This morning, we’d been lucky. A few of us had captured a wandering goat in the woods and then, our group of hunters had pursued and killed a boar. We were going to eat like kings tonight, but it still felt hollow. Even with fresh milk and hearty meat, it wasn’t as it should be. My sister, Kira, wasn’t here. I missed her more than anything.
It had been more than a week since I last saw Kira. She was our leader, the head of our motley crew of rebel, refugee humans. She’d always been the one I looked to every day since that fateful hour when the aliens had arrived.
The last time we had talked, she’d thought the Vakarrans were coming toward our camp. She’d gone off to monitor the intruders and now, she hadn’t returned.
She’d gone off on her own several times, but for some reason, this time was different. It felt unusual.
With each passing day, I was becoming more and more worried for her. My other sisters, Danika and Kaela, didn’t say anything, but they knew. We all knew. She’d been taken by the Vakarrans. None of us wanted to admit it, but we all were afraid for her.
The vibe around camp was sad, depressed, unsure. Her capture had rattled every single one of us. She’d been our leader. The one who got us all through the dark times. We all knew it was a terrible blow. If Kira could get captured, anyone could.
I tried to be strong though. I had to be. Now the responsibility had fallen to me. I had to lead us now. It was all up to me.
The prospect was daunting. It was so much easier when I had a confidant. I sighed. Fucking aliens. I wish they’d never discovered Earth in the first place, gone somewhere else in space instead.
Our group of humans was small. It was about fifty people, mostly women, but a few men as well. Since moving into the cave system deep in the forest, we felt safer, more content in our new home, but we were still wary of the aliens and were ever on the defensive just the same.
The caverns ran deep, snaked beneath the forest for miles. It was dark, but plenty of natural slats and holes in the rock ceiling acted as natural skylights. Most important, they felt safe. I felt safe. I wished Kira would come back, so she could see how we were thriving here. She’d have been proud of us.
I knew better though. I doubted she was even on Earth anymore, and if she was, she was probably in the female training camps, where they forced women to submit to their Vakarran masters. I shivered at the thought.
Stupid fucking Vakarrans. Waste of space alien bastards.
“Alaina, you’re too quiet this afternoon,” Kaela said softly, the look on her face one of concern. She was younger than me, but she always felt like an old soul trapped in a younger body. Extremely perceptive and intelligent, she always tried to make the best of every situation.
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m just thinking about Kira and wondering if she’s alright. If they’re hurting her,” I whispered, blinking away tears from my eyes. Out of the four of us, Kira and I had been the closest. She trusted me with information that she wouldn’t tell Kaela and Danika. I was her second in command, her confidant.
And now she was gone.
I wanted to crumple into a thousand little pieces and cry my heart out, but I pushed those emotions as far away as I could.
Kaela stared back at me, holding a long narrow branch in her hands. Together, we were building a large outdoor enclosure for the new goat. It was slow, sweaty work, but we’d put together a third of it so far. It was starting to look promising, albeit very primitive. But considering what resources we had, it was very good.
“She knew the risks, Alaina. We all do. Even just living on our own here, we risk discovery every minute. One day, they might come to take us all,” she whispered.
“You’re too wise for your years,” I sighed, smiling gently, sniffing away my tears.
“I hope she’s okay too,” Kaela said. “I hope whoever took her will take care of her, that they don’t hurt her, beat her, or use her like they say the Vakarrans do. I love her, and I hope I get to see her again one day, alive.”
“I do too,” I said, dropping my head. She sighed heavily, almost like she didn’t want to say the words she needed to say.
“We have to look forward though, instead of looking to the past. I know that seems harsh, but the world we live in demands this. There’s nothing we can do. We aren’t as strong as the Vakarrans. We have no means to fight back, so we just have to survive,” Kaela said, looking off into the distance. She turned back toward me and a single tear rolled down her cheek before she angrily wiped it away.
“One day, we’ll be able to fight back,” I muttered gruffly, and she nodded in agreement.
“We will. We’ll rescue her someday. Kira is strong. She knows how to survive. She’ll be ready when we are. I know it,” Kaela replied.
I looked away, processing her words.
