Ruth has always been the tomboy, the last girl to be picked at the dance, but the first for any sport’s team. Offered the chance to go to space as a security officer, she leaves the toxic air of Earth for the recycled, clean air of a space station. She’s finally found a place where she can be herself—that is, until all hell breaks loose, and she’s forced onto an alien ship and into a cage. Never did she imagine she would wake twenty years later from stasis; stolen, sold, and almost sold again—but Ruth does what she does best and survives. When five sexy aliens arrive in the middle of her escape, she has no choice but to let them help. But can she really form a bond with these beings who believe she is their Other when humanity’s lost people are still being held captive by monsters?
Ruth sighed as the noise from the dining hall faded. She loved spending time with her friends, Amanda and Bethany, but nothing beat moonshine with the boys. Ok, not all of the boys from security, just Jacob. He reminded her of her younger brother and was one of the few men not trying to sleep with her. She pushed open the door, glad to see Jacob was alone. He was bleach blond with blue eyes and a very muscular body he kept up in the station’s gym.
"Nothing exciting?" she asked as she threw herself into the chair next to him.
"Unless you call that slimeball Jose exciting, then no." Jacob turned from the wall of screens and rubbed his eyes. "I swear I thought I would be doing something exciting, not babysitting scientists. At least not horny ones."
"Hey now." Ruth leaned over and pulled out the jug of moonshine and two cups from a hidden cabinet under the desk. "We are protecting humanity’s future. If you look at it that way it's not so bad."
"From what?" He held out a hand for the cup Ruth poured him. "The scientists killing themselves?" He tossed the brew back and sighed. "I think your friends are the only smart scientists on board."
Ruth laughed and filled his cup again. "You may be right." She was about to toss back her drink when something caught her eye. "What's that?"
Jacob turned back to the screens. "What?"
"That?" Ruth reached and rewound the camera covering the landing bay. "Is anyone supposed to be in there?"
"I don't think so." Jacob sat his cup down and flipped through the logs. "No departures or arrivals have been logged for today."
"I guess you get that excitement after all." Ruth put the moonshine away before standing. "Want to come along?"
"You don't have to ask me twice." Jacob stood and picked up a small data pad. "We can practice using this thing."
Ruth hated how much her bosses wanted them to depend on technology to do their jobs. She liked old fashioned police work, even if it was a thing of the past. Maybe if she had been born a hundred years earlier, she would have gotten her wish. She nodded at Jacob and led the way out the room.
"Maybe it's just someone getting some quiet time," Ruth mused. "God knows we don't get enough on this station."
"Yes, but that was one of the things we knew would happen," Jacob answered as he followed her down the hall toward the landing zone. "I figured humans would get used to the no privacy. We are going to be placed on ships and flown to parts unknown for generations."
"Yes, but knowing and doing is different." Ruth held her hand up for silence. She could hear something heavy being moved around the corner. She pressed her back to the wall and slowly leaned until she could see what it was. She blinked and blinked again as she tried to process what she was seeing. The hulking things stood in the hall, and there was no way she could mistake them for humans. Instead, they hissed and moved like giant snakes on legs. One started to turn in her direction and she ducked back behind the wall. When Jacob opened his mouth, she put a finger across hers and shook her head. Snakes didn't have great hearing, but she had no idea how closely related these things were to Earth snakes. Jacob had the smarts to follow her directions and back up slowly until they were far enough away. Ruth hoped those things would be unable to hear or sense them.
"We are fucked," Ruth whispered.
"What did you see?" Jacob asked.
Ruth didn't want to say it out loud because that might make it real. Those things were nothing humans had ever seen, and there was no way some scientist had thought them up and then had friends dress up.
"Well," Jacob demanded.
"The one thing our government has been trying to convince us was false." Ruth swallowed hard before continuing. "Aliens."
"What!" Jacob yelled as his eyes widened.
Ruth slammed her hand over his mouth and glared at him. "Do you want to be found?" There was no reason to think these aliens were bad, but if they were really there for first contact, wouldn’t they have contacted the government or made their presence known? Nope, these things were here to cause trouble and it was her job to make sure that didn't happen.
Jacob shook his head.
"Stay quiet." Ruth removed her hand. "We need to get to security and raise the silent alarm. Everyone should be able to reach their escape pods if they move quietly."
"What about those things?" Jacob asked. "Won't they get farther into the station?"
"If they were able to get on the station without warning, I'm pretty sure they can do what they want. Our job is to save those who call the station home."
"Ok, ok, ok." Jacob sounded out of breath.
"Why don't you head to security?" Ruth pushed him at the door. "Send a message to Earth and push the alarm." When he just stood there, she pushed him harder. "Go." Once she was sure he was going to do what she said, she turned her mind to the aliens. They brought back her fear of snakes. She had never seen one in real life, but the books she had read with them in it were never good. She would rather come face-to-face with a cockroach than a snake. No matter, she had a job to do, and no talking snake was going to get in her way.
A shockwave rocked the station and the stationmaster’s voice came over the speakers. Ruth wanted to strangle the stupid man because he had just warned the aliens that they no longer needed to be quiet. Heavy footsteps pounded down the hallway and Ruth ducked into the first room she came to and pressed against the wall. Hopefully they hadn't seen her, and she could make it to her room, then make sure her friends made it to their pods.
But it wasn't meant to be. Two of the snake-like creatures rounded the corner and seized her before she could react, their dry scaly hands gripping her cruelly as they dragged her along. Twenty minutes later, she was in an alien shuttle heading toward a massive ship that somehow had not shown up on the station’s scanners. She half turned to see the doors closing, and beyond them, she could just make out the station exploding. Her heart lurched inside her chest for the loss of life aboard. She glanced around and noticed her two friends were not among the captives and hoped they had made it to their escape shuttles and back to Earth. She heard a hissing before her limbs gave out and blackness descended.