"You must see my point, at least. Darlena, these colonists initiated the bloodiest conflict in human history. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again."
"Yes, I see your point. But that was an act of creative destruction. They're not monsters. Look at what we've been able to accomplish in the wake of their actions, rising from the ashes of the old empire."
"Hmm. I still don't like it. Feels like rationalizing the deaths of more than a billion people. It takes fire to make ash, remember. Who are we to think we can predict what may have been?"
"Many scholars of the Record support my stance. The rebellion was the inevitable conclusion to decades of abuse from a distant empire, and it's not controversial to say so."
"Yes, Darlena, as I seem to have said many times before, you may be right. Well, how long are we to wait then?"
"You agree? Thank you, Simon. It won't be long—a few weeks at most."
"Weeks? The Director won't be happy about the delay."
"I'll handle the Director. Trust me, if we let things play out it will make our work much simpler."
"Myra, shut it off!" Bee commanded.
Littlefoot's sirens stopped immediately, but the lid on the cryo pod continued to rise. Wisps of white gas spilled through the gap. Regretting her choice to ignore Montez's warning, Bee immediately shoved down on the lid to close it again.
Instead, she felt something push back. Startled, she recoiled and knocked against the wall behind her as she fumbled for her pistol. Trapped between the pod and the wall, Bee watched as the cryo pod's lid suddenly flew open. From the fog inside emerged the wild-eyed incarnation of her childhood nightmares, red light blazing from his optical implant—Dreadstar.
Before she could process the shock of seeing the tattooed corpse of a pirate rising from the dead, he'd already lunged straight for her gun. His red eye flashed brightly enough for her visor to auto-polarize, and even then it half-blinded her. They both fell to the ground, Bee wrestling for control of the pistol while she tried to blink away dazzling blobs of light. She held tight to the weapon and tried not to shoot herself.
As her vision cleared, the gleaming black barrel of the second pistol appeared in front of her visor. Dreadstar must have found it on the ground where she'd tossed it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. She thought whoever was in the pod would be slow, weakened, like waking up from a deep sleep.
"Let go of the gun and take off your helmet," the pirate ordered. "Now."
Finding herself suddenly on the other end of the gun, Bee grudgingly complied by relaxing her grip.
"The helmet too. And the rest of it," he said, waving the pistols impatiently as he stepped over her, keeping one trained on her and the other pointed ahead. "Stay on the ground!"
Dreadstar, alive again.
Bee detached her helmet, feeling dizzy as she removed it. It couldn't be the same man—she'd seen his body with her own eyes back in Overlook City. The thing was practically a national monument. It made no sense. But the tattoos of endless numbers, the pale skin, the glowing red eye... he was unmistakable. She'd cut one pirate down by killing Starhawk, and another rose to replace him.
From the main cabin, Dreadstar said to the others, "You two, helmets off. Armor off. Quickly, or I start putting holes in you."
YOU ARE READING
The Star Pirate's ReturnScience Fiction
Cut off from everything she knows, Bee must face a terrifying new reality far beyond the edge of civilization. Without the help of Captain Anson or his crew, she'll have to make her own way forward against new enemies and unknown challenges. If she...