Security Chief Alayna Baptiste was investigating the disappearance of supplies critical to the fledgling colony when she was arrested for conspiracy to sabotage the Gateway under construction. Fortunately for her, the clan chief of the Kashon, Zorn, was there to witness and there to capture her when she had to flee into the alien wilderness
***NEW**Set up to take the fall for the destruction of the gateway, neither of Alayna’s options are palatable choices.
It’s too late to stop it by the time Security Chief Alayna Baptiste discovers the Supremists are behind the efforts to destroy the Gateway—too late to save herself from mob violence bound to target her since she’s setup as scapegoat. She can stay and die or escape into the alien wilderness and probably die anyway.
She didn’t actually consider option three—being kidnapped by the Chief of the Kashon.
Alayna Baptiste had no warning. She’d just put in a full shift at work trying to track down critical missing supplies—actually a shift and a half of, basically, fruitless pursuit and gotten up to head to her hab for a few hours of much needed sleep when they arrived.
Ordinarily, as security chief, she would have delegated what, on the surface at least, appeared to be nothing but grunt work, to a subordinate.
In point of fact, she had—weeks earlier.
And yet the man she’d given the task to not only hadn’t managed to find the root of the problem so that the ‘hole’ could be plugged, the ‘disappearances’ had reached a new level—making it clear that it wasn’t a simple case of things miscounted or misplaced.
Not that she’d believed that any of the time.
The materials in question were parts for the gateway and until it was completed all colony supplies were critical. And, as such, monitored as zealously as the most precious of resources—because they were. They were so far off the beaten path that it would take longer to get a supply ship to replace critical supplies than it would to complete the gateway and transport them to the fledgling colony.
And they were behind schedule on the completion of it already—dangerously so.
They’d had problems with the natives—the primitive humanoid tribe that had considered the planet theirs before the interlopers—Earth people—had arrived, and still apparently thought so. But that had been before they’d realized they had ‘company’ and had secured their supplies from the thieves—who seemed to believe they had a perfect right to anything they could steal.
So Alayna was fairly convinced that the supplies that continued to disappear couldn’t be connected to the natives.
And, in point of fact, had begun to suspect, very strongly, that the natives had been maligned to start with and it had never been them who presented the problem.
And if it wasn’t a simple matter of the things being misplaced or having been miscounted or damaged or used up
That left the colonists themselves.
And since most of it had to do with the gateway it was hard to ignore the very real possibility that someone among them was actually trying to sabotage the gateway.
She hadn’t arrived at that conclusion easily, though.
Because it was just plain insane.
They were all stuck here. Every single life in the colony hinged on making the gateway operational—because they weren’t going to get any supplies until they did.
Who would be insane enough to deliberately delay the completion?
There was no way to profit from it that she could see.
If they hadn’t been stranded light years from Earth, she might have seen the possibility that someone—from a rival company, perhaps—had something to gain by making the colony fail, but since they wouldn’t be able to profit, that removed that possibility as far as she could see.
So … zealot—religious or political.
There was a veritable wall of security agents outside her door, she discovered, when she opened it to leave her office and caught them in the very act of ‘sneaking up’ on her.
They all jolted, instantly bringing their weapons up to train them on her.
“Security Chief, Alayna Baptiste! You are under arrest for conspiracy to commit sabotage! Are you carrying any weapons?” the officer in command bellowed at her as if he thought she might be deaf, grabbing her arm in a bruising grip and yanking her through the doorway and then slamming her against the wall and twisting her arms behind her back. “Search her, secure her—Collins, Smith—search her office and personal files and collect any evidence you discover.”
“Evidence?” Alayna echoed. She was in such a state of shock that it took her many minutes to actually absorb what seemed to be happening. “What the hell?”
A mixture of fear and anger washed over her as they frisked her and then bound her wrists together behind her back. Then the security officer grasped her by one arm and commenced to dragging her, shoving, jerking her along as if she was struggling against his hold rather than stumbling because he kept jerking her off balance and moving faster than she could manage—especially in her current situation.
He succeeded in knocking her down three different times as he hauled her toward the security station. Her fear escalated as the pain from the rough handling and battering increased, resolved itself into a terror that she’d already been tried and convicted and they were ready to execute her for what they thought she might have been trying to do.
It was almost a relief to be processed and thrown into a cell.
Published: September 2021
Word Count: 24, 524
Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Romance
Available formats: Epub, PDF, RTF, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
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