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Here's Chapter 1 to get you started:
Scene 1: Ray'Nia Base: Freya
Freya scrolled through mission reports as an urge to throw the device across the room built inside of her. How could she find condemning information when ARI officers redacted half the reports? No wonder most officers didn't have a clue about the nefarious goals of ARI. Then again, it made sense that the woman pulling the strings, the Sovereign, kept the all-powerful army in the dark. Last year, Freya learned the woman everyone thought represented an oligarchy council was in reality representing an entity known as Vad'Wok. Oh, and the Sovereign was her mother, Genevieve.
A few months ago, she'd discovered a spy so integrated into the Resistance network, the spy knew everything happening inside the colonies. A near-death experience at an abandoned colony led them to discovering the Sovereign planted Freya as a double agent. Everything she'd done for the Resistance had been a giant trap.
An ache in her chest pulled the air out of her lungs. The sister she hadn't known existed, Em'Ra, risked everything to keep Freya from finding out her long dead mother was actually the Sovereign. The betrayal of the mother she'd spent her life avenging was still too painful for her to contemplate. When her memory returned from the sudden amnesia after the fight with her sister, she warred with which was better. Remembering the wonderful times with Bash while suffering through the horrible things done to her, or neither.
"Freya?" A soft voice broke her thoughts. Turning, she saw her assistant and friend, O'Paka staring at her with wide eyes. She sat in a simple lightweight metal chair with four legs and straight backrest. A boring matching desk sat in front of each of them surrounded by neutral grey walls and flooring. At least they'd gotten their own office a few weeks ago, but they still had to be careful what they said because ARI monitored all offices on the base. While the top level officers knew she was in the Resistance, it was still a secret for the ARI officers they worked with.
"You're doing it again." O'Paka pointed to the room around them as she spoke.
A few months ago, Bash made modifications to the emotion regulation chip that scientists implanted into her brain when she was a child. Even though he showed amazing skills with everything technology, the new program had some interesting side effects. When her emotions built, instead of pain shooting through her brain and risking death, they manifested through her superhuman abilities.
O'Paka stretched up trying to reach her tab, which hovered near the ceiling along with almost everything in the room not attached to the floor or larger furniture items. With a sigh, Freya used her telekinesis to return everything to its place, careful to not drop anything.
"I need to get that fixed." Freya said as she stood up and began pacing the room.
"Yes you do, we can't risk anyone discovering what you did." Freya gestured at O'Paka before she said anything else out loud. Subterfuge was a skill O'Paka hadn't mastered yet, and if the wrong women at Ray'Nia base discovered that Freya was a spy, it would get them both killed.
Resorting to the only secure method of communication inside the base, Freya projected her telepathy to O'Paka.
Did you hear anything while I was out on drills last week? O'Paka jumped every time she initiated a mental conversation.
No, nothing changed.
Dammit, releasing that computer virus caused this. Freya projected. If she hadn't planted it, she'd never have gotten through security to save Bash from the research lab last year. Hoping they'd drop some of the new protocols, she knew that no matter how long they waited, it wouldn't get easier to infiltrate ARI deeper.
What are we going to do?
Wait until we find something. The information I retrieved isn't enough, we need something concrete that civilians and the Sovereign can't refute or deny. Until then, we have to stay undercover.
Because if we show what we have, it will burn us. Emotion lingered with O'Paka's thoughts.
Freya pulled back from her mind to keep them at bay. The weight of the situation threatened to drown her. ARI was winning the war against the Resistance, the rebel group she secretly worked for to help bring down the government that committed atrocities against the citizens.
Her thoughts drifted to Bash, Cay, and Alastor. In the five hundred years since the virus the Sovereign released caused the extinction of men, only three men existed. What if there were more, but neither the Resistance nor ARI knew about them?
Adrenaline burst through her at the thought. That was what happened with Alastor and Bash. A splinter group of ARI called the Patriots had held both men, experimented, and attempted to force breed them. If she could find another man or a Patriot compound, she might get the proof she needed.
Grabbing her tab, she flipped through reports, looking for research evaluations. Skipping past surveillance reports from her two units, she searched deeper until she found a report that had more missing than revealed. At first, it made little sense, much like the other reports, but then two words stood out. Male specimen. Someone's mistake became her success. She read more the sound of blood rushing through her ears, drowned out everything around her.
