive heat and strong solar radiation. He saw the dusty ground rush up at him as if from a distance, then he knew no more.

* * * *

Zeke woke hours later, feeling a cool wetness on his face. He had to be hallucinating, but he didn't feel the merciless suns pounding down on him anymore. No, instead he felt the coolness of earth, the scent of dirt and dampness in his nostrils, as if he were in a cavern. Cautiously, he cracked one eyelid just enough to see.

There was a woman at his side, mopping his brow with a damp cloth. The suns were blessedly absent. He was in a chamber somewhere underground if he didn't miss his guess. He had no idea how long he'd been out or who had saved him. Somehow, they'd transported him to his present location—wherever that was. He searched his memory, but didn't remember anything after passing out in the heat of the twin suns.

"Sister, he wakes."

The treble voice came from somewhere off to his left as the cool hand abruptly lifted from his brow. He wanted that cool, wet cloth and gentle touch back. Badly.

"Are you well, brother traveler?"

The soft voice caressed his senses, and he opened his eyes to behold the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. His savior was an angel, he was sure, her face heart-shaped and lovely, even devoid of the usual cosmetic alterations women of the upper classes habitually made. No, her face was pure and natural, one hundred percent human female. She was soft, slightly rounded, and perfect.

Her delicate eyebrows drew together in concern as she studied him. Her hand touched his face once more with the cool cloth and it was bliss.

"Are you well, brother?"

"Just keep doing that." His voice was a deep rumble. "Your touch is comforting."

He looked up in time to see her slight blush, but she continued stroking his brow with the wet cloth. A hesitant smile lit her curvy lips. Lips he suddenly longed to kiss in passion.

But his body was telling him something was definitely wrong. He felt achy all over and weak. He had never felt so feeble before in his life.

"What happened?"

His angel spoke as she tended to him. "I found you on the surface at midday. I don't know where you came from or how you came to be on the surface at such a dangerous time."

"Ship crashed." His strength was waning and he damned the weakness that stole over him. His eyes drooped with weariness.

"You came from the stars?" He heard her hesitate and his eyes reopened. He read fear in her gaze now and he didn't like it. "Are you human?" She seemed to steel herself for his answer.

"Be at ease, lady. I'm as human as you. I'm one of the Sons of Amber, designed to rebuild the human race."

Usually all he had to do was mention his illustrious mother and all doors were open to him. Males were that rare. Breeder males even more so. But this attractive little woman did not seem to understand what his words meant.

"You're not Jit'suku. That's good." She seemed to want to reassure herself. "It's just that we have not seen anyone from the stars in many, many years. Our Order selected this inhospitable planet as a retreat when the war came too near our home on Espia. Our elders cut off all communication with the outside so that we might hide from the Jit'suku."

"Then you don't know what happened?"

His angel shook her head, and he noticed the other women drawing near to listen in. He had to tell them, but he was so damned tired. Still, he could give them the bare bones at least, before his strength gave out completely.

"We defeated the Jit'suku at Markesh, but they released a virus that infected just about everyone. It killed most males and caused what few babies that were born to be female. They intended to wipe out humanity within three generations," he paused to breathe through the fatigue that plagued him, "but Dr. Amber Waithe genetically engineered a group of male children that were immune to the Jit virus. I'm one of them."

The angel sat back, looking stunned.

"Did you hear, Sister Angela?" The other little nun was back now, moving closer on his other side. She was younger than his angel, but cute as a button.

For the first time in his life, he realized he was looking upon an eligible human female without any trace of lust. That thought had him rocking back on his heels, figuratively at least. Perhaps it had something to do with his illness, but no, he wanted his angel as much as he ever wanted any woman. Actually, more so. He didn't think he had ever wanted a particular woman this badly.

The realization confused him, but he was too weak to sort through it now. He decided to concentrate his energies on getting well first, then he would bed his angel and figure out why she was so irresistible.

"I heard, Sister. We must tell Mother Rachel."

"I know already, children. Be at ease." A new female voice floated through the chamber to him, coming closer. With it came a fragrance of flowers and earth, and a beautiful, slightly older woman stepped into his line of view. "Your arrival was foreseen. Be welcome, Son of Amber. Can you tell us your name?"

He didn't know why, but he wanted to tell this lovely older woman whatever she wanted. He would reveal all his secret plans, if she but asked, but she only wanted his name. That he could give her before his strength failed.

"Ezekiel."

"Be welcome, Ezekiel." She placed her hand on his forehead and he felt a peace he'd never experienced before wash over his senses. "Rest now and recover."


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