Ghost captain Chase Leighton’s wife, Trista, is captured by the Progressive Legacy and arrested for her affiliation with the Ghosts. Though publicly pronounced dead, she is handed over to the Legacy’s Experimental Medicine Agency. Chase searches for her, despite the news that she’s been executed. He and his men are ambushed and sentenced to the Straightjacket, a ship-based facility for the criminally insane. Systems analyst Krissa Carlisle is temporarily assigned to the ship to fix their computers. As she is working, Chase and the other inmates riot, taking Krissa as their prisoner. But when Chase comes face-to-face with Krissa, he recognizes her … as Trista.
Redic’s voice broke the miserable silence. “Chase.”Chase glanced up from the console that operated the Halcyon to see the Ghost leader standing in the doorway. He wasn’t too keen on visitors right now, but he knew it would be very rude to send Redic away. “Evening, sir,” he muttered with disinterest.The older man stepped into the cockpit, taking a seat opposite from Chase in the co-pilot’s chair. “That was a beautiful service and tribute,” he said.“Yeah…” Chase said, fidgeting with the arm of his chair. He knew the memorial was meant to honor Trista, but he felt as if they were forcing him to say goodbye to her after only a week had gone by. And he didn’t want to say goodbye. Ever.After a moment, Redic asked, “Reminiscing?”“Tinkering,” Chase answered, folding his arms over his chest. “We’ve had a buzz in the system for several weeks now.”He could feel Redic’s eyes on him. Why didn’t the Old Man just go away? Seraph at least knew him well enough to leave him alone when he was in a mood. So what that he’d been in a mood since the news of Trista’s execution? They’d finally dragged him out for the memorial service. That should be enough.“Grease and the other techs could take care of it,” Redic said softly.“Well, I’m a little mad at the Crown right now, and I feel like squandering what He’s given me,” Chase replied heatedly, glaring at the board full of lights. They flashed into a frenzy with his thoughts. Redic watched before he murmured, “Aram is worried about you. We all are.”Propping his elbow on the arm of the seat, Chase leaned into his hand and shook his head. “I’ll be all right.”“You never are,” Redic countered, staring out the viewport. “I was just a little older than you when I lost Caelya and the kids. I didn’t speak to anyone for two years. Once I gave up being mad at the Crown, I prayed for death to take me. And as the days–the years–pass, it never gets any easier.”“Thanks for the pep talk, sir.”“You find moments of joy, Chase,” Redic turned to him. “You have to. And you have to cling to those moments with all that you have. Don’t lose sight of who you are. Bitterness will destroy you.”“It’s all part of the game, isn’t it, sir?” Chase chuckled bitterly, flickering his eyes toward Redic.“Losing someone is never a game, son. Particularly someone as special as Trista.”Chase closed his eyes. Hearing her name brought up too many heart-wrenching memories. Her smile. Her laughter. Her eyes.Redic took a slow, steady breath. “Seraph tells me that you accepted a run.”“Not a long one,” Chase whispered.“I want you to know something. I didn’t create the Ghosts as an act of vengeance. I’ve never sought to use our crews and ships as a means of getting back at the Legacy for what’s been done to Ternion’s people. We represent the Ruler Prince, and we will act in accordance to His nature.”Chase looked at Redic. “What are you getting at?”“Never choose vengeance, son.” Redic’s commanding gaze blazed with complete solemnity. “As hard as it is, as badly as you feel, never choose it. It will betray you and hurt you far deeper than the initial pain. Allow the Crown His day. You just serve Him to the best of your abilities, with might, nobility, and honor. He will reward an honest, pure heart.”Blast. Redic was right. Chase dropped his eyes. “I’d almost lost sight of that.”“I know,” Redic said, rising. He placed a fatherly hand on Chase’s shoulder. “You’re not alone. Don’t act like it.”Chase nodded, placing his hand atop Redic’s. “Thank you, sir.”“Soli Deo Gloria,” Redic murmured, patting Chase’s shoulder before exiting the cockpit.Leaning back in his chair, Chase closed his eyes and bit his lip to keep from screaming. As tears stung his eyes, he slammed his fists on the arms of the chair and rocked forward, hunching over his legs. He pressed his palms into his eyes, then leapt to his feet, kicking the console. After several heaving breaths, he sank to his knees and began to pray–first for forgiveness, then for strength. He had to get past this anger, and the only way he could start was with help from the Crown.
Ashley Hodges Bazer lives in Colorado with her husband and three kids. She earned her BA in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, and went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. She is currently a producer for Focus on the Family's daily radio program. Her debut novel, ASYLUM, was traditionally published by WestBow Press in 2012. Learn more about Ashley and her upcoming books at www.AshleyBazer.com.