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Brenya was torn from her service in Beta Sector and reassigned to serve the Commodore of Bernard Dome’s aggressive physical needs. Out of her depth and confused, she flounders under his untried care. The leader of their Dome is as demanding as he is sweet. He is beautiful, and he is treacherous.
And he has sworn never to let her go.
From the internationally bestselling author of the Alpha’s Claim series, Addison Cain brings you Alpha’s Control. Alongside the Commodore and Brenya, Shepherd and Claire’s story continues under new Domes rife with intrigue and danger. Absolute Power is a 13,000 word prelude to Stolen: Alpha’s Control Book One.
Publisher’s Note: The Alpha’s Control series is a dark Omegaverse tale with explicit sexual themes and complete power exchange. If such material offends you, please do not purchase.
Mid-morning sun reflected off the glass so sharply, even squinting, Brenya’s eyes began to water. Gloved hands to the East Sector solar plate, she twisted in her rigging, searching out the perfect angle so light might distort and show hidden danger.
Right there… refraction.
Helmut flush with the damaged pane, she traced over the almost imperceptible feather-like cracks marring the clear amorphous metal.
Routine maintenance scans had misclassified why K73-2554’s solar collection was malfunctioning. It was not a wiring issue; the pane was about to shatter. Damage of this nature led to serious ruptures, evacuations of sectors, and the potential death of everyone inside.
Speaking evenly, she catalogued all she’d found to the tech team supporting her climb behind Bernard Dome’s glass. “Unit 17C to terminal. Pane K73-2554 is damaged beyond original assessment. The structure is badly cracked and will need replacing once fabrication is complete.”
There was a hiss of white noise before her tech’s radio communication came through. “ Copy, unit 17C. An urgent status notation has been logged into the repair queue. You are granted clearance to patch while we wait for fabrication . Manufacturing posts a three-hour timeline.”
According to her oxygen reserves, that would give Brenya just under an hour to complete install. It would be a close call. “Roger that. Commencing emergency repair.”
A patch on fissures might postpone catastrophic failure… then again it might not. Though she could not see them, someone on the inside of that reflective glass was scrambling to install metal sheet reinforcement even as Brenya reached for the tools at her belt.
The human race had learned long ago that risks were no longer an option. In order to survive, there had to be layers of safeguards and regulation.
Swaying in her rigging, dangling high above the ground, she tiptoed around the damaged section’s frame. With the aid of a heat gun and strong epoxy, Brenya endeavored to reinforce what would ultimately be a fatal crack. It was delicate work that required patience and a light touch. Too much heat, and the whole panel might shatter, too little, and the epoxy would fail to set. One had to account for the sun, the changing outside temperature. One had to adjust to the blinding glare engineering grunts were trained never to turn their head from.
Grunts tasked with the dangerous job of outer Dome repair were never to let their eyes wander. The verdant, creeping wilderness could not be a distraction. Staring at the open skyline, the distant tips of a dead, crumbling city’s tallest structures were said to encourage mental instability. It endangered all those who relied on them inside to maintain absolute focus.
Those caught looking were grounded and banned from making the descent again.
Failure of so grave a nature led to social ostracizing from the very corps one had been raised with, the family one worked with. Colleagues would find you suspicious; friends would demand one submit to reassignment.
Never would Brenya risk it.
Being selected for the external repair program had already placed her in a less than favorable light amongst her peers—even if the work she did kept them all alive.
Every citizen had heard the stories of engineering grunts who grew obsessed with what languished outside the Dome. Some had even tried to leave, or purposefully harmed the structure that protected them all. If rumors were true, there was even a growing faction of dissenters who quietly questioned if the virus was really a threat.
In the five years she’d routinely made the descent, Brenya seen things outside the Dome people inside would never lay their eyes upon. She was privy to what her colleagues considered temptation. Once a butterfly alit beside a ventilation duct she was reconstructing piece by piece. The insect had been spotted orange, and lightly fluttered its wings as it rested so near, her fingers could almost brush it. She had wanted to watch that insect, to marvel at nature as her ancestors must have done before the plague. But it was forbidden.
