Authors: Ravenna Tate
was less than three hundred feet from the building’s entrance when the drone
flew directly overhead. She swore it slowed down slightly, but that could have
been her imagination. She breathed a sigh of relief once it was gone, but
within seconds another motorized noise split the night air, only this one was
much louder and deeper.
heart nearly stopped. She froze in her tracks and glanced up at the sky. What
the hell was that?
It sounds like an
. None of them had flown since the invasion. With the radar systems
messed up, all commercial and private flights had been cancelled indefinitely.
And it had been months since she’d spotted a military plane in the sky.
what was it?
swallowed hard as the noise grew louder. There was no mistaking it now. She
could make a run for it, but her legs suddenly felt like lead, and she started
to cry. She’d never been so afraid in her life. Why hadn’t she gone and
retrieved her belongings earlier and moved in above the gallery? She’d be
safely indoors right now.
the aircraft started to descend, Callie moaned loudly, but it was no use. Her
legs would simply not move. It wasn’t a military plane, and she knew it wasn’t
manned by anyone from Earth. It looked like a fighter jet, but the propulsion
unit on the bottom was exactly like the gigantic ones she’d seen on the news.
This aircraft, whatever it was, belonged to
Retrieval Commander Jakara frowned as he scanned the readout from the drone
that had flown over the girl seconds ago. Her sisters and parents had
definitely been taken in the raid six months ago. She was on the list, so she
had to be taken.
shook his head. This was the part of his mission he hated, because as much as
he knew his superiors tried to disguise their real reason for rounding up the
female relatives of those already taken as a political one, the true reason
they wanted them had nothing to do with these remaining women being a threat to
woman lived alone, she had no special technical or computer skills, and she
worked at a dry cleaners’, which was nearly out of business because no one was
worried about their clothing right now. She had earned an advanced art history
degree over a year ago.
What a silly, useless thing to fill your mind with
was no threat to anyone, but she was on the list and he was here. His movements
could be tracked. He couldn’t back out now. She was alone, outside, in the
dark. He’d never have a better time to take her than now. The stun beam he’d
trained on her was working, because although she could easily reach the
building where she lived before he could find a spot to land this thing, she
landed his aircraft in the middle of the street, between two abandoned pick-up
trucks, and opened the top of the cockpit. He glanced up and down the street.
If anyone was watching, he couldn’t see them. As he approached the girl he
cursed the stars under his breath. She was crying.
. As if he didn’t already hate this mission enough.
least he’d have to put her to sleep for the ride back. Jakara only wished she
wasn’t so attractive. All the Earth women were. That was why they’d targeted
them, after all. But this one tugged at his heart, with her big blue eyes and
curly dark hair. She had a vulnerability to her that made him wonder why he
continued to do this.
Because war is war, and there are
But he wasn’t at war with her, or with Earth. He was at war with his own
Leave me alone,” she whispered as he reached her.
. “I won’t hurt you. You’ll be
asleep during the journey and won’t dream. The time will pass in the blink of
an eye for you.”
? Why do you have to take
would be the harm in telling her? She couldn’t do anything about it, and once
they reached Voyeur Moon she’d be taken to the holding cells and reunited with
Until one or more of your
superiors claims her for a slave, that is
. That much was a given. She was
far too pretty for them not to notice her.
he really want to condemn her to such a fate?
It’s your job
. And her eventual fate wasn’t
his concern. “My mission is to find family members and close friends of those
already taken who escaped the first round.”
wiped her face, and a sudden urge to do it for her overwhelmed him.
would appear human to her eyes, even though his DNA was vastly different. That
was why they had to put the Earthlings to sleep for the journey to the Alpha
Centauri system. Even if the people of Earth had a spacecraft that could make
such a journey, it would take them over one hundred and sixty thousand years.
He and his kind could make the journey in an hour via a hyper jump and not be
harmed, but it would kill an Earthling if they were awake during it.
to her eyes, he had all the same outward appearances of a human male. That
realization made it a bit easier, because at least she wasn’t frightened by the
way he looked. But he also knew he couldn’t screw this up. He was far too
lenient with the humans as it was, and he was already being watched. He
couldn’t risk another reprimand because his Section Chief, Logan, would demote
him so many grades he’d be cleaning latrines the rest of his life.
humans were already rebuilding their communications systems, and if that
happened despite their efforts to block them, they risked annihilating
everything on the planet before they could retrieve everyone worth saving. He
had to do this. He was a soldier, and he had to answer to his Section Chief.
The drone report wasn’t something he could hide. If he let her go, he’d have no
way to explain why he hadn’t taken her tonight.
reached into one of his flight jacket pockets and pulled out a pre-filled
syringe. “I’m going to prick your arm with this. It will only sting for a
second, and then when you wake you will be reunited with your family.”
looked confused. “What? I’ll see them again?”
Yes. I’m taking you to them.” It wasn’t a lie, and
there was certainly no point in telling her it was unlikely she’d be there long.
