Manifest, page 1part #15 of Terran Times Second Wave Series
A customs agent with a talent for assessment meets a man whose caress can fire her blood and lock her body to his touch.
Melia is a customs agent who takes her skills to the stars. Working for two years at a space station, she manages to locate and seize all kinds of contraband, but when she finds a trio of kidnap victims in cold sleep, her life takes a weird twist.
Dornin-tah is the captain sent to retrieve his family and bring them to his sister’s fiancé. When he is on the way to medical, he runs into the lovely agent and accidentally infects her with his tissue. Unused to soft-skinned species, he finds that she has been keyed to his body and he has no trouble in easing her frustration.
Melia runs into trouble when there is a price put on her head. She is medically dependent on visits from Dornin-tah and the easiest solution is to send her to his home world, in his custody.
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Copyright © 2014 Viola Grace
Cover art by Carmen Waters
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Terran Times Second Wave
Melia Geller stood in the waiting room with the other new Volunteers. The administrator was trying to keep them organized, but several of the men and women were bustling around and they couldn’t get control.
Mel went up to the man and took the clipboard. “This one is missing, this one is over by two pounds on her pack and this one has a pet frog in her bag, probably by accident.”
He blinked and took the information back, dealing with what she had said.
In five minutes, they were in the ship and on their way.
Mel smiled at the man next to her. “So, why are you leaving?”
“It is a chance for something new.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“Up until this point, I have worked in construction. You?”
“Customs. I worked in inspection. My name is Mel.”
He laughed and extended his hand. “So is mine. Melvin Harcourt.
She shook his hand, feeling the calluses on his skin. “Melia Geller.”
He smiled, his dark hair drooping over one eye. “What are you going to do?”
“Probably inspection officer again. You?”
“I am thinking courier, but they will test my aptitude.”
“Mine too.” She sighed and sat back in her seat, watching the world fall away on the monitors.
“Would you care to go for coffee when we land?”
She gave him a flirty look beneath her lashes. “If they have coffee.”
He blinked with his eyes wide. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“We are off to worlds where we might accidentally eat something that will melt us from the inside out. It will be strange and dangerous and wonderful, even when it sucks.” She smiled.
He shook his head. “I am guessing that you are right, but I hadn’t thought beyond having sex with aliens.”
They looked at each other and burst out laughing. A few heads turned and other Volunteers smiled while some looked like they wanted to hurl, but Mel and Mel chatted away until the shuttle landed at Luna base and they were separated for their basic training.
One week after she began her etiquette training, Mel was in the common room when Mel came by. She smiled and he walked over, the flowing white trousers and open vest didn’t leave much to the imagination.
She poured him a coffee and smiled. “They do have coffee up here.”
He sat next to her on one of the couches.
She looked him up and down. “So, not a courier?”
He grimaced. “What was your first clue?”
She laughed. “I have done my research. That isn’t a uniform used by couriers.”
“Bravo. I am going to be a Companion.”
“Well, you have the body for it.”
He looked pleased. “Thank you. My instructor is pleased with my progress.”
“Will you be completing your training at one of their centers?”
Mel blinked. “Yes, how did you know that?”
“Every woman on this base that found out renting a guy for the night was legal and safe if there was a Companion available made a procedural list of how to acquire one when we are posted.”
He looked stunned. “You are kidding me.”
“Nope. If you are near a human when it comes down to your practicum, have the test organizer approach her for your final exams. No one will be harder on you than a woman who has already had a man trained to please her.” Mel winked.
Mel laughed at him. “Don’t worry about it. Companion training takes quite a while. By the time you complete it, you will be ready for anything or anyone.”
He smiled shyly. “I have already been asked if I have an objection to my own sex.”
“It is a good thing to know. I know they won’t make you interact with someone you object to.”
“How do you know so much about it?”
She sipped at her coffee. “I told you. Research.”
He sighed and gave her a strange look. “What are you being trained for?”
“I get to remain a customs inspector. I have a sixth sense about the contents of people’s luggage and shipping containers.” Her work training consisted of looking through boxes.
“You are sipping that coffee like you have had some additional training.”
“I will be dealing with races alien to me on a daily basis. A little etiquette was called for.”
“Well, if I am allowed to interact with anyone sexually before I leave, would you care to join me?”
She snorted. “I would love to, but I leave in the morning. The rest of my training will be on the job. Plus, it would be weird calling out my own name during sex, not that I haven’t done it.”
