Chapter Three: Kayln

Hell.

Everything hurt.

I didn’t remember much of what happened after I hit the emergency alarm, but the pieces drifted back to me, vague and foggy.

Lynna and I had run to tug on our ventilation suits to protect us from Pluto’s atmosphere.

It’s a good thing we did. The moment after I secured my personal ventilation system to my head, the floor gave out from beneath my feet.

I remember tumbling, my body slamming into metal, rock, and ice. At some point, I must have hit my head.

Every memory from there on was a tangled blur.

I opened my eyes slowly and found I was in a dimly lit room. The other women from Persephone Station were in here, too.

I saw Lynna and Maris, each still wearing their ventilation suits.

Maris sat upright with her back pressed against the dark wall. She was staring straight ahead, unmoving. At first, I feared she was dead. Then she blinked.

Lynna was checking on the other women, most of whom I didn’t recognize. I’d hardly gotten the chance to meet anyone before everything went to hell.

“What happened?” I croaked. Lynna’s head swiveled to look in my direction. 

“No idea,” she said, sounding drained. “Looks like all of us who made it into this…room made it here alive, though.” That was a relief. There were a little less than thirty women in the room. Some still wore their ventilation suits. Others had removed them.

Aside from some sprains and bruises, no one looked seriously injured. Then again, it was hard to tell in the low light.

I took a moment to look around the room. It was barren, aside from what looked like old storage crates pushed into a corner. The walls were curved. The ceiling was wider than the floor. If I held perfectly still, I could detect a slight vibration.

“I think we’re on a ship,” I said.

Something clicked in my memory. I vaguely remembered the silhouette of a ship against the pinpoints of light that dotted space. I remembered something else, too, but it seemed too farfetched to be real.

A pair of golden hands reaching for me.

Saving me.

“No shit,” Maris muttered. “What else would it be?”

“If you aren’t going to be helpful, I think you should concentrate on feeling better.” I flashed the sweetest smile I could muster.

Maris glared at me, but I didn’t have time to be intimidated by her right now. I still had to figure out where we were and what needed to be done.

I was still the commander.

Even if there wasn’t a station to command.

Deep breath, I coached myself, and slowly rose to my feet. My legs were unsteady, and my back ached like a bitch.

The other women were coming around, as well. Understandably, they started to panic.

“What the fuck happened?” one whimpered.

“Help me! I think my leg is broken,” another sobbed.

“It’s not broken,” Lynna soothed. “I checked it a little while ago, remember?”

“No, I don’t remember,” the girl sobbed.

“What is this place?” someone asked. “It looks like a prison.”

“We’re on a ship! We must be,” another girl exclaimed. “It’s the only thing that makes sense.”

“Where’s Adella? I don’t see her.” One of the women stood up and started frantically looking, the panic contagious.

Chaos broke loose as women sorted out who was in the room and who was not. Finally, Adella was found, shaken and out of sorts, but alive.

I did a quick count in my mind to see that everyone who was alive at Persephone had, in fact, been transferred to wherever ‘here’ was.

Whatever had happened had been thorough.

A dark shape darted between my legs, startling me.

I yelped and skirted to the side. Pain shot up the side of my leg. I must’ve sprained something, too.

“Was that a cat?” A woman with light brown hair and a smattering of freckles across her nose stared after the dark thing that had zoomed by and immediately got up to investigate.

“Shenna, be careful,” Lynna warned. “It could be anything.”  

The women huddled and stepped closer to Lynna as Shenna knelt down, facing a dark corner. She made a serious of cooing noises. A moment later, she turned around with a bundle in her arms.

“It’s the station kitty!” She buried her face in its fur and hugged it close to her. The cat, a mangy calico, appeared to barely tolerate the physical contact before wriggling away to twine at her feet.

“The damn cat survived all that?” Maris mused.

The discovery of the cat provided a distraction from the panic, creating the perfect opportunity for me to take control. Anxiety knotted in my stomach as I prepared to speak up.

They’re never going to listen to you, a wicked voice whispered in my mind. They know you’re useless. I shoved the dark thoughts down. They might be right, but I had to try. These women were my responsibility.

I owed it to them to at least try to be a decent leader.

“Listen up, everyone!” My voice cracked once, and my legs trembled beneath me. “We need to figure out what happened. Does anyone remember anything after the alarm sounded? Do we know why this happened?”

