Ships of Valor 1: Persona Non Grata

BOOK: Ships of Valor 1: Persona Non Grata
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Persona Non Grata

Persona Non Grata

Aaron Kennedy

E-book edition

Published in the United States by Templar Press. Templar Press and the mounted Templar Knight colophon are registered trademarks and may not be reproduced.

Persona Non Grata

A Ships of Valor Novel

Copyright © 2016 by Aaron M. Kennedy

All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Registered with the Library of Congress

ISBN-13: 978-0-692-77161-7

ISBN-10: 0-692-77161-1

Cover artwork, copyright © 2016 Jeffrey J. Burger

Legionnaires logo, copyright © 2016 Jeffrey J. Burger

www.shipsofvalorbooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Emmy, with whom I share the grandest Adventures.

Acknowledgements

Thank you to all my beta-readers who helped refine this from a passion piece into something approaching what I hope is a good product. Thank you to my fellow authors Travis I. Sivart, Kevin Gardner, and Jeffrey Burger for all the advice along the way. Thank you to my friends for putting up with me for the last year as I plugged away at this.

AK, Midsummer 2016

 

Chapter 1

There was almost no line for Terra, which I found was odd in itself. I would have expected it to be as packed as the Mars or outbound queues, but maybe I caught a lull. I made my way to the counter and the desk-jockey looked surprised to see someone wearing a scarlet Legion jacket.

I've had this jacket going on twenty years. It was my first major investment after becoming a shareholder. Made from synth-leather and damn near indestructible. It's not exactly a flagrant display of being in the Legion, but the large gold chevrons on the right sleeve tend to draw attention even if the embossed club patch is missed. The jacket will survive temps ranging from stupid cold to insanely hot, and I'm not sure a knife can cut it. I know the seamstress had a hell of a time putting the stripes on it. She eventually gave up trying to sew them on and ended up moly-bonding them instead. Worth every credit I paid.

The clerk looked at me as if I had grown a second head when I asked for a ride down to Terra two days hence. Kind of slack-jawed like I wasn't speaking Standard. At first, I assumed it was a clerk level issue. I’m not saying all clerks are on the low end of the intelligence spectrum, however, a great many people placed in public facing positions did not get there through feats of amazing competence. I showed my Terran passcard, and the rest of my idents, creating a reaction I hadn't expected. The security doors on his booth slammed shut. I stood there, somewhat shocked for a minute until I realized he still had my idents.

I knocked gently on the partition a couple times, hoping maybe he hit the wrong button by mistake and waited. I slowly breathed in and out, counting to one hundred, willing myself not to rip the down the barrier. I wasn't sure I could, but I also wasn't sure I couldn't. Legionnaires go through some extensive genemod when we join. We're strong, and we're not affected by gravity the same way most folks are. I had recently come off a tour in one point two standard gravs and combined with this metal arm meant I had a lot of power.

I felt it twinge as I actively thought about it. The Doc used to tell me it was phantom pain, all in my head. I told him a lot of things in response, little of which should be repeated in polite company. None of that changed the fact that I could feel the pain all the way from the top of my bicep through my deltoid and into my shoulder blade itself. My arm felt as if I had slept on it wrong. As though it were possible to sleep wrong. Then again, I had spent much of the last hour propped precariously in what passed for a chair with my head leaned back against the wall.

Nothing brings pain about faster than thinking about the area where the pain might be. The doctors replaced most of the bone structure in my left arm a little over a decade ago. It was stronger and lighter than normal bone but made going through any kind of security checkpoint a nightmare. The alloy was military grade, instantly flagging me for additional screening even though my idents clearly exempted me for this specific reason. Maybe that was it.

I stood there standing like a fool trying not to get too irate and agitate the Horin behind me. The last thing I wanted was some report saying I had gotten into an interspecies altercation. That would be just my luck. Horin are ugly sons of bitches. They're huge and scary being both taller than humans and double our mass. Although Horin walk on their rear legs like humans do, the majority of their muscle is in their shoulders and front arms, so when they aren’t moving, they lean forward on gigantic four-fingered hands. Add to that their resting state is sort of a shivering movement, in a fur covered aggressive red color three shades brighter than the scarlet jacket I was currently wearing. They draw attention to themselves, not because Horin want to, but because their natural camouflage makes them blend into their home world. That camouflage doesn't make them blend in anywhere else. Like right behind a comparatively small human trying to get through security in one of the drabbest buildings in this part of the sector.

As I mulled this over and talked myself out of doing something idiotic this close to being home, two people dressed in dark navy business suits approached.

"Lieutenant Gadsden?" the shorter asked cautiously. I corrected with sergeant, then corrected with mister saying I was retired. "Could you come with us, Sir?" He handed me my idents. I asked if there was a problem, and he shook his head but pointed towards a corridor that practically screamed official use only. I followed them to an ash gray runabout in the back where they sat me in the rear seat. Not a police model, at least. They did not speak, only escorted. Off we went making our way through side streets, and into access tunnels below the dome.               

I have a decent sense of direction, but combining vertical with lateral on a sphere things get rough. I attribute it to some clerk’s idea of a joke. I think I made some receptionist mad when I joined, so the Legion loaded me up with data processing ware while in deep-sleep. Everyone in the Legion does a rotation, usually for five years. I was lucky, if that’s the right word, and ended up doing eight. We’re paid the same whether asleep or awake, so it doesn’t make much of a difference. Aging isn’t an issue, not that we do anyways, what with all the nanites, and they've got us plugged into the grid for auxiliary training. So my brain runs numbers fast. It's got some advantages, though. Anything dealing with math, I generally don't have to think about until it gets to levels requiring people with post-nominals. Unfortunately, the human brain has only so much storage space, so although I’m able to compute it fast I don't truly understand it. It's all instinct. I know the answer but not how I got to it.

In this case, I estimated we were heading towards LC, and I knew we were heading deep, but I couldn't say how deep or how far in. Too many twists, too many turns. At a guess, I would say Central Administration, because we passed passenger vehicles often enough not to be deep mining.

BOOK: Ships of Valor 1: Persona Non Grata
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