Chapter One
    Badge Leeahan Ryan watched the festivities at her assigned colony with a cautious gaze. She was in charge of maintaining order during the weeklong party, and it was not an easy task.
    Last year, three of her deputies had ended up naked and shaved, hanging from the main tent pole. They were fine, but their shame never ended, and they had transferred off world for their own sanity.
    Decallock was a haven for those who had nowhere else to go. It was a pleasant-enough world but the harvest festivals were a riot of repressed emotions running wild before the lockdown of the winter. The seasons had turned early this year, and the harvest and festival were ahead of normal schedule.
    The behaviour of the colonists was also away from the norm. With the weather going crazy, societal behaviours were close behind.
    Lee took a look at her dwindling roster and sighed. The badges on this world were the only law enforcement that the colonists would allow, and she was the woman in charge.
    “Who is on nights?”
    Anadora smiled helplessly. “Um, Tonino has an arm break, it is Marthuic’s day off and Dennirio was dosed at the wine tank last night. I am afraid you are on your own.”
    There were not enough curse words in Alliance Common to cover how she felt right then. “So, Dispatcher, what should I do?”
    Anadora put her hands on her hips and looked at the boards. “Load up, keep alert and, for pity’s sake, keep the com on. Something is in the air tonight.”
    The sun’s rays were turning pink, and as the first shift staggered in, bruised, covered with substances thrown by revellers and the occasional bit of ribbon, Lee prepared to take on the worst shift of the week. Alone.
    She sat through the briefing of what trouble spots were getting ready to kick off and which ones had been successfully calmed. Lee put on her stun gloves, the clubs, stun sticks and knockout grenades. She was as armed as she could be, and the suit she was wearing would fight attempts to get into it, so no shaving and dangling above for all to see.
    Her hair was braided tightly and folded back against her head, her earpiece was firmly fixed and her backup tucked into her cleavage under the stiff leather.
    “Dispatch, this is a systems check.”
    “Check confirmed. Vitals online and strong. Go get ‘em, Badge Ryan.”
    Waving farewell to the exhausted badges in the offices, Lee strode into the fading light and got on her cycle. Her route was displayed on the small screen attached to her headset, and she began to do her rounds.
    Unlike her associates, the locals never picked on her. Even the drunks managed to struggle into polite cheer when she parted them.
    Five hours into her shift, she was helping one of the local girls back to her companions and out of the clutches of two enthusiastic young men when a call came in to her system. “Dispatch, what is it?”
    “Badge Ryan, all hell is about to break loose. There are twenty-six Keymin males coming right for the city. Their Alpha is on his way, but he is too far behind to rein them all in. You are about to get busy.”
    “Did the Keymin authorize measures?”
    “Full stun, full strength. Knock them out as fast as you can. They want them out and helpless. Their people are on their way.”
    Lee shuddered and returned the young woman to her people. “Which direction?”
    “Coming from the east. ETA nine minutes. Do you want me to call the guys for backup?”
    Lee grimaced. “Try and see who answers, but I don’t need anyone sleepy or injured. If they don’t pick up by the second alert, disconnect. I will handle what I can and hope that the Alpha isn’t dragging his ass.”
    With the woman returned to the revellers and the young men nursing the impacts to the wall behind them, Badge Ryan returned to her cycle and went to block the Keymin invading from the east.
    Keymin were the Earth equivalent of werewolves. Genetically altered to shift their forms and act as a four-footed army, they were a

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