by Susan Kearney

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A warrior on a mission

Kirek of Rystan's objective is to destroy the Federation's deadliest enemy, but he needs help. When assistance comes in the form of a sexy and irresistible space pilot , he takes on a second goal—to win her heart.

A woman with a plan

Captain Angel Taylor's going after the biggest salvage haul in her career. Fiercely independent, she can't imagine a life with Kirek, a traditional Rystani warrior with extraordinary psi powers — but he has seductive skills she can't resist.

The Quest

Teaming up, Angel and Kirek risk their lives to fight the evil Zin empire — but Kirek's biggest battle of all is to win Angel's love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765354495
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date: 06/27/2006
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.72(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Susan Kearney used to set herself on fire four times a day. Now a USA TODAY bestelling author, she does something really hot—she writes romance. She can apply the old rule of "write what you know" and never run out of ideas for characters and plots. An All-American and professional diver, expert in martial arts, sailor, real estate broker and owner of a barter business as well as women's fitness and three hair salons, she has enough material for a lifetime.

Kearney, a native of New Jersey, writes full time. She resides in a suburb of Tampa—with her husband, kids and Boston Terrier.

Read an Excerpt

The Quest

By Susan Kearney


Copyright © 2006 Hair Express, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-765-35449-7

Chapter One

"Captain, we aren't alone."

Angel Taylor peered at the Raven's viewscreen and frowned. Another starship had just exited hyperspace, heading straight toward the Vogan ship Angel was after. Apparently, the Raven wasn't the only scavenger ship on a salvage foray. "Raise engine speed ten percent."

"We're already redlining," Petroy, her first officer, informed her, but just as she knew he would, he increased their speed. The Raven's engines vibrated up from engineering, pulsed through the deck of the bridge beneath Angel's feet, reverberated through her bones.

Ignoring the assorted rattles and moans of her equipment, Angel gritted her teeth and peered at the viewport where a panorama of stars served as a backdrop for the asteroid belt that had trapped the abandoned ship she intended to salvage. "Just once, I wish the information we purchased could be both accurate and confidential."

Despite the competition, she had to secure the Vogan ship first. Losing the salvage to a rival wasn't an option. Due to lack of funds, her ship's safety inspection was five months overdue. In fact, the Raven's engines needed a complete overhaul, and if Angel failed to procure the derelict ship, she faced thehumiliation of being grounded-a fate she'd avoided for the last eight years, ever since she'd won the Raven in a gambling joint back on Earth.

When she'd first acquired the Raven, it hadn't been safe to fly out of orbit, but Angel had patched the holes in the hull and reprogrammed the computer systems herself. She'd lucked out on her first run, finding and securing the salvage rights to a wrecked Venus-to-Earth transport ship, which she'd sold back to the mining company that had built her, earning enough profit to take on a crew and enough fuel to leave the solar system. Since then, Angel had never looked back, roaming the galaxy in search of abandoned space vessels in hopes of one day finding the mother lode, a haul so rich she could afford to buy a ship that wasn't older than Petroy. Meanwhile, she enjoyed the hunt. The freedom of space and being her own boss suited her-even when her ship's system was falling apart around her.

Leaning eagerly over the computer vidscreen, Angel increased the magnification. The abandoned ship ahead tumbled like a glinting piece of quartz among lumps of coal. She wasn't the mother lode, but was still a prize all right, rotating end-over-end in space, her once shiny hull now pitted and partially charred at the stem. The bow appeared undamaged and perfect for salvage. Angel could scrap the hull for metal and the tonnage alone would keep the Raven in fuel for several months. If she was lucky, the hulk would still possess its old engine intact, and there would be electronics in the bow section that might bring enough to pay her small crew their back wages too.

But her competition surged forward across the starscape in a streaming ribbon of light, making a beeline for her prize. Space laws were clear, albeit not always obeyed in the vast reaches between civilized worlds where enforcement tended to be sketchy. Yet, according to Federation law, the first salvage operator who attached their clutch beam to the hull possessed retrieval rights.

"Turn on recorders to verify the clutch and grab." Angel was too experienced to risk arriving first on the scene, only to later lose a court battle.