For some time, we were quiet, diligently working on the enclosure together. I saw Danika in the entrance of the cave, working toward building a fire, together with Kaze, a man who lived in the camp with us. She smiled crookedly at him and stuck out her tongue. I giggled softly.
“Kaela,” I whispered. “Look, Danika and Kaze are over there, all alone together…”
“Those two lovebirds at it again? I rather think she likes pushing him,” she said.
I watched Danika goad Kaze. She continued whatever she was saying to him, placing her hands on her hips and cocking her head. His frown deepened, but his eyes sparkled.
I watched as Kaze cocked his head, scolding her for something, but I couldn’t hear what. She continued to talk at him and he stood up, his tall stature imposing over her shorter frame. She took a step back before he grabbed her wrist and pulled her toward him. She stilled in his arms before he pulled her in for a long, smoldering kiss.
When he finally pulled away, he landed two hard swats to either side of her ass and smirked as he whispered something in her ear. Her face turned wicked red as she reached back, but she was smiling and giggling with him all the same.
Kaela laughed softly and turned away, getting back to work, so I followed suit.
They were meant to be, those two. I grinned and started the process of digging again.
We worked for a while longer before either of us said anything.
“I found a book yesterday. A real one,” Kaela interrupted.
“I thought they stopped making those, like, six hundred years ago,” I said skeptically. I’d hadn’t seen one in a long time, outside of a museum some years ago anyway.
“I did too. It was weird. We found an old house deep in the woods. It was kind of like a tree fort of some kind, maybe someone who wanted to live off the grid or something way back when. They had some books on a shelf, including some survival ones,” she explained, and I looked up with interest. “One of them was about crops and agriculture. I thought it might be useful to read for my garden. It’s not growing as well as I hoped. I did get one carrot so far though,” she murmured, her pride diminishing by the second. We’d mainly been living off the land all our lives, foraging for natural grown berries and the like, so this new gardening venture was going rather poorly for us so far.
“I hope it helps,” I replied with a small smile. “A carrot is a nice start, anyway.”
It was all we could do. Focus on moving on, surviving together and protecting each other from the enemy.
I stared up into the sky, watching the leaves on the trees sway back and forth in the wind. My sister was out there somewhere, maybe staring up at the same sky, maybe not, but I’d find her one day. I’d be the one to rescue her this time, rather than the other way around. I would bet my life on it.
Tonight, we were going to feast on boar. Maybe we could make some bacon too. My mouth watered at the prospect.
The next week passed by excruciatingly slowly, and still with not a single sign of Kira. I thought about her fate every waking moment.
Kaela and I had finished building the goat enclosure and now the goat, aptly named Sweetie after her need to nuzzle everyone who walked by, was happy there. She was surprisingly tame and that made the process of milking her easier because she just let us try anything, as long as someone was scratching her head at the same time.
Which was good, because it took us an entire week to figure out how the milking process worked.
The most we had to go on were ancient images, and that was it.
Kaela was the one who finally figured out how to milk Sweetie. That night, we only had a small cup of milk, but everyone passed it around and took a small sip. It had been freaking delicious, even if it had been warm. I looked forward to the day when we could add a spoonful to a rare cup of coffee in the morning.
The mood had been light and carefree that day.
I wasn’t able to focus on the goat and the milk though. It seemed so trivial to me, in that moment. What mattered to me the most was my sister, Kira.
Kira’s disappearance had been eating me away from the inside. I needed to know what happened to her. She deserved more than becoming a Vakarran breeder. I was afraid for her, furious for her and so incredibly sad. I was becoming more and more angry with each passing day. I hated that the Vakarrans had taken my sister and I wanted to find out what had happened to her. I needed to find her. What if she needed me? What if she was just hurt? Lying in the woods somewhere waiting for me to come save her? I bit my lip and looked out into the forest, beyond our safety net of the branches and leaves and brush.
Something occurred to me then. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner.
Kira had safeguards in place out there. She had cameras. One of us needed to check on them. I’d gone with her once, checked into the ancient technology she had stored there. I’d never run them myself, but it couldn’t be that hard, right? I could figure the rest out on my own. I could start there, hack into her camera network to see what happened, if they picked up her capture, to gather clues to where she was now. It could work.
I ran my hand down my face. Why the fuck hadn’t I thought of that before? Stupid. She deserved more than this. She’d been a force to be reckoned with. In her honor, so would I.
