04/04/3677

Eshcalla, Zolon -S.S. Calon Tide- Infirmary

They had taken her to the infirmary of a docked cruise ship. Carter waited outside to find out if she would be alright. He told himself that he had nothing better to do. For some reason, he just couldn't leave her. She had just saved their lives, that counted for something.

He thought about the badge. Was this the guard that Jordan complained didn't know how to use a badge? The doctor stepped out a few minutes ago with strict instructions not to bother the woman while she was in the regen-pod. He slipped into the room and looked through the box of her things. He found her badge. The thing was so worn it was incredible that it was in one piece. No wonder it wouldn't open the door. He scanned it with his phone and put it back before returning to his seat.

He ran her credentials through the Coalition's reference program. It pulled every known piece of info on her. She was the daughter of two fighter pilots who died in a border attack. Her young sister was her dependent. She worked for the last three years for the spaceport as a guard. She had a couple of letters of accommodation, and a couple of reprimands. He read them all. The accommodations were from her former boss for helping others and going beyond the responsibilities of her job. Nothing big, but it showed character. The reprimands, both submitted by Jordan, were for insubordination. He'd be insubordinate too if he had to work for that moron. He read the reprimands anyway. She was one away from being fired. The content of the reprimands was laughable

Quinn found him, "How is she?"

"The doctor says she'll be fine. They've got her in a regen-pod for a concussion, cuts and some cracked ribs."

"What if we ask her to join the team?" Carter sent the files to Quinn's phone,"She has a good record, I think she's just the type we're looking for

Quinn sat down and read her file, cover to cover. He finally put away his phone and smiled, "I think you're onto something. He stood to leave, "When she can leave call me. I want to talk to her."

Carter settled in to wait

Rainon woke up thinking she was still in the escape pod. She sucked in a shaky breath before recognizing the stark white of a medical pod. She hit the button to open it and stepped onto the floor. She swayed a bit but was ok. A nurse came rushing to her side. "You're not finished yet. You need to stay in the pod for at least another half an hour. "What time is it?" Rainon asked.

"It's almost 0700."

"I've got to get home. My sister is waiting for me."

"She'll be fine. Your injuries need to be taken care of."

Rainon looked around the room for her belongings and spotted a box. She dug her things out of it and walked behind a screen and pulled it shut. She changed back into her own clothes. The uniform was dirty and torn but the hospital gown wasn't an option. The nurse kept arguing with her until she was called away. Rainon peaked out to make sure she was gone before walking out of the room. She would find out what that little stint in the infirmary would cost her later. At least for now, the spaceport was still standing and she was still alive. She needed to get home to Carrin.

Someone was following her. "Rainon," he said.

"Who are you?" she asked."My name is Carter McCabe. My boss, Quinn, he talked to you over the comm while you were trying to calculate the jump."

"What do you want?" she asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

"My boss wants to talk to you."

"I have to get home,"

"Then at least allow us to give you a ride."

Normally she would have said no, but after last night and the splitting headache, the thought of not having to use the local transport sounded nice. She looked at him. What was she thinking? She didn't even know this man. "Tell your boss thanks. He saved my life."She felt a twinge of regret not talking to the man. But for all she knew he was going to try to extort money from her for saving her. She knew she was being overly suspicious, but she had seen worse happen before.

"You work for Jordan don't you?"

"Why?"

"Wouldn't you rather work for someone else?"

""What are you getting at?"

"I want to offer you a job, more specifically, my boss wants to offer you a job."

"Yes, I would," Quinn said as he walked up behind Carter. Reaching her he held out his hand, she brushed her palm over his in standard greeting, but he sandwiched her hand, politely trapping her. "You did a very brave thing today. You saved hundreds of lives. We could use someone like you."He released her hand.

"For what?"

"I'll tell you all about it. Follow me."