"Recorders activated."

The Raven had to secure the other ship-or Angel and her crew might end up dirtside slinging hash to keep their bellies full. If only she could have afforded to purchase those new hyperdrive engines she'd seen on Starbase Ten. But due to her perennial lack of funds, she'd had to settle for a retrofitting instead of a complete overhaul.

"They still have the edge, Captain." Petroy spoke crisply. "At current speed, they'll beat us to the Vogan ship."

"No, they won't. Inject the booster fuel into the engines."

Petroy's squat body shuddered and his sturdy shoulders shrugged. "Captain-"

"You want to spend the next year dirtside?"

"Better to live on a planet than blast ourselves into the ever after."

"That's where we disagree." She'd spent the first twenty years of life on Earth and had had enough of their perfect society to last a lifetime. Angel's father had abandoned her mother before she'd been born, and her mother had been too sick to work, leaving them at the mercy of her mother's family. She'd learned early that charity from her aunts and uncles came attached with strings, like obeying every societal rule. Not only had the necessity of depending on others depleted her mother's self esteem, it had sapped her will to live. After her death, Angel felt as though she couldn't breathe on Earth without violating some ordinance or other. Stars, she couldn't even listen to the music she liked without some botcop knocking on her door and handing her a ticket for violation of noise control.

"I'd prefer to live another five hundred years," Petroy spoke dryly.

She ignored his sarcasm. During her childhood on Earth, Angel had learned that money could be made from what she'd found tossed in the garbage. Over the years she'd retrieved books, restored furniture, and repaired a bicycle. Broken toys often needed just a bit of glue to fix and those she couldn't sell, she'd donated to a nearby orphanage-the scary facility where her relatives had threatened to send her if she'd caused trouble. As much as she'd hated obeying rules and depending on the charity of family, she'd seen firsthand that life in the orphanage was to be avoided. Space salvage had been a natural extension of her childhood scavenging, and now her fingers danced over the console to check on the condition of a volatile mixture of fuel she'd found on a dead space station last year and had saved for an emergency. "The booster fuel should get us there first."

"But its chemical formula has destabilized. Will we still be in one piece after you-"

She didn't have time to argue. With a quick flick of her hand, she coded in the sequence that would open a valve to mix the dangerous propellant with their normal fuel.

"Captain, I must protest."

"Sorry, Petroy." She spoke cheerfully, thoroughly enjoying the race. "If you don't want to stay, eject in the shuttle pod and I'll pick you up on the return."

Petroy showed all his teeth, the Juvanian attempt at a smile. "I wouldn't miss the ride, Captain. I only felt it my duty to-"

With the booster fuel in her tanks, the Raven burst forward like a junkie with a fix, her renewed energy increasing their speed to a level that would have flattened Angel if she hadn't been wearing her suit. Every Federation citizen wore a suit, made by machinery left by an ancient race called the Perceptive Ones. Directed by psi power, the suit protected her from high acceleration, filtered her air, clothed her, bathed her, took care of all her wastes, and translated the many different Federation languages. Her suit allowed her to move, in short bursts, at the speed of thought and could induce a state of null grav.

When the Raven accelerated, Angel automatically used her psi to adjust her suit. The soles of her boots locked onto the deck. She also strengthened the shielding against the tremendous g-forces.

The Raven's hull rumbled in protest. The deck plating arched below her feet until she feared it might buckle. The viewports moaned and vibrated.

She held her breath and clenched the console. "We're gaining on them."

"Preparing to engage clutch beam." Petroy laughed a high-pitched sound that had once grated on her nerves but now she'd learned to enjoy. Petroy was an acquired taste-he usually appeared all staid and severe, but at heart he loved taking risks, although he'd never admit it.

She tensed. "On my mark."

It was going to be close. But in her heart, she knew this salvage was hers. The abandoned ship was calling to her like a first lover bent on a reunion.

Timing would be critical. If she waited too long to activate the beam, the delay could cost her the prize and the other ship would beat them to it. But if she deployed too soon, the beam would disperse, lose power, and fail to grab the spinning hull.