Before the increase in her heart rate might signal to her tech a break in protocol, she’d shooed it away. As far as Brenya knew, no soul in the Dome had ever known that, for a matter of seconds, she understood why some grunts grew obsessed with all that lay outside.
“ Unit 17C, weather forecasting warns an 18 knot gust will arrive from the north in twenty seconds .”
With skilled movement, she reached for the magnetic handholds stored in the utility belt around her bio-suit. Swinging her rigging to the left, they were locked into place on an undamaged panel. By the time the wind rushed past her, she was secure, pressed to the side of the Dome, and safe.
It was the second, undeclared gust five minutes later that was her ruin.
While dangling upside-down from her harness in an attempt to finalize the last portion of her repair, tearing wind slammed her straight into the pane so hard she lost her breath. It shattered just like Brenya had reported it would, right before she felt a sudden loss of gravity.
Her rigging had failed, the snake-like hiss of rope slipping through her belay loop attachment pulley.
She didn’t have time to scream.
Plummeting head first toward the ever encroaching vegetation, the backup catch snapped.
She was going to die.
Twisting in the cables as she fell, a sudden sharp wrench left her in screaming pain. Jerked to stillness, her arm was caught, her shoulder joint torn from its socket.
Sounds of misery gurgled in her throat, the smallest of breaths almost impossible. The world was upside down. She had fallen so far, hundreds of meters, her dangling arm almost touching the ivy scaling the concrete foundation of Bernard Dome.
Blood rushed to her head, vision going to a pinpoint.
Amidst the crackling call of her tech for a status update, she found herself distracted. She could see them, diminutive simple flowers, her arm reaching towards their vines as if they were a rope and she might pull herself to safety.
She could smell them…
Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, hot drips running into a damp hairline.
“ Unit 17C, your vitals register as erratic and your bio-suit is broadcasting damage to your helmet’s visor.”
She wanted to answer but couldn’t move her lips. She could do nothing but stare at the nine-petaled flowers and try to breathe.
“Report, Brenya! ”
Hearing her name, the break in protocol, startled her out of waning consciousness.
One croak, the sound of labored breath, that’s all she could offer.
It was as her tech had claimed. More than her body had been damaged; a massive chunk had been knocked from her visor. Brenya had been exposed to open air—could smell the world, the dirt, her sweat. She could even smell her blood where it trickled from a split cheek and into her eye.
“Brenya… you know procedure.” There was a hedging desperation the tech tried, and failed, to keep out of his voice. “Without a status report, you’ll be cut from the rigging. I need you to talk to me.”
She had one final thought. I’ll miss you too, George…
Her stomach rolled and unconsciousness won out.
* * *
It was dark by the time her swollen eyelids blinked apart. Body rocking in the breeze like a spider at the bottom of its silk, Brenya hung limp. She couldn’t see from her right eye, it was too gooey with blood, but if she squinted, she could just make out shapes in the moonlight.
Warm air brushed her cheek.
For the first time in Brenya’s life, she recognized what real weather felt like. It was humid and soft. She could even taste it when she swallowed around a fat tongue.
Teeth chattering despite the heat, she managed one word. “George…”
Sweat saturated her hair, dripping up pounding temples. “Thiiis is… this issss Unit 17C. I require assistance.” She tried to move to see if she might turn her body right-side up. “I’m caught in the rigging, and I can’t move my left arm.”
It was a different voice that cracked through the static. “Your suit shows an increase in body temperature. Exposure to outside contaminants must be considered.”
The Red Consumption?
She’d slipped midday. That infamous disease killed in a matter of hours. It was night now. If she’d been exposed to Red Consumption, she’d already be dead.
Another, blessedly familiar voice interjected. “ Sir, her temps were up prior to the climb. Unit 17C is documented as running hot .”
Oversight would never believe she was uninfected if her every breath continued to rattle. She had to get herself stable if she wanted to survive. She had to prove she was viable, that she could still serve.