I decided then. I was going to find out what happened to her.
I went to find Kaela. I knew she’d be in her garden. I needed to talk this out with her. Now that we had traveled a fair distance to the caves, the journey to one of Kira’s command stations would be much farther away. I’d have to go away for a few days at a time to analyze the footage, to see if there was any data regarding Kira’s whereabouts.
She’d likely think it was a bad idea, but I felt like I didn’t have any choice. I had to do this, for Kira’s sake. For my own sanity.
The sun was high overhead, warm and inviting as I walked through the woods toward the plot of land she was working. When I saw her, I stopped, admiring the way the sunlight made her reddish-brown hair shine like strands of fire. I took a deep breath. She’d be okay without me for a few days. I knew it. She was the sort of quiet strength that all of us loved.
The leaves ruffled overhead, and she looked up, catching sight of me as she did so.
“Alaina,” she exclaimed, smiling. Her eyes crinkled with joy at seeing me and I couldn’t help but grin in return, her good mood contagious.
I walked over and sat beside her in the dirt, laughing at seeing some smeared across her nose.
“You’re filthy,” I said, trying to wipe off the dirt off her face with my thumb, only I just seemed to make it worse. I shook my head, chuckling at her expense.
“Yeah, I know,” she giggled. “I’ll bathe in the spring water lake later.”
I knew which one she meant. Deep in the caves, we’d discovered a small pond. A hot spring fed into it, and it felt like a warm bath every time you stepped into it. It was wonderful after a long day of work.
“You didn’t come to me to discuss bath time though,” she frowned, studying my face. Always the perceptive one, my sister Kaela.
“No, I didn’t,” I admitted, turning my eyes to the ground.
“What did you want to talk about then?” she asked cautiously, but she probably already knew what I was going to say. I tensed a little, preparing myself to tell her what I had planned.
“I need to find out what happened to Kira. I’m going to travel to her last known location and inspect her camera footage and anything relevant to the area. If there is any way I can find out what happened to her and if there is even the slimmest chance I can help rescue her, I have to do it. It keeps me up at night and I can’t stop thinking about it during daylight. I have to know,” I explained in a single breath, nervous as to how she was going to respond.
She watched me closely, her green eyes sparkling with understanding and acceptance, almost as if she’d known I’d go eventually. She sighed.
“I knew it was only a matter of time,” she whispered, wiping her hands free of dirt and mud. She sat back on her heels. “You should take someone with you though.”
“I’ll move faster on my own. I don’t want to put anyone else at risk. It’s too dangerous,” I replied softly.
“If you mean that, at least let Dr. Lily insert one of the last few GPS trackers we have left,” she suggested.
Dr. Lily was an older woman in her early fifties who had escaped with her younger daughter, Maddie, who was around my age. She’d been able to steal some medical supplies from a nearby abandoned medical enhancement center periodically over the years, including a set of military grade GPS trackers. All it took was a small insertion cartridge that would implant a tracker the size of a grain of rice under your skin, activating it with a chemical compound. As far as we could tell, the tracker never died and with its corresponding power bank, a small handheld unit, when powered on, would show a hologram image of the area where the tracker was live, including a set of coordinates that would lead us straight to it and whoever it was in.
If I was going to go in alone, it would be a good idea to get one. We’d never actually used one of them before, so maybe now was a better time than never to test them out.
“I’ll do that,” I whispered, taking a deep breath.
“When will you go?”
“In the morning. At first light,” I answered.
She looked sad for a moment, and then nodded. I paused and then lifted my chin.
“Will you take over my duties, be the leader for a little while? Watch over everyone while I’m gone, until I return?” I asked gently. I knew her though. She was already ready for it before I asked.
“Yes. I expected as much. I’ll ask Kaze to keep a closer eye on Danika. Do your best to find out what you can and then come straight back to us. I’ll keep the hunting and foraging groups on schedule. We should begin preparing for the winter season. The temperature at night drops pretty low in the caves, especially if it rains,” she answered, picking up a seed and placing it in a hole she made in the dirt. I don’t know why I was worried. She’d make a fine leader, at least temporarily. I had every intention of coming back. “When you return, you and I must look over our stocks and see what we need to forage and send out teams to find in the nearby abandoned grocery stores,” she added.