Her computer could calculate the particle density of the asteroid belt, the ship's speed, and the vectors, but no computer could estimate her competitor's accuracy without knowing the individual captain, the make and model of the other starship, or how much risk they were willing to take to capture the hulk themselves. Angel used her instincts, instincts that had won her the Raven with a pair of fours when she sensed her opponent across the card table was bluffing, instincts that had told her to help a stowaway Terran singer instead of turning her over to the men hunting her during her last run, instincts that told her that the Vogan ship was meant to be hers.

"Captain?" Petroy prodded.

"Not yet. The Vogan ship is heavy. She's spinning. And we're still at the outermost reach of the clutch beam."

"The other ship just deployed their beam. They locked on target."

Angel bit back a curse. Her competitor's beam flashed across space like skimmer headlights in a foggy storm. But just like in fog that dimmed, distance scattered the clutch beam's power. The derelict ship kept tumbling.

"Stay ready. They don't have her locked in, yet."

Angel held her breath, searching for signs the spin was slowing. But like an out-of-control top, the hulk kept tumbling. "They're losing her."


"Wait." Her competitor would have to recharge their beam, which would buy the Raven extra time. And at their speed, every extra second narrowed the distance by thousands of miles. "Load the beam."

"Beam loaded."

"Lock on target."


"Steady. Steady. Now."

Their clutch beam shined through space, a bright beacon of good timing and skill. The Raven's force field captured the spinning ship and slowed the wild rotations.

"Got her. She's locked and latched."

As her competition jumped into hyperspace and departed, leaving the prize to Angel, satisfaction flowed through her like sweet frelle, the rare spice manufactured on only one world in the galaxy. And now she looked forward to her favorite part of her work, boarding her prize to see exactly what she'd taken.

"You should wait to make sure our competition has truly left for good before venturing out of the Raven."

"Keep watch, in case they return." Petroy's warning had come over the com system as she'd headed to the shuttle bay, but she could hear the excitement in his tone and knew he'd trade places with her in a heartbeat if given the chance. As captain, she sometimes allowed him the first right of inspection. But this time, she wanted to go herself. The tight race had fired her imagination, and the urge to board her prize was so strong that her blood hummed with excitement. She climbed into the shuttle and ignited her engine, shooting away from the Raven, pleased to see the Vogan ship caught in their clutch beam like a macro fly in a Debubian spider web.

Her second team, Frie and Leval, still slept, but would awaken soon and take over for her and Petroy on the next shift. But first she intended to take an inventory of their catch. Angel loved the adventure of space. She adored not knowing what waited around the next bend, or on the next planet. As a child at her mother's sickbed, she'd read many books about space and had always dreamed of escape. Life on the Raven suited her.

"How's she looking?" Petroy pretended to be worried, but his tone of impatience told her he was as eager to hear good news as she was to give it.

"Good. The metal alone should keep the Raven flying for a few more months." Even better, when Angel hauled the salvaged ship into Dakmar, a moon orbiting a gaseous planet with no life forms, she doubted the former owners would quibble over ownership and she would be able to sell it immediately. Back in the Central Federation, she'd have to fill out endless computer forms and wait for the authorities to track down the original owners to ensure she hadn't attacked the ship just to gain salvage rights. But Dakmar existed in a less-traveled region of the Federation, where the laws encouraged free enterprise. The strongest and the fittest and the smartest ran Dakmar-an efficient system that would allow Angel to turn a tidy profit without a long wait for authentication of salvage rights. She might eventually earn more on a Federation world, but the downtime would erode the extra profit.

"And?" he prodded.

She flew a slow perimeter check. "From the char marks, it looks as if an explosion took out the stem. Perhaps they lost shielding and collided with an asteroid."

"What's wrong?" Petroy asked, perhaps sensing her tone wasn't as jubilant as he'd expected. Or perhaps he just knew how to read her better than she wanted to acknowledge.

Although the evidence showed the disaster had occurred a long time ago and likely the ship had been tumbling for years, she still hoped the Vogans had escaped unharmed. The ship had obviously been abandoned, yet the hair on her arms prickled, as if in warning of danger.

