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Kristine Kathryn Rusch


We have to be prepared,” Hoa Nguyen said as she strapped on her laser pistol. She also carried a stun stick. She had attached an emergency aid patch to the inside of her left wrist. Her black hair was pulled back, and she wore a medium-level environmental suit. With a soft voice command, the suit would seal around her ankles and wrists, raise a hood that would cover her entire face, and protect her against a hostile environment. She hoped she wouldn’t have to use it. “Everything could change in an instant.”

The two members of her security team watched as if they had never seen her before. JaVon Daschle and Nils Svenson were men used to routine; they’d never encountered a situation like this one before.

She hadn’t either, but she had encountered other things. And the only control she had was in her preparation.

They stood in the prep room near the docking ring. Behind her was an interlinked series of locking doors, all of which would shut in case of a structural breach or damage to the environmental systems.

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