Rainon followed him to Jordan's office. She cringed at the thought of Jordan being there, but thankfully he was nowhere to be closed the door and sat in Jordan's seat. He pulled something out of his coat pocket and handed it to her. It was an official Coalition defense ID, she had checked enough of them to know it was the real deal.

"Officially I'm a Consultant for Coalition Intelligence. Off the books, I use my resources to help win the war, whether that means smuggling intel off Union planets or smuggling supplies or anything else, I want to win this war. People like you and me, we do whatever it takes to save the people we love," he said, she knew it was a sales pitch, but it seemed to have at least some truth behind it.

"I have a sister and there's no one but me to take care of her."

"How old is your sister?"

"She turns eleven today."

"Then give her the best gift you can. Pernhyn has the finest schools in the Coalition. The kind that could open doors for her to become anything she wants to be," He looked at her, obviously waiting for her answer, "If you're scared of coming alone; Jordan will be coming too."

"That's not reassuring."

"I think I can understand why. He's your boss and the two of you don't get along."

She folded her arms.

"You don't always get to pick who's on your team," he said ruefully, "If what I saw from you today was any indication of what you would be able to do, then you are someone I want on my team. Your sister will be taken care of, and you will have a purpose and the kind of job most people only dream of. Take it or leave it, the choice is yours."

"Will Jordan be my boss?" She asked.

"I wouldn't put him in charge of anyone."

The idea of working with Jordan wasn't something she wanted. But she had worked with him for a year already, and as long as he wasn't going to be her boss anymore. That would be ok,"What to you want me to do"

"I'm not going to lie to you. It's the most dangerous thing you will ever do. If you pass training, you'll be part of an undercover team with Carter, Jordan and a handful of other operatives, if you fail training, you'll probably end up as building security in Pernhyn. Either way, it's a chance for you and your sister."

Rainon didn't know what to say. She was grateful. This is the opportunity she had been hoping for. "I won't fail."

"Then let's pick up your sister and get to Pernhyn."

They stopped at what was apparently Rainon's apartment. The building looked like it was falling apart. They climbed the stairs. She pressed her thumb to the lock and opened the door. "Carrin it's me, we have company."

They followed her inside. Quinn and Rainon continued talking. Carter quietly surveyed his surroundings. Everything about the apartment complex made Carter uneasy. He couldn't imagine raising a child there. A little girl sat up on a cot. She looked a lot like Rainon, red hair, blue eyes. The kitchen consisted of a cabinet with a cook-top on the counter there was a box that might have been a rehydrator. A worn cold storage unit sat on the floor. A two seat table was the only other furniture. Everything was clean, but worn nearly beyond use.

"Shut up! Do you know what time it is?" The man continued on, calling Rainon things that Carter hoped her sister didn't understand.

"Get your things, we'll leave now," said Quinn. Rainon looked at her sister then back at Quinn. "Okay," she said. Her voice was soft.

She gathered her and her sister's clothes and stuffed them in a duffle bag. She took a small box and put it in the top of the duffle. She put the blanket around her sister's shoulders. There wasn't much else to take. She put the one photo she had of her parents in the bag along with her comsheet.

"Where are we going?" Carrin asked.

"I have a new job. We're moving," Rainon said.

"Allow me," Quinn said as he hoisted her duffle bag over his shoulder. She didn't argue.

"Who are they?" Carrin asked.

Quinn knelt down, "My name is Quinn, his name is Carter. What's your name?"

"Carrin," she said shyly, "How do you know Rainy?"

"I met Rainy at work. Your sister is very brave. I'll tell you all about it."

Carter looked back at Rainon, she hadn't even changed clothes. She stood there in the torn guard's uniform, she looked exhausted. She put her arm around her sister's shoulders. There was a softness in her face he hadn't seen before. He wondered what her life was like, living in that tiny apartment trying to raise her sister, working a lousy job? She seemed abrasive at first, but maybe he hadn't been fair in his quick judgment. He looked at the apartment building in the early morning sunlight. He was glad she had decided to leave