“Right. We’ll need to harvest some extra furs; that I know already. We could use some extra deer pelts in the caves since it’ll probably be a little colder in there. We got lucky finding that dead bear that one time. Maybe we can increase our range and steal some blankets from some nearby houses or apartments,” I replied.
“Anyway, don’t worry about me. I’ll take over in your place temporarily, only till you get back. Don’t worry about me,” Kaela reassured me, her expression genuine. She meant every word and I loved her for it.
I nodded, taking a deep, shaky breath.
“So, scoot. Go get that tracker.” She smirked, “Else, I’ll send Kaze to smack your ass too.”
I couldn’t help but laugh as I ran off in search of our resident doctor. I found her deeper in the caves just as I expected, steeping some leaves in a pot of tea. When I explained what I needed, she agreed without hesitation. She understood my need to find my sister and trusted me as a leader. I was thankful for that.
I waited for a few minutes while she went off and gathered the supplies she needed. I pulled up my sleeve and gave her my wrist when she returned. She sterilized the back of my right forearm with an ethanol wipe and took the cartridge into her hand.
I looked away. I’d always hated needles.
With a swift click, I felt the tracker insert under my skin and yipped slightly at the sting. Only a second later though, the numbing reagent cooled my skin, chasing all the hurt away.
Dr. Lily placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Take care, Alaina. We all look up to you. You are strong and so is Kira. She’ll survive. I just know she’ll come back to us soon,” she said, her gray-blue eyes searching for mine. The corners of her eyes crinkled with concern and I grinned softly in response.
“I’ll be back soon. Thanks, Dr. Lily,” I replied.
She nodded, looking away.
“Good luck,” she whispered as I walked away.
I waved. I returned closer to the entrance of the caves where I’d set up my bedroll and began to pack a few things in a small backpack. An extra change of clothes, some dried meat and fruits, and some weapons. I picked up a knife from my shelf and sighed. I ran my thumb over the handle. Kira had lent it to me some time ago and I’d forgotten to give it back to her.
I shoved it in my jeans pocket. I’d give it back to her soon. I hoped I would anyway.
Once I was fully packed, I sat down and took a deep breath. Kira had always believed in me and told me I was strong, that I was a leader. I had to trust in her instincts and my own. I pressed my shoulders back and took a deep breath. A shoe scraping against the rock echoed loudly and I looked up to see Kaela and Danika coming toward me.
“Hey,” I began, beaming at their excited smiles.
“We brought you some goodies for the trip,” Danika offered, and I grinned as she passed me a cloth with what looked like a few pieces of cooked bacon.
“I’d been saving this for a rainy day too,” Kaela started, before she passed me a small package, in addition to the bacon.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Lemon cakes. I was able to find a cake mix in that treehouse I mentioned, and I tweaked with a few special additives, including some lemons from the trees we found nearby. Saved them as a special treat. From us for you,” Kaela said.
“I helped Kaela bake them myself. We burned a spot or two when we put them over the fire, but they should still taste pretty good. I taste tested one to make sure,” Danika explained with a sheepish smile.
“Thanks so much, guys. It means a lot,” I said.
Danika sat down beside me, but she fidgeted just a bit. I stifled a laugh in my throat.
“How’s Kaze doing then?” I said, with the most serious tone I could muster. Beside me, Kaela descended into a fit of giggles and Danika pretended to look surprised, but I saw the littlest indication of a smirk at the corner of her lips.
“He seems to like you, huh…” I observed cheekily.
“Shut up, Laina,” Danika protested, but she leaned into me instead, for support. We were all very close, but as the older sister, I had always looked out for them. They looked up to both me and Kira. I grinned and hooked my arm around her shoulders.
“I’ll only be gone for a few days,” I mused. “I’ll be back before you know it.”
“I know. Just, since Kira has been gone, it makes me nervous that you’d go out there, all alone. I’ll be pissed if you don’t come back,” Danika said. Kaela nodded as she sat next to me too.
“Just be smart. Find Kira, but don’t get caught in the process,” Kaela warned.
“In the meantime, though,” Danika began, pulling a small flask out of her pocket.
“You did not!” I exclaimed, knowing exactly where it had come from.
