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Her Viken Mates(45)

By:Grace Goodwin

God, I didn’t want to kill her, but what if it was kill or be killed? Perhaps it was still set to stun?

I was running out of time and I knew it. But when we reached the final door at the end of the hall, my mind drew a blank. Nothing on the maps I’d seen came to mind.

“Open the door, Bella.” She jabbed me in the back this time for good measure and I tried to hold in the gasp of pain as I did what she asked.

The door slid wide and I realized why I had no idea what was on the other side.

Nothing. Nothing but outside. Bitter cold. White.

“Go. Keep walking or die right here.”

Blinking against the blinding reflection of light on snow, I took my first tentative step onto the planet itself and tried not notice as my tears instantly turned to ice on my cheeks.

* * *

Evon, IQC VIP Guest Quarters

“You made yourself clear earlier, Captain.”

My father’s voice was its usual bland tone, but with it came an indifference I’d not seen before. We were in the large guest quarters. While I stood just inside the doorway, he sat in a comfortable chair positioned for the best view out of the large window onto the frozen vista. I doubted he noticed the stark beauty laid out before him. The way the wind lifted whispers of snow into the sky, creating endless tiny rainbows of color. The way the snow glistened like an infinite sea of small stars on a white canvas. The sky was crystalline blue and so clear I could actually see other planets winking and sparkling in the heavens during the middle of the day.

I could name them all, had loved everything about outer space since I was a boy in school.

This place fit. I was content serving the Royal Guard here. The dangerous splendor of the icy tundra appealed to something inside me I’d never bothered to analyze and didn’t care to explain. The air itself tasted wild, like risk and freedom locked in a never-ending dance.

My father? He loved Viken, but his tastes ran to large cities teeming with people and power politics. Public service was in his blood, and in mine as well. The entire family was expected to serve, although a Coalition fighter wasn’t what he’d anticipated from me. Ours had been a tenuous relationship since I joined the Interstellar Fleet as a scout pilot. But that shock had worn off years ago.

He’d never truly forgiven me when Thalia followed in my footsteps and left Viken behind. That had been years ago. I’d thought long and hard about the decision to join the Fleet, and understood the risks. I survived. And although my father was reluctant to forgive, there had been a grudging respect in his eyes when we spoke. I was my own man, not a pawn to be moved on the family game board. I’d served Viken in a truer manner than people like my brother would ever understand. I’d served to fight for Viken, protecting it from an outside enemy too terrible to ignore. In joining the Fleet, I was keeping my family safe.

My father never saw it that way. He never would because unlike myself—and warriors like Rager and Liam—Dravon and my father had never seen the Hive firsthand. Never could grasp our enemy’s true horror, the ugliness and evil of their true existence.

With Bella’s arrival, my stance had become solidified. I believed in my family, loved them and their altruistic service. But I would continue to serve in my own way, with my own family. I believed in them. First.

Liam was no traitor. Bella had proven that. But now we faced a new problem, a bigger threat. My sister would not have acted alone. And though my heart was breaking for her, I knew her dissatisfaction had been festering for long months.

I was heart-sick, but not surprised. And that fact alone told me everything I needed to know. Now we needed to lure out the rest of the traitors. The IQC Array and surrounding station was critical to Viken’s prosperity and safety. Nothing could put that at risk. Especially not my sister.

“I did, Father. And I haven’t come here with a different stance. My family comes first. You preached that as a core command of our youth. I must have heard you say it a thousand times while I was growing up. And Bella is my family now. Bella, Liam and Rager.”

“You are still a Tyrell,” he countered. “This family must come first.”

“Not anymore. You can either accept my family into the fold or not. They are my first priority.”

“Then why are you here?” Dravon came into the room from one of the bedrooms, a petulant scowl on his face when he saw me. His nose looked fine, as if Rager had never broken it, no doubt thanks to a few minutes with a ReGen wand. But the narrowed gaze and clenched jaw was all the indication I needed that his opinions hadn’t changed.

“Because he’s my son. Show some respect.” My father twisted in his chair to frown at my younger brother. “Or should I call Rager in here to break your nose again?”