IGO 1: Sudden Snow|
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Copyright ©2010 RaeLynn Blue
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What in the name of Zeus is going on here? Darryl scanned the docking bay. Empty. Vacant. No civilian transports. No outpost shuttlepods. Nothing. Where is everyone?
"You can observe the dock on your next vacation to Io. Let's go," Officer Higgins snapped and hurried through the doors and into the outpost's inner corridors.
Climbing through the catacombs of hallways, Darryl's mind whirled. They'd come to pick up a stranded scientist, so why the secrecy? Sure, Io housed the IGO's Research and Development section, but this?
In minutes, they stopped at the metallic doors with the words "Collection" in neon yellow above them. Officer Higgins halted with military precision that would be the envy of any IGO soldier. Higgins turned to Darryl with barely contained disgust.
Yeah, the feeling's mutual, pal.
"I can lose my post because of this," he said so softly, Darryl leaned in to make sure he heard it. "I -- I hope you tell..."
"Of course," Darryl agreed with professionalism. "Your contribution will be noted and included in my report to Commander Taylor. Proceed. Time is of the essence as you are well aware."
Higgins pressed his palm against the scanner, leaning in simultaneously for the retina scan. The doors slid open and they rushed in. Higgins bypassed the offices and continued to the rear, but that area, too, sat vacant and empty -- just like the dock.
"Where is everyone?" Darryl asked. "It's morning, right?"
Higgins sighed in fervent annoyance. "It's nearly four a.m. here. They're asleep, drunk, or knee-deep in their respective research. This isn't like Europa Outpost or even the Moon's. We're a research facility, not an entertainment spot."
They continued on through two more areas that looked identical to the first one before they reached a bank of cages. A dozen or more force field reinforced cells stretched out in two opposite directions. Dead on center in a square, blank-walled cube, seated on a sliver of azure foam attached to the wall, was a woman.
Darryl stopped in his tracks. That's her? She's the scientist?
As the noise of their approach reached the woman, she got to her feet and crossed her arms. Almond-shaped honey-brown eyes burned with what must've been fury, and her thick lips resembled a block of annoyance as if she were afraid to open them. Dressed in a gray ribbed turtleneck, jeans and black IGO issued combat/space boots, the woman looked nothing like a scientist, but more like a cargo loader.
Darryl couldn't help but take her in. The jeans skimmed voluptuous curves, and fed into a tapered waist with grace. As if taking cue from the jeans, the turtleneck also slipped over full breasts and long, slender arms. Smooth dark ebony skin peered out and captured the harsh lights' illumination with flawless skill.
She was stunning.
Tossing her hair over her shoulder, the woman shouted, "What now, Officer Higgins? I demand to be treated according to the Intergalactic Treaty of 2380."
Higgins huffed, but held his tongue. Sweeping his hand in Darryl's direction, he gave a mock bow and stepped back from the front of the cube.
It's all me, huh, Higgins?
Darryl stepped forward, forcing himself to be a soothing presence. He seemed to even coax Higgins down to a normal level. She'd done exactly as trained by invoking the treaty.
"I'm Sergeant Snow," he said. "I'm here on orders to take possession of your research and your person at this time. Please calm yourself."
She hesitated, her lips now a slash of doubt. "What is the current safe code?" she asked.
Darryl smiled. Smart. The safety code had been given to each IGO soldier, but it rotated every six months. They'd been unable to maintain constant contact with The Discovery since receiving the orders to get to the Io Outpost. So the code might be stale. Still all security codes in hostage situations were the same -- until the IGO changed them again. He had to try.
"The security code is Hera 2309841."
"Yes, okay," she said, visibly relaxing. "ID?"
He showed her his wrist, where beneath the skin rested the IGO brand.
"Great," Higgins said with sarcasm as heavy as molasses. "Open cell 1209, authorization HFPNT 2400. This is IGO Doctor Cricket Moore."
The force field vanished, and Dr. Moore marched out with her backpack, searching the place as if committing it to memory before stalking to the exit. Once she crossed through the silver-toned doors and out into the outpost's hallway, she sighed. With a stern expression, she turned back to Darryl and said, "Please, can we go?"
"This way to the docking bay," Darryl said almost as a reflex. He'd been taking orders for most of his life, so he'd already taken a step before he realized he'd done it. Commander Taylor had instructed him to bring her to the spacecraft, not the other way around. He was in charge, and he wasn't going to let her lead the way.
But once his eyes fell on the gentle sway of her round buttocks, his other head took over. Coughing through the lump in his throat, Darryl swore as he made a point of pinning his gaze to the back of her head. Obviously, Dr. Moore knew her way around the outpost. After all, she'd been stationed here for gods knew how long.
With his uniform shrinking below his waist, he adjusted the leg and tried to rid himself of the rather unprofessional thoughts swarming his cranium about the sensual scientist. Did they all look this good? He might consider a transfer to Io. How come none of the scientists on board The Inquiry looked as delightful as this one?
It seemed the corridors unraveled in miles upon miles of similar dark, sullen shadows of storefronts, libraries and cafes. But Darryl realized the walk back seemed so long because he couldn't stop staring at the good doctor's generous ass, and it troubled him. On The Inquiry a handful of women worked alongside him, and none of them stirred his long dormant desires like the surprising un-straight-laced woman in front of him.
She came to a halt at the entrance to docking bay 12. With an emerging coolness, she turned to him and said, "Are you going to tell me which ship is yours?"
He'd been so wrapped up in her unrestrained sexuality Darryl had been waiting behind her as if he'd been towed there. Shaking his head, he rubbed his buzzed hair and stepped forward, throwing his shoulders back as he marched ahead. "Of course," he said more sternly than he'd intended. "We're on The Inquiry."
He swept his hand in the direction where The Inquiry sat tethered to the docking bay. The cargo doors remained shut tight, and Darryl swore beneath his breath. He should've already contacted Commander Taylor. The scientist had him addled.
With a mental reprimand to be more diligent, Darryl pressed the button on his earpiece and said, "Commander Taylor. I've secured the package. Ready to deliver."
"Did you just refer to me as a package?" Dr. Moore asked, her eyes narrowing to slits. Her arms followed suit, crossing over her attractive breasts and covering them from Darryl's view. Despite this, he spied those round globes rising and falling as the doctor's breathing increased. "I'll have you know that I am a person, not some errant misplaced item."
No, ma'am, you're most certainly not some misplaced item. You're much too sexy for such a lousy label. But I've got an item I'd like to lose inside of your velvety softness.