Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Romance, #Science Fiction Opera
A tech from Resicor meets a bodyguard with sedating spikes. When she wakes up, she is on her way to the Citadel.
Ainora has been spotted by the government of Resicor and identified as an active talent. Her ability to identify the repairs needed for any situation makes her a valuable tool and turns her into a slave for the government.
Her family makes arrangements to get her off world, and when the rescue comes, he simply knocks her out and carries her away.
Lyon has worked as a bodyguard for years but never has he run across a woman who not only recovers from the toxin on his spikes with incredible speed, but also manages to dodge his next volley with surprising instincts.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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Tales of the Citadel Book 30
Ainora faced her interviewer with all the calm she could muster. She hadn’t been able to adjust the appointment any longer. If she had skipped today’s events, they would have arrested her.
“Yes, I ha
ve a talent.”
The security guard and the empath were surprised. Her interviewer blinked as she organized her next question.
“Why haven’t you come forward?”
“There wasn’t any need. No one can tell that I have a talent, so why should I worry about it. I am no threat to Resicor or its people.”
The interviewer tapped her finger on the table. “You are hardly one to judge.”
Ainora cocked her head. “I beg to differ. I am a very good judge of my talent.”
“What is your talent?”
She laughed. “I thought you would know since you went to the trouble to bring me in.”
“The report that your co-worker filed was lacking in detail. He suspected your abilities were more than natural.”
Ainora stretched and put her hands behind her head. “They are completely natural. Urak couldn’t match me on any details even if I don’t use my additional senses.”
“How did you know?”
“That it was him? There is only one person at the firm that hangs over my shoulder trying to discover my secrets as I repair the equipment. It got him into trouble on several occasions. Last month, he stopped following me, so I am guessing that that is when you got the tip off.”
The empath in the corner smirked.
“You really thought that it would work to simply ignore your obligation to declare the talent you had acquired?”
Ainora smirked. “I didn’t acquire it. It is as much a part of me as your toenails are part of you. There was nothing to declare. At no time did I smuggle them through customs.”
The interviewer slammed her hand down on the table. “This is not a joke.”
She sat forward and put her own hands on the table. “Yes, it is. There is another talent in this room and she is allowed and encouraged to use her talent each and every day. For her, it is a job, a part of her that she can use daily. What is the difference?”
The interviewer paused and regrouped. “Your talent is dangerous.”
“Really? What is it?”
Ainora waited while the woman flipped through the files.
She sat quietly and waited.
Finally, the woman sat up. “It doesn’t say. What is your talent?”
“I diagnose technology. Nothing more, nothing less. Where others have to guess at a problem, I know. That is all. My repair skills were learned in the same type of course as is available across the continents. Anyone can gain the skills to do the repairs I do. The only thing that makes me a talent is that one flash of insight when I look at a piece of technology. For that moment in my day, I am now here and will not be able to walk out under my own recognizance. I am now destined to be watched by my own people and rejected by my community, all because a jealous jackass pointed a finger. Oh, I am not stupid. I have already been fired, and I know that there is no future for me here on Resicor. So, all that remains is what are you going to do with me?”
The people in the room with her became completely still. Insight and acceptance of her reality was obviously not something they were expecting.
The interviewer got to her feet and took the file out of the room with her. She was gone for three hours.
When the door opened again, the interviewer was pale grey and the man following her had a hard glint in his eyes. “Come with me, Miss Lenz.”
Ainora shifted. “Who are you?”
The man narrowed his eyes. “I am the one who decides where you spend the rest of your life. Now, come with me.”
The interviewer swayed toward her, but Ainora stayed seated. She felt the pressure on her mind and raised an eyebrow.
“Saying please would work much better.”
His cheeks flushed darkly. Through gritted teeth, he said, “Please, come with me.”
Ainora got to her feet. “That wasn’t so hard. Didn’t your mother ever teach you that manners matter?”
He looked like he wanted to strike her, but instead, he walked out ahead of her and led the way through the building to a rear exit. They were followed the entire way by nervous guards and the empath.
She was bundled into a transport with the hostile administrator, and she tried to guess where they were headed. Shock ran through her when she saw the government buildings looming in their approach.
“Where are we going?”
“If you can do what you said you can, you will have no problem dealing with a small sabotage problem. Once that is dealt with, you will be assigned to a variety of positions around the globe.” He sneered.
She had never been on the receiving end of a sneer before. She stifled the urge to smack his smug face.
Half a world away from her family, she had no one to run to and couldn’t hide even if it was an option. From the moment that the weasel at work had handed her name in, she had been stuck. There was no company that would take her now. No way for her to earn a living until she was under the thumb of the telepath-run government.
