Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Romance, #science fiction opera
Seeing while her eyes are tied is a blessing and a burden. She is obsessed and determined to find those who have been lost.
Vida has been looking for her parents since the Tokkel took them six years ago. Her sister has given up on her obsession and removed herself from the pain of her twin’s hunt.
When Vida has a breakthrough and gets transported to the mother ship, she is one step closer to achieving her quest, until her own body betrays her.
S’rin is a member of the Balance, and his help enables her to recover, as well as find a way to locate those who have been lost. He needs to strike a balance between seduction and companionship; it is harder than he wou
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2014 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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Return of the Nine Book 8
Vida walked through the memorial garden and touched some of the carefully cultivated flowers. Five and a half years since the Tokkel invasion and she still was frustrated by the dead end that her investigations led to.
Every spare moment, she turned her mind to the stars and looked for those who had been lost. It was just too large a span to search.
“Ms. Senior, we have an investigation we would like your assistance with.”
The voice jarred her out of her remembrance.
“Of course, Detective Morser.” She nodded toward the head of the colony’s police service. She blinked rapidly to clear the tears of frustration that always welled in the garden.
“I am sorry to have intruded, but a woman has gone missing.”
Vida straightened her shoulders and pulled her mind back to the here and now. “What does she look like?”
“Same as the others, brown hair, brown eyes. It has been six years. I thought that this ended when the Tokkel came.” He muttered it as they walked out of the gardens.
What he meant was that everyone in law enforcement had hoped that the killer had been one of those murdered by the attacking aliens. Apparently, that was not the case.
“Do you remember how to do this?” Detective Morser spoke low as they settled in his car.
“Yes, do you remember that I have to be where she was last seen? I can’t go to where the trail starts; I have to track her from earlier in the day. If I can’t see her before it happened, I won’t be able to find her.”
“Yes, Ms. Senior.”
He had tried to trick her the first two times, and it had resulted in the deaths of the two women. The third had been found in time, but it had been the day of the attack. Vina didn’t even know if the woman had survived the Tokkel after the other monster had taken her.
Now, he was back again.
The car rolled to a halt near the market place. She got out and looked around, getting the rhythm of the people in the area.
“Winara Elwin was last seen here.”
“How long ago?”
“Picture please.” Vida pulled the length of gauze from her belt.
An image of a smiling woman was held out by the detective. Winara liked to smile, it showed in her picture and that was another thing she had in common with the other women.
Vida stared at the image, closed her eyes and tied them shut. She turned her head and watched as Winara went shopping.
Being able to navigate with her inner eye was a peculiar skill. Her parents had both been functionally blind after a chemical spill in their research lab, so navigating in the dark had seemed normal to Vida. She had no idea that other people could not see clearly in the dark until she was a teen, and she didn’t know that she did it with her eyes closed until she finished school.
Binding her eyes helped her move around in daylight and
the psychic traces left behind by the living beings on Gaia. She had to see the woman in her normal daily activities and lock on to her. If she panicked, as she would if she were being abducted, the animal side of her nature would preclude getting a solid fix on her.
Vida moved swiftly through the market, tracing the path that the victim had taken until she found the alley where the abduction had taken place. She felt the panic, the pain that Winara had experienced.
Without a word, she picked up her speed, running blindfolded down the alley and onto the street where the victim had been shoved into a vehicle.
She sprinted six blocks, glad that she made running part of her daily exercise. The detective and others were on skimmers behind her.
Winara had been dragged out of the vehicle and into the building. Her energy was pulsing hotly inside. A dark shadow appeared next to her, and Vida hit the ground with a bolt in her shoulder.
She ripped the gauze off her eyes and crawled out of the line of fire as the city law enforcement gassed the interior of the small house. The darkness that was laid over her vision disappeared. He had killed himself.
The officers rushed inside, and Detective Morser came out with Winara in his arms. She had puffy eyes and tears from the gas, but she was alive with only minor scrapes and bruises.
Vida struggled to sit up, and she pressed her gauze blindfold to her shoulder. “Officer, if you could get me a med kit?”
He stared at her and swayed as if he didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, Morser came back and ordered a second medical unit to attend the scene while he grabbed one of the kits from an official vehicle.
“Well, Ms. Senior, the bolt went right through you. You are bleeding on both sides.”
She snorted. “That is what it feels like. Why are your officers freaked out?”
“You ran six blocks blindfolded and led us to a serial killer without so much as an interview.”
“You know that it is what I do.”
He sighed and applied pressure on her wound. “I know that and they know that, but even with the Nine in orbit, it seems a little spooky.”
She straightened and winced. “That is it! Orbit. I need to get up there.”
