“You’re a fugitive,” he repeated. “I have the authority to detain you and this vessel including its cargo.”
She gaped. “Please. It’s medical supplies. Essentials. They’re needed.”
“By rebels. Kalamar is designated a forbidden destination. Now, put you hands on your head and walk.”
“No,” she snapped. “I’m not a criminal.”
Mason shook his head in disappointment at her argumentative tone of voice, but that disappointment didn’t extent to her appearance—she possessed the perfect package of physical attributes: attractive figure, clever eyes that watched his every move and she bounced on her toes, ready to take flight. Spending time with her, finding out why she was alone in space like him, would make dull days more interesting. Sadly for her, he’d had his orders and he didn’t have time to argue. There were bigger prizes to catch.
“Have you heard of the five ‘S’s?” he asked.
She frowned, clearly bemused by his sudden question. “No.”
“The five stages of apprehending a fugitive. Stun.” He tilted the gun, but kept it aimed on her. “Stupefy, strip, search and stasis.”
She swallowed. “I don’t understand.”
She probably did, but like many he caught, she’d gone into denial.
“I’ve not taken a female into custody before now,” he admitted, soberly. “So, I’m going to bend the rules a little so there is no question of my taking advantage of you and just so you appreciate what a nice guy I can be, when I want to be.”
She wrinkled her nostrils. “This is nice?”
“Sure, you see. Stun, well, it hurts, but it’s quick. Stupefy, that’s the toughie. A neuro-drug is injected into the blood stream. It dulls the response time, sends you into a suggestive state similar to a hypnotic trance. Then the strip and body search to check for sequestered contraband.”
Her jaw dropped lower as he described each stage of the process.
“After that, it’s easy. I zap you into a cyro tube and you snooze in the liquid freezer all the way to the federal justice centre, where you’ll be tried and sentenced.
“Please. Don’t.” She took a step back, glancing over her shoulder.
“I said I’ll be nice. No stunning. No stupefying. But the strip search—”
“I have the authority. I have to produce a full report and in it, a detailed inspection. So, hands on your head, turn and walk to the air lock. Once we’re on my ship, we can make a start. I’m on a schedule.” He waved the gun towards the exit of the cargo bay.
“I won’t… you can’t…” she stuttered, her cheeks turning flaming red.
“It’s just the two of us, Jade. There’s no back up nearby, so if you don’t play by the rules, you get punished.”
“Punished!” she shrilled.
“Yes. I’ve a firm hand, take my word for it. I don’t want any nonsense. I’ve cut you some slack, so show me what a good girl you can be and do as you’re told.”
“Why you—” Her eyes narrowed into slits.
He raised his eyebrows, tempting her to finish the sentence. She snapped her jaw shut, raised her arms and placed her hands on her head.
“You’re making a mistake,” she muttered.
“Possibly,” he replied, to himself, not her.