Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Romance, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera
Desperate to save her family, Nathaly trains with the Sector Guard to become the first lady of a new Citadel.
Nathaly has been preparing for this moment for years, but she is still surprised when she is given the signal and has to run for her life. Her mother is arrested and her father is already in prison. She is the last of the line and staying free is her priority.
Rescued by the Sector Guard, Nat agrees to train to use her passive talent as a weapon and Station 13 is her training ground.
Strobe is her rescuer, and he keeps an eye on her while she is working to master her talent in new ways. When he is offered the chance to partner with her in a new Citadel, he jumps at the chance to keep proximity to the woman now known as Shiver. With her, his future is Bright.
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Shiver and Bright
Copyright © 2015 Viola Grace
Cover art by Carmen Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Shiver and Bright
Tales of the Citadel Book 42
Nathaly kneaded the bread and gasped when a handful of flour struck her cheek.
“Mom! Honestly, you are worse than a child.” Nathaly wiped the flour from her face.
“And you are too grown up for your age. You need to have a little fun.” Rema Welling snickered and flicked more flour at her.
Nathaly flicked her fingers and a glob of dough struck her mother’s cheek. The fight was on.
Ten minutes later, Nathaly tried to salvage what was remaining from her initial dough. Her mother was wearing the rest.
Rema picked chunks of dough from her hair and grinned. “Better. Your aim improved with practice.”
A rumble in the ground caused them both to still. “Nat, was that you?”
“Go upstairs, get the bags.”
Nathaly nodded and dropped her apron on the counter, working the flour off her hands with a quick vibration before heading up the stairs.
The vehicle outside her home was visible from the window. She made certain not to touch the drapes and swiftly went to her room and grabbed her bags.
As quietly as she could, she went to her wardrobe, draped the bags over her shoulders and lowered herself down the rope implanted in the wooden floor beneath her clothing. Hanging there, she slid the floor back into place so nothing was amiss.
Swallowing nervous tears, she moved down the rope, right through the center of the house and into the cellar. The tunnels that had been designed were for this purpose, for Nathaly’s escape.
* * * *
Rema brushed her hands down her gown and answered the door. “Hello?”
Rema frowned. “No. I do not know anyone by that name.”
The man who reeked of evil checked his notes. “Ah, excuse me. You are not his wife.”
“Lord Altair Newshot. You are his mistress.”
Rema inclined her head. “I am.”
“He has been arrested for treason, and we have been ordered to take you in for questioning.”
Rema heard a soft thud from inside the walls and prayed that Nathaly continued on her way safely.
“Is there someone else inside?” The man pushed past her and left her on her doorstep in the custody of two guards.
Rema held her breath as he searched and returned with Nathaly’s apron. “It looks like you made a bit of a mess.”
She waved at her clothing. “I waited too long and the dough exploded. I have never been much use in the kitchen.”
He looked at her carefully and his eyes narrowed. “Search the house. There is another person here.”
The guards shot past her and into her home. The drills she had put Nathaly through were coming to fruition. Her daughter had one way out and Rema hoped that she took it without looking back.
“What is she? Is she your maid?” The man who wore the badges of the government security force grabbed her wrist.
“Yes. I knew that Newshot’s political views would get me into trouble. When I felt your vehicle, I told her to go.”
He grabbed her arm and forced her to the transport. “An inquisitor will determine if you are telling the truth. You will learn that it is simpler to be honest the first time around.”
Rema looked back at her house. “I have found that when dealing with men, truth is the last thing that they want.”
The transport rumbled off, and she was driven toward the capitol with her soul looking back and hoping for her daughter’s safety.
* * * *
Nathaly worked her way through the shadows of the tunnel, dampening her steps behind her. Walking silently had been a hard thing to learn, but it was her best means of practicing with her talent. Every step had a vibration built on shoe style, body weight, burden, personal balance and speed as well as the surface one was walking on. Sending a balanced wave at the point of impact gave her silent running with no ripple through the world around her.
She sprinted toward the outpost through the tunnels that had taken most of her childhood to build.
Her father was a good man, a kind man, and the last of his line. He had met Rema when they were both completing their educations, and she had refused his offer of marriage, even though she was pregnant at the time. She returned to her home and he pursued her, asking her to be his wife. She refused to consider him until he completed his education.
He returned to school and sent Rema a stipend for the necessary equipment for a child. When he graduated, he asked her again, and she smiled and told him to take up his family seat in government before she would consider him.
It had gone on for nearly two decades. Rema told Nathaly once that she got glimpses of the future and that she had always been Rema Welling. That had been good enough for her.
Nathaly had two loving parents. In their community, it hadn’t mattered at all that the vows had not been spoken; they could be seen by one and all.
