Niiva used to be a farmer’s daughter with every stereotype that went along with it. Her hormones raged out of control, and her body usually followed.
Now, she is on Imrahl, one of thousands of humans abducted to work with the Rrassic in their war efforts, and she has been kept away from the eligible warriors in a bid to keep her doing what she does best, farming.
One night after working late on a shipment, she finds herself facing a drunk human and a few of the leonine Regiz-Rrassic. They mistake her for a male and begin to get aggressive when another of their kind steps in to break it up. Argo takes notice of her, and it spells the end of her life as a harvester and a fast track into the Breeder compound.
Resistance is no longer a priority.
The labourers gathered around the announcement board, and Niiva stood behind them.
Rita giggled. “They want us to audition to become peacekeepers.”
Niiva blinked. “What?”
“Peacekeepers. To represent humanity on Imrahl. They want them to take Hunter training, and those that pass will gain a position on one of the teams.” Rita read the information as it scrolled on the screen.
Niiva turned away. “That is fascinating. I am going to finish setting the containers up. See you tomorrow.”
Rita sighed. “Fine, but I think it is right up your alley.”
“I have enough work here.” Niiva kept walking back to the packing area.
Tubers were the harvest of the day. They were eaten by every Rrassic she had ever met. Niiva went over each container and made sure that they weren’t shifting. An unstable load could wreck a shipment.
She was on the twelfth cargo container when her supervisor approached. “Niiva, you have missed the last shuttle to the city... again.”
Niiva looked around and then checked her chronometer. “Oh. I guess I have a long walk ahead of me. Sorry, Supervisor Mreth.”
The Sthik-Rrassic gave her a calm look. The Sthik were always calm, it was what made them such great supervisors for alien races.
“It is fine. Tomorrow is your day off anyway, but for today, take the cycle.”
She frowned. “That is yours.”
“Yes, but I am here late tonight to send out the shipment, and I will just sleep in my office.”
She felt a guilty pang. “I can’t.”
“You can. So, get home, set the cycle to auto return, and if it gets here before I leave, I will take it home. The best chance of that happening is you leaving now.”
Niiva finished tucking in the last of the tubers, and she sealed the unit. “Fine. I am leaving. Good evening, Supervisor Mreth, and I will see you in thirty-six hours.”
Niiva bowed to her supervisor and was a little surprised when he walked her to the equipment garage where the cycle was kept. “You know that tomorrow isn’t my scheduled day.”
“I am aware of it, but I am putting it into your file due to your propensity for working after hours.” He smiled. “The recruiters are also going to be here tomorrow, and I am very happy with your work here, so it is best that you are not here when they arrive.”
“Recruiters? For the new peacekeeping team?”
“Indeed. It is selfish of me, but I do not want you to be snatched away from me.” He blinked. “From our facility.”
She smiled. “I consider you a friend, Supervisor.”
“And I consider you an asset. Now, you remember how to ride the cycle?”
“I do. Can you register me as an authorized driver?”
“I did it before I came to dismiss you for the night. You are cleared and registered to take the cycle wherever you like.”
Niiva grabbed the handles and pushed the cycle out of the holding area. It was a large electric bike that had a computer that was smarter than the supercomputers of most nations. The bike was sized for the seven-foot Rrassic, but it could be driven by a human if she knew what she was doing.
Niiva hopped up and straddled the bike below the seat. She powered it up and pulled on her helmet. Mreth kept it on hand for the humans who needed to make quick runs to other harvesters for staffing support. Niiva used the bike about once a month.
Mreth waved her off, and in the rear screen, she could see him returning to the warehouse.
She revved the cycle and settled onto the bike seat. The drive back to the city would take an hour. She couldn’t approach the speed of the shuttle, but it was a fun ride.
Niiva mulled over Mreth’s motives. Did he want to hide her from the job or from the Rrassic? She had noted a trend in his actions. When other Rrassic came to the warehouse, she was mysteriously sent off to another site where a Sthik was in charge.
She wondered what Mreth knew that he wasn’t telling her. He had been hiding her since her last assessment. She was usually intent on her work, but even she had noticed that he was not letting her come into contact with other Rrassic. Her home was at the edge of the city, and she left before dawn to catch the shuttle out to her worksite. On her days off, she usually just booked in to get her hair done and a massage, sleeping the rest of the day. She socialized at work. Days off were for resting.
The lights of the city were ahead of her, and she leaned into the controls to increase to the edge of legal speed. The acceleration sent frissons of excitement through her, but she had to throttle down as she began to drive past pedestrians.
Her timing could have been better. She had just gotten to an intersection as the indicator changed when a drunk woman staggered into her path. The screech of the sudden stop made the woman flinch, and she stumbled back, falling off her heels and onto her ass.
Niiva sighed and stopped the cycle. She got up and walked around the bike to lift the woman to her feet, but two Regiz-Rrassic got there before her.
“You are not allowed to socialize with the females, human.” One of them growled low.
The woman looked at the two males she was with and immediately went limp again.
The other asked, “Did you hit her with that cycle? What are you doing on one anyway?”
She frowned, but they couldn’t see it. She was wearing the helmet, and it hid her from view. Her body was similarly concealed in a boiler suit that also masked her curves.