F158-39-425-B shows improved FSH, LH, and Prolactin levels, however they remain below recommended levels. Dr. Jay'Ve suggests increasing testosterone levels —
The supervisor redacted too much for her to understand the rest of the report. The words on her tab shook as her hands did. She double checked both the specimen number and the index number on the report in case she read it wrong. Licking her lips, she took a deep breath to process what she had just read. The specimen number was the same as hers, except there was a B at the end. Ideas ran through her mind, but the same one kept popping up. There was only one reason to have the same number with an added letter... She had a brother.
Scene 2: Inner-City Condo: Bash
A curse escaped as an electrical shock made his fingers numb. Bash set down the miniature computer chip, reminding himself that throwing it across the room wouldn't help fix the error loop.
If he could make this work, the Resistance group he worked for would gain a major advantage over ARI. Improved nano technology would not only help incapacitate enemy soldiers and make Resistance soldiers stronger, but the possibilities were limitless.
Blinking away the throbbing pain in his eyes, he counted that he had worked for five hours without a break. Grabbing the tab, he searched through the replicator database for anything that sparked his interest. Even though it was a newer model, it was a Resistance model, and it had a lot of archived items. Scrolling through the archived menus, he waited for something to stand out. Several minutes went by before he found something that caught his eye: Quirky Quinn's Guide to Recipes.
Wait a minute, that sounded familiar. He went back in time to before he met Freya, when he lived in Hiro Camp and he was living with and being used by the enemy. Lux'Nia had been the only friend he'd known, and she’d given him a book as an apology gift. The title popped into his memory, Quirky Quinn's Guide to Romantic Interludes.
An idea formed in his mind as he remembered what the book said. Women love it when a man cooks for her. Quirky Quinn wrote the books before the virus had killed off men.
The last six months living together continued to be a struggle every day. Maybe he could do something for Freya that might take her mind off the tension in their relationship.
Getting to work, he flipped through the recipes looking for one that was simple. A potato and sausage soup caught his attention, and it made his mind up. He started replicating a stew pot, induction burner, cutting board, and the rest of the items needed. With a few finger taps, he played music to set the mood, just like the recipe called for. Humming along with the music, he chopped garlic, onions, and potatoes, and occasionally stirred what was in the pot.
When the soup was almost finished, he went back to the replicator and made a tablecloth, candles, and a beautiful centerpiece that matched the dishes and began setting the table. Standing back, he admired the sight.
If the book was right, Freya would love what he'd done, but this was just the start. He wanted to make her feel loved, since he was the first person in her life that cared for her. Pain burned in his chest as he thought about the horrors of her past. She hadn't deserved any of it, just like he hadn't deserved what happened to him, but he needed to show her she wasn't an ordinary woman. She'd saved his life and his sanity, and she deserved all the affection neither of them had gotten.
A chime alerted him that Freya had entered the condo from upstairs. He rushed to ladle the soup into bowls and set them on the table without spilling. As he straightened up from setting down the second bowl, the door to the hidden lift in the corner opened revealing Freya. She looked up from her handheld and froze mid-step.
"Uh, what's this?" Her eyebrows wrinkled together as she looked over the table. Her short black hair stood up, she had this cute habit of running her fingers through it.
"With how stressful life and work has been lately, I thought you might like to do something a little different." Bash greeted her with a quick kiss and pulled her into his arms. Her head came up to his chest, which he thought made her more adorable. With the recent missions she'd been on, they found themselves apart more than together. Over the holidays they'd celebrated in secret, he'd gotten used to being around her more. Her arms wrapped around his waist, making his heart scream that she was his when her metallic purple eyes looked up into his.
"Remember when we first met, and I said I never ate replicator food before?"
Freya nodded as he guided her into a chair at the table.
"That means I can cook a little, and I thought we could have a nice peaceful night together without talking about work or taking down the government. Just a quiet and romantic night." He slid the handheld from her grasp and set it on the counter.
"I'm not sure I know how to be romantic."
"Let's try it." He gave her a passionate kiss then sat in his seat. "You never take a moment to relax and I thought this might help."
He tried to be covert as she dipped the spoon in the soup and took her first bite. Time slowed as he watched the expressions unfold on her face. The corners of her lips turned down, and a weight settled in his chest. She didn't like it.
As he looked down to his own bowl, he heard her make a soft noise. His gaze shot to her face in the expression he saw there made his chest warm.
"So you like it?"
"Yes I do, I've never tasted anything like this before."
