Falcon House Leader on Reax isn't the only one facing turmoil.
later, back at Celeste, Maera’s superior requested she come to his office as
some allegations had come to his desk concerning her last assignment. Maera
clarified the issues and told of the events that took place on the ground at
Salvation Colony, information already available in her report.
superior nodded after viewing verification videos from Nemil’s suit vid. He
remained unhappy but finally signed off on the file and sent it to legal.
briefly wondered why his report remained uncompleted before he called her into
wanted to see you, that’s why you’re here,” he said, almost as if he’d read her
mind. He gave her what she called his ‘assessing’ gaze. “I have another unusual
mission for you.”
a rather quick turn-around,” Maera responded as the new orders appeared on the
know, but this shouldn’t be too hard. We have a request for help from Reax.
They want our help in picking up some stranded citizens and delivering them
back to Reax, a most unusual request from such a reclusive colony. They have their
own fleet, don’t they?” He
gazed at her with his assessing gaze in full force.
From her records, he
knew where she came from, so why the sly look? “They
now, it seems.”
practice let her control her own expression. “What happened?”
intelligence says they’ve had an inter-colony civil war over the last four or
five years that has decimated their fleet. The population also suffered from a
devastating plague—of their own making.” He huffed a laugh, shaking his head in
disbelief. “Enough of their fleet remains to protect the colony, but not to
return those tourists. It doesn’t sound like too extensive or difficult a mission.”
I ask why I’m getting this assignment? Shouldn’t a carrier undertake the
mission? My crew expected some leave time after this last mission.”
gave her a calculating but dismissive look, not knowing how much experience she
had in recognizing such contemptuous expressions.
not going to happen; it’s been canceled. Since the war, our own fleet’s number
of transport ships took a hit even while they remain in great demand. All the
other ships currently work on extended missions. Those transports with you at Sovereign
Colony won’t arrive for weeks and even then, need downtime before embarking on
gave her a gruff look as if she should know this information. She did but knew
he played a game with her. Other UPA transport crews could have handled this,
and she knew several of them currently docked at this station. If he noticed
her skepticism, he ignored it, continuing with his orders.
assignment lists three colonies in that sector with approximately twelve
Reaxans the colony’s government has requested need transport to Reax. Your ship
can handle the number of citizens requested for pick up. However, higher-level offices
request you not go groundside on Reax, which they thought might create
we want to increase the Reaxan obligation and goodwill toward the United
Planets Alliance, they have strange customs, and we don’t want to engender
trouble. Matter of fact, many in power want the colony to align with the
Alliance. We’re hoping this mission will create goodwill, which might lead to
negotiations. The head office will send the mission parameters and pick-up locations
to your ship. You’re dismissed.” He waved his hand toward the door. He
dismissed her like a Ranger, except her superior officers never used such a
disrespectful shooing-away manner.
outside the office, Maera took stiff, swift steps down the corridor before
finally uttering her visceral reaction in a sotto voice. Knowing the interior
hallways recorded, she kept control of her business demeanor.
Once outside the
headquarters office complex, she let the speed of her walk diminish her anger
while she vented. She earned a few stares but continued moving.
shit—don’t want trouble, ha! Reax means trouble.” Why assign me? Her
files clearly stated where she came from. Did they plan to use her? Reax’s
position made it both an Alliance and a Khajari problem, and both wanted to
cement an Alliance and have free access to that sector of space. What did
the Alliance want, or does my boss think
he’s found a good way to get rid of me? Taking a deep breath, she smiled. I’ve faced worse
assignments than this. On my previous returns to Reax no one except Sareen ever
noticed me. If they have as much turmoil as mentioned, they have more problems
than discovering escapees. No one will look for runaways. The problems her home planet faced somehow failed to
Twenty-five government employees, thirty-two visitors, seven
hatches, three hallways, awareness of her
habit sank in as she started counting tiles. She forced herself to stop and
take a deep breath. Once controlled, she headed back to the port side of the station
and her shuttle, wanting back on her ship.
inside the Endurance, she calmed herself and her counting fixation in
the usual manner, playing with numbers. Pulling up market reports, she adjusted
her sells and buys, far easier and a more regular habit than when she was in