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Official website of Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Carol Hightshoe
Selaynia crouched in the shadows of the landing deck and watched as Mallory and the security detail walked around the battered black shuttle that had been brought to Melpomene. She stifled a laugh as one of the men poked at the hand-held sensor then shook his head.
“No readings, Commander,” he said shaking the device.
Of course not. That’s an Omega shuttle, Selaynia thought.
:Mallory is concerned it might be a Confederation trap, Smokeshadow said.
Selaynia rubbed the silver wolf’s ears. The female wolf had been with her almost a year since the wolf’s previous partner Jaharel had been killed. She glanced over at the other wolf with her, a silver-tipped black wolf who had been her partner for several years. Shadowmist was watching the group closely and she knew he was working to make sure the three of them remained undetected.
Selaynia waited until the group finally left the landing deck. “Anything?” she asked.
Smokeshadow bobbed her head. :The shuttle was found drifting just inside the second asteroid belt. Mallory is concerned it was placed there by the Confederation. The wolf paused, her head cocked to the side and her ears forward. :Two of the guards are being stationed outside. Mallory apparently doesn’t want anyone to know about this.
“He’s worried. We're hearing more rumors the Confederation knows where we are, and the last couple of raids that went out were attacked before they hit their targets.” Selaynia kept her voice low as she spoke to the wolves. She might not be able to speak mind-to-mind with them, but they had better hearing than she did and they were very intuitive.
She had been angry with Mallory ordering her off the landing deck when she arrived. She was a former Omega operative who had defected to the Confederation during the war and she knew Mallory still didn’t fully trust her since she had no way of proving she had defected on orders from the Alliance. Despite the work she had done for him and the other leaders of the growing rebellion against the Confederation, he kept her out the loop on anything sensitive. Having picked up a battered Omega shuttle in the Corycian System would be something sensitive.
Still, she was an Omega operative and this was an Omega shuttle. She wasn’t going to let Mallory keep her away from it.
:The guards outside are getting bored and their attention is wavering, Shadowmist said standing up.
Selaynia stood and brushed her long silver hair back over her shoulders then headed for the shuttle.
The black shuttle was battered, but she didn’t see anything that resembled combat damage. Melpomene Mining Station in the Corycian system was a place that before the war had been avoided by all but the mining groups. Frequent plasma storms and three asteroid belts made for a dangerous trip to reach the inner planets and their moons.
She found herself just staring at the shuttle. She had not heard any rumors of any Omega operatives that might have survived the end of the war. When the Confederation set up their occupation of Alliance planets they executed as many members of the Alliance government and military as they could capture. They had given no quarter to those on the battlefield even after the Alliance's surrender.
Selaynia ran her hand along the side of the battered shuttle. She stopped, her hand resting on the Omega emblem on the door. “This was Nolan’s shuttle,” she whispered.
She leaned against the shuttle, unable to stop the images that flooded her mind. Standing in the shadows behind the security chief of Athena Station Twelve, waiting for Admiral Ganelon and his detail. Her hands clenched tightly as she remembered recognizing Nolan as the person she had been required to kill to prove to the Confederation she really was a traitor to the Alliance. She had only hesitated a few seconds before pulling the trigger on her mentor and Omega's director.
:Stop thinking about what happened the last time you saw Nolan. You know he survived that incident and he agreed with your actions. Shadowmist’s voice pushed the images out of her mind as he nipped at her ear.
Selaynia looked up and shook her head. “Yes, I know that, but it still bothers me that I was able to pull the trigger on Nolan that easily.”
:Easy? Selaynia that wasn’t easy—if you hadn’t finally pulled the trigger when you did, McKeon would have seen you. You hesitated too long in taking that shot and you know it. Now, stop this and get inside that shuttle.
Selaynia stiffened at the harsh tone in the wolf’s voice.
She frowned as she looked again at the Omega symbol. Most of the shuttles worked on either voice recognition or a remote door system to prevent them from being accessed by unauthorized personnel.
She placed her hand over the symbol. “Selaynia,” she said.
“Code name?” The voice was Nolan’s and Selaynia shivered.
“Silver Shadow.” Her voice was barely louder than a whisper.
The door opened and Selaynia had to pause as both wolves boarded the shuttle in front of her. Their noses were up as they sniffed the air. She felt the light mental probing from both of them as they searched for anyone who might be hidden on the shuttle. Her hand went to her dagger as she waited on the wolves to finish their search.
:Clear, Shadowmist said.
Selaynia stepped into the shuttle cautiously. There were protections Omega used that would not have reacted to the wolves, but would react to a humanoid presence in the shuttle. She spun around as the door closed behind her and slammed her hand against the control panel. Nothing happened—the shuttle was sealed.
“Okay Nolan, what’s going on?”
“You gave the code name of Silver Shadow.” The recorded voice paused then started again. “I had heard you were on Melpomene and hoped the shuttle would make it there.”
Selaynia settled into the pilot’s seat as the recording continued. Based on the requirement for a code name, Nolan had probably recorded several different messages depending on who found the shuttle.
“I have begun gathering all of the operatives I can locate as well as other trusted members of the Alliance on one of the moons of Kepler-Thirty-D.”
Selaynia was out of the chair and back at the door as the shuttle began powering up the engines. She hit the control panel several times, with no results. “Nolan!”
She pulled a dagger from her belt and used it to force the panel cover open. The dagger fell to the floor with a clear ring of metal on metal as a shock went through her hand.
Shadowmist and Smokeshadow’s howls echoed in the small shuttle. Selaynia dropped to her knees as the wolves howls grew louder and was joined by a shrill loud siren from the shuttle computer. A hissing sound came from the vent and Selaynia held her breath as she forced herself back to her feet and started working with the door controls.
Another electrical shock dropped her back to the floor as the shuttle continued to fill with gas. “Shadow? Smoke?”
Both of the Canthralian wolves were unconscious, but she could see they were still breathing. “Nolan….” Her voice trailed off as darkness descended.