Caught by Menace(5)

By: Lolita Lopez

the woods just beyond the safe zone. Jennie and I know

the woods like the backs of our hands. We’l evade the

Harcos men, get to the safe zone and make a mad dash

right to the waiting ship.”

“Why not run now? Run tonight. Run tomorrow.

Don’t wait, Naya.”

“We can’t. You know the government has this place

clamped down tightly. Those damn riots in The City have

made it impossible to even travel between towns. Even if

we could evade the local police force and get Josef’s

ship into orbit, those guys?” She pointed toward the sky

and shook her head. “They keep a close watch on the

planet leading up to their Grabs. They’l never alow two

women chosen by the lottery to make a run to the

colonies. They’d probably arrest Josef for trying to steal

colonies. They’d probably arrest Josef for trying to steal

something they consider theirs. It’s too big of a risk.”

Dankirk rubbed the back of his neck. “What about

Jennie’s boyfriend? Does this guy have the necessary

permits to get to the surface?”

Naya nodded. “He’s a research scientist from the

colonies. He’s got a permit to fly his surface-to-sky

cruiser in and out of Calyx airspace four times a week.

His end of things is squared away.”

“And yours? What the hel are you going to do with

your shop?”

“What I should have done years ago when Nattie left

me here,” Naya replied, the memory of her older

brother’s betrayal stil so painful. “I’m seling out—lock,

stock and barrel.”

He chuckled. “I see what you did there.”

She roled her eyes. “I haven’t run weapons in a long

time, Danny. Once the Splinter terrorists came here and

their civil war with the Harcos,” she pointed skyward

again, “started to spil into our world, I gave up that

rather lucrative side business running cargo for the Sixers.

Once those two groups got into bed together, it wasn’t

worth the risk or the hassle. I need to get tangled up with

their insurgency problems like I need a hole in the head.”

“Agreed.” Dankirk shuffled his feet. “So—you headed


Naya’s chest tightened. “I’m sorry, Danny. I just…

We can’t.”

“Not even once? For old times’ sake?”

“We did once,” she reminded him. There was such

hope in his voice. She didn’t have the heart to add that it

had gotten weird and awkward so fast. Afraid this might

be their last meeting ever, she stepped close and wound

her arms around his waist. Rising on tiptoes, she pressed

their lips together in a gentle, lingering kiss. “Good night,


“Night, Naya.” He caressed her face and dropped a

kiss on her forehead. “Be safe.”

“I’l try.” She couldn’t promise anything else.

“I’l catch up with you in the colonies.” He rubbed her

earlobe between his forefinger and thumb. “I can’t

decide if you’re incredibly brave or just realy stupid.”

Laughing softly, she pecked his cheek and started to

walk away. “Probably a bit of both.”

Out in the cool night, Naya kept to the shadows again.

Her mind raced as she cut across Connor’s Run. She

Her mind raced as she cut across Connor’s Run. She

tried not to focus on how badly things could go wrong.

The alderman might be unsuccessful in his quest to switch

numbers. Or, even worse, he might sel her out to the

authorities as a political dissident to curry favor with

someone higher up the food chain.

Even if she made it into the Grab, either she or Jennie

could be snatched up by one of the Harcos warriors. If

Jennie were caught, Naya would have to let herself be

taken so they could stay together and escape at some

point. Getting off one of those warships wouldn’t be easy

but Naya had gotten out of trickier scrapes.

The very thought of being caught made her shiver with

fear. There were few things that truly scared Naya. Being

dragged to one of those Harcos sky ships was one of

them. She’d heard the stories of how they treated their

wives. She figured there were some embelishments

tacked on to those stories—anything she heard via

gossip typicaly had something salacious added to it—but

they al began with a seed of truth. It was the possibility

of truth that scared her.

What went on in Harper’s Wel and Wilow’s Tears

was bad enough, but up there? Oh, hel no. They put

was bad enough, but up there? Oh, hel no. They put

colars and leashes on their women and forced them to

do al sorts of perverted things. They were abusive and

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