"Any sign of our competition?" she asked.

"None. But it's possible a small ship could be hiding from our sensors behind some of the local asteroids."

"Are sensors picking up any contaminants on board?"

"She's as clean as a hyperdrive engine."


"Nothing. There's not so much as a nano enzyme clinging to the food processors. Why?"

She tried to shrug away the tightness between her shoulder blades. "I don't know. But I feel ..."

"Go on."

"... As if something's waiting for me in there."

"Then don't go in."

She appreciated his concern, but they both knew she wouldn't turn back now. And luckily she was the captain and no one could order her to turn back. Even though adrenaline had kicked in and she could taste sweet success, she remained wary. "I'm armed. And the sensors are well calibrated."

"Machines can make mistakes."

"My instincts might be wrong," she countered.

"And when was the last time you were wrong?"

"Point taken." Angel was rarely incorrect about recognizing trouble, except when it came in the form of the opposite sex. Twice married, twice divorced, of late, she'd kept her relationships short, her expectations confined to sating her physical appetites. She now looked for men who fit her lifestyle, those who wanted no more than good company for a short time and who didn't mind when she left without a backward glance.

Angel flew under the belly, taking extra care to look for any details that appeared out of place. Giant mawing holes in the hull and ports gaped where the crew had popped safety pods to abandon ship, a sign they'd safely escaped. Most damage had probably occurred after they'd left when tiny asteroids had collided with the hull.

While inspecting every exterior inch, she tried to calm her racing pulse. Her instincts were extraordinary. She had a knack for finding trouble, of being in the exact right place at the right time-where things happened. If she'd been into sports, she would have been the star player, the one who always seemed to be around the ball during a critical play. If she'd been in the military, she would have been the general on the front, in the exact location where the enemy attacked. And as a scavenger, her success rate was phenomenal, considering the equipment she had to work with.

However, when her scalp prickled and anticipation rolled in her gut, when her fingers itched on her blaster trigger for no damn reason that she could discern-like right now-she'd learned to be extra careful. Angel had even read up on the phenomena. Supposedly, her subconscious picked up signals her brain couldn't interpret-tiny signals that her conscious mind didn't see or hear or notice, but ones that could still broadcast loud and clear to her subconscious.

"Talk to me." Petroy's voice pulled her from her thoughts.

"I'm taking the flitter through a blast hole in the fuselage." She came through the damaged hull in a cloud of dust. Her exterior landing lights revealed an empty dock and she set down with no problems.

"I've landed and the shuttle bay is full of wreckage."

She'd expected no less. Still, she couldn't keep the disappointment from her tone. It would have been wonderful to find a stash of cargo, starfire gemstones from Kenderon IV or ice crystals from Ellas Prime or even a case of Zenonite brandy. But the bay had either been picked clean a long time ago or the Vogan ship had flown empty.


