by Kristine Smith
$1.99 (Novella) ISBN 978-1-61138-832-9
Set several years before Jani’s exploits in Code of Conduct, “Incident on a Small Colony” is a riveting introduction to Jani Kilian, the worlds of the human Commonwealth and the alien idomeni, and the cost of being true to one’s self.
Jani Kilian–broke, tired, and on the run from the Commonwealth Service–hopes that a short stint working at a shipping company on an out-of-the-way colonial station will provide her some things she badly needs. Money. A place to hide. A little peace.
But all too soon, she is drawn into the staff’s habit of making the payroll by diverting cargo, and her offers to help smooth the process only feed her coworkers’ suspicions that their unusually competent documents technician is a government spy.
Then there are the hallucinations, a side effect of Service brain augmentation–Jani assumes she’s seeing things when she first encounters a young girl in the station bathroom. But not only does the child turn out to be very real, she is on the run herself and in need of serious medical treatment. As Jani is drawn into the deepening crisis, she realizes yet again that no matter how far she runs, her past is never far behind.
Originally published in Baen’s Universe (2006)
“The tech stuff is neat, the atmosphere tense, with vivid description and convincing detail, the action pretty much non-stop, and the emotional tension builds inexorably. Three whammies before the end, all different: the thing that makes memorable stories is not just nifty skiffy, great pacing, but the electricity between human beings. ”