Mira frowned as the shuttle vibrated violently when it shouldn’t have. The flight from Space Station Abaccas back to Earth was a straight shot of bursts. Sudden navigational changes caused vibrations, and judging by the way the shuttle was bouncing her around in a teeth-jarring way, they had to have changed their trajectory a lot, which frightened her. Was something in their flight path?
It happened very rarely but sometimes shuttles were attacked by pirates. It was a horrible thought and an even worse reality if that’s what was happening. The short four-day flight in the shuttle from Abaccas to Earth was never attacked since thieves liked to go after the heavily supplied, larger ships. The shuttle was a poor target to hit with its meager resources and few passengers to rob. She soothed her fears by thinking it had to be just space garbage the pilot was trying to avoid.
Alarms screamed in the cabin and Mira’s gaze flew to the only other passenger, General William Reed, who was her father’s age—in his late sixties—and he looked furious. He met her gaze and reached for his side blazer. She stared at him, wondering what he meant to do with the retractable blade of synthetic steel. Knives and side blazers were the only weapons permitted. Guns or any other weapon that shot projectiles were regarded as dangerous to a ship’s hull and weren’t allowed on shuttles because, with the constant pressure changes, they could accidentally misfire.
“Shit,” the man cursed. He grabbed his seat, pressing the com link to the cockpit. “What is it? What is going on, pilot?”
“Two vessels, Sir,” the pilot sounded panicked. “We’re being overtaken and they are blocking us in.
They are faster than we are and we can’t escape.”
“Who is it?” The general was yelling now.
“I don’t know, Sir,” the pilot yelled back. “They aren’t marked so they are probably pirates since they won’t respond to our calls.”
The general cursed again and released the com. Mira watched him yank off his wedding ring to shove it behind the backrest cushion. He looked around the cabin critically until his gaze finally rested on Mira, who wasn’t fond of the pompous man. The evening before, when she’d boarded the shuttle, he’d annoyed her with boring conversations and his inflated ego.
“They won’t get much but you.” His lips turned downward into a frown. “I’m sorry, my dear. I have a daughter your age.” He released his belt and stood. “I won’t let them take you alive.”
She watched the man grab for his blazer again, his intent becoming clear as the blade shot out at the press of his thumb. The blazer looked like a dagger until the blade extended into a short sword. Horror washed over her as she lurched for her belt release. Her fingers shook as she pushed the button, knowing he was going to kill her before he would allow the pirates to get her.
“Stay away from me. You can’t kill me.”
The man was thrown off balance as the shuttle jarred violently before the engines died and Mira felt the gravity on the shuttle waver. Her ass left the seat for a second before it was restored. Both actions caused the older man to stumble sideways as she slammed back into her seat. He tripped and fell hard when gravity sucked him back to the floor.
“Do you know what pirates do to women?” He hauled his body up slowly. “You’ll be lucky if the men on those two ships just rape you to death. I’ve heard stories that some women get taken back to their planet and forced into pleasure houses where you’ll be used by dozens of men every day until you die within a few months.”
She clambered out of her seat and barely missed the blade he sent downward where she’d sat a second before, the sound of splitting fabric loud in her ears. She backed up and then screamed. There was a loud crunch of metal as the shuttle was suddenly shoved hard to one side, as if something had slammed into it, causing another alarm to shriek while red lights flashed in the large cabin. She was thrown across the shuttle but as she looked up from the floor where she’d landed hard she realized it had been a blessing.
“We’re being boarded,” the pilot shouted from the front. “Disarm and hopefully they won’t kill us.”
“They are coming,” the general yelled