February 7th, 2005
Binding Krista

Adan d’Amato grimaced as he studied the scene in front of him. Gambler’s Paradise they called this place, but it was more likely Gambler’s Hell.

Humans were packed in like miners on an old Ewellian transport. Between the noise that their mechanical machines made, and the sound of their voices, it was enough to send a less-seasoned warrior running for cover.

At Adan’s side, Lyan d’Vesti wore a fierce scowl. His mood was echoed in his mind-thought. The Council wastes our time. We’ll find no bond-mate here.

Adan laughed softly at Lyan’s impatience. Our mate will arrive. Whoever watches over her would not send us to this location if she were not going to be here.

Lyan snorted. You have too much respect for the infallibility of the Council and its genetic scientists. Their predictions and equations do not always hold true in the real world. Have I not told them so each time I was hauled before them to explain my actions? It would amuse them to send us on a wild chase, or mate us to a human with nothing of the Fallon in her. But if this human mate is unsuitable, then I will have one of my own choosing. The Vesti take what belongs to them when the time is right to take it. We do not beg at the table of the Council.

Adan didn’t bother hiding the amusement in his thoughts. No doubt you have managed to offend someone on the Council, if not all of the members. But I have been a model citizen. When the marker in your genes was matched to the human’s, the scientists had to know that you would choose me to complete the mate-bond. No doubt they would have welcomed the extinction of your traits, but because of the respect they hold for mine, they told you of the woman’s existence.

Lyan shifted impatiently. We will see if you remain amused as this plays out.

In front of the warriors, a red light suddenly began flashing. A siren screamed and an elderly human female with blue-tinted hair squealed in a tone pitched high enough to shatter Sarien glass. Only reflexes honed by hours of training and years of experience kept Adan and Lyan from using the Ylan crystals on their wrists to transmute the offending machine into particles so small that it could never be recovered.

Coins began tumbling out of the machine the elderly human had been hovering over. Lyan shook his head in amazement. Coins! It has been thousands of years since our ancestors were here and yet these humans continue to evolve at the creeping pace of a Tresor slug. No wonder our appearance gave rise to their legends of angels and demons!

Adan shrugged. Be glad that some of the Fallon were drawn to these humans and bred with them. If not for the genes of our shared ancestors, there would be no hope for either the Vesti or the Amato and both of our races would be doomed to extinction.

Lyan fought down the fury that always threatened to consume him at the mention of the fate awaiting those on Belizair. His heart raged at the pain his elder brother and his brother’s mate endured. Unless the genetic scientists found a solution to the bio-gene virus the Hotalings had let loose on Belizair, his brother’s pairing would produce no children. Nor would there be children for any of the Amato or Vesti females.

So far the scientists had found only one way to defeat the Hotaling virus. Now the Council’s agents searched among the humans in order to identify those females who had the genetic marker of one of the Fallon-the shared ancestor race of the Amato and Vesti.

All hope to avoid extinction rested on the unmated males, yet each male carried both the fear that there would be no match and the knowledge that it required a Vesti or Amato co-mate in order to produce offspring.

Lyan forced the tightness out of his chest. He was the first of his family to be matched. The continuance of their line rested with him-and Adan. He had never been drawn to females outside of his race but… Even as the thought took form, a woman entered the casino and need shot through him.

Suddenly he had to fight for air, fight even to keep his balance. The purple-colored Ylan crystals woven into the wristbands bearing the symbol of Lyan’s clan-house burned against his skin, echoing the searing heat swirling through his very bloodstream.

Adan took a sharp intake of breath, his eyes zeroing in on the woman. The deep gold Ylan crystals on his wrists swirled as his emotions surged in recognition of their mate’s presence. “By the Council, she is exquisite,” Adan murmured as he placed a hand on Lyan’s shoulder.

Lyan’s nostrils flared as every predatory instinct within him focused on their mate. She was small, even among her own people, and dressed in black-the color of a warrior’s clothing. And yet her body was made for pleasure, not fighting.

Against the black material, her hair was a golden torch. Lyan could imagine the silky heat of it burning its way across his skin and inflaming him further as it flowed over their writhing bodies. The mating fever of the Vesti race shimmered just below the surface of his control. He was rock hard, ready. Instinct urged him to pounce now, to take her, join with her, make her completely his. A low growl vibrated along his throat.

Like a cool wind, Adan’s voice whispered, warned, And to take her that way is to guarantee there will be no offspring, for either of us. It is not one or the other, it is both or there is no conception at all.

The growl in Lyan’s throat deepened. He snarled, Curse the Hotalings and their get. Let our people hunt them down one-by-one and rid the universe of them for their use of the bio-gene weapons.

And we will. But for now let us be glad that our scientists have found a way for us to avoid extinction. Our mate awaits. Do we stand here and argue what cannot be changed, or do we go and secure her so that through her womb our lines may both survive?

Adan didn’t wait for an answer, but stepped forward. As he did so, the woman sensed his movement and looked at him. He was too skilled a hunter not to see her tense, ready herself to escape. Her reaction flooded his being with the desire to protect her even as blood pounded through him in anticipation of a chase. Let her run. The victory and mating would only be that much more intense. On his wristbands, the gold crystals swirled in tune to his anticipation of a mate, an heir, the survival of his race.

Lyan’s voice growled in his mind, Now whose lust threatens to leave us without a mate? She must accept us willingly or there is no bond.

Adan laughed softly. Do you really doubt our ability to secure our bond-mate? Before this night is over, she will belong to us in all ways.