He nearly sprayed his coffee but he recovered quickly. “Well, that will be a mental image to keep me warm at night.”
She winked and they sat for hours, talking about their hopes and plans for the future. He didn’t ask her where she was going, she didn’t ask him about the Selna instructor he had. It was just two friends talking over coffee until the wee hours on the base.
* * * *
Two years after that night on Luna base, Mel saw Mel walking through her space station with his client. The wealthy woman was draped over his muscular arm and two of her four breasts were parked on his forearm.
Mel didn’t embarrass him. She nodded at him on her way to her shift and he nodded slightly in return. It was nice to see him ag
She checked into work and settled in at her desk. Whistling softly, she looked at the roster of incoming ships. The Makuada station was a busy port between jump points. A seal of shipment from Makuada was required for trading with several dozen worlds and systems.
Agent Geller was one of the best, if not the best agent, at the station. Mel hummed to herself as she checked the logged-in ships.
She put on her tool belt and gripped her data pad in one hand with her stylus behind her ear. Mel headed to the docks and wondered who she would be working with today. She got different guards each day, and while they were all fixated on their duty, some were more fun to work with than others.
Her group was waiting for her and she sighed with relief. “Tois, Wikins, Nav, Kaylor. Good morning.”
They stood straight at her approach. “Good morning, Agent Geller.” They spoke in unison.
She smiled. “Shall we begin? The first vessel is out of Arcath on the way to the ninth sector. Manifest indicates dry goods. Moderate technology and four passengers. Let’s go.”
They converged on the ship, removed crew and passengers before the scanners did a life sweep.
Mel checked the readout and noted any anomalies before entering the hold with two of the guards while the other two watched the entryway, her recorder was in the air behind her head.
She used her tools to remove the webbing that held them down and she popped open the locks on the crates. The manifest listed moderate tech and the two boxes she singled out were definitely high tech and not repair parts for the ship.
“Weapons. Com units. Lock and seize.”
Tois strapped a customs seal on each of the boxes, put some small mag lifts on each crate and she and Wikins pushed them out of the hold and into the customs lockup.
Mel filled out the report for the captain and offered him the choice between a hefty fine and he could keep the cargo, surrendering the cargo or jail time and forfeiture of his ship.
“I will surrender the cargo.”
“Thank you. Sign here.” She handed the data pad over, and he confirmed her findings and signed over the cargo.
He signed the document with his scaly thumb. “You are Agent Geller?”
She nodded. “I am.”
“It figures that I would get you.”
She didn’t smile. “I suppose that is your luck. Good day, Captain. The remainder of your cargo has the seal. You are cleared to continue your journey.”
She filed away with her guards as the captain and passengers stared after her. She shrugged. A completely fitted suit was only practical in her job. It wasn’t standard issue on Makuada, but other female agents were now wearing them because climbing onto cargo was a lot easier if you didn’t have fabric that would snag.
“We will need breathers for the next one. Kav-sku.” She called it out, and they headed to the gear shed to suit up. Methane breathers thought they could get away with a lot more because the agents wanted to leave. Mel was willing to dig through their ships until she found every anomaly that didn’t match the scan or her intuition.
They checked the tanks and breathers for each other and forged to the airlock with the masks off. Before they entered, they did a final check and put the masks on, coms open. They had a job to do.
Mel was exhausted and it was near the end of their shift, but she forged onto the final ship with her head high as if she had just begun to work.
There was a lot more wrong on this ship than any of the other four seizures she had made. The guards were on alert, because she had warned them that something was off on the leisure craft and they trusted her judgement.
She checked everything in the hold, opening it and putting a customs seal on it when she finished. The bulkheads were wrong. “There isn’t any equipment under this bulkhead. We need this down.”
Mel took out her tools and the bolts and screws dropped to the deck. “Holy crap.”
Three cold chambers were stacked in the space. Each had an occupant with hard golden skin. Two males and one female.
“Arrest the captain and the owner. Alert medical and get battery packs in here. We have sleepers and I am not getting the feeling that it was voluntary.”
Wikins nodded and made the calls. Kaylor helped her get the first container down using the mag lifts. The medical officers arrived, took in the situation and moved the technological sarcophagi out of the hold and into the base.
She waited with the third chamber while the medics pushed the second one out.
Wikins looked down. “Good call on the bulkhead.”
