Melting Iron Page 23

Shaking her head, Dawn relaxed slightly. “I was able to revive him but he needs a doctor. He’s been coughing up water so it got into his lungs.”

The woman turned. “Contact the Vontage and tell them we either need their medic sent to us or Davton picked up to be taken to their ship now, Viper.”

A dark-haired cyborg shot Dawn a glare before she rushed off. Dawn swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. “I need to get back to Iron. I don’t think he realizes I’m gone. They were inside the shuttle testing the systems when I saw the boy fall in. I didn’t have time to get help since I knew seconds counted.”

“What is your name?”


“I’m Plono.” The woman released Dawn and took a step back. “You will remain here until I speak to the boy to make sure you are telling the truth and then I will escort you back to the repair crew on the hill working on the Yas.”


“The shuttle. The paint faded but that is her name.”

“Okay.” Dawn knew it wasn’t up for debate. She shivered, chills racking her body from being cold and wet. “Can I sit by the fire? I’m freezing.”

The woman hesitated and then nodded, stepping out of the way. “Stay by the fire and make no sudden movements.” Plono glanced at the women around them. “Watch her.” Without another word the woman spun away, heading for where Davton had been taken.

Dawn moved slowly to the fire and sat down on one of the stones around the pit that had been laid out. She tore off her boots and placed them near enough to the fire to start drying without being in danger of getting too hot or burning. She glanced around her at the unusually quiet camp, seeing that all eyes were on her.

The fire wasn’t doing much to warm her but it was better than nothing. She was soaked all the way to her skin. In minutes Plono returned, looking less angry as she approached Dawn.

“We are grateful you saved the boy.” The woman cyborg looked anything but happy to be indebted to a human. “If you will follow me, I’ll find you some dry clothing before you grow ill and then I’ll return you to your work duty.”

The idea of being in something dry and getting warm was welcome to Dawn as she stood up. “Thanks. I’d appreciate it.”

“Follow me.”

Dawn left her boots behind to dry a little more as she walked barefoot through the camp toward one of the larger homes that near the back. Plono opened the door and waved Dawn inside. Without hesitation, Dawn walked into the dim room. It took her seconds of blinking to adjust from daylight to the interior.

The room was probably eighteen by twelve feet with a ten-foot-high ceiling. Metal made the walls shine a little. A bed dominated a corner of the room, a big four-poster made out of blue tree branches. Shock tore through Dawn as she stared at the bed. It wasn’t so much the bed that held her attention, but what was on it.

“That’s Coal. Ignore him,” Plono ordered Dawn, moving to a stack of crates that was used as an open dresser with clothing stacked inside.

Dawn’s mouth was hanging open and she couldn’t look away to save her life. A big, bald cyborg male was tied spread-eagle to the headboard and footboards. Only a sheet covered his lap but the rest of his thickly muscled body was exposed. He lifted his head to glare at Dawn. She met his dark brown stare.

“I said ignore him,” Plono said louder.

Dawn tore her stunned gaze from the man. “Why is he tied down?”

Plono grabbed some clothing and turned. The cyborg woman glanced at the bed and then walked to Dawn. “He is being punished. Put these on.”

“But…” She glanced around the room. “There’s nowhere that’s private. There are no walls or anything.” Her focus went back to the tied male.

“Your point is?”

“He’ll see me if I change in here.” Dawn stared up at her hostess.

“He has seen many females without their clothing on. He’s our breeder. Change your clothing quickly, or don’t. I won’t—”

The door opened and Viper stepped in. “The Vontage is sending a shuttle but they wish to speak to you now.”

Plono moved quickly toward the door. “Stay here, human. I will return shortly and then escort you back to your work crew. If you leave my home it will be considered a threat against my females.”

In stunned silence Dawn stood there staring at the male tied to the bed after they were left alone. He frowned at her and then tugged his arms but they were tied at the wrist. When he spoke, his voice was unnaturally deep and a little rough, as if he didn’t use it much.

“Do you plan on just staring at me?”

“I’m sorry.” She flushed, her cheeks heating up. “Why are you tied down? What are you being punished for?”

“I escaped and they had to track me down.” A cold smile angled his full lips upward. “It took them two months to find me this time so now they are keeping me tied up around the clock and they send fifteen women with me when they allow me to go to the river to bathe.”

“You’re a cyborg. Why would you try to escape from your own people?”

He jerked on the rope again, the wood creaking but not giving way. “You’re a slave as much as I am. Did your ship crash here?”

“No. I’m with some cyborgs who came here to rescue the survivors of the Moonslip. That would be you. No one told you?”

A deep growl tore from his lips as he twisted again in his ropes, this time using his legs as well. The sheet moved, sliding dangerously low on his hips. Dawn averted her gaze, not wanting to embarrass him, suspecting that he wore nothing under that sheet.

“No one told me. They don’t talk to me much unless it’s to give orders.”

“But you’re a cyborg.”

He frowned. “Change your clothing or they will return you to work that way.”

“I’m not stripping na**d in front of you.”

