Deserter | The Audacity Saga: Free Prequel
Before the betrayal, she would have to make a choice.
Lieutenant Ellen Ryu has always done as she’s told. Since she was called on to defend her home planet as a child, she’s done nothing but follow orders. She’s done it well. Exceptionally, even.
But when a heli crash accident lands her in sick bay, she’s forced into a experiment that will test both her loyalty and her sanity.
Can the new cybernetic technology installed in her neck really save hundreds of lives, as Dr. Arakovic and her superiors claim? Will it be worth the price she’ll pay?
For readers of the Audacity Saga, find out where the story began.
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The first time it happened, it was only a momentary flicker.
Ellen came up short in the entry to the drop ship, marines filing past her, confusion dragging her feet to a halt. The backs of the seats were dark silhouettes, like rows of mountain gorillas lined up to worship the stark spotlights that shone in from the pilot’s viewscreen.
Which seat? She scanned, then narrowed her eyes as the lights shifted. The mechanics of the ship carrier were checking over the external hull of the shuttle, and they didn’t care whose eyes the lights
pointed in, as long as the apes would survive. The shouts of the mechanics formed a raucous melody above the percussion of power armor filing into the shuttle, flowing around her like a river around a stone.
C’mon, which seat was it? What the hell.
But her feet wouldn’t move. She caught a few glances, but most of her people just ignored her, trusting her to have a reason to stop.
She did have a reason, but it wasn’t a good one. How could she not remember this? She hadn’t raised her helmet yet, because she usually waited until the last minute so her own calm was on clear display for
those who had less. But calm was in short supply at the moment. The smell of burnt charcoal and sulfur caught at her nose, scents that haunted every shuttle bay of every carrier in the Union.
How could she have forgotten which seat was hers? Wasn’t it in the back? No, damn it. That wasn’t right. The middle? No… Maybe.
The image of three possible seats wavered in her mind, each definitely hers. She could remember flopping down in… No, that couldn’t be right.
She was the commanding officer, damn it. As unit commander, her seat had to be behind the copilot in the front. Obviously. What the hell was wrong with her?
She knew where to go now, but still she didn’t move. She’d sat in that damn seat on every mission since joining them over six months ago, and she’d done the same at her commission before that.
The little, young ape somehow at the front, somehow in command. She was glad to fit into standard power armor now. The smallest size.
Of course, a small part of her knew just what she’d been thinking, knew just what was wrong. Admitting it was hard, but the truth was smacking her in the face at the moment.
If she tried, these days she could remember personally sitting in every seat on the ship. The memories were just a hop, skip and telepathic link away. They weren’t hers. She need only reach for each member of her team, and they’d be there. The damn link hadn’t been something she’d wanted, or was happy about, but she’d had it for a
few weeks now.
Since the crash. It had never interfered with her decisions before, though. Until now.
Or maybe she was just tired.