“Thanks. What are they?”
“They look like Adru-Skari. You are right; they probably are not here voluntarily. They don’t travel unless it is for marriage.”
“Really?” She looked down at the young woman in the case, looking like a vaguely serpentine sleeping beauty with long cascades of glossy black hair. Someone had arranged her with care.
“Yes, they have a few colonies and make sure to keep their bloodlines mixed within their species. It is exceptionally rare to see the males off their world.”
“Right. Well, I will have a chat with the captain and the owner of the vessel. I will need an arrest crew and this ship sealed.”
“Yes, Agent Geller. A good day’s work.” Wikins smiled.
She nodded and smiled in return, but where his blue skin was glowing with triumph, she was completely flattened.
Mel gathered her composure and smiled. “I just had an idea. Stall the investigation for an hour. I have to make a call.”
One hour later, she had her answers and her day’s exertions were wearing on her nerves.
She entered the room where the ship’s owner was being held, and she pointed at the chair. “Sit.”
“I beg your pardon! I will have your badge! Makuada runs on its imposed duties and my company routes millions of credits through here on a yearly basis.” The man was ruby red and his skin was glossy. Orin-Srat was his species and his name was Urgus.
“Sit!” She roared and showed her teeth, slamming her fist against the table. He sat.
“You are being charged with kidnapping three citizens of the Adru-Skari. We know this because the female was on her way to her fiancé on another colony and his name is not Urgus. I have been provided with all communications between the two and it is confirmed that she, her brother and her father, are not guests of yours, but you have met them. You attended their home world this summer and proposed to the young lady. She turned you down and now she is here in medical.”
Urgus leaned forward. “Is she injured?”
“That is none of your business. Your only concern is abducting and trafficking three Adru-Skari citizens. They are rather upset with you. Your business dealings are about to take a sudden downward trend when it gets around that you skipped off with nobility from one of the most respected families in your sector. Have fun in Janial.”
She waved and nodded to the guards. “Take him for processing. Don’t let him bribe his way out. He kidnapped nobles of Adru-Skari and they will have their justice.”
They stiffened and nodded in response. “Yes, Agent Geller.”
She sighed, returned to her desk and signed off duty. She tucked her toolkit away, stretched and headed for medical.
The three golden patients were all in a secure ward. Mel’s badge got her through and she snuck around the corner for a visit.
Three faces turned to her and she smiled at their similarity.
“I would like to speak with Ashur-tah, if I may.” She waited.
Yirka-tah nodded. “You may speak with my daughter.”
Mel stepped into the room and walked to the young woman’s feet. “Ashur-tah, I have spoken with your betrothed, Furdo-nil, and he is
Ashur-tah sat up completely. “You have spoken with him? Will he still have me?”
Her father made a sound but she ignored him.
Mel nodded. “He awaits your arrival eagerly and requests that you contact him as soon as you are able. I can link a com for you and bring it in here if you like.”
Ashur-tah looked to her father and he nodded.
Mel smiled. “I will bring it right away. Oh, your government has been notified of your retrieval and they are sending a ship for you.”
The younger man looked at her. “Miss, who are you?”
She bobbed her head. “Apologies. It has been a long day. I am Makuada Customs Agent Geller.”
She left the room, told the security that she would be back in a few minutes with a com pad, and she went to get one from the communications center.
* * * *
Koru-tah looked at his father and sister. “Didn’t they say that the one who found us was Agent Geller?”
His father nodded. “Yes, they mentioned that the agent had to rip a wall apart to get us out.”
“It couldn’t be that slight woman, could it?”
Ashur-tah sighed, “Her hands were red and looked raw considering the rest of her skin.”
Koru-tah closed his eyes. “She looked very soft.”
His father chuckled. “She is not for you. You are not of age yet, Koru-tah.”
He sighed. “I know, but she is lovely.”
“She saved us. We owe her.”
Koru-tah wiggled his eye ridges. “I can think of a few things I would like to give her in exchange.”
* * * *
Mel returned and handed over the com unit with the connection already pending.
“I also have good news. Your government has gotten emergency authorization for an in-system jump. The ship will be here in sixteen hours.”
VIOLA GRACE SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Break the Mold (Mechanical Advantage Book 3)ForecastTwisting Sanity (Mechanical Advantage Book 5)WrappedDragon Engaged (The Covert Dragons Book 3)MADeBreak the MoldCone of Silence
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