Not Compatible - Viola Grace

Chapter One

Styra grunted as she did another sit-up in the station gym. There were a few crewmen and women from some of the resupplying freighters working out. Still, most had facilities on their ships, so the gym was a luxury for the people who worked at the station.

Her com started pinging, and she groaned, sat up, and answered it. “Yeah?”

“Styra, please tell me you are near the center.”

“I am, but today is my day off, sir.” She wrapped a towel around her neck and started toward her locker to get her passes for travel in the Blue Station.

“What will it take you to come in?”

“Double time and a full-day spa pass.” She grinned and waited for him to negotiate her down.

“Done. How soon can you be here?”

She was stunned. He never gave up that easily. There must be a disaster looming.

“I will be there in five. I am assuming an emergency retrieval is in order?” She grabbed her bag and fished out her passes. She waved at the attendant and headed out, tossing the towel into the hamper as she sprinted into the monstrous station that she called home.

“You presume correctly. Come to me directly when you arrive.”

“Yes, sir. ETA three minutes.” She hung up and continued her jog through the station toward the entertainment center.

In the four years she had worked for Mr. Blue, she had never gotten him to agree to her terms on the first offering. There must be a VIP trapped in a scenario.

She scanned through security and headed up to Mr. Blue’s office. She knocked when she was outside the executive suite, and he muttered, “Come in, Styra. We have a situation.”

Mr. Blue was agitated. He was letting his human-seeming mask slip. His skin was bright blue, and his eyes were reptilian gold.

“Show me the file.” She picked up the tablet and checked the file he sent her. She flicked through it and paused. “He’s a drake hybrid?”

Mr. Blue grimaced. “Yes. He should be fine. There is no reason for him to have had an issue. We have two hours to straighten it out and get him free of the system.”

“Why the time crunch?”

“Because he came in with some guards from the Ackerwol Imperium, and they want to leave with him.”

She groaned. “Oh. Joy. Right. Okay, I am just going to finish scanning his file.” She caught a few points of concern. Military service, high-stress position, and all of the accumulated experiences of three or four decades.”

“Do you think you can sync to him?”

“I haven’t run into anyone I couldn’t sync to yet. I will take pod six.”

“Great. Change and lock in. Time is literally money.” Mr. Blue inclined his head.

He was resuming his human appearance, and she headed to the change room and sonic shower. She had prep to do and sweat to remove. She didn’t need a rash on top of her other issues.

Styra smoothed the sensor suit on over her body and made sure that all of the pads and feedback material was in the right place for a proper drop into the scenario.

Her hair was pinned up, but the wrap around her face and ears would be the means by which her face was projected into the scenario.

She settled in her pod, put in the connection monofilament into the nearly invisible port that she had installed, and linked the pod to the captain’s scenario. She was going to fall and land in the world he had chosen.

She dropped and landed on the ground, looking around at the surprising fairy tale landscape. Men usually chose this scenario when they had a companion who had either been with them or paid for. She was currently wearing the adventurer clothing that she preferred in this game. She liked to be able to move and climb with ease.

The display built into her headgear showed her that the client was two kilometers away, right under that swirling pile of drakes. What fun.

Styra set out at a jog and kept an eye out for any of the drakes changing direction. When she arrived near the coordinates, she saw the bramble wall and sighed, pulling out her blade. She touched it with the blade, and the brambles and thorns rustled angrily. She spoke softly, “I just want to help him. Please, let me through.”

The brambles and thorns pulled apart and gave her ten inches to squeeze through. She turned sideways and eased her way through. She was cut, scratched, and gouged over the ten-meter span, but in the end,