“You aren’t going anywhere. This wound needs work.” He paused. “Thank you, by the way.”
“I am only sorry that I didn’t find him sooner. Now that I know what his darkness looked like, I could have tracked him anywhere.” She hissed as he shifted his hands.
“Stay still, Ms. Senior. You are bleeding excessively.”
The medics arrived and bustled her into the second vehicle. The victim in the first vehicle looked at her curiously, but her medics closed the door and drove off.
“What happened, miss?” The older medic removed the gauze from her shoulder and looked at the wound.
She sat and let them tend her while the vehicle swayed on the way to the hospital.
With a small smile, she said, “I was finally in the wrong spot at the right time.”
With her bandages in place and a borrowed shirt covering the blood on hers, Vida headed for the embassy of the Nine.
The guards on either side of the gate stared at her as she passed them. She guessed the not a lot of bloody Gaian women hiked through the gates. She heard them calling up to the main building as she trudged past.
Daphne came out to greet her. “Vida, good lord. What happened?”
“I figured it out. I finally figured it out. I have a chance at finding them, but I need to get up there.” She staggered and clung to Daphne when she was close enough.
They walked slowly into the building where Daphne let out a shrill whistle.
A woman with ice blue skin came forward. “Yes, madam?”
“I need some grafting patches and a clean dress, please, Tynyan.”
“Yes, madam. Right away.”
The woman glided away, and Daphne coaxed Vida into the lift. Vida was impatient. She wanted to get up, to get on her way to finding those who were lost, but her vision blurred.
“Relax, Vida. I have you.”
With a woman she knew she could count as a friend, she relaxed. In a quiet room, her clothing was removed, her wounds were cleaned and whatever a grafting patch was, it kicked the ass of stitches. Pale, shining gel showed where the bolt had entered but the ugly threads were gone.
The dress was loose, but it belted snugly at the waist, providing shape.
“You know I am not a fan of dresses.”
Daphne smiled, “I am afraid that it is all I wear most days. Now, let’s settle you and you can tell me what the hell happened.”
With the help of the housekeeper, Daphne got Vida to her feet and into a comfortable chair in the sitting room.
She was still drowsy from the drugs they had given her at the hospital, but Vida stared into Daphne’s eyes. “I figured out how to do it.”
“Do what, Vida?”
“To find those who were stolen and never retrieved. I have been trying to see the trail for the last six years, and I have failed. I have been looking at it from the wrong angle. I need to get onto the mother ship and get into one of the shuttle pathways. If I can see the trail and the Nine are agreeable, we can get someone to go looking for them.” Vida swayed.
“How were you injured, Vida?”
“Oh, I was shot with a bolt gun by a serial killer.” She smiled. “I saw her and I found her.”
The housekeeper was standing by; she said, “The news reports did mention a murderer with a surviving victim. No mention was made of this woman, though.”
Daphne snorted. “They never mention Vida. She and I were in primary and secondary school together. She could find me no matter where I hid. She could always see me, even if her eyes were closed.”
Vida leaned back and closed her eyes. “Can you make arrangements for me to visit the mother ship? I need to be up there. I need to see.”
The images of the two women in the room nodded to each other as if they thought she was asleep. Vida relaxed in the chair as they tiptoed from the room.
She was where she needed to be. The embassy was the best bet to get to the mother ship. Daphne also knew who she was and what her talent was. If anyone could plead her case, it would be the ambassador’s wife.
For now, she would rest and heal. Everything else would happen as it was meant to.
Hours later, she saw Daphne come in with a man whose body was outlined in deep green. Their connection was obvious.
“Are you sure she can do what you say she can do?”
Vida sighed. “If that is a whisper, you need to work on your covert voices. Your Gaian speech is excellent, Ambassador.”
She saw his body jerk in surprise.
He moved around the room in silence, and she smiled, “If you are going to jump out that window, you might want to open it first.”
“You really can see through your eyelids.”
She blinked slowly, adjusting to the dimness in the room. “Sort of. I can see the energy of living creatures and track them back by the trail they have left behind. I can see it. I have always been able to see it. I have always been able to spot Daphne as well.”
Daphne turned on a light. “The better Vida knows you, the faster she can find you.”
Vida stretched slowly, not wanting to tear the patches on her shoulder. “In your case, Ambassador, I used your connection to Daphne.”
He smiled and sat nearby. “I am pleased to meet you, Vida Senior. Call me Apolan.”
“Apolan then. Call me Vida. Has Daphne explained what I am after?”
“The Tokkel ship with your people on it. Some of the first ones to be taken just as we arrived.”
“I am not looking for the ship. I am looking for my parents.” She sat up and gave him a serious look, only slightly marred by her flinch.