Chapter 2: Damsel

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"The tree of liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of tyrants. Call me a radical if you want, Simon, but the Record proves me right again and again."

"Perhaps."

"Oh, perhaps? I think not. This conflict had been brewing across the galaxy for yearsLux only served as the spark that set it off."

"And changed the course of human history. Only time will tell if all this destruction pays off."

"I can't believe you, Simon. Need I remind you of the colonies snuffed out by famine, the epidemics which could easily have been prevented? I can go on naming Pre-War atrocities if you'd like."

"Yes, yes, you may be right. Greed is the backbone of any revolution. The Pre-War policies of Earth's empire unfortunately brought about its own demise."

"Of course I'm right."

***

"A ship? Pirates?" Bee asked. She inspected the warning Myra brought up as she headed to the airlock. It didn't look like any ship she'd seen beforeseemed more like an asteroid than anything else.

"Craft is unregistered."

"You could just say maybe." The real Myra would have given Bee something to work with, given her answers to questions she didn't even know to ask. Bee watched on her visor's display as the ship approached to examine the wreck of Deep Fog, her mind racing for a plan in the moments she had left. The only weapon available to her was Myra's cloneBee remembered how the AI had crippled Starhawk's flagship back in the Styx Belt. "Can you take it over? Cut their power or something?"

"Remote security subversion failed. Insufficient resources with current hardware. Manual intrusion attempt required," the Myra clone responded. A diagram of the incoming ship appeared on Bee's visor, with a tiny panel on the outer hull highlighted. A second image showed her with a cable extending from her suit to an outlet underneath the panel.

"You make it look so simple."

"Additional instruction availableif required."

Bee smirked as she twisted in her armored nullsuit to find the compartment with the retractable cord. There was the old Myra wit, still. "If we make it back home, Myra, remind me to thank you. I can see why the Captain keeps you around."

"Reminder set."

Turning her attention back to Starhawk, Bee pulled herself over to the captive pirate and settled down beside him. Her boot nodes locked her in place against the deck. It seemed he'd lost consciousness. Bee grabbed his overwrought birdlike helmet and shook it cruelly to wake him, drawing fresh screams of bewilderment and pain.

"Looks like some friends of yours are here to join us. I think they came to save you. Would you like to see them?" She twisted the helmet and yanked it off his head, leaving him gasping in the inadequate atmosphere. "Let's go say hello."

Delirious, slurring, barely alive, Starhawk groaned in agony as Bee grabbed him and flung him toward the airlock. He tumbled end over end until slamming into the wall, where he gulped for air as Bee followed him.

She opened the inner airlock door, then pulled Starhawk through by the ankle, swinging him inside with another crash against the outer door. Sputtering and weeping, Starhawk babbled in protest as Bee wrapped her fingers around his suit's collar and brought him close to her face.

Bee glared into Starhawk's one sky-blue eye, rage bubbling up inside her as she thought of Hargrove and the way he died, of Mother and her last moments. "You took everything from me. Now, you're nothing. Nothing, you sick fuck. I hope you burn when this is over."

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