Excerpted from The Quest by Susan Kearney Copyright © 2006 by Hair Express, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Quest 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
northamericanwordcat More than 1 year ago
I love the Rystani Series. We have great world building, compelling characters, strong women, heroes of all types, humor, and action adventure. This addition to the series features the baby, we saw born in the first book all grown up, hunky, and super powered.  Our heroine is a self determined pilot and a Captain in every sense.  The plot is a engaging space action adventure and the love story is well written.  This series has been on my keeper shelf for years. If you like like Science Fiction Romance, it is likely to make yours as well.  I was given this book for my honest review.  So, there you have it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kirek had once been considered the most powerful psi in the Federation. But eight years ago, while astral projecting, Kirek had been caught in a wormhole explosion. His mind had been blasted out to the far end of the wormhole, all the way into the Zin Galaxy. The Zin are a combination of machines and live beings. They are now threatening everything in the Federation. All the Federation planets' cores will overheat and melt the each planet's crust, killing all. It took Kirek seven years to return and another year to be reintegrated into his mind with all the body machines that had kept him alive. With his return, Kirek brought back a way to stop the Zin however, only he and a single small ship would be able to accomplish this heavy task. The main problem is that during the astral projection the Zin tagged his psi and labeled him to be a threat. They would recognize Kirek's psi when he got close. Kirek needed to somehow block his psi from the Zin and no one knows how to do this. Add to this that his psi had been damaged. Kirek can no longer astral project. His power is now limited. ...................... Captain Angel Taylor considers her ship, 'The Raven', to be home. The ship is in dire need of repairs and overdo on many checks. Therefore, the salvage she was after was considered very important. Yet she did not expect to find a Rystan warrior hiding aboard the salvage. Even worse, before they are even introduced the Zin attack, insisting she turn over the Rystan named Kirek. Kirek makes Angel a deal she helps him and he takes her to the biggest salvage haul in Federation history. ...................... ***** This is the fourth book in Susan Kearney's series. Each novel is a stand-alone story. You do not have to read any of the previous ones to fully understand all that is happening. You will never feel left adrift. If you HAVE read the previous three stories, you will get a small glimpse into how the previous novels' characters are doing. Also, there is a teenage girl in the middle of this novel that has dreams of farming. Author Susan Kearney only gives a couple pages on this minor character however, it left me hoping to see more of her in the future. I have high hopes. If you enjoy romantic space journeys, you will adore this novel. My husband has been reading them as well, then loaning the novels to his other male co-workers. So I can honestly tell you that males and females, both, would love this universal series. Highly recommended! *****
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this series, I really liked Kahn and Tessa the best, I felt they had more to over come. Xander and Alara were another favorite. I really liked the idea that the men took the pain from child birth. I am glad that you kept it to 4 books; some authors go to far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A terrific ending to a fantastic series!!  Loved watching Kirek turn into a hero over 4 books.  But this book can also stand alone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall I enjoyed the book. I like the characters and the novelty of the world she creates. I read this as a follow up to the book before it but have not read anything earlier in the series. I liked the beginning of The Quest better as the characters were introduced and there was more sizzle. Somehow I expected the male lead to remain strong and indomitable, but the female lead started to eclipse him in that department as she developed her own powers. I guess I felt he had a lot more potential but the author cut him off at the knees a little by maintaining his injured psi status in order to let the female lead help him in his quest. Good as far as a story line goes, and even expected, but I still wanted to see more of his amazing abilities. Or even more of both of their amazing abilities. Basically, he started out a very strong, powerful male (even injured) but that's not what we got to see as the book progressed. The "coolness" factor was subdued by the vulnerability of the two characters as they found they needed each other, etc. etc. So, aside from the above mentioned personal preferences, it was a good read and overall I enjoyed it. A little predictable in the end though. It dragged a little along the way so by the time the big confrontation occurred it seemed there was only enough time to wrap up hastily. Of course, the battle wasn't the point of the book. The love story was. So, read it for the love story, not the background plot.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Captain Angel Taylor knows that her beloved ship The Raven desperately needs preventative maintenance and some major repair so this salvage is critical to her. However, as she brings the booty on board, the Zin demand she hand over the living part of her loot. Apparently Federation Rystani Psi Warrior Kirek hides among her catch from the Zin. Kirek offers Angel a deal she cannot refuse. If she helps him escape, he will lead her to the largest salvage ever, a place where his mind landed when he was caught in an explosion while on the astral plane eight years ago he has become whole only over the past year. --- The Zin threaten to destroy the Federation by overheating the core of each planet. Kirek knows how to prevent pandemic disaster, but the Zin know his psi print and want him dead. He believes she is his and the Federation¿s enabling angel that will help him defeat the enemy. --- The latest science fiction romance in the Kearney universe is a terrific tale that grips the audience from the opening line when Raven First Officer Petroy informs the Captain ¿we aren¿t alone¿ and never slows down until the final alteration with the Zin. The action-packed story line is fun follow as the heroes land in one hot spot after another even as love blossoms between the salvager and the psi. Sub-genre fans will want to read this tale and obtain the previous novels (see THE CHALLENGE, THE DARE, and THE ULTIMATUM) as each is an outstanding stand alone (with minor ties) outer space thriller. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page 16, guy riding horse. It is like dovers quest or something.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its its......... just a mouse