“Who the hell are you?” A redhead with a penetrating gaze looked me up and down. She had a lilt to her voice that the others didn’t have.

“Commander Kalyn Askvig,” I replied.

“Figures you’d survive,” the redhead scoffed.

“Aryn,” Lynna hissed.

“What?” the redhead, Aryn, replied. “An Askvig is the last thing we need right now.”

“Excuse me?” I demanded.

“Your mother had a say in most of our sentencing,” Aryn explained. “She’s not our favorite person. None of the higher-ups are.”

On Mars, Persephone Station was known as a rehabilitation workstation. Those who didn’t seek it out for the hazard pay were there as punishment.

It was where women were sent when the rest of the world didn’t know what to do with them. Now I was one of those women.

“You and I have that in common,” I laughed weakly. Aryn gave me a critical look.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded.

“I’ll get into my life story later if that’s what you want, but right now there are more pressing matters at hand,” I replied. “Like, what happened to the station?”

“I was on lookout,” a petite girl with dark eyes spoke up. She looked young compared to the rest of us. “I saw a ship appear out of nowhere, like it was using a much more advanced Flosh drive. It created some kind of shockwave when it appeared. That’s what hit our station.”

“Thank you,” I nodded to the young woman. She looked away, tucking herself closer to the wall.

Her information provided an unsettling revelation. From her report, it sounded as if the ship was targeting us.

“Why would someone attack Persephone?” I asked.

“There’s no reason,” Maris spoke up. “Persephone is a pile of crap held together by bubblegum and wishful thinking. We have nothing of value. We don’t even have value.”

Nice to know my mother thought a place so worthless was appropriate for me. After my joke of a graduation from the Space Force Academy, I’d spent a few less-than-shining years in the Force.

I’d received promotions I didn’t deserve because of my name. It cultivated resentment in the Force, and rightly so. My mother was accused of nepotism, the same thing Maris accused me of when she met me.

It was a scandal, and there was nothing my mother hated more than a scandal.

But instead of owning up to using her name to pave my way down a path I didn’t even want to be on, she painted herself as a generous soul trying to help her wayward daughter.

Her solution to the scandal was to ship me out to Persephone Station, where I could still honorably hold my title but not cause her any more embarrassment. I wondered if she knew what had happened. Did she care?

“That’s not true,” I said softly.

“The rest of the Terran system disagrees,” Maris said bitterly. We fell into a strained silence. My mind scrambled to come up with the right thing to say.

“Maybe it was a Space Force ship, testing a new type of engine,” Lynna offered. “Maybe they didn’t know what would happen.”

Maris snorted. “I’d have heard. I might be out of the loop, but not that far out.”

“Our first priority should be information,” was the best I could come up with.

Aryn snorted. “That’s your grand plan, is it?” she asked. “Why should we listen to you, exactly?”

“I’m your commander.”

“You’ve been here all of five minutes,” she replied. “I’m not sure you’re the best one for the job.”

A creaking noise interrupted our discussion, which was a blessing, since I didn’t have anything to say in response to Aryn. We all turned to look. A door on the far side of the room opened. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it sooner.

A tall, broad figure stood in the doorway. In the dim light, his skin shimmered gold. Thin whorls of dark covered the exposed skin of his arms. I remembered the gold hands I’d thought I imagined before falling unconscious.

I hadn’t imagined them after all.

He stepped into the room. The women collectively moved as far away from him as they could. Swallowing my fear, I placed myself between them and the golden man.

“I am Commander Kalyn Askvig of Persephone Station,” I declared with false confidence. “Don’t come any closer.”

The golden man stepped into the light. I didn’t know what he was, but he certainly wasn’t human.

Alien.

Oh hell.

Aliens.

That… was not the information I’d expected to find.

My brain froze, scrambling to process. Couldn’t this all have happened after I’d had a day to sleep off the effects of the damn Flosh drive?

How the hell was I supposed to deal with aliens when my brain was all fuzzy?

The man, the alien, looked me over and then spoke in a language I couldn’t understand.

Not a surprise.

Alien.

With what looked like sharp, pointed teeth. Lovely.

He spoke again, and when I didn’t answer, he sighed and motioned for me to follow him.

“Kalyn, don’t!” Lynna warned.

I took a deep breath and nodded to the golden man.

I needed answers.

Alien or not, following him was my only chance at getting them.


Welcome to the world of the Rogue Star — I’d love to know what you think!  And Rogue Mate is available for pre-order now!

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