If government officers arrived at their home, her mother and father were in danger. She had to follow the plan and get what help she could.
Ten kilometers underground took her to the final stop on her escape. She crept up the steps and opened the hatch.
She dug through the first of her bags and pulled out a key. With as much stealth as she could manage, she walked to the com unit and slid the key in, sending the signal to the occupant of the outpost and alerting her godmother on Station 13. The help that could come would be here soon.
She had supplies and a place to hide. What more could a young woman need?
It took two days for someone to open the dark room. A light blazed down at her and a man extended his hand.
“Lupik sent me to help, Nathaly Welling.”
She took the hand, and he lifted her out of the dark cell that had been her salvation.
The interior of the second layer of the outpost was another underground room, but it was bright as daylight with the glow from the eyes of the man who still held her hand.
“I am here to get you to safety. Will you come with me?”
“What about my parents?”
“I have no orders regarding them, only you.” His eyes dimmed and she could make out his features.
His cheeks were a pale silver and his hair a smoky blue. The light from his eyes was hard to look at and cast his features in weird light.
“I want to save them.”
“How?” He cocked his head in a birdlike motion.
She looked up at him helplessly. “I don’t know.”
He sighed and lifted his arm, checking a display on his wrist. “Lady Lupik has arrived and is keeping her eye on your parents. They are imprisoned but in no danger. We need to get you off the surface and to safety.”
Nathaly nodded. “Right. Part of the drill. I have to go before I can come back.”
“You were briefed?”
“Since I was ten. When my father got his position as vice chancellor, it was part of my weekly life. I have done drills, practice escapes and worked with my skills and my talent to protect myself.”
“Then, let us conclude your escape and get you safe. Your parents will breathe more easily when they know you are not at risk.”
She nodded, and he led her through the outpost and to the covered hangar. A shuttle waited for them. He led her into the shuttle and stowed her bags.
His eyes ceased their glowing. He didn’t speak as he flicked the switches and activated the ship. When the ship moved forward, he cursed and quickly pulled them upward and away from the shelter.
She understood the reason for the curse as they lifted and the shots struck the hull. He got them out of the way and through the incoming attack vessels that streamed through the sky with no hesitation.
As dark stars whirled above them and the ground fell away, she breathed more easily.
“Thank you. May I ask your name?”
He cleared his throat. “My call sign is Strobe, but you may call me Worvin.”
“Worvin, I am pleased to meet you.”
“Why are you in danger?”
He set the controls, and the ship took over, pulling them through space.
She combed her hair over her ears and sat up. “My father’s family has always had a ruling position on the councils. My father wanted to open the councils to voting, not just family houses but for public consideration. Everyone needed a voice.”
Nat licked her lips. “I was not a threat to his policies, but I was leverage if I bore his name, so my mother never listed my father on any documents. He wasn’t happy about that, but he left it alone, having me and my mother was enough, name or no name.”
She shifted. “It was clear that his work with the vote was going to cause problems, so he and my mother came up with a plan to get me free if they came for us to use us as leverage. Today was that day.”
“Why would they use you as leverage?”
“Because I am the bastard of the vice chancellor and the family who has been trying to get him to mix with them is the family of the chancellor. He has been able to claim disinterest in women so far, but now, there is proof that he just didn’t want the chancellor’s daughter.”
“So, they are out to destroy the proof of the relationship that has kept him from joining with them.”
“That is our guess, but until Lady Lupik tells us what precisely is going on, I have no clue.”
Worvin nodded. “We will find out.”
She smiled gratefully. “Thank you for your help.”
“It is nice to get off the station.” He smiled. “I normally work as the quartermaster.”
“Well, you seem very at ease with the rescue.”
He inclined his head. “Thank you.”
The ship slid through the darkness, and they sat in silence. There was a lot of space between her and her parents, but she had to get to safety before she could try and come home.
When six hours had passed, Worvin helped her to her feet and showed her the lav, the galley and how to get rations out of the dispenser using her wrist as a scanning point.
Worvin nodded. “We use this model on all ships with unknown species. It measures what you need in your bloodstream and guesses at what is required. Those are what it offers you as a selection.”
Nat smiled. “That will make a change from the rations I have been eating.”
He perked up. “You have rations? That would make it easier to calibrate the unit.”
Nat went to the storage locker where he had placed her bags. She pulled out one of the ration bars that her mother made and handed it to him.
“Here you go. It is the one thing my mom can cook.”
He smiled and then caught on to the fact she wasn’t smiling. “You are serious.”
“Yup. I started cooking when I was twelve. It was self-defence.”
He chuckled and took the bar, moving to the machine and slicing off a piece. He fed it into the side of the dispenser and set an analysis program.