She laughed hysterically and even Kaela began to giggle too.
“Took that from Kaze, huh? Must have lifted it from his pocket when he kissed you, I would guess,” I thought out loud and she nodded.
“Your ass is toast,” Kaela laughed.
We each took a sip and made a face at the burn of the booze as it slid down our throats. Turned out Kaze had an old store of tequila and in no time at all, the three of us were feeling it. My skin buzzed as we joked and giggled as the sun went down. My sisters made sure my night was memorable, that was for sure. We didn’t go to bed for some time, at least until the three of us made sure the flask was completely empty.
“You guys better thank me when he finds out we finished his stock. I have a feeling he isn’t going to be too pleased with me,” Danika mused.
“Probably not,” I chuckled. “You might get a few more swats to the ass for that one.” I winked at her.
Her cheeks flushed.
Feeling rather tipsy, I slapped my hand down on her thigh.
“You listen here, Danika,” I started. “You keep that Kaze wrapped around your little fingers. Maybe one day, we’ll have little Danikas running around here.”
“Alaina!” she exclaimed.
Kaela giggled incessantly, almost falling off the rock she was sitting on.
Someone from within the caves shushed us and the three of us started laughing even harder, until a large shadowy figure came wandering from one of the nearby caverns.
“Shit, it’s Kaze,” Danika said rather too loudly.
“Quick, hide the flask,” Kaela whispered. Also way too loudly.
Kaze didn’t say anything but took a hold of Danika’s arm and led her away. I could tell he was trying not to laugh, but he was attempting to remain as serious as possible. She protested the entire way, but eventually it was just me and Kaela again.
“I hope she gets laid,” Kaela murmured.
The two of us broke out laughing even harder.
“You should get to bed. Morning comes early,” she said after she recovered from her attack of the giggles. “Stay safe, okay? I’ll miss you till you get back.”
“I will. It’ll only be a few days.”
“I know. But Kira said that too. So I just want to make sure you remember that,” she replied a bit forlornly.
I stood up and hugged her tightly.
“Love you, sis. Let Danika know I said the same,” I reassured her. She had nothing to worry about. I was strong, maybe as much as Kira was. The Vakarrans would rue the day they tried to mess with me.
We bid each other good night and I fell asleep a short time later, awash with the leftover buzz from the tequila and the anticipation of going off on my own when the sun rose.
When I woke up in the morning, my head was pounding. The rising sun was too bright, and my stomach felt a bit nauseous, so I was thankful to find a piping hot coffee and some homemade bread buns that Kaela had made next to my bedroll. I ate them slowly, allowing my stomach to settle bit by bit. I didn’t waste much time though and made my way out of the caves before many of our band woke up. I trudged into the forest and followed Kira’s paths into the trees.
The walk was quiet and peaceful, leaving me with my thoughts and the sounds of singing birds and wildlife. I didn’t make it to the command center that Kira had visited last until the sun was beginning to set and by then, I was starving.
When I finally got there, I was excited to see that she had a portion of a military dinner left on the table. I dug right in, noticing that everything was still powered on inside—the computers, one of the generators. There was also a book I didn’t know she had.
Weird. So much for them being as rare as I thought.
The food tasted stale, but I didn’t care. I was hungry.
I typed in a few commands into the ancient computers and rewound the software back to a few weeks ago. I let it play, and I saw everything.
How she’d been lured into the forest by that woman. How the aliens had seemingly appeared out of nowhere after they captured her in a rope trap. After I watched it all, I sat back in disbelief.
So, they had taken her after all. And the fuckers had some sort of camouflage skin too. Odd. None of us had known that before.
I ran my fingers through my blonde hair in frustration. I had no idea where they went together, only that they had cuffed her and wandered off into the trees, with my sister and the other human in tow. Without some kind of direct connection to the Vakarrans, I had zero chance of finding out where she was now, especially if they took her off Earth and somewhere else.
I chewed my lip.
What should I do now?
I looked around, seeing a weapon by the doorway. It was some sort of gun. When a dinging noise began beeping intermittently, I turned back toward the screen and realized she’d left some of her traps she was so proud of still active. I opened up her data files, learning about what each one did until the sun fell beneath the treetops and darkness descended around me.
