Bridger is a dystopian serial story about Charlane, a disgraced career soldier leading a security team at a remote research facility. When Char encounters a humanoid creature who claims to come from another world, she sees a chance to save her career—and the dying earth.
Char, a strong, career-driven woman, is fighting to overcome crippling self-doubt after she lost everything in a military scandal. She’d given so much to that career, including her marriage. Now she is starting over. Char doesn’t know that her value as a person doesn’t change based on what she accomplishes. Can she accept the unconditional love of those who care for her?
Our social media and celebrity culture has placed enormous value on beauty, fitness, and lifestyle. Our work culture pressures women to continually rise up the ranks and press for better jobs. All of these are worthwhile things, but they are not markers of personal value. A person is valuable because of who they are, not what they produce.
The whopping of a helicopter made Char glance up as she approached the bottom of the corner tower. A big black aircraft descended through the bronze-toned sky. Char squinted at it for a moment before she climbed the ladder into the roofed parapet.
“Incoming,” she said to Linc and Leander, who were leaning out and gazing at the landing chopper.
“Good times,” Leander said. She raised her binoculars. “Are these the bigwigs? Considering what we’re doing tomorrow, you’d think the place would be crawling with them.”
Linc laughed. “Seems fortunate to me.”
As the chopper wound down and fell silent, Char sighed. “Erwell is being very tight-lipped. It’s suspicious, I’ll give you that.”
Char sighed. “I’ve been trying to get them to bring in more of us instead but that will take expediting their security clearance checks—“
“Interesting enough, those checks didn’t illuminate the fact that your husband was working on base,” her friend said.
“Or it’s just not a big deal.” Char scowled at her. “What are we, fourteen?”
Linc’s eyes dodged away uncomfortably.
“Yeah, you’re a Seth sycophant. Sorry, Linc.” Leander jabbed him with her elbow.
“Geez, Leander. I came here to get away from assholes, not to find another one,” Char said. “Anyway, Erwell will brief us tonight at 1900 hours. Be there or be square.”
“Should be fun,” Leander said, deadpan.
The conference room was too small to fit both Char’s team and Erwell’s team and but they were in there anyway. Char escorted Venn, cuffed, into the midst of the standing-room only crowd and felt him freeze.
“Easy, there, Venn,” she said softly. “This circus is almost over.”
“What is a circus?” Venn whispered back.
“I’ll explain later,” she answered.
“All right, let’s quiet down,” Erwell called, even though they were all mostly quiet. She had a strange, skull-like grin on her face. “I’ll start going through the protocol.”
Char spotted Seth in the corner, leaning against the wall behind her team. She sidled Venn through the group to stand beside Seth and tucked herself in beside him.
She glanced over at Seth’s tight face and crossed arms. He met her gaze and gave her the barest hint of a smile.
“How are you holding up?” he whispered to her.
“I have a headache.” Her head ached from a potent combination of fatigue, noise, and caffeine.
“I’ll give you something after,” he said.
Erwell flicked on the projected display against the wall and began going through the protocol. They had a week, Alaska time, to complete the scouting mission. Venn’s calculations said that would equal nine and a half days in Kaa.
They’d be measuring everything from the oxygen percentage in the atmosphere to the force of gravity. They’d take samples of the water and every element and plant they could find and carry.
Conspicuously absent, any mention of the Na’odani. Char had brought this up with Erwell the first time she’d read the protocol documents at a table in the corner of the cafeteria.
“Your job will be to avoid them,” Erwell had said.
Char had blinked. “Avoid them? What if we can’t?”
“Avoid them at all costs,” Erwell said. “They’re peaceful. Venn said so. Just stick to taking samples.”
A pit had settled in Char’s stomach then.
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