Shoulder aching, she could feel how swollen it was, but in a very unnerving way it didn’t hurt. With a left arm that would be useless and a right arm caught to her chest, only her legs might set her free. Straightening them was harder than expected. First her right leg wrapped around the traitorous cable, left leg pushing off from Bernard Dome’s foundation.
She unrolled so fast, Brenya was in a scramble to find a grip before she fell to her death. Bloated fingers caught air, tore at her suit, and finally, finally, a glove found the friction of sliding rope. Where the strength came from, she could not tell, but she found herself holding on with one hand so close to the ground, her boots could feel the spongy give of the white flowered ivy’s leaves.
The sound of her own heavy breathing echoed through her earpiece, a strained grunt all she could offer the team listening in on the other end. Feet to the wall, Brenya began to climb, one handed, until she found a way to loop her only lifeline back through the harness.
Arm burning, panting in huge gulps of tainted air, she let go. The moment she sat back safely in the rigging, the strangest thought crossed her mind.
It was jasmine… the white flowers were jasmine.
She’d never smelled anything so beautiful.
“I have reattached and will proceed to the nearest decontamination hatch. Please advise.”
No response crackled in her ear.
Over the next several hours, no assistance arrived to help Brenya scale the Dome—though she made continuous status reports while creeping up the side like a bug.
Oversight was watching. George was silent.
When she finally crested the nearest hatch, she was left waiting for those inside to decide if she might live or die. Brenya was exhausted, and Oversight’s accusation was true: she did not feel well.
Her left arm hung throbbing at her side and required immediate medical attention. She was thirsty, so very thirsty that her tongue stung even worse than the crusted gash on her cheek.
They left Brenya waiting until sunrise. Dozing against the hatch, she felt it give, scuttling to her feet before she might fall. The mechanized door opened, the first of five decontamination chambers waiting.
Had her uniform not been damaged, all she would be required to do was stand on the mark, arms raised and legs spread. Fire would blast the outside of the bio-suit, heating her to the point skin would almost blister underneath. Unfortunately, with her suit damaged and the helmet’s visor in shambles, incineration decontamination would equal death.
The room’s COM boomed, “ Unit 17C, you are to remove your bio-suit and place it on the mark for incineration .”
Fumbling with the catches and clasps, leaning against the wall because her legs shook, she pulled off the broken helmet and tossed it where it would be burned to ash. Gloves, boots, the suit, every stitch of her protection was peeled from clammy skin, the female hissing when her swollen shoulder refused to budge from within its sleeve.
Tears running down a bloody face, she had to force her arm free, praying to the gods muffled screams would stay locked behind tight lips.
When it was done, she stood in sweat soaked underclothes, and the hatch to the world with white, scented flowers hermetically sealed. In the next few moments, Brenya would discover whether or not this was to be her crematorium.
A click made her jump, set her already racing heart into her throat. The room’s only other door, the door that would lead to potential salvation, swung inward.
The chamber beyond was lit, and there were crates stacked right in the center of the space. While she had been waiting outside, a cot had been set up, emergency rations left in a bin.
Dashing forward, she entered decontamination room two.
Once sealed in, she was not allowed to leave the cramped space. Only basics were left to see to her body’s needs. When the bio-suit protected scientists charged with observing the specimen came to administer a daily barrage of tests, they took her full bucket and brought a fresh one.
Beyond the point of embarrassment, she let them poke and prod, take samples and scrapings. If they told her to spit, she spit. If she was ordered to take off her clothing, she stripped at once.
She ate from the supply crate’s rations and drank stale water from emergency pouches older than she was.
She had always been obedient, just as she had always been a dedicated hard worker. Like the other Betas in her unit, Brenya Perin of Palo Corps, was fiercely loyal to Bernard Dome’s combined effort of survival and prosperity.
From the best she could reason without a watch or window, quarantine extended over two weeks—most of that time spent alone with nothing to do, no one to talk to. The only reason she knew freedom had been earned, was a slight shift in routine—the medic who’d set her shoulder the first day, who’d given her a sling to wear over dirty underclothes, had returned.
After a thorough exam, he offered a fresh jumpsuit.
