Forgive Us Our Debts
Part of the 'Borealis -- A Space Anthology' series
Sarina Laroux is taken hostage and held as a prisoner on the Borealis, considered a traitor to the TPP after they took her father's throne and laid waste to Andromeda Prime -- her home. Theron Kess is sent by her family to rescue her, a job he would never refuse because he owes her family more than they even know.
Theron almost gives up hope in getting her out when he can't locate her amongst the other Uudon-dosed prisoners. When he finally finds her, he is thankful he always prepares for the worst, because her situation is the stuff of nightmares.
Add to that the fact that the Rebellion picks this time to attack the station. Not only does he have guards and Sarina herself to deal with, but gunfire and an aging station ready to shudder apart with the next pulse cannon blast. He has to earn Serina's trust -- something that doesn't come easy on the Borealis -- if he has any hope of getting her out alive. By the time all is said and done, they both come out different people... and for the better.
The deep timbered voice echoed on the edge of Sarina's dream, filtering through the blackness to tug at her. She wanted to wake up, but her body was so tired... so very, very tired.
She fought to stay asleep. Whoever called her, their voice was unfamiliar but it didn't hold the sharp, brittle edge of Joquit's people. Sarina wanted to stay there, and her subconscious fought the war -- stay asleep and hide for just a little longer, or wake up and lose her moment of peace.
The touch against her hair, cupping the back of her head, yanked Sarina painfully from whatever remnants of sleep still held her. She jerked away from the contact, rolling across the floor before her eyes were open. Her shoulder slammed painfully into the edge of her steel bunk as she sat up, realizing she had fallen asleep on the cold floor of her cell.
"Easy, Princess. Take it easy."
Sarina pushed back against the edge of the cot despite the biting pain in her shoulder, and stared at the stranger who crouched several feet away, his hands held out palm up and his head tilted as he watched her. She immediately registered that he was neither a TPP employee nor a Borealis Guard. His shadowed jaw line and brown hair -- long enough to curl around the collar of his black, snug fitting body armor suit -- was uncharacteristic for a guard or anyone with military training. And if he was a TPP employee, he couldn't have been one for long. His brown eyes weren't cold pits.
He shifted, dropping to one knee on the floor with his elbow resting on the other. A smile set deep dimples in his cheeks and his hands hung loose and relaxed, but she watched for the slightest threatening movement. Her heartbeat pounded in her own ears and the rough material of her jumpsuit scraped against her skin like steel wool. Sarina had to fight the urge to jump to her feet and climb into the corner of her bed like a caged animal. Her mind knew it was the Uudon twisting her better judgment, but the primal need to fight or flee was almost overpowering.
A tremor shook her and she grit her teeth against it, speaking through her clenched jaw. "Who are you?"
"A friend," he said, holding his hands out again, palms up.
She almost laughed, but the floor shaking beneath her interrupted the impulse. The stranger dropped his hand to the smooth surface, keeping himself balanced as the next barrage of pulse cannon fire hit with enough force to rattle the brackets of the cot behind her. The lights flickered, blinking out completely for several seconds before the shaking passed and they came back on.
The man looked to the ceiling, his eyes pinched at the corners.
"I suggest we get a move on, Princess, if we're going to get off this station."
Sarina watched him, fighting the clawing paranoia that danced at the base of her skull, as he stood to his full height. He took a step toward her, holding out his ungloved hand. She swallowed hard, her throat dry and her vision swimming with fatigue, dehydration and withdrawal. His large hand enveloped hers and he bent to cup her elbow with his other hand, easing her to her feet. The slight touch of his fingertips brushed her jumpsuit against her singed nerves, making her flinch. Sarina hissed and squeezed her eyes shut.
"We'll be out of here soon." He had dropped his voice, and for that she was thankful. Even spoken low, his voice echoed in her head like a screaming child in a rain gutter. "As soon as we're at my ship--"
Sarina pulled away from him, nearly falling onto the cot behind her. "Your ship... who are you?"
He reached for her as her body swayed, but her stern glare must have been enough to make him rethink it. His hand retreated, resuming the palm up, non-threatening gesture of before. "Kess. Captain Theron Kess."
The scream that tore from her throat overtook her, drowning her in fury as she lashed out.