Chapter 3

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The meeting breaks up shortly after the vote. I elbow my way through the crowd formed at the door, searching out Captain Wells. I keep at least three people between Harrios and myself at all times. The scowl on his face has hardened, ready to murder, and I don't want to get in front of that.

I catch up with Captain Wells near the lifts. It amazes me, still, the sheer size of the Posterus stretching before us. We stand on an upper deck overlooking the main concourse two kilometres in length. I can hardly make out the details at the other end. Above us, the ceiling towers. It's covered by metallic glass, projecting a constant night sky.

I found a book once, among my father's things, called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. And it always struck me, that he never once thought of the sky, only the ocean below and the way it felt to dive toward it. The air through his feathers, land rushing to meet him. I remember wondering how something so much a part of the sky could take it for granted. I felt let down that he didn't spend more time describing the sky. If I had the chance, I would never take the shades of blue and the clouds and the lightness of it for granted.

"Captain Wells, may I have a word?" She turns, her head at breast level, and stares up at me with dark expectant eyes. "As you know, we have Davis Sarka in our brig. I don't want to take him with us on our exploration. When can we arrange transfer to the Posterus' brig?"

Of course he survived. The man is indestructible. When my crew found him wedged under a bulkhead, there wasn't a scratch on him. Both members of his crew weren't so lucky. We still haven't found them.

She blinks a couple of times, her eyes, if possible, going darker, then says, "Our brig?" She shakes her head. Her white hair moves with it like it's sculpted there. She takes my arm and pulls me aside, and from her expression, I know what she's about to say will not make me happy. She's got that look people get when they're trying to think of the best way to let you down easy. "I know it will be an inconvenience, but it's best if you keep Sarka with you. Union fleet has training to deal with the Burrs that we don't." She gestures to a man standing a few feet away. He's so thin, his stomach is concave. His pale face searches the crowd, watching, but it's only cursory. Behind those eyes, no one's home. His mind is miles away.

"That's Brian. He's our security on board the Posterus. He won't be much use if we have to deal with Sarka."

"That's your security?" I'm stunned. I look out again at the vastness of this station.

"He's not our only security, but he's a good representation. We're a small community, Captain Kellow. Yes the ship is big, but the settlement itself is small, especially if this were the Belt. Both the Persephone and the Brimley have brigs and ample security. We don't foresee the need to have more than that." Someone beside me snorts.

Harrios, who has maneuvered his way through the crowd, stands next to me. "We'll see how long that lasts." For once we actually agree, but I keep my mouth shut.

"But what am I supposed to do with him? I can't keep him in my brig forever. It's tempting, believe me, but inhumane."

Captain Wells shrugs. "I'm afraid I can't help you with that. The jurisdiction is clear. He's Union fleet's problem." My mouth falls open and I close it. Harrios raises his hands like it's not his problem either. Great. What the hell am I supposed to do now?

Her attitude is understandable. Sarka has a reputation for being brutal and dangerous. If I were in her position, I would do the same. He's a problem no one wants. Most of all me. A large part of me wishes he'd died in the explosion. It would serve him right after he tried to blow us all up.

Captain Wells steps into the lift, and I move to follow, but Harrios taps my arm. I suppress a sigh, hold back, and watch as all hope of offloading Sarka disappears behind two metal doors.

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