Orlena Sol erupted from her bed. Naked.
What the fuck?
Chill air slapped her bare skin and she grabbed her sheets and blankets, huddling back into their warmth. She let her head fall into the synthetic plumpness of her pillow and stared up into the prick of grey light in the metal curve of the ceiling.
She fisted her fingers in the tangle of her hair and blew out a long, slow breath. How the hell was she in her bed?
Shit. That kind of loss of time—a small black hole forming in her memory, with no idea of where, what or who—hadn’t happened in years. Not since she was little more than a deck hand on one of the big constructor arms out past Umbriel.
Her bad years.
She was in her room? She frowned. Her eyes narrowed on the pitted darkness. A different darkness. This wasn’t her cramped cabin on the CMC Theseus.
She lay in her own quarters on the Uranian moon, Miranda. The familiar sounds and smells washed over her in the heavily vibrating silence. The metal walls, the over-starched cotton of her sheets, the fading scent of grass and willowy trees from the air fabricator all screamed it. Which made no sense. Her last memory was of being belted into the navigator’s chair aboard the Theseus.
She could still taste the anger at Captain Jannes’ decision to let that fucked-up pilot on board again. She knew they had to have one of the cult as their pilot. No ship mined Uranus without one now… But Zev was trouble. Yes, she was supposed to have an other-sense about the currents and eddies of Uranus’ atmosphere, but the woman was skittish, a freak, a planet-worshipper. And she was bad luck. Orlena was with Dareh on that one.
She pressed her fingers into her scalp and willed her memory back. The atmosphere scoops on the Theseus had stood open, ready for the payload of helium-3 and hydrogen deuteride. Shan, Callie and Dareh were feeding vital signs through the monitors, nerves taut, ready to contain the load. Jannes barked his orders, his words quick and low, and Zev’s light voice wove through his. Syato stood silent as she always did, her attention fixed on the curve of the screen and the fast-moving currents of Uranus’ methane-stained atmosphere. Her face had its usual stern mask, but her gaze was alive with the wealth about to flow into their ship.
A familiar situation. Nothing out of the ordinary.
But then the instrumentation panel had lit up, klaxons pounded and their well-ordered ship dropped into chaos.