Shielded by the Rakian Scientist: Chapter One

Kennet studied the results of his latest round of tests.

There. That might be useful.

“I don’t know how long the hearings will take,” Nic said. “So you might be holding the fort for a while.”

“That is acceptable.” Kennet answered, diving deeper into the readings. It would be better to work on this in his own quarters, but Nic had called him into the Ready Room.

Things had been quiet lately.

Well, perhaps quiet wasn’t the precise word.

In the month since the secret laboratory had been exposed underneath the oldest part of Raccelton, the colony on Crucible had nearly been torn apart.

The news that a group of Elite had been kidnapping women and children, running experiments on them in an effort to understand how the psionic Gifts worked, had understandably shaken the rest of the colony’s faith in their leadership.

Civil war hadn’t broken out.

But tensions were high, and the frightened Council had applied for admittance to the Rakian Alliance.

And now that they had the upper hand, the Alliance wasn’t going to let the renegade colony in without serious concessions.

“Sasha is coming with us to testify, but Nettie,” Adena’s voice drifted into silence as she looked over at another screen.

Esme and Nettie sat in the garden, Gavin hovering in the background.

“I don’t think she’s ready to leave yet.”

“There’s no reason she’d need to,” Nic said. “Once the shields are up, nothing could break into Ship. Certainly nothing on this planet, and damn near nothing off it.”

Adena still looked worried, and Kennet attempted to explain. “When the shields are up, we are partially occupying these coordinates, and partially not.” 

Neither Adena or Rhela seemed convinced, so he tried again. “For instance,  when we traveled here. We folded space from our previous location and homed in on the beacon the child from your village placed in the meadow.”

Rhela nodded slowly. “Folded space. Like fabric.”

Good. Progress.

“If Ship were to be under attack, the most logical defense is to simply not be here.”

Adena narrowed her eyes. “Sometimes I think you’re trying to be confusing.”

“Not at all,” Kennet said. “It’s simply how it works.”

“Either way,” Jormoi said, pushing up from the table. “The only person that she’s spoken to is Coracle. And now that we know what Coracle is, I suspect our guest will be the best protected person on the planet.”

A small feeling of annoyance ran through Kennet.

“Even without substantial defenses of Ship, I would be a formidable protector.”

“But you’d rather be in your lab,” Nic said, slapping him on the shoulder. “Give me a hand, Jormoi. If we’re going to be gone for a while, I have a sneaking suspicion our mates are going to want to pack half of the still room.”

“Not half,” Adena mumbled as she walked through the door her mate held open for her. “Well, maybe almost half.”

Jormoi and Rhela followed and Kennet stayed in the ready room, his mind quickly emptying of trivialities.

There were, it was true, several experiments he would like to dedicate more time to.

And he’d almost perfected a new method of stabilizing communications through the acetanium fields.

It wasn’t that he disliked his brothers’ mates.

They were strong, capable women, who added to the strength of the team.

But there was no denying that Ship had become a little noisier.

Yes, this would be a welcome break.

***

In three days, life on board Ship had fallen into a pleasant routine.

Every morning and evening Kennet spoke briefly with Nic about the affairs at the capitol.

“All these humans do nothing but shout at each other,” Nic had grumbled. “They’re going to need to get their act together before the Alliance representative arrives if they expect to be dealt with seriously.”

“Perhaps you should shout louder,” Kennet had advised, absently.

Three times a day he checked on the recovery of Nettie.

She no longer turned away from him, but neither did she speak.

That was fine.

He’d watched what food she picked from the trays he left in the garden, and made sure that her needs were met.

Besides that, the biggest gift he could give her was time.

“Load the results of experiment 336 on tertiary screen,” Kennet commanded. “Overlay with 278.”

Interesting.

The graph lines were almost identical in their movements. He reached for another window.

“Someone is approaching the entry hall.”

Kennet blinked for a moment, mind still wrapped in the delicate dance of figures before him.

He sighed.

“Save everything to date,” he commanded as the screens vanished from the air. “Display visitor.”

The tall figure, wrapped tightly in a hooded cloak against the winter chill, stroked the shoulder of a massive black horse, then looked around as if waiting for someone to appear.

“I suppose I should greet him. Her. It,” he muttered.

The visitor wasn’t Matilde, Declan, or any of the small group of people who he’d bothered to learn their names.

It wasn’t that it was difficult, it just seemed like a waste of effort.

Nor was this any of the other townspeople he’d met, automatically filing their physical profiles into memory.

His lip curled in irritation as he strode down the corridor, nearing the entry hall.

Which meant this would take more time than he’d like.

New humans would be reduced to staring incoherence by the vast, deliberately disturbing emptiness.

It did discourage most visitors, but was inexcusably inefficient.

You needed to spend minutes coaxing information out of the messenger, instead of dealing with them quickly and sending them on the way.

The doors slid open, and he stopped.

A figure stood inside the hall, and with the hood pushed back he could tell it was a woman, dark auburn hair twisted back away from her face, eyes calmly scanning across the room.

That was surprising.

But even more so…

“What is that creature doing in here?” he said, pointing at the dark horse who stood calmly at the woman’s side.

“You might not have noticed in your fancy castle, but it’s snowing outside,” the woman snapped. “I’m not leaving him out there.”

She narrowed her eyes, studying him and for a moment Kennet felt a twinge of something in his chest as her gaze met his.

Curious.

But any urge to explore the feeling further vanished with her next words.

“My village has a problem, and I think you’re to blame.”

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