He then instructed Unit 17C to vacate the decontamination chambers and rejoin her people. Pride made her smile under the stitches in her cheek. Pulling her suit zipper up under her chin, eager to go home, she smoothed her tangled bob of lank hair, careful of her damaged arm, and walked, surrounded by bio-suit clad scientists, out to greet waiting friends.
Clearing the final room, she found no joyous party—not even George, the tech Brenya had worked with for five years.
It was not until she returned to her bunk at Palo Corps barracks that word she’d been grounded until further notice arrived. The women she had known since birth, the ones she had been raised with, educated with—the ones she’d played with and thought of as sisters—all one-hundred who shared the room kept their distance.
Brenya had never willingly looked at the horizon. She had not studied the shapes of leaves or how the wind moved the trees. It didn’t matter. Unit 17C was counted as one of the tainted.
That first night, she cried in her bunk, wishing she had never seen the white flowers or smelled jasmine on the wind.
Every morning when the call was made to rise, she would watch her fellow Betas climb from their cots and dress in the uniform of their zone. She too wore the grey jumpsuit, she too broke bread in the mess hall with her sisters, but unlike them, she no longer had an assigned purpose.
Oversight, it seemed, believed Brenya had nothing to offer to the collective.
After a week living as a borderline pariah, after endless skewed looks and terse answers to attempted conversation, she found she could no longer choke down meals. She stopped eating. Her head ached; her stomach was always in knots. To prove herself useful, Brenya had taken to unordered janitorial work. With her good arm, she scrubbed the toilets, the floors, the walls, every surface inside her barracks. When she ran out of things to clean, she walked East Sector looking for debris on the ground.
It was two days of garbage collection before she found herself outside the gates separating the various engineering corps from the techs and central Oversight.
George would help her… it’s not like she didn’t recognize that he had been the one to save her life. He would help her earn an assignment and end this torment. But Brenya was denied entry. The Alpha guard sneered behind his helmet once she’d been scanned, her rank and designation displayed.
To her shame, she felt her lip shake. “Please.”
He looked to her sling, to the gash atop her cheekbone that would scar and remind everyone why her face was marred: an engineering grunt’s visor had broken, unit 17C had breathed contaminated air.
She was infected, even if she was not.
When she continued to stand there, waiting as if he might change his mind, the Alpha guard raised a hand to her damaged shoulder. It was not a gesture of comfort or reassurance. Instead, he used his grip to shove her away.
Before those free to come and go, before all who kept their distance, Brenya fell. Crying in earnest, she put her hand to her throbbing shoulder and cowered.
No one made a move to help, though she could see a reflection of pity in the expressions of those nearest. When she could not bear the shame another moment, she tucked her feet under her body. Brenya made herself stand no matter how dizzy she’d become. Stumbling step by step, the woman wandered like a kicked dog in the direction of her barracks.
Halfway through the journey, she was distracted by the sound of running water. Over hot and fevered, sweat beaded at her temples. Upon seeing the fountain sparkling at the center of East Sector’s square, there was a change in course.
Laziness was frowned upon, but Brenya sat there at the water’s edge, taking in the beauty of a precious piece of art installed in the Dome before the gates were sealed. This relic had once sat outside the Place de la Concorde. Who designed it, she could not say. Art history was not emphasized amongst those chosen for an engineering education. Just as she could not tell how old it was or why it was culturally important to her people.
What she could say was that dipping her hand into that cool water, wiping her feverish face felt more beautiful than any fountain might ever be. Just as she put her lips to that sparkling blue resting in her palm, a roar cut through the air. Backing away from her perch, her eyes darted around the superstructure for a sign of what ogre might have made so terrible a noise.
She heard the roar again, closer.
There was this violent sense of inevitability, the icy feeling of impending doom. She could not tell you what came over her, why that noise threw her into such a panic, but she could say that never in her life had she run so fast.
Blood was pounding behind her eyes, her legs wobbling as if under the influence of some unknown drug. She’d almost made it to her barracks—where all she wanted was to climb under the blankets and hide.