Part 20 Chapter 13-Justice Poker

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Gagnon pushed back from the desk in our stateroom and got nosy: "Where are you going?"

"I don't need a buddy. Colonel says so." I slammed the door behind me. In the passageway, the darms weren't around. This was my chance.

Still on the lookout for darms, I hurried aft, past the murals of puppies, and slipped into the royal stateroom. The green coverlet on the queen's bed lay straight. I ran a finger along the footboard near the wolf head. The tip came away dust-free. Alop was right. The place was clean.

To one side, a door led into a small room with toys arranged near a child-sized bed. I crept through the doorway wondering if the bed and toys had once been mine

I picked up a doll and smelled it, hoping for a whiff of memory of my father and my real mother. Nothing came. Grandpa's house had been instantly familiar, but this was not. I knew I'd never been in the room before. I put the doll down.

Disturbed, I turned and crossed in front of the queen's bed to a sunken tub. Red glass tiles flecked an interior of dark blue mosaic. On the overhead, a fully naked Poseidon with erect phallus cavorted with three topless mermaids; the colors, shades of magenta, red, and orange, as disconcerting as the subject matter.

A door opened on a sauna and another on a dressing room. Here a wolf head jutted from the wall. Cupboards held footwear, including a pair of green hipboots glittering with Spangles.

I kicked off my gummer shoes and slid a foot into a boot.

It fit!

Sort of.

My toes were pinched, the thighs were loose, and the knee articulation was too low. I put on the other boot and looked for a mirror. None. How odd.

Oh, but then the queen could use the ship as a mirror.

Calling to the wolf, I looked at myself through her cameras.

I strutted across the dressing room. "The queen approaches. Make way for the queen."

Seaguard hipboots with a FedTransit jumpsuit, ridiculous. The boots came off and I returned them to their shelf.

Clothing hung in a large closet. I walked between the robes, smocks, and gowns, surrounding myself with fabric and trying to smell my real mother. But again the odder awoke no memories. I could wear the clothing if I wished, put on the queen's regalia. But I knew it wasn't mine.

Grandpa had told me I was Princess Fenna, destined to be queen, but every girl is a princess in her grandfather's eyes, a dainty pixie in a pink dress. Being Princess Fenna wasn't what I expected, wasn't what I wanted, and it simply wasn't true.

That I had a neuro didn't mean I was royal. Before the epidemic, Mediko surgeons had used them. They were all women. So maybe my parents had intended that I go into medicine.

I hailed Grandpa. No response. The ship must have moved beyond the functioning network. I could send text to a passing ship to be relayed, but the connection might be insecure. Danna! I'd have message Grandpa later.


After the midday meal, I stayed in the dining room and watched as Tyee operated some sort of cleaning device. He directed it around the floor between the legs of tables, and I listened in on the transmissions. The bot was a simple-minded machine with no real intelligence. Its thoughts were of carpet stains. As I waited, swells parted before Shewolf's prow, cascading against her flanks. The ocean spread before us like blue damask woven by the wind. Waves raced beside us as if we were a knife cutting the cloth of the sea. Beneath this ever undulating fabric, a school of fish swam, trembling in the deep gulf, the bottom almost imperceptible.

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