He started to ask if it was the best thing she'd ever tasted when an alarm interrupted him. It took a moment to realize which one it was. The condo had several alarms, one to signal that Violet Five was being raided, another to say that their current condo was being breached, and a third that notified them of an unwanted visitor nearing the decoy condo upstairs.
Since the inner-city was so densely populated, the government required people to live together as roommates. Freya had registered with ARI that both she and O'Paka were living in the condo upstairs together, but in reality, O'Paka lived upstairs while Freya and he lived downstairs in the secret unit. There was a hidden door in both condos that led to the lift that would move between them.
Since they lived in the same building as Violet Five, a well-known bar that also served contraband and acted as a clandestine Resistance meeting place, there was always the chance of it being raided. While it wasn't the safest place for him to be, it was safest for him to stay with Freya. The other option was to relocate in the outer-city or wilderness and never see Freya, but that wasn't an option for him. The sound of the alarm told him that somebody was approaching the condo door upstairs, and it was somebody that shouldn't be here.
Scene 3: Inner-City Condo: Freya
Freya tossed her blaster to Bash and rushed to the lift. The last time this happened, somebody got lost trying to locate a friend's condo, but she wouldn't take any chances, not with Bash's life.
"Of course I'll stay here." Bash rolled his eyes as he set the weapon in his lap.
"Is that necessary?"
"As much as it is for you to remind me constantly that I need to stay here."
Her eyes narrowed on him as the urge to have the last word clawed at her. Stormy brown eyes glared back at her as he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Bash-"
"Please stop, we both know whatever is about to come out of your mouth will be patronizing." His eyes dulled as his head shook. "Let's not do this right now."
Water welled in the corners of her eyes as she analyzed his emotions. No matter what they tried to do lately, they were fighting opposing forces in all directions. The Sovereign knew everything about her since they had planted her into the Resistance thanks to her mother and the track chip she thought she'd been scrambling from everyone. Instead, it appeared to turn off and stopped transmitting to everyone but the scientists who performed the experiments on her and the Sovereign.
If that wasn't enough, Nova still openly disapproved of her relationship with Bash. There was still some difference of opinion regarding his fertility status, but he was to date the best chance of reproduction. One of the first things they did to her in the program was remove her reproductive organs. Couldn't have their new favorite weapon get soft on them because she wanted a baby.
Which brought her back to Bash. If she ended things, he could find someone who wouldn't put him at risk and could have children with him. Nova was convinced Freya was the reason he hadn't committed to being a sperm donor, especially since they'd confirmed Alastor and Cay were sterile.
The alarm sounded again. O'Paka wouldn't be home for another hour or two. Freya exhaled the breath she held slowly as she spun on her heel and stalked toward the lift. Smashing her hand against the display harder than necessary, she let out a string of curses the entire ride.
She stepped out of the lift into the upstairs condo and turned around, watching the door disappear. The only thing that would make it reveal itself again was a pre-programmed handprint, or a damn good hacker. With Bash's constantly improving skills, he was quickly surpassing most well-known hackers. It would take serious abilities to make it through the protections he set up.
The door chimed, and Freya approached it with calculated steps. Standing at the door, she reached out to signal the security system to display video feed of the other side. A woman with a pale pink complexion, light brown eyes, and dirty blond hair in a pixie cut appeared. Freya cursed as she realized who was standing outside the door. Jes'Nara was the worst performing person on Freya's team, and Freya had no idea why she was here. Pressing a button, the door slid open, and Jes'Nara jumped.
"Can I help you?" It was easy for Freya to keep her tone of voice neutral from many years of undercover experience despite having to look up at the woman.
"Sorry to bother you, I wanted to know if you could help me." Her wobbly voice didn't reassure Freya.
"With what?" This was one of the most tedious parts about being telepathic. Even though it took a few seconds to scan Jes'Nara's mind and know that she wanted help to develop her reconnaissance skills, Freya still had to go through the dialogue. Her telepathy was a secret to those around her in ARI, except for the scientist who made her.
Jes'Nara fiddled with her ARI jacket for a moment before smoothing it out. Grasping her hands together, she replied. "I've seen you on missions, your skills are amazing and I want to be like you."
It made sense that Jes'Nara would recognize her superior skills since Freya went through years of harsher training than anyone else in ARI. Daily for most of her life, the punishment for failure was death. It would be impossible to bring Jes'Nara up to her level of skill, but she could teach her a few things.
