In the 23rd Century in the galaxy of Sigma Kappa, Kim Fortune was the first surviving experimental enhanced human—a regenerate. Aged fifteen, he escaped the lab and years later, his failings as a regenerate and the suspicion of regular humans, leave him lonely and lacking in self-worth. Stranded on an abandoned planet, the arrival of a stricken ship and its crew give him hope that he may finally find what he always longed for—love.
Christian Novak is a successful regenerate with all the intended attributes—including lack of human emotion. Despite their immediate attraction to each other, Kim's failing confidence, and Christian's inability to empathize are a recipe for disaster. But war, imprisonment, and danger throw them together, and after each saves the other's life, their feelings begin to change.
Can a seemingly unsuitable pair ever find love, or is a future together destined to fail?
“Novak?” I whispered his name as I crept into the gym area. The blackness prevented me seeing anything, and I worked on instinct and my sensitive hearing. The spitting and growling sounds the panther made indicated its position, but I couldn’t pinpoint Novak.
“I’m here.” I caught the scent of him, just before he brushed my arm with a large hand. He moved me backward a couple of steps until I bumped the wall. “Don’t move.”
Ordinarily, I would have ignored anyone giving me instructions, and it puzzled me when I remained rooted to the spot, unquestioning. I strained my ears, unable to make out the slightest sound from Novak. A minute ticked by and the creature snarled viciously. Then a violet beam burst from Novak’s pistol as he fired at the cat. The beam died away and the acrid smell of burnt flesh reached my nostrils. Seconds passed and when a warm breath touched my face, I realized Novak was only inches away. The smell of him and the heat of his body made me shiver, and I cringed when I remembered he could see me.
“Scared?” Novak sounded amused.
“Don’t be ridiculous.” My voice shook and I bit my lip, irritated by my reaction to his closeness.
“Not scared of me, or the cats. So, what does scare Kim Fortune?”
I blinked rapidly and looked up. I made out the glint of his eyes as he stared down into mine. I struggled to breathe normally, but it seemed impossible. “Nothing scares me.”
“Not even how you feel?”
I didn’t answer this time, but slipped away from him, gripping my pistol tight in one hand in an effort to stop it shaking. I walked blindly out of the room and back to the outer door, to secure it and put on the lights. Novak didn’t follow me and when I’d completed the small task and turned around, I saw only Susan and Johnson’s anxious faces peering out of their rooms.
“It’s okay. It’s dead,” I told them. “Novak killed it.”
“You gave him a weapon, then.” Susan glanced at me anxiously.
“Yeah. He’s the only one of us who can see the cat.”
“But I thought you… aren’t you like him?”
“A regenerate? No.” It was better to let them think I was the same as them, rather than have another group of people turn their back on me.
“But you managed to kill them before now,” Johnson reminded me.
“Not without light.”
Johnson nodded. “So Novak’s armed now?”
“He wouldn't hurt any of us,” I said confidently.
“I agree with you. It’s only Neil he has a problem with, and that man’s been hunting him for a while.”
“I think we should all watch our backs around Neil. He’s already proved himself to be a danger, not to mention the fact that he, um—”
“He wants to get in your pants.” Dina popped her head out of the door beside Susan and smiled. “But Novak likes you too, Kim. You are really pretty.”
“Pretty?” I wrinkled my nose, and the girl giggled.
“It’s your eyes,” she said. “And your hair.”
“You have got very unusual eyes,” Johnson agreed.
My eyes were a rich turquoise, very rare in humans from what I’d seen. “Thanks. I think we should try to get some rest now. I’m leaving the main lights on. It’ll be dark for around ten hours.”
The three of them retreated into their rooms and closed the doors. Rather than go straight to my room, I wandered back to the galley to get some water. I stood at the sink, sipping from a mug, until quiet footsteps approached. I could already tell the difference between the way Novak and Neil moved. Despite his size, Novak trod lightly, and I didn’t bother to turn around.
“Y’know, I thought you were a regenerate, but you can’t see in the dark. Care to enlighten me?”
“Come on. You already know something about me. I’ve seen you move way too fast to be totally human, and you look like you probably have the strength, but you don’t have the eyesight.” He didn’t sound horrified, only curious, and I found myself talking before I thought about what I would say, although I didn’t turn around. I didn't want to see his expression.
“I was created as a regenerate. I’m fast and strong, and I have the enhanced intelligence. I’d almost reached the top level of education in genetics by the time I was fifteen, and I learned to fight by watching defense modules, and from people I’ve met since I left that place. I can’t self-heal or regulate body temperature any better than a regular human, and I don’t have the vision. I was mostly a failure.”
Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy.
Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of eight, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late twenties. Posting stories based on some of her favourite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing "hobby" more seriously.
Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad dog called Casper, and a collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races home afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.
Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and job, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.