Home > Dark Class (Class 5 #5)

Dark Class (Class 5 #5)
Author: Michelle Diener

 

ABOUT DARK CLASS

 

 

Waking up alone . . . Ellie Masters comes out of a coma to find herself the only inhabitant of an eerily empty moon station. She’s not on Earth any more, she’s not even in the right solar system. So when someone reaches out to her, tells her he’s her friend, she’s happy to believe it. The alternative is to be stuck alone with an enemy.

 

The hunt of his career . . . Grih Battle Center captain, Renn Sorvihn, has been chasing a rogue Tecran ship for over a month, convinced its captain is simply trying to delay his inevitable surrender and punishment. But when Renn follows the Tecran ship into an uncharted sector, and realises the Tecran have been working their way to a secret moon base for weeks, he suddenly understands things are most definitely not as they seem.

 

Caught in the crossfire . . . When the Tecran arrive, with the Grih hot on their heels, Ellie finds herself the catalyst for heightened danger to everyone. The Tecran see her as evidence of their military’s crimes, the Grih see her as a massive diplomatic complication, and her presence brings the whole confrontation up several thousand notches.

 

But Ellie isn’t alone, and her new friend has ways to help her. Time to outclass them all . . .

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

Ellie woke to a jaunty tune.

She lay for awhile, eyes closed, listening to it, while she tried to remember where she was and how she came to be here.

Panic buzzed faintly along her skin, caught her breath in her throat, and she kept very still.

Did she know this song?

She thought the tune was familiar, but didn’t recognize the lyrics. Was it from a musical, maybe? Or the theme song from a movie?

Over the sound of the music, she could hear a faint, steady hum, like the machinery in a hospital, and the air, slightly too cool for comfort, reminded her of institutional spaces.

She wasn’t home, or anywhere that might resemble a home.

She could simply open her eyes and find out where she was, she told herself, but just the thought of it made her heart beat faster, her chest tighten.

She was afraid to.

Why was she afraid to?

She pondered that.

After a long while, after the jaunty tune had ended and a deeper, more complex instrumental piece had taken its place, she finally came to the conclusion she couldn’t keep her eyes closed forever and opened them in a snap, getting it over quickly.

She was in a much smaller space than she’d imagined. And she was alone.

She sat slowly, looking around at the almost pod-like shape that curved around her.

She was naked, with a few tubes and wires stuck to her, but they were easy to peel off and nothing was piercing her skin.

Being naked disturbed her deeply.

It made her feel a little bit like throwing up.

Even hospitals put you in gowns.

Someone had put her in this place. Someone had attached the tubes and wires. And had taken her clothes.

She kneaded the blanket that had pooled at her waist in distress, found it was smooth and soft. She took it with her when she slid off the hip-height platform she’d been lying on and wrapped it around her like a toga, flicking the end over her shoulder.

She immediately felt better. Less exposed.

The floor beneath her feet felt gritty, like it hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and when she noticed that, she began to see everything around her had a fine layer of dust on it.

Either no one had bothered to clean, or there was no one, and she had lain on the platform at least long enough to be able to write her name with a fingertip on the equipment that surrounded her.

She didn’t know which option was worse.

The space wasn’t untidy, exactly, but little clues, like a clamp lying on the floor, a small piece of broken glass glinting from underneath one of the trolleys that had been pushed close to her bed, a piece of equipment tilted drunkenly against the wall, as if it had been knocked there and just left with two wheels off the ground, made her think there had been some kind of scuffle in here. A fight or a temper tantrum.

None of the equipment looked like anything she’d ever seen. It seemed alien.

She felt her mind shut down at the thought, and when she came back to herself, she flung out her arms, running a hand over each one, then lifted her legs.

She didn’t appear to be hurt in any way.

She felt weak, a little wobbly, but not excessively so.

She finally forced herself to focus on the door. It was narrow, and she moved toward it slowly. Her knees felt as if they wanted to buckle and she stiffened them, stopping with legs locked for a moment until she felt steady enough to continue.

When she reached the door, it opened automatically and she stood still, looking beyond it, steeling herself for danger.

Nothing but a corridor greeted her.

It stretched ahead, mostly dark, as only one light was on, near the door, and it was flickering as if it had just turned on and was warming up.

She didn’t like how little she could see, how dark it was ahead, but she couldn’t stay in her little pod, either.

Her throat felt scratchy and dry, and it hurt to swallow.

She took a step out and began to walk.

The door behind her closed, and the music cut off as it did.

She missed the music immediately.

It had lulled her into a false sense of safety, for some reason.

She stopped, suddenly frightened, and took a step back toward the door.

It opened again, silently, and the music continued to play.

All right, then. She took a breath.

It wasn’t exactly a haven, but she could get back here.

Why that was so important, she didn’t know, but it helped her stay calm, knowing that she could.

She turned back to the passage and started walking again, treading carefully.

Lights flickered on ahead of her as she moved, seemingly triggered by a motion sensor, and she was eventually able to see another door at the far end.

The lights themselves were set into what looked like a rock wall, and curious, she ran her fingertips down it.

It was rough, full of what seemed to be air bubbles, as if the stone had been formed from lava shot through with gas. Like pumice.

Every step she took left a footprint in the thick dust.

There weren’t any other footprints visible. Only hers.

No one had come this way in a long time.

When she reached the far door, it, too, opened at her approach, and once again she held back, standing in the entrance, looking through.

This space was a lot bigger than her little pod.

A large area that seemed to be a lounge of some kind lay to her right, and a dining area to her left.

One of the couches in the lounge was flipped over, and so was a low table.

Some of the chairs around the dining table were tipped over, too, or pulled back at an angle, as if the people sitting there had pushed away and stood in a hurry.

Beyond the lounge there seemed to be an exercise area and on the dining area side, opposite the gym, was a big screen and chairs.

There were more signs of disturbance in those places, too.

It was absolutely silent.

The silence was as frightening as the idea that there might be someone beyond the doors, waiting for her.

She felt the nausea rise again and tried to breathe through it, putting a hand against the rough stone wall and bending her head.

The doors in front of her began to close, and she let them.

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