"I'll help you, but on one condition."
"What's that?" Jes'Nara's face lit up.
"It's against ARI policy for enlisted to visit their CO's home, it falls under the fraternization section." Freya used the ARI handbook because it would be less suspicious than anything else she could say.
"Yes, Ma'am!" Jes'Nara snapped to attention and Freya sighed.
"You can relax, I have a new mission in mind, and it would be a suitable opportunity for you to come along, but we can discuss it more tomorrow."
"See you tomorrow!" Jes'Nara said, then bolted down the hallway toward the public lift.
Freya closed the door and leaned against it with a heavy heart. This was the part of the night she'd dreaded all day. Jes'Nara's appearance further proved that Bash wasn't safe here. If ARI raided Violet Five again, they would find the hidden rooms where Bash lived. Then they would arrest him and return him to their research lab, and this time she might not be able to save him. The Sovereign had been tracking her without her knowledge. They had to know all the locations she'd been to recently. Her heart shattered at what she had to do next, because there was only one thing that could make Bash leave. She had to convince him she didn't care.
Scene 4: Inner-City Condo: Bash
Bash set the tab with the security display down and waited for Freya to return. From the interaction, he could tell that Freya knew the woman, but the sound still wasn't working so he had no idea what they said. He heard the lift's descent before the doors opened.
Searching her face for a sign of danger, her lack of a smile failed to reassure him. Freya returned to the table without a word, then sat and resumed eating her soup. She wasn't making eye contact with him, and that wasn't a good sign. Neither was her not saying a word about what happened upstairs. His gut clenched at the possibilities running through his mind.
"So who was that?" The silence grew between them as she continued to eat her soup, picking away at his soul as theories spiraled through his thoughts. Unable to contain it any longer, he broke their silent standoff. "Freya!"
She set the spoon down, wiped her mouth, and set her elbows on the table while interlacing her fingers. "I wanted to wait until after dinner to do this, but you seem intent on doing it now." Her eyes narrowed as her chin tilted up.
"Something happened while you were upstairs and I want to know what it was."
"Her name is Jes'Nara, she's a member of my intelligence field team. I'm preparing for a deep cover mission that she's accompanying me on, and I don't know when I'll be back. This objective is too sensitive to send anyone but the best-"
"And you're the best there is." Bash interrupted her with clenched teeth.
"Yes." Her habit of replying with abrupt answers made his blood pressure skyrocket.
"How long will it take?"
"As long as I need." She answered with a flat tone.
"You have no idea." He caught himself before pounding his fist on the table, deciding that pacing was a better outlet than violence. She didn't have to say anything because he already knew where this was going. It was the same argument they'd had like clockwork every week. When would she learn that he didn't want to be her protected little pet?
"You need to go somewhere safer, I know you don't agree, but you're not safe alone. I won't be here to protect you and the Sovereign knows where V-Five is."
Bash searched her face for an emotion, anything. Just a clue to tell him what she was feeling, but there wasn't a hint of anything. No concern. No love. Absolutely nothing. His soul cried as pain exploded in his chest. Had the last few months been a lie? Everything they'd gone through and how close they'd become over the holidays completely unraveled the moment they'd gotten back to normal life.
Looking into her eyes, he knew that he wouldn't win this. Once she made her mind up, and even if it ripped them apart, she wouldn't back down.
The power that ARI had to strike fear in the hearts of its citizens was a gross injustice. People weren't free to express themselves. Hell, he wasn't even free to live an actual life. He had to spend his days locked up in a secret room or risk being dragged into a lab again. Men had no rights, and the few rights that women had ARI constantly exploited. This wasn't living, and he wasn't a benefit to anyone hidden away in a basement.
"You won't drop this, will you?"
"No." Her succinct answer fueled a rage inside of him he'd hidden away after his captivity at the Patriot camp he'd grown up at.
"If you push me away again, I won't wait around for you." Instead of heartfelt emotion he knew she was capable of, her face was stoic when she responded.
"I'll get everything arranged with Nova, and she'll take you somewhere safe I don't know about, separate from where Alastor and Cay are." Freya set her half finished soup in the reclamation unit and took the lift upstairs.
Before he could stop himself, the table was on its side, glass shattered everywhere. He knew better than to give Freya an ultimatum that involved her emotions. She'd always take logic over emotion. Shoving his emotions aside, he packed the few things he needed to walk away from Freya's icy heart.