The whir of colour wheels settled and a familiar sinking announced the return to gravity. Ahead the docking station took shape. AT381. Home. He let out a deep shuddery breath. He was almost there. Out of habit, he glanced at the screens. No one was following.
Docked, he was about to undo the airlock when a second craft drifted into the next bay. His hands froze on the crossbar. Cast off you fool, get out of there. But he was so close. Through the port he caught a glimpse of the aeronaut, a young woman, stern and beautiful, her angular face looking vaguely familiar. Could she be one of those life suckers? They could so easily shift shape. But no. The memory of her was older. Flight school maybe. Intrigued, he opted to risk it.
She had her back turned when he reached the platform, her silver suit helmet wedged under her arm. She was typing in her credentials and taking her time about it. Fear spiked again. Could she be ratting on him? But when she turned, the sight of those black eyes and her pointed ears, had it all come flooding back. Brooke. His first lover. Their little adventure had almost cost him his place at school.
He glanced at his reflection in a porthole. Surely she wouldn’t know him after all he’d been through. She nodded blankly and squeezed past, heading for the space station. How strange to be so close. Sliding his ID into the console, a message flashed up. Who could possibly know he was there? He glanced around, but he was alone. Pulling up the message he read: 381 taken over. Get out while you can. Brooke.
He wrenched his card from the panel and tore down the tunnel after her, but she was nowhere to be seen. He halted short of the reception desk, spotting several guards sporting the latest sigma laser nonsense. Drawing back, he swore under his breath. Blast the woman. How did she know? Could he trust her?
He ran back to the airlock, unlocked the door and climbed inside his craft. He sniffed the air as he glanced around, wary that someone might have entered while he was away. He sensed nothing. Screwing the airlock into place, he hurried to the main console. A hammering came from the safety hatch. Checking the screens, he saw two guards setting about the door with the butts of their guns. The idiots were going to depressurise the whole station.
Releasing the craft’s hold on the dock, he sped her away, rapidly computing hyperspace coordinates as he did. He was about to order the shift when he felt fingers brush his neck. His hand flew to the knife at his belt. Turning his head, he caught sight of Brooke grinning down at him. He relaxed and sheathed the knife. Leaning forward to give her a kiss, he felt her grip his collar and then her teeth sank into his neck.