A black eyebrow arched. “Modesty?”

“I guess so.”

He twisted again, pulling on the rope but unable to break free. “I will close my eyes. You shouldn’t suffer needlessly for having a rare female trait.”

A rare female trait? Was he for real? Dawn watched him lower his head and close his eyes. She hesitated and then quickly stripped out of her wet jumpsuit, the material sticking to her. She shivered as she put on a threadbare shirt and a pair of large cut-off pants with a tie waist. The clothes were old and nearly falling apart at the seams but they were dry against her skin and really large.

“I’m done. Thanks.”

He opened his eyes, lifted his head, and gave her a nod. “Will you do me a courtesy?”

“What do you want?”

“Will you tell your owners about me? Tell them I wish to have a discussion about earning my freedom. Are you owned by males or females?”

“Male. Singular.” Dawn glanced around the room and then moved to the table by the door. She grabbed the small item and moved toward the bed. “I’ll tell him but instead of asking for that, why not ask for this?” She held up the steak knife. “I’d want to be cut loose.”

Shock stunned his features. “Your male will punish you for freeing me.”

Dawn put her knee on the bed, going for the wrist closest to her. She shrugged. “What is Iron going to do? Yell at me?” She snorted. “Not talk to me for a day? I’ll survive.”

The knife wasn’t very sharp, so she really had to saw through the thick rope, but she managed it. He still looked amazed as he snatched the knife from her fingers, turning to hack through the rope gripping his other wrist.

“Tell your male I forced you to free me to avoid harsh punishment,” he said softly. “I owe you a favor.”

“You don’t owe me a thing,” Dawn said, backing away from the bed. “But you might want to wait to free yourself until I’m out of here or that woman is going to be back here real soon to see you’re loose.”

He hesitated, turning his head to stare at her. A slow smile spread across his features. “We could both escape. I will take you with me into the mountains. They will eventually capture us again but we’ll both be free until then.”

Dawn backed up. “No thanks. I don’t want to go anywhere but back to Iron.”

The cyborg stared at her with a confused expression. Dawn sighed.

“I love him. I’m working on making him love me back. He might threaten to put me over his knee or tie me to his bed but he won’t hurt me.”

Coal cut his legs loose and then sliced through the rope that was tied to the frame, taking all of it with him as he climbed off the bed. Dawn gasped and spun around to present him with her back as he stalked totally na**d to the crates of clothing, obviously comfortable in his bare skin.

In less than a minute the man had a pair of pants on and was grabbing things around the room. Dawn watched him silently as he used a sheet to gather supplies. He was smart to grab things while he could if he planned on going into the mountains. She noticed he kept hold of the rope.

“You’re taking hacked rope?”

He paused, meeting her gaze. “Tell them I pulled free. If there is no evidence left behind they won’t know you cut me loose.” He stared down at her. “Are you sure you do not wish to flee with me? I won’t harm you.”

“I’m sure but thanks for the offer. Good luck with running, but instead of doing that, why don’t you go talk to the cyborgs who came to rescue you?”

“Their females will just hand me over to my females so there is no point.”

“There aren’t any females on the Star. That’s the ship I came on. I was told the men outnumber the females on the cyborg home planet.”

His features showed his shock. “Are you sure?”

She nodded. “Go to the hill where the Yas is. Iron, the guy who owns me, is up there with a crew of his men fixing the shuttle. That’s where I came from today.”

He moved to the corner, studying it, and then was shifting the metal wall to open it up a few feet to reveal the outside and trees. He glanced back at Dawn, staring at her for a long moment before he slipped out of the room.

Dawn sighed and walked to the front door. She hesitated, wondering how much shit she would get into if she just waited on the outside. It might give Coal a little more running time if no one came in to see he was gone. She lifted her chin, pushed on the door and stepped outside.

She saw Iron storming toward her, looking enraged. Ice was on his heels.

“Dawn, I warned you not to run,” Iron snarled.

“I didn’t. There was a boy who—”

Iron reached her, his hands wrapping around her as he jerked her against his body. He held her there, lowering his head to hers and a strong arm wrapped around her.

“I was worried.” He said softly.

“A boy fell in the water and I pulled him out. I’d never run from you.”

Iron sighed. “If you’re lying I will punish you. They will tell me the truth.”

So much for trust. Dawn sighed as Iron released her. She saw Plono heading their way from another house. It sucks, Dawn thought, that he needs verification instead of just believing me.

Chapter Twelve

“She freed my male.” Plono was furious as she glared at Dawn.

A deep frown was fixed on Iron’s features. “What male?”

The fuming cyborg woman hesitated as a look of dread flashed on her face before it disappeared. “I have a slave.”

Iron jerked his head toward Ice. “Alert our men that there is a hostile human free. He might go for the Rally.”

“He’s not human,” Dawn said softly. When Iron’s head jerked her way, she met his stunned gaze. “He’s a cyborg.”

“What in the hell is going on?” Ice stepped forward, glaring at Plono. “You enslaved one of our men? Why?”

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