Jaded
Chapter One
     
     
    Jayd Gonzalez was back on Earth. She looked down at the shopping in her bags and knew that it was that day, all over again.
    The cars pulled up outside the Volunteer Centre and the crowd gathered. She kept her original path and headed past the crowds in line to see the aliens coming in to populate the outlet.
    Protestors with signs and nonsensical slogans shouted as the cars disgorged their occupants.
    Jayd couldn’t help herself—she drew even with the crowd when the first shot was fired. She dropped her bags and ran forward, pushing through the onlookers to help while they stared at what had happened.
    The alien was on the ground, his guards were holding back the crowd and magenta blood was seeping from his shoulder.
    Jayd ran to his side and pressed down on his wound.
    His huge head had large black eyes and a surprisingly friendly expression for a man who had been shot. His silvery skin was cool under her hands. “You are assisting me?”
    “You need help, and I just took a first aide course last week. I have no idea where your heart is, but blood is supposed to be inside your body and that is a universal rule.” She chuckled and he smiled up at her.
    Something poked her in the back, hard. She heard, “You are a traitor to your own species, bitch!”
    She shrugged and kept applying pressure until things got hazy.
    “You have been wounded as well.”
    “Have I?” A glance down showed a spreading red stain on the front of her shirt. She coughed and blood emerged.
    A blink of time later and she was on the ground with the alien applying first aide to her. Her breath hissed out through the holes in her lung as he held her wound closed as best as he was able. His blood seeped down his arm and mingled with hers. Sirens sounded and medics with strange jumpsuits came out, hauling her new friend away.
    An ambulance fought its way through the crowd and medics grabbed her, put her on a gurney and bustled her away. Jayd was brought into emergency, but when the doctors tore open her shirt, they stepped back and refused to touch her.
    She coughed and flailed around until they tied her to the bed. They wrapped her bullet holes, and her breathing eased. A tube was shoved into her side to drain her lung, and her breathing felt far less wet.
    Dora came in, and Jayd cried as her sister rushed to hold her hand. No one had comforted her, none had wanted to stay in the room with her. Whatever was visible when they cut her shirt off had freaked them all out.
    “They aren’t going to do surgery. There is something happening to you that has to do with that guy you saved. Why did you rush in?”
    She chuckled. “Because I always do. No one should be a target because of what they are.”
    The seizures began three hours later, and each one left her more exhausted than the last.
    Dora held her hand during every spasm and kept the doctors informed of the violence of each one. No one wanted to touch her, so the medical staff stayed away when they weren’t coming in to take samples.
    Each minute that passed, her body grew weaker, her system was in an uproar, and no one would tell her why. Dora stayed at her side every moment, and by the worried look in her eyes, she was going to stay until the end.
    Two strangers opened the door, and her friend from the street walked toward her with a computer tablet in his hand. “Hello again, Jayd Gonzalez.”
    “Hey. You are looking better.” Her voice was a croak.
    “And you are changing. You will not last the night with your people’s medicine, and I cannot offer you our medics. Not yet.”
    Dora gasped, “Why not?”
    “The treaty does not begin until the personnel is exchanged. That is when most of our medical technology will be available. I do, however, have a solution.”
    Jayd croaked again. “What?”
    “I would like to offer you a place in the Volunteer program. I have seen that you fall outside our normal guidelines, but an exception has been made. If you sign up as a

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