After a while longer, I finally called it a night and curled up on a small cot she had set up at the back of the room. I dreamed of all the various ways I could kill the Vakarrans who took my sister.
When I awoke the next morning, the dinging sound was going wild. I rushed over to sit down and see what was going on, only to see something that I hadn’t expected. It was a lone Vakarran soldier. All alone. Tempting me.
I noticed he was treading dangerously close to one of Kira’s traps.
My mind started with race with the possibilities of it. What if I could capture him? What if I could use him? Force him to give me information on my sister. Make him tell me where she was now before I killed him too.
Could I kill him? I’d never killed anyone before. I pressed my teeth together in determination. I knew I had no choice. I would have to kill him eventually. I had no choice. Once he knew I existed, he couldn’t be allowed to survive another day.
Kira’s trap was a steel door pod that opened up into a hole underneath the ground. This particular one had the option to have spikes protrude from the bottom, so that the victim would be killed instantly from the power of falling on them. I turned that part of it off, for now. I just wanted to capture him for a little while.
He was wearing black combat gear, heavy-looking black boots, and only had a knife on his waist. No gun. I grinned at the prospect. He wouldn’t be able to shoot me. A very important fact. He had dark hair and ram-like horns protruding from either side of his skull, like most Vakarrans did. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I knew what they looked like, copper with a black outline. Chilling, really.
He wandered closer to the trap and then closer still. I placed my fingers on the keyboard, activating the capture functions of the pod.
Time seemed to slow as he walked on top of the steel doors. When he approached the exact center, the trigger initiated, and the door swept open. He went down like a rock. Perfection.
I squealed with success. Thank you, Kira, for setting up such a fantastic tool. Before I ran out into the trees, I made sure to check the surrounding area for any other aliens. I found nothing. It was safe to venture out. I looked around Kira’s command center and found some rope, some old-school metal handcuffs, and a few other devices and took them all. Next, I grabbed the gun by the door and set out, aiming to make it to the captured Vakarran as quickly as I could. Within ten minutes, I saw the trap and slowly approached the edge, looking down about ten feet to see him staring up at me.
“Who are you,” he spat, glaring at me.
“Your captor, it seems,” I started, smirking at my success. The walls of the pod were smooth, slick, and oiled so that whoever was inside would have difficulty climbing out. To me anyway, it looked impossible. He seemed to have come to a similar conclusion as well.
I began to feel more confident. This was going to work.
I took a moment to study him further, noticing that he looked younger than the other Vakarrans I’d seen. He also looked pretty pissed, if not a bit nervous. I sat down on the edge of the pod, crossing my legs over one another.
“What’s your name, Vakarran?” I asked, keeping my tone strong and sure.
“Davon,” he responded warily.
“Nice to meet you, Davon. I’m Alaina,” I replied.
“Where’s your Vakarran master? I’m one hundred percent certain he wouldn’t approve of this kind of nonsense. I’ll make sure to tell him to take a belt to your ass and to get back to training you the right way. If anything, he should be reported for just allowing you to wear clothes. It’s fucking disrespectful,” he said angrily, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I don’t have a master. I’m a free human, unlike you right now, dumbass.”
“What the fuck do you mean? You can’t be free. It’s against the law,” he glared. His fingers tightened into fists. I was glad he was down there. I’m afraid what he would do if he was in my immediate vicinity.
He placed his hands on his belt. His copper eyes smoldered red.
“I do what I want, thank you,” I said.
“The fuck you will. The moment I get my hands on you, I’m going to punish you, good and fucking hard,” he growled.
Hmm. Emotional, this one. Impulsive.
I wasn’t going to let him get close to me. He’d probably beat me or rape me. That’s what they did. Treated humans like property, something they owned to do with whatever they pleased.
It was sick. And now they had my sister.
“I think you forget who is in charge right now, Davon,” I began, and he actually growled at me, bared his teeth and everything. “I can sit here all day until you tell me what I want to know,” I continued boldly.
After a good ten minutes of silence, his bravado faltered a bit. Suddenly he seemed a bit unsure of himself. The longer I was with him, the more I got the feeling that he was a younger man, that he wasn’t battle tested and hardened like the others I’d seen before.
“Where did you come from, Davon? Did you arrive on Earth long ago?”
