Chapter One - Trapped

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Lieutenant Katherine Fisher cursed under her breath as she threw herself behind her jeep, using it as cover in a decision that probably wasn't her finest. Of course, the jeep was plated in armour, making it probably the best way to keep bullets from her - or whatever the hell kind of lasers this bastard appeared to be firing - but if it took too much damage, she would lose her way back to the ship.

"Fisher?" she heard over the comm, taking a moment to realise that her CO was addressing her. Usually 'Fisher' meant either her mother or sister.

"I'm a little busy right now," she managed to reply. "You know, with not dying."

She could practically hear the shocked silence, but she didn't care. Even shy and quiet little Kath could forget about keeping her mouth shut when under the influence of fight-or-flight.

And she had never been any good at the whole chain-of-command thing.

In the end, her CO opted for ignoring the comment. "Time is running out, Fisher, and we need that data."

She sighed. "On it, sir."

She fired her pistol around the cover without really looking before sprinting for the building she had been heading to originally.

Before some winged arsehole had started to fire on her.

Luckily, she was faster than his lasers, reaching the building with only minimal damage to her armour. The Rakxi research outpost had been abandoned at the beginning of the war, according to their intel. It was too close to Human space. But it had recently become a communications outpost, meaning that it had data that would be more than useful in Human hands.

And Kath had never met a computer she couldn't hack.

The building was, thankfully, empty. The small team manning the outpost had fallen hook-line-and-sinker for her team's distraction.

Well, apart from the guy chasing her.

She sealed the door behind her, waiting for an artificial pressurisation that never came.

Of course it didn't, she thought to herself as she ran over to the command console. Rakxi, with their wings and light bone structure, were designed for high altitude. Unlike Kath, who was freezing and starting to get dizzy from being atop the huge mountain so long. Not to mention how her lack of sleeves made the cold that much harder to deal with.

She plugged her armour into the computer, silently thanking the galactic community for their universal technology.

Her forearm lit up. Or, rather, her contact lenses told her eyes that it had, despite her arm remaining the same golden colour as before.

She lifted her arm up to see how fast her program was at forcing its way past login. It was a new variant she had cooked up in her downtime, specifically designed for Rakxi systems.

After thirty seconds - during which she continually glanced between the door and her arm, waiting for her assailant to return - she had the data.

She unplugged herself, just as the door opened once more. She ducked behind the desk, catching just a glimpse of pure white wings.

No laser blasts followed her ducking, telling her that she hadn't been seen. She held her breath as she tensed up, just waiting to be spotted.

Thunk-scrape

Thunk-scrape

Thunk-scrape

She frowned at the footsteps. They weren't right. He was limping.

Which meant she had actually managed to shoot him.

She smiled a little at her blind-luck, choosing to view it as a sign that her aim was finally improving. Her happiness was only slightly hampered by the fact that, despite his limp, her assailant had still chased after her. Tenacious bastard.

Her excitement was short-lived, however, as she heard him make his way around to where she was hiding. She scrambled around the corner, her loud movements quickly followed by a barrage of laser fire.

Her hands tensed into fists, a sign that she was automatically doing everything she could to keep control. But now wasn't the time for reigning in. Not when her enemy was so close.

She clipped her gun to the back of her armour before letting her arms go up in flames.

She threw the fire she had generated around the corner before hearing her assailant yell something that she was more than happy to bet was a curse.

She rolled out of her cover before throwing even more fire at him, which he ducked into cover to avoid. She kept up her attack for several more minutes, her enemy remaining hidden, and hopefully getting a little crispy.

She stopped as she started to wear out, pulling out her gun once more as she warily watched for any sign of her enemy's return.

He didn't seem to want to move from his cover. Or he was too injured to. But Kath didn't want to take any chances.

She was distracted, however, by the realisation that the wall wasn't returning to its usual grey colour from the heated red. In fact, it seemed to be getting brighter.

She backed away as she looked more closely and saw that the wall wasn't, in fact, a wall, but a series of stacked up barrels.

She looked around before seeing a door. She opened it to see a staircase, leading down. To what, she didn't know, but any choice she might have made on the matter was decided for her as the barrels finally exploded in quick succession, blowing the heavy door closed on Kath, and throwing her down the stairs.

AN: I make no promises about uploading this swiftly, as the earliest I'm hoping to release the first book is October, but I will do my best to keep updates no more than two weeks apart.

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