The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 9, Part 1

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Gambit

When I became Queen, I took over the former base commander’s house. It had one floor above ground as well as two below ground. The lowest floor was on the same level as the rest of the base, so it became a public space. People who needed to talk to me or just wanted to hang out could come and go as they pleased.

I’d had my bedroom above ground until the rationing started and I could no longer justify heating the whole floor just so I could have a window. When I’d moved my personal rooms to the middle floor, most of the stuff that had been stored there had moved to other storage locations. But because someone always needed something, I had a supply closet of spare clothes.

We took the private stairs up to my rooms, bypassing the public area entirely. I stopped on the landing for the middle floor with Ari and Valentin. Malcolm sent two soldiers up to the next landing, while he and the third soldier waited below.

While I didn’t mind if Valentin saw the public parts of Arx, I’d prefer it if he didn’t have a detailed mental map of my personal space. I turned to him. His expression was distant and he’d been so complacent that he had to be focusing on a neural link. “Wait here,” I said. He barely acknowledged me. Continue reading “The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 9, Part 1”

The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 8, Part 3

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Gambit

Valentin’s eyebrows went up when he spotted the gun. “Going to shoot me?” he asked.

“It’s up to you,” I said. “You agree to come quietly and don’t try anything, and I’ll give you the opportunity to get out of a cell and stretch your legs. Fight or do something stupid and I’ll stun you and transfer you to a new cell to rot until your people pay for you.”

“Not much of a choice, is it?”

I smiled. “It’s still a choice, even if you don’t like the options,” I said.

“Samara!” Ari called.

“In the cells,” I called back. Not being able to neural link was going to be a real bitch.

“What is your choice?” I asked Valentin.

“I’ll cooperate,” he said. “Let me out of this box.” Continue reading “The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 8, Part 3”

The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 8, Part 2

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Gambit

I didn’t bother shutting down the communication array after I sent the messages. The location of Trigon Three wasn’t a secret and whoever was tracking me already knew that it was my destination. And I knew I’d be hailed as soon as we returned to normal space.

I was right.

Less than a minute after the jump, an inbound communication request came through on the Rogue Coalition’s encrypted channel. I accepted and Ari’s irate face appeared on screen.

A statuesque blond in her early thirties, Ari was stunning even in anger. I joked that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up, even though she was only two years older than me. She always told me I had about twenty centimeters to go.

“Where have you been for the last week?” she demanded. “And why aren’t you answering neural links? Have you turned traitor?” My bodyguard was not one to mince words. She was also one of my closest friends. Continue reading “The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 8, Part 2”

The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 8, Part 1

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Gambit

I spent over two hours digging through my ship’s system code, but I couldn’t find the tracker Jax had planted. I knew just enough about software to get myself in trouble, so I decided to wait until an expert could look at it.

Commander Adams hadn’t tracked us here, so the tracker must only transmit when the jump location was locked in or when the jump happened. Either way, it would be safe enough to jump back to Arx with the tracker enabled because Adams already knew I was headed there.

Luckily for me, even a destroyer couldn’t jump straight to Trigon Three from our last location. If Commander Adams did decide to follow me to Arx, by the time he arrived, he’d find a few nasty surprises waiting for him. The Rogue Coalition might not be able to hold off an army, but a single destroyer was well within our capability. Continue reading “The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 8, Part 1”

The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 7, Part 2

Part of the serial story The Queen’s Gambit

After a stop by my quarters for my mag-boots, I headed down to maintenance. Slowly. Walking in mag-boots required a different set of muscles contractions than walking with gravity. With gravity, you pushed off of the ground. With mag-boots, you pulled yourself towards the ground.

And having a busted-up thigh made it excruciating, even with the boots set to their lightest walking level.

Mag-boots were named for the electromagnets embedded in the soles. In walking mode, the magnets activated when your foot was flat and deactivated when you started to pick up your heel to take a step. Once you got the hang of it, it made walking easier because you didn’t have the fight the magnet each time you needed to pick up your foot.

But it was fun to watch newbies forget to keep one foot down and float off of the floor.

I manually opened the door to the engine room and met a wall of heat. It was at least ten degrees warmer than the rest of the ship. My face burned like I had a fever. Well, this would be unpleasant. Continue reading “The Queen’s Gambit: Chapter 7, Part 2”