“No,” he answered, sound vaguely defeated. “I only came here yesterday. I’m to be stationed at the training camp, but I was doing rounds. Higher-ups are convinced more humans are wandering free.”
I said nothing. I didn’t want to hint at the existence of any of the others who depended on me for protection.
He sat down and gazed up at me. He chewed his lower lip.
It was actual kind of cute. I mean, if he wasn’t an alien of course.
“What do you want with me?” he asked.
“I lost a sister some time ago to a group of four Vakarrans. I want to know where she is, what they did with her,” I said, leaning forward to watch him.
“How do you expect me to know?” he scoffed.
“Aren’t you guys connected somehow? Some sort of technology or something?” I asked.
“Don’t you think I would have already signaled them directly if I did?” he responded with a sigh.
I watched him for a moment. He looked rather sheepish.
“You forgot it, didn’t you,” I guessed, and his expression turned immediately guilty. Bingo. He didn’t look at me as he kicked the steel wall gently, testing it.
“I left my com back at camp. Morgn is never going to let me live this down,” he whined. I struggled not to laugh.
“I don’t let you out unless you help me out here. I need to know where my sister is so that I can rescue her. She doesn’t deserve to be bred like cattle at the hands of you bastards,” I replied, my jawline tensing.
His jaw ticked and then he sighed. He pressed a button on the corner of his earpiece. A hologram screen appeared as his pupils began to search, moving back and forth as he read some alien text scrolling before his eyes.
“That doesn’t allow you to signal your comrades then?” I asked with suspicion.
“No. Not this,” he replied.
I scoffed. I didn’t know whether or not to believe him.
“What’s her name?” he sighed.
“So, you’re Alaina Stryke, then. Younger sister, I’m guessing?”
“Yes. That’s right.”
He was quiet for a while longer.
“She’s on the ISS Starrider. With the first battalion. Four men to one woman. Says here they claimed her as theirs, by capture right law, I guess,” he said.
“Where’s that?” I asked, ignoring his other comments.
“Thanks, Captain Obvious,” I mumbled.
“Happy to be of service,” he grinned smugly. Overconfident prick.
At least I had information now though. I had a direction and an answer, even if it was an impossible one. I’d never be able to travel into space, but at least I knew where she was now and who had her. I sighed and stared down at him. I wasn’t going to learn any more useful information from him, except for a few little details. His usefulness was quickly coming to an end.
“What’s their names? The Vakarrans who have her?”
“Zaavyr. Coltan. Jax. Aedan. All high-ranking military guys,” he replied.
There was nothing more I needed him for. I took a deep breath. It was time. I couldn’t let him go. I couldn’t let him run off to his alien superiors and tell them that I existed. I’d never be safe. My other sisters and our group of humans would never be safe if I let him run free. My hand brushed against the gun at my hip. I swallowed deeply. Would I be able to do it? Could I kill a man, even if he was a Vakarran?
I shook my head, trying to shake myself of such stupid thoughts. There was no questioning what I had to do here. He had to die. There were no other options. I had to do it. With a deep, shuddering breath that rattled me to the core, I slid my fingers over the holster, gripping the handle with a reluctance that I knew he could see.
His expression grew wary.
“What are you doing? I did what you asked!”
“I don’t have a choice,” I whispered, whipping the gun from my belt and leveling it in his direction. I looked through the site and aimed at his head, figured that would be the surest and safest shot to ensure that he died quickly and quietly.
“Wait. Don’t do that,” he pleaded.
I felt a little bad for him. Young guy, sent off on an assignment on a planet he isn’t familiar with. I shivered and shook my head. He didn’t deserve my sympathy. His kind was evil. Had taken everything from us the day they had arrived and conquered our planet. Had forced us to have their babies just because their species was inadequate.
He deserved death.
I hesitated, unsure for a long moment. Could I do it? Could I kill him?
Suddenly, everything fell into place. I had accepted what I had to do. My heart stopped pounding like a drum in my ears and I adjusted my aim once more. He was going to die today. I felt it in my gut. I took my forefinger and curled it around the trigger, pulling it toward me when Davon began to grin like a village idiot.
What the hell? Why would he be smiling?
Suddenly, I could feel the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of my skull.