Xia has been running from dreams of fire her entire adult life. She warns, threatens and begs, but no one will listen when she tells them she knows when and where the fire will strike. Across twelve worlds she has been chased by the nightmares, and now she finally has met the one man she has been looking for all her life, the man who will use her knowledge to stop the flames from destroying lives.
Drov is an Asku of the Velu family, and he is a posted base commander on a world beset by fires. When he was scanning the passenger files of an incoming ship, he found a woman he wanted without knowing she existed. Xia will tell him where the fire is, and in return, he offers her a home, a world and so much more.
Exhaustion weighed her down. Nine days of supplements and electric shock kept her awake and mobile but alert was a long time gone.
Xia Noon was tired of dodging sleep, but she hated the dreams more. Each night, she dreamed of fire and nothing or no one could stop it. She spoke to counsellors, law enforcement, anyone she could think of on a dozen worlds. All said the same thing. She was insane.
After the fires she predicted came to pass, law enforcement changed their tune. She was a suspect.
When she was released from suspicion, each branch of law enforcement said the same thing. “Leave our world.”
She travelled from world to world, looking for a place to rest where she wouldn’t see fire in her dreams every night.
Each night, it was different. Sometimes, she watched a kindling flame, other nights, the horror of buildings alight with people running for safety danced through her mind.
Now, Xia was on the Latent Star, a transport due to dock on the Nacroia station in two hours. She kept to her quarters as much as possible, only venturing out for food, but it still took quite a bit of effort to avoid her fellow passengers.
There was something about travelling on a large passenger ship that made folk want to invade her personal space. She wasn’t particularly attractive, but a single woman on a ship always got more than her fair share of attention.
It was her twelfth move in the last decade, and she was beyond tired of scuttling onto stellar transports in the hope that the dreams would not follow her.
With her bags packed, she watched the station grow larger in the small display in her quarters. The two Asku escort vehicles were visible occasionally as they set up to link with the station. When they moved into docking position, Xia grabbed her bags and her identification bands and left her quarters, hiking toward the exit.
The slight impact of the ship in the mag locks made her smile. Her journey was almost over. She plodded mindlessly to the exit hall where a few of her flight companions were already waiting to make a run for it. It was a rookie mistake to be too eager to leave. It was far better to plod along like a whipped dog and stare into the eyes of the customs agents until they realized you were no threat.
The people around her were laughing too brightly, talking too fast. If they thought that faking perky would get them past the customs office of Nacroia, they were woefully misinformed.
The ship’s personnel secured the interior locks, and when all lights turned white, they opened the doors.
Xia held out her bands and waited while she was scanned off the Latent Star. Whatever she did or didn’t do now, she was no longer their problem.
She filed past the officer who scanned her bands, plodding along behind the masses that rushed around her to be the first through customs. Asku warriors milled around in the background, seemingly bored. Xia knew differently, they were waiting for someone to try to get through with a controlled substance.
Nacroia was a defended world, and they paid well for the privilege of the Asku defence.