Some of these stories give hints as to what will happen in future installments of the Clans of Kalquor series. This is one of those. A rebellion is brewing in our favorite empire, which will play out in a later book or two. Empress Jessica is one of the first victims of this insurgency.
Jessica woke in utter darkness. What time was it? And where was the comforting warmth of her clan next to her in their shared bed?
She tried to move and discovered she couldn’t. Not a muscle would twitch. She tried to cry out, but her vocal cords seemed frozen.
What is wrong with me? Is this a dream?
She fought to calm her racing heart, to push back the sudden wash of panic that wanted to overtake her. Instinct told her she was awake and in trouble. She could hear sounds around her, and it felt as if the hard surface beneath her moved. She realized she wasn’t in her home in her bed.
Think, Jessica. What’s the last thing you remember?
It came to her. She’d been visiting Narpok. Her mother had come, insisting she indulge in a little alone time with her clan. She’d been on her way to Egilka’s office when someone had come up behind her.
Had she been attacked? She detected no hurt and she could feel perfectly well, from the hard surface beneath her body to the slick cool cover that rested against her face. She just couldn’t move.
Perhaps she had fainted. Maybe she had fallen ill with some bizarre sickness and was en route to a treatment room. But why was her head covered then?
No, suddenly succumbing to some ailment didn’t make sense at all. Something else had happened to her.
Had she been kidnapped? Now that idea had frightening merit, especially since she remembered those quick, heavy steps coming up from behind her before she’d lost all her senses. But being the latest victim of those who resisted a growing Earther female population on Kalquor had its drawbacks as a theory as well. Could the rebels really have become so brave that they would abduct the Empress herself, right from the heavily populated hospital?
Jessica listened hard, trying to get some sense of where she was. The soft tread of a pair of feet told her someone walked next to her. The feeling that she glided smoothly through the air led her to guess that she lay on a hover stretcher and was being transported somewhere. So perhaps she was still in the hospital.
A voice overhead suddenly spoke, and she tried to utter a startled shriek. Her vocal chords remained silent however. She only managed a rush of breath.
“None. Has the shuttle arrived yet?”
“No, but he’s on his way. They just announced lockdown here at the hospital.”
“What do we do?” The voice sounded panicked, but Jessica was sure she knew the speaker. Remembering him danced just out of reach.
“He’ll get here before the guards and Global Security think to check the offload area. Our man is already there, waiting to let him in to collect her.” The unfamiliar voice sounded sure of himself. Jessica felt cold all over. She had little doubt she was the her someone was on their way to collect.