Veronica: Our guest today has written an intriguing science fiction romance tale of two minds in one body! And a psychic cat... Take it away, Christina!
Intro: For some time, I've toyed around with the idea of writing two distinct characters forced to inhabit the same body, but it had never quite gelled until I began building the plot for Cypher. My reasoning went something like this: What if I took two personalities, put them in one body, and gave them conflicting goals--one man to serve the Empire (To do the Dragon's Bidding) and the other to bring down that very government? And what if the only person who could stop him was the woman who loved him? Now that's romantic tension.
Blurb: Colonel Kimber FitzWarren is settling into her challenging new position as head of Imperial Security. With an alien symbiont living inside her, giving her incredible healing powers, even immortality, she looks forward to spending eternity with her lover, ex-mercenary Wolf Youngblood. Their lives and the fortunes of the Empire are purring along like a well fed Kaphier cat, so they decide now would be a good time for Wolf to go into the operating tank to have his old augmentations updated.
And that’s when the gods of luck decide to bite them on the butt.
The man who awakes from surgery resembles Wolf, but behind those blue eyes, Fitz discovers the mind of a stranger. Their old enemy, Janos Tritico, has corrupted Cyber-Ops, slipping a rogue download into the internal computer that controls Wolf’s augmentations and turning him into a super assassin programmed to terminate the emperor and bring down the government. Only Fitz stands between her liege and the killer wearing her beloved’s face. She'll do her job, even if it breaks the heart in her armored chest.
Sometimes there’s no happily ever after.
Here's a little snippet to whet your appetite for adventure:
The empty landing bay mocked Cypher. There was no place to go. Beyond the airlock lay only the vacuum of space. No escape there. If Gray Eyes came through the door now, there’d be no way out.
So give up. Just surrender, The Other whispered inside him mind.
“Leave me alone.” Cypher pressed his palms against his forehead, swaying on his feet. He couldn’t panic; when he was panicked or frightened, The Other seemed to have an easier path into his thoughts.
You’re going to get us shot full of holes.
“If I surrender, I’m dead anyway. They’ll wash me out like a bit of bad computer code.”
Actually, that’s all you bloody are. A corrupted program running on a computer inside me.
“No, I’m real, I’m alive.” Cypher’s voice rose.
If you’re so intent on getting yourself killed, I wouldn’t normally care, but in this case, I don’t bloody well want you taking me with you.
“Then either help me or get the hell out of my mind and go back to whatever pit you crawled out of.” Cypher noticed a pair of construction pods plugged into their recharging docks. He ran to the nearest one and popped the canopy.
You have got to be kidding. Even I’m not crazy enough to attempt launching one of these death traps off a moving ship. Do you even know how to fly one?
“I’m a fast learner. We are leaving, so either you help me or keep your thoughts to yourself.” He pushed aside the restraints and started to climb into the pilot’s seat.
Whoa there, hotshot, not been in space a lot? You’ll need one of those hard suits from the other room. This thing isn’t pressurized, and I don’t think even I would survive explosive decompression.
Expecting to see Gray Eyes blast through the door any second, he dashed back to the control room and ripped open one of the cabinets, snatching out pieces of vac suit and pulling them on.
Bloody hell, not like that. You’re worse than shepherding a farm boy on his first contract. Put the bottom on first.
“Why should I trust you, if you want me dead?” he said, but pulled out the lower half of the suit and stepped into it.
Because I plan on living long enough to kick your sorry existence out of my mind and get back to my life and the woman I love. Now back off and let me do this.
Cypher relaxed and surrendered the body to that other mind. Like a passenger, he watched his hands flash through the movements of assembling the suit around him, snapping on pieces and dogging down catches with the quick efficiency of long experience. The helmet went on last, twisted and latched down with a reassuring click. The Other flipped down the visor and started to turn his body toward the landing bay when he heard the rush of super-fast footsteps approaching.
Into the cabinet. He dived inside, slamming the door and going as still and silent as an empty suit. Cypher felt The Other leave, returning control to him. His last words whispered into their shared mind. Don’t move. She won’t be able to read you through the suit, even infrared or thermal emissions.
Weapons out, the two augies eased into the control room and scanned around, tension evident in their slow careful steps. The balding man who followed Gray Eyes awoke a trace of memory in Cypher, but he couldn’t remember where he’d seen him before; probably when the royal party came on board the ship.
The Other interfaced with the suit’s computer and thought-clicked on the external pick-up so they could hear the augies’ conversation.
“Check that side.” Gray Eyes—Fitz—instructed her partner while she went to the console and brought up a monitor to display the empty landing bay beyond. “He’s not here, but could he have been and realized there was no way out and left? Then we should have intercepted him in the corridor. He can’t be that far ahead of us. Keep looking.”
The small woman slipped along the wall, gaze shifting, ever alert. Cypher held his breath as she eased past his hiding place, afraid The Other would betray him, leap out and surrender to her. He fought to keep his body rigid and under his control. For one second, those gray eyes stared into his but, unseeing, she moved on.
In that instant he felt The Other’s emotions hit him like a kick to the heart. They were warm, tender, and like no sensation Cypher had ever felt in his short life.
This must be love.
It bore little resemblance to the lust he’d felt when he’d crushed his body against hers in that filthy alley. This emotion felt warmer, softer, not possessive, only belonging. If this was what the two of them shared, they would fight until the ends of the universe to be together again. And he would be burned away in their passion for each other. He would never experience anything like this, nor would anyone ever care for him with such tenderness and unwavering fidelity.
Those thoughts opened a cold, desolate void in his gut.
The e-book is FREE on Amazon Kindle Unlimited, or $3.99, otherwise and there is trade paperback edition.
To learn more about Christina Westcott and her books visit http://www.christinawestcottauthor.com