Chapter Four

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I was relieved when the month was over. Starfang was ready for her tour-of-duty. I read all the updates from the different departments, signed off and made final suggestions. This time, she had a new rig and firing system.

Find Yeung Leung, I promised myself. Kill him. Avenge the Pack. Avenge Mariette.

Redeem myself. Pull April away from whatever was eating her.

Solemnly, I donned my uniform. The cold-eyed captain in the mirror stared back at me. Her clawed right hand made me wince. The healing sinews still looked an angry red. Right on cue, the hollow hunger growled in my belly. I reached over and grabbed the syringe. It was now part of my life. The medication was to make the hunger and addiction stay at bay. Yeung Leung had made me a craz addict. I hated him, even as I had accepted the sting of the injector and the temporary relief it'd brought.

Wolf snarled inside me. I stepped out of my chamber, my boots beating a cold tempo on the floor. Time to be Captain. Time to be in control.

~*~

April met me at the gate.

She was also clad in her uniform, freshly laundered and infused with her particular scent. I loved it. I inclined my head to acknowledge her crisp salute. Together we walked up at the tube leading into Starfang's docking bay, our boots clanking heavily on the metal flooring. It was routine. It was habit. As usual, we nodded and saluted to ratings and officers all rushing to get the ship ready. We were getting fresh supplies in, and I made sure that the hydroponics bay onboard had new seeds and saplings. All the seeds hailed from the Clan greenhouse and vetted by our resident botanist.

When I entered the bridge, the feeling of coming home flooded me. It was a warm and comforting emotion. As I walked in, I pointed out all the section officers and they saluted, activating the systems. Light, green and blue, threaded the circuits, waking the ship. And she did, flexing her muscles in the sound of the drive and the roar of her thrusters. She was a dragon stirring from its slumber, a leviathan stretching the length of its body and ready to breach the surface of the celestial ocean.

A blur of brown bulleted into me.

"Lien!" I gasped. "Why are you here?"

"I miss you," she pouted and stood her ground, her eyes flashing defiantly.

"You can't just... pop in," I said sternly. "This is a warship."

"Auntie told me to stay with you," Lien answered. Mog wagged his tail.

Auntie. That was Lien's nickname for Mother.

I growled. This had all the markings of Mother's meddling.

At this time, Starfang roared into life.

~*~

Lien was given the most protected and guarded cabin, with a reliable chaperone. The little girl, however, chaffed at my strict instructions. I hated Mother's meddling. Starfang was a warship and children should not be onboard. I feared for her safety.

"She was fine last year," April tried to placate me.

"We rescued her," I retorted. "There's a difference."

And we are going into war, my thought was rebellious and feral. Yet something nibbled at me, a worry that refused to go away. Lien was onboard an Amber Eyes' warship too. Were children born on the ship? Were they even allowed?

Like loving your own cousin?

It was something I didn't want to probe further. Hidden wounds were still raw, tender.

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