That wasn’t his doing, and he couldn’t control what the others did. His mission
was to gather everyone on the list, and that’s what he had to do now. No matter
how much he’d rather protect this one from what he was certain would be her
ultimate fate on Voyeur Moon.
blinked a few times, not daring to sit up yet. She remembered two things.
Looking into the alien’s deep brown
burning sensation in her left upper arm. He’d said he was taking her to family,
and that she’d be asleep for the journey but would not dream. He’d been right
about that, but where was she now? Was her family here?
sat up slowly because in addition to feeling disoriented she was dizzy, and her
mouth was dry. The room was lit by one small lamp on a table next to her. Once
she focused her eyes, she realized she was in a bedroom, although certainly not
a luxurious one. It looked more like the dorm rooms she’d spent six years in.
stood, and when the dizziness finally passed, she surveyed her surroundings.
The bed was a single with a metal headboard, a chartreuse spread, and a
pre-formed pillow with a coarse linen case. Next to it was the table with a
lamp, a pitcher, and two glasses on a linen napkin.
crossed to the desk and pulled out the chair, taking a seat. The desk was
dusty, and so was the lamp on it. Both drawers were locked, and the clock next
to the lamp showed the digital time of twenty-three hours, seventeen minutes.
Did that mean the same as it would in military time? How much time had passed
since he’d taken her?
the hell was she? And where was her family, like the alien had promised? Had he
lied to her? Where was
And why had he spoken perfect American English to her? That realization finally
hit her. She’d understood everything he’d said, and he’d understood her. How
was that possible?
tried to fight her rising panic, but it was pointless. She crossed the room
again and opened the pitcher, taking a sniff. No smell at all. But what if it
wasn’t water? What if drinking it killed her?
was it here, then? If he’d wanted to kill her, he could easily have done so.
She poured a small amount into one of the glasses and sipped it.
Not the best-tasting water, but then the water at home hadn’t
tasted all that great for the past six months.
fact, they’d recently been advised to boil it first, but she hadn’t always done
nothing happened except her mouth was no longer dry as a desert, she drank an
entire glass of it, and then she walked around the rest of the room. There were
no pictures on the walls, and two doors, one of which was locked. It was metal,
and when she pressed her ear against it she couldn’t hear a thing.
other one opened into a tiny bathroom with a shower, a toilet, and a sink. All
metal, and nothing fancy. It looked more like an army barracks than a dorm
room. She was about to draw back the drapes against the far wall to see if they
hid a window when the sound of a lock opening stopped her.
backed against the wall and waited.
opened the door slowly, not wanting to disturb the girl if she was still
sleeping. They were usually tired for several days following the medication
that put them to sleep during the hyper jump. But she wasn’t in the bed.
glanced around the room, sighing out loud as he finally spotted her, cowering
against the wall near the window. He walked inside and closed the door. “I’m
not going to hurt you. Please come over and sit down so I can explain.”
Why do you speak English?”
repressed a smile.
was her first
question? “Your languages aren’t that difficult to learn, although American
English was the most challenging of them all.
Too many odd
expression softened somewhat, but her body language still screamed
stay away from me
. “What language do you
To your ears it would sound like a Russian dialect.”
Are you human?”
Not like you are.”
What’s different about you?”
That’s complicated to explain.”
waved a hand in the air. “But the way you look now … is that your true appearance?”
Yes. The way you see me now is what I really look
like. I haven’t disguised anything.”
Can you? I mean, disguise yourself.”
time he did smile. “No. I don’t have tentacles, I can’t make myself invisible,
and I don’t do card tricks.”
corners of her mouth turned up. “I guess you’ve been asked those questions
Questions similar to those, yes.”
You said I would be taken to my family.”
That is no longer possible.” He walked over to the
desk and pulled out the chair, taking a seat in it,
pointed toward the bed. “Please. Sit down.”
finally pushed away from the wall and took a seat on the edge of the bed, but
she crossed her arms, hugging her body as she did so. He couldn’t do anything
about her closed-off position. He only hoped what he had to tell her wouldn’t
make her any more wary of him than she already was, or this situation would be
even more complicated than he’d already made it.
need to bring them some food soon, and then figure out what to do next. He had
a plan, but executing it was risky. Then again, he’d been disobeying direct
orders his entire life. Why stop now?
watched the alien carefully, waiting for him to speak. With his flight jacket
off, dressed in boots and what looked like combat fatigues, he looked like one
of a number of National Guard and US Army personnel she’d seen in the city
shortly after the invasion. And, she hated to admit this, but he was also very
hair that was longer than she was used to seeing on men, but soft-looking and
slightly wavy. He needed a shave, but she’d always found a hint of stubble sexy
for some reason. And his eyes were like deep pools of chocolate. If she were
sitting with him under normal circumstances, she’d have been flirting like
First of all, I know your name. It was on the report
from the drone.
Calliope Elyse O’Doyle.
A very intriguing name.”