The blue glow from a stasis chamber was the first thing he noticed when he entered the room. What floated inside its antigrav field could only charitably be called a human being. Muscles hung in tatters from bones and entire sections of flesh covering the girl’s chest and ribcage were missing and Claudio could see her pale red heart.
“Doctor,” he said. “How long before we can do the procedure?”
The tall, thin woman looked at her portable computer for several moments before wiping a lock of blonde hair out of the way. It was moments like this, when the Doctor seemed to ignore him, that drove the Admiral crazy. Sometimes, he reminded himself, Thompson forgot who recruited her, paid for the medical training and gave her everything she needed.
“I’m not sure if I want to do this,” Lisa Thompson said.
“Doesn’t matter whether you want to or not,” he reminded her. “I call the shots around here.”
“Yes, sir, Admiral sir!”
He chose to ignore her. “When can you rebuild her?”
“I can do the operation at a moment’s notice.”
“Then get cracking.”
Thompson sighed. “Fine, I’ll get the team together.”
One hour later, Claudio was seated in a comfortable chair while observing the operation from the sealed gallery. Thompson and her teamed moved efficiently, he had to give them that, but this procedure would take many hours, in fact it would probably end sometime tomorrow. And since it was his money, Claudio would observe things from start to finish.
Kate Almir, he mused as he picked up his portable computer and opened the file he had on her, was a dangerous woman. The youngest gladiator to make Master Champion in Arino’s history. Coupled with nearly ten thousand kills in the seven years she’d been in the arena, and he couldn’t help but take notice.
The girl proved to be both smart and a capable killer who could end a life without remorse or emotional reaction. This made her a perfect person to be a Special Ops Agent. Part SEAL, part secret agent, each operative were the most dangerous people in both Fleet and Intelligence. In fact, despite all the holovid movies about his people, they proved to be far deadlier than the public believed.
Of course if she ended up on Arino, then the girl didn’t have any family he’d need to worry about. No, she would be a perfect specimen, which proved why he’d traveled to meet with her. Instead, she’d run into a buzz saw of guards employed by her Master and Owner, Ferini.
And look what happened, he thought many hours later as he watched a pair of nurses wheel Almir’s form out of the operating room. She’s going to be better than she was before.
Thompson entered the room and then sat down before laying her head on the headrest before she closed her eyes. “Thank God that’s over.”
“That took longer than usual. Any complications?”
Thompson snorted. “Complications? There was nothing but them!”
“Will be make it?”
“You tell me. You’re the one with the plans.”
And uncomfortable silence settled over the room until Thompson spoke up again.
“Either way, it’d going to be touch and go for a while.”
“I want to be notified if there is any change,” Claudio said as he stood up. “Got it?”
The grenade tumbled through the air, a pineapple shaped symbol of death and destruction.
Time slowed to a crawl as she watched it continue to close in on her. Wasn’t any point in running, the blast would kill her just as easily as if she didn’t. Either way, things were going to come to an ending right there on the dirty, burnt orange ground of the landing field for incoming shuttles.
I can’t believe it that I made it this far only to fail, Kate thought bitterly.
A brilliant flash lit up the afternoon and Kate raised an arm to protect her eyes from the light before an invisible hand lifted her off the ground and threw the girl backwards. Pieces of metal, each burning hot, struck her body, tearing muscles, shattering bones, and a wave of agony washed over her.
The world tumbled wildly as Kate flew through the air for several seconds before she slammed into something solid. She tried to scream but no sound would come from her mouth yet the pain continued to grow…
…Kate’s eyes snapped open, and darkness was all she saw for several seconds. Panic threatened to overcome her until the darkness slowly changed to a lit room. Relief replaced the fear and the gladiator slowly worked on getting her self-control back.