Omega Hunted by Linsey Moon
Savannah was wrenchedfrom dreaming by the sound of her bedroom door slamming open.
Before she'd even lifted her head from the pillow, someone had grabbed her by the arm, their grip painful and inescapable as a vice, and dragged her out of her bed. She landed on the floor, on the hand braided rag rug she'd made with her grandmother, her legs tangled in her sheets, hanging painfully from the grasp someone still had on her arm.
They shook her, shouting something she was too shocked to process. Her small room was full of people clad in black body armor, crowding close, and it seemed like all of them were shouting. Someone shone a flashlight in her face and dragged her to her feet, then hauled her towards the door. She tried to protest, to ask what was happening, but she could barely hear herself over the shouting, the stomping of boots, the crash of doors being thrown open.
She heard her little brother shrieking and she wrenched her arm in the grip of the person holding her, desperately trying to twist around to see what was happening. She had a brief glimpse of him in his rocket ship pajamas, thrown over someone's shoulder, kicking and struggling. She could hear her father's voice shouting somewhere in the background, her mother sobbing.
They dragged her out into the yard, barefoot and shivering in her long, dowdy cotton nightgown. The night was black outside the circle of headlights pointed at the little white farmhouse, just darkness beneath the acres of trees that surrounded it. There was a crowd of vehicles parked on the grass at the end of the long dirt drive, government tagged SUVs and a patrol car from the local sheriff's department. When Savannah saw the logo on the vehicle they dragged her towards her heart sank. They were DOA, the Department of Omega Affairs.
They opened the door to the back of one of the SUV's and tried to force her in. She struggled, panic beginning to grip her through the shock, and past the anonymous officer still fighting with her, she saw her father on the porch.
"Dad!" she shouted, not sure what she expected him to do, how she expected him to save her.
He looked up at her, agony in his eyes. His hands were cuffed behind him and they were leading him towards another vehicle, which he walked towards like a man on his way to the gallows. Her mother was a step behind him, crying and screaming and thrashing like an animal, trying to get to her son, who was wailing at the top of his lungs somewhere nearby.
"I love you!" Savannah's father shouted back at her, pulling against the two officers holding his arms. "I love you, sweetheart! I love you so much!"
It made Savannah's blood run cold, and she stopped struggling in shock, which the person holding her took advantage of to finish shoving her into the car. He hadn't said "hold on," or "everything will be alright." Just "I love you." Her father thought he was never going to see her again. And the worst part was Savannah knew he was probably right.
She recovered a second later and slid to the other side of the car, trying to open the opposite door, but it was already locked. She rattled the handle in impotent fury, then looked up through the window and saw several feet away, illuminated by the headlight glow, a man in a bulletproof vest with the DOA logo emblazoned on the front, handing something off to a sullen looking deputy from the sheriff's department. What made her freeze was the fact that she recognized the DOA agent at once.
It had started with an argument. The day before, in the kitchen, the sun on the linoleum tile, the scent of breakfast still in the air. Savannah picked at a tear in the vinyl table top, watched the condensation run down the side of her glass, rather than look at her father, who was pacing behind her, still on hour one of what was shaping up to be an all-day lecture. Savannah had decided to walk to the end of the long driveway and get the mail this morning before breakfast.
"...told you a thousand times, you never get that close to the street! God forbid, if anyone had seen you-"
"For Christ's sake, Dad," Savannah groaned. "No one is going to be able to tell I'm an omega just by seeing me on the side of the road! Do you think people just stop to scent every random stranger they drive past?"
"They don't have to scent you," her father snapped. "You're smarter than that! All they have to do is mention to someone in town that they saw you in the yard. Once it gets around there's a woman living here that no one knows, people are going to start asking questions. The kind of questions that only have one answer and end up with the DOA knocking on your door!"
"You're being paranoid," Savannah said. "Why would anybody care who's living here?"
"It's a small town, Savannah," her father replied bitterly. "There's nothing they care about more than knowing what the neighbors are up to. Do you know what would happen to you if the DOA found you? What would happen to all of us?"
"Of course I know," Savannah groaned, putting her face in her hands.
Her parents would go to jail for concealing an omega. Her brother would end up in foster care. And she'd become property of the government. According to the legislation passed not long before Savannah was born, omegas were too rare and too valuable for their own good.
Every pack in the world wanted an omega, and plenty weren't above resorting to kidnapping or murder to get one. The government's solution had been to declare all omegas government property from the moment their secondary sex was medically identifiable. It wasn't worded that way of course. They were being "taken into government custody for their own protection." But the omegas didn't get the option of refusing.
They were removed from their families and raised under guard in government training facilities until they were old enough to be pressed into service anywhere the government thought their ability to pacify alphas or resist alpha compulsion would be useful. There tended to be a lot of them involved in foreign diplomacy.
Some were loaned out to film studios or set up as pop stars to subtly promote pro-government propaganda. Some just ended up as "personal assistants" to high powered government officials, a combination secretary and living trophy. Savannah didn't know what happened to the rest.
"Then you know why we can't afford to take any risks," her father said, almost pleading with her. "There is just too much at stake! Do you want to end up with a serial number instead of a last name, living in some guarded compound, escorted by security every second of your life, unable to choose your home, your work, how you spend your time or who you spend it with?
“Unable to even take a mate or start a family without the permission of your owners? Or worse, assigned to some pack at random just because they could afford to apply for an omega and were willing to take whoever was available?"
"Jesus, Dad, I know!" Savannah repeated, scrubbing her hands through her hair and sitting back in her chair. "This is ridiculous! I'm twenty-one, I'm more than old enough to be taking pheromone blockers. I could have been out there living as a beta for years already."
She hesitated to even dream of living on her own. She'd barely left this house since she was twelve years old, when the first signs of her omega nature had begun to show. Her parents, through forgery and bribes, had her declared dead. Then they packed up and moved to a tree farm in rural Maine, as far away from everyone and everything as they could get.
"We've talked about this," her father said with a sigh, sinking into the chair next to her. "We can't afford the blockers, let alone getting the ID and medical records you'd need forged if you wanted to be able to pass as a beta. Maybe someday, but-"
"But nothing," Savannah protested. "I can't keep living here in hiding all my life. You said yourself it's too dangerous. As for the money, I've been doing some work online on-"
"You've been doing what?" her father stood up sharply, chair scraping on the tile.
"Just some transcription work," Savannah explained, waving him down. "Off the books, paid through an online service that doesn't have to be connected to a bank account, so it can't be traced. I was very careful. It's not a lot, but it's a start, and if I keep working-"
"No, Savannah, I don't want to hear it," he said, drowning her out with controlled fury. "I can't believe you would do something so stupid and reckless. Are you just trying to get caught now? Is that what you want? To end up living like a prisoner in some-"
"I already live like a prisoner!" Savannah shouted back, out of patience. "What's the difference? At this point all I get to decide is who holds my leash!"
Her father stepped back, lips pressed tight together, angry beyond words. Savannah stared back at him defiantly, daring him to say she was wrong. Instead he took a deep breath and snatched his hat off the table and his keys off the counter.
"No, Savannah," he said, turning to the door. "Keep going this way, and soon you won't even get to decide that."