Loving Deviant Page 31

consequences.”

It was a threat, pure and simple. “You love him.” She could appreciate that. “I never want to hurt him. I give you my word, for what that’s worth. You don’t know me, but you’ll learn that I’m a straight shooter. It means I don’t lie.”

“I hope not.”

“Your son saved my life, Mavo, and I wish he’d been the one who’d contracted to marry me instead of that station owner.”

Mavo cocked his head, staring at her intently.

She swiftly regretted admitting that. It was probably too much.

“I see.”

She wondered what he was thinking but didn’t ask.

* * * * *

Deviant couldn’t get Venice off his mind. He ran another scan of the system, looking for any threats to their vessel. “It’s clear.”

Stag nodded from the captain’s chair. “There has been pirate activity in the vicinity. Keep continually scanning. They’ve been known to use the moons to hide behind.”

“Understood.” Deviant pushed back his irritation. He knew his duties well. He’d been on plenty of space missions. He didn’t blame the male for being cautious though. It was his first mission aboard the Varnish.

He scanned the area again, before addressing Stag. “May I ask you something?”

Stag turned the chair to face him. “What?”

“Why do you hold so much resentment for Earthers?”

“I was assigned to the engine room of a military battle cruiser. They treated us as if we were androids. The commander harshly punished us when anything failed. He enjoyed bringing us before the crew to make us an example of what happened when things didn’t run smoothly aboard his ship. He killed some cyborgs when they didn’t react to his orders fast enough, or if they pointed out when he made errors in judgment. Of course, he would have made us suffer anyway if we kept silent, after he realized he’d been wrong. It was a no-win situation. He hated cyborgs but was forced to have us on his vessel due to orders. We were the ones who paid the price.”

Deviant had selfish reasons to be curious, of course. He was attempting to estimate just how angry Stag would be if he learned Venice was aboard. “Not all Earthers are bad. Some of us have joined into family units with their females.”

“I’m aware.” Stag tilted his head, peering at him with a look of almost suspicion. “Why are you discussing this topic?”

“It’s a long shift, and we’re alone right now while the rest of the crew is on break. I like to talk.”

“Fair enough.” Stag stood and stretched. “You were born on Garden. Earthers looked upon us as you view the machinery around you. You’d tear that console apart to fix anything that didn’t work the way you expected it to, or rip out faulty circuits to replace with new ones. That’s how we were treated. We were interchangeable to them. Destroy one, and just order another to take its place. It’s in their nature to disregard anything they see as inferior. Add in a grandiose ego, and you have an Earther.”

“The females our males have taken into family units aren’t like that. They view cyborgs as equals.”

“I don’t believe that. Earthers pretend to see us as people, then use the trust they gain to cause harm.”

“That can’t be the case with all of them.”

Stag grunted. “You were never around them. I was. Some of the crew on the battle cruiser befriended cyborgs, or seemed to. I lost three of my friends and crewmates who were lured by Earthers to sections of the vessel not monitored. They walked into traps, and were surrounded by dozens of crew and beaten to death.”

Deviant stared at him. “Why would the crew do that?”

“They were bored; watching cyborgs die became a source of amusement. Some of the females flirted with us, attempting to use us as sex bots. One of my friends fell for it. Someone saw him leaving her quarters weeks into their involvement. She said he’d sexually assaulted her, rather than admit she’d been the one to seduce him. They made all cyborgs witness his execution.

“That lying Earther smiled at the commander and thanked him for giving her justice, and all I wanted to do was break her neck. The commander threatened to castrate every cyborg so it could never happen again. Larx was innocent. I saw that female beg him to fuck her. She pursued him every shift, but no one would believe the word of a cyborg. Barely two weeks later, she tried to lure other cyborgs, attempting to get them back

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