She was stuck.
Guards with blank faces lined the walkways of the house of law. She was taken to a lower level where computer banks lined the walls. A terminal in gutted disarray was waiting for her.
“What happened here?”
“I told you, sabotage.”
She winced at the mess. “I need a tool kit. This is going to take some time.”
“The tool kit is on the way; you have the rest of the standard business day. We need that terminal online for the evening shift.”
He walked away, leaving two very surprised guards watching over her.
She sat on the floor and went to work organizing the splicing and twisting that someone had done. “I am very glad that I didn’t wear a skirt today.”
In defiance of her situation, she had dressed in casual, sturdy trousers and a button-down shirt that was warm and had sleeves she could roll up.
She hummed, and when the kit arrived, she checked through it. “I need a pair of wire cutters, some forceps, a sandwich and a cup of tea. Stat.”
“Wire cutters? You are supposed to repair the unit, not destroy it.”
She gave the witty guard a dark look. “Whoever ripped this terminal apart fused a number of wires to places they should not be. I have to cut them loose to do my work.”
He blinked and called in her order on a small com unit attached to his shoulder.
She smiled brightly and crept under the terminal again, humming as she fixed what she could and waited for the cutters. They were placed in her hand with the forceps. Now, she could get the terminal running.
Humming tunelessly, she continued on for a few minutes, getting basic power back into the unit before she scooted out and ate her meal. Around her sandwich, she asked, “How much time do I have?”
“Three hours, miss.”
It was twice what she needed. With the tools she had needed to hold her connections in place and cut away the botched wire, she moved right along.
When she got to the keyboard, it had been doused and needed cleaning. The solvents in her kit took care of it, and it functioned perfectly when she did a test.
The monitor had been wedged to warp the screen, so she straightened it and finally headed for the data router.
With a small motion of the tiniest screwdriver, she inserted the chip that she had been carrying behind her ear. It clicked in place and would simply record all data that ran through it. It was her pride and joy, an organic data drive in a few flecks of skin and a bio-plastic housing.
She hummed along as she prodded the unit back into its rack and locked it down. It wasn’t a place anyone would look for interference. It was the link between processor and monitor. Eventually, she hoped to be able to see what it had seen.
Sure that she had done her job, she activated the power couplings and the terminal hummed to life. Ainora squirmed out from under the terminal and closed the housing.
Five guards were now watching her, and one nervous young woman stood staring at her.
“It should be ready for you now, miss. Go ahead. I will just get out of your way.” She piled the tools on top of her kit and looked at the guards. “Where to next?”
They waited with her while the terminal was activated. The young woman did a search and said, “The data lines are clear. No interference. The terminal is valid for use once again.”
One of the guards called it in and waited for the signal of what to do next.
When he got something via his earpiece, he nodded even though the other party couldn’t hear him. “Miss Lenz, please come with me. I will show you to your quarters while you are on duty.”
“I have quarters while I am on duty?”
“You will not be allowed to leave the building, so it is necessary that you live here. You will always be on duty.”
She winced. “I see. Right. Well, take me to my quarters then. I need another meal and a place to bang my head.”
They milled in confusion, but she wiped her hands on the edge of her shirt and looked at them expectantly. “Well?”
Her snapped word brought them to their senses and she was led into the hidden world under her feet. Her incarceration in service had begun.
Ainora Lenz disappeared into Tech 534. She was called out over and over to repair and replace the technology damaged by the underground movement.
Deep under the surface of Resicor, she lived and learned that she was one of an army of those indentured to the government. Some were bound with bands that restricted their useful talents. Tech 534 had to fix those as well.
She tried to smile at the talents who were restricted by electric shock or injected paralytic but conversation was not allowed.
She was flown around the globe, and she fixed what they set in front of her. The guards that escorted her were always different, always new and no friendships ever got past day one.
Tech 534 was uncomfortable when she was sent to work on another talent with a talent guarding her. It felt like betraying family and being betrayed at the same time. It was the worst family gathering ever.
When Tech 534 got her first assignment to New City, she was amazed. What could have gone wrong at the height of advancement on Resicor?
Tech 534 looked at her manifest and winced. “Restraint cuffs?”
The guard piloting her skimmer gave her a dark look. “Whatever is on the work order, you fix it. You are being sent to lock on and maintain those cuffs.”
She wrinkled her nose and ran a hand through her hair, her cowl would hide the blue fluff, but she liked to have it out until the last moment.
New City gleamed and shone in the bright sparkling light of their sun.
Tech 534’s skimmer landed in the shadows half a kilometre from the city.
The guards at the gate eyed her dubiously, but they let her through. With a wince, she pulled her hood up to cover her hair.