Currently on hiatus. Will resume in July, or sooner.

Current story updates:

Current story interludes/Side stories:
Every other Saturday

Other pieces:
Every other Saturday (Saturdays I don't run the Interludes/Side Stories)

During certain periods updates may come more often; at other times updates may come less often. This schedule is my hoped-for goal.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

HyHm Pt 2: Chapter 15

Chapter 15

The Artist stood in the lineup of other workers waiting for their pay. They had gotten used to seeing her here, but more importantly the guards had. To them she was just another down-on-her-luck resident of the Arc hoping for the big payoff.
Of course the reality was very different. She still had her guns under her suit, as well as her knives. Of course with the suit on she couldn’t get to them, but that would be a moot point soon enough.
To accelerate things she stepped out of line, and marched over to the guard.
“I want my pay now. I’ve been waiting in this line long enough. I want my pay!”
The guard glared at her through his facemask and motioned towards the line with his gun.
“I’d get back in line before someone takes your spot lady. Then you’ll have to wait even longer in the line”
“No! You people have been stealing from me enough! You dock my wages, pay me nothing, steal what little I can make from the prospecting, you take everything! You probably rig the scanners to show up blank so that we don’t get the extra cash but you guys still get the mineral rich asteroids!”
She had turned her mic up to max, and she could tell that others were starting to get stirred up by her words.
“Yah! Do you people really think that you can do this to us time and time again! You pay us nothing, and charge us more for working here than we earn! You take everything from us! This is not fair! Not fair at all!”
The people behind her were stirring now. The guard began to say something, but she cut him off.
“I’ve had enough!” she shoved him, positioning herself perfectly to grab his gun when he aimed it at her.
Which he did. She pushed it far enough to the side and up that when he shot the bullets went just shy of the crowd.
“He’s trying to shoot us!” She cried as she smashed her fist forwards into the side of his suit, the miniature welder that she had scavenged quickly tearing a hole in the material.
His eyes bulged as the air rushed out and his hands went for his sides, but it was too late. She slashed the suit a second time to make sure that he would die, then grabbed his gun and fired it at the next nearest guard.
The other guards, hearing gunshots, opened fire on the crowd of angry miners, starting a panic. Exactly what she had hoped for.
As the miners rushed the guards she spun the rifle around and shot another two before throwing it to another miner. He roared with glee before being shot three times, and dropping dead.
In the growing chaos she slipped away and ran down a side corridor. She had scouted the area before, so she knew where she was going.
She turned another corner, and ran smack into a guard. Her eyes widened as she brought up the rifle, but the Artist was already moving. She anchored one arm through a strut, and swung her legs up into the guard’s faceplate. With a crack the heavy metal treads shattered the steel, and the guard fell back, her face bloating from decompression. The Artist grabbed her gun and swung it to shoot the guard behind her.
As she came back to her feet, her spin completed, she continued down the corridor towards the commanders shuttle.
Sure enough, it was being loaded with his supplies and effects. No commander wanted to risk staying aboard during a riot; the guards would take control again, but they might get hurt in the process. No, it was best not to risk it.
And of course, nobody as rich as the commander of one of the mighty strip miners would have anything less than a state-of-the-art top-of-the-line model for their shuttle. No, they needed every commodity that their pay could buy so as to try and compete with the other commanders.
The Artist shot the three guards, then the deck captain. The people doing the loading she ignored. They looked at her for a moment before going back to their loading. It was safer to ignore those who ignored you in this world.
The Artist smiled smugly as she stepped over the corpses and boarded the shuttle. The plan had gone off without a hitch, and now she would be able to track down Lian wherever the liar went.
The ship was as beautiful as she had expected. Wood panelling on the trim, real leather seats, and padded cushions. Of course, that was not in the cockpit; the pilot needed to be focused on flying.
But the rest of the ship was beautiful. The passenger cabin was entirely modular; it could, if the button panel was any guide, change to be a kitchen, a bedroom, an entertaining suite, or a bar.
The Artist didn’t stop to gawk at the living cabin. After checking to make sure that there was nobody in it she closed the outside hatch, and prepped the ship for take off.
A minute later and she was flying out into the cold of deepspace, her suit’s helmet thrown back. She was free.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

HyHm Pt2: Chapter 14

This one is shorter than the last few. It is also a cliffhanger! Oh no! Enjoy. The next one likely won't be up until tomorrow. Also, sorry about the long gap. But now I am back on track and will endeavor to keep these daily updates coming! As always, feedback is appreciated as I am going to be looking at using some parts of this for my Uni applications.

Chapter 14

The Agent sat up rubbing his temples. He did not like these dreams. They had not bothered him for the past year, but now, with the Butcher, with Lian, they were back. He had had three in the past three nights.
It was getting in the way of his sleep. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and got up. Today was the day. Today Kral and Lian would be arriving with Lian’s passenger, her person to meet.
He stood up and pulled on his clothes. The war was going so very slowly.
Callion’s new wonder fleet had been delayed by constant harrying from Earth Council fleets and raiders. The battle for Mars had remained stagnated, stalemated, no winners on either side.
The entire war had stagnated. Maybe Lian’s person to meet would bring an end to the war, one way or another.
He shook his head as shrugged on his coat. He only pulled on the one gunbelt. He didn’t need to carry his weapons aboard this ship. He was safe here, and even if he wasn’t, he knew that much of the crew would die for him. They all carried weapons. And he knew this ship well enough to get the better of any pursuers.
He knew that he was getting complacent, but right now he didn’t care. This war was the greatest complacency of all.
He buttoned his coat up the front as he stepped out the doors of his chamber. He needed to prepare a secure landing bay for Kral and Lian where he could greet them in peace.

Kral dropped the ship out of the slipstream, and oriented it on Jor’s flagship. He had spent a frosty three days with Lian aboard the ship. She had continually tried to engage him in talk, but it was not working for him. She was friends with the Butcher. That was, at the moment, too much for him.
He could sense her behind him now. She would be sitting in the chair to the left of him and back a ways, third row, as she always did. He knew why she sat back there.
Far enough back that he couldn’t see her without turning to look. On his left side because he was right handed and would have a harder time drawing and shooting her if she betrayed him. Behind him to try and acclimatize him to her presence, make him feel safe with her around and no knife in his back, third row not second so that, as he said before she was far enough back to be hard to spy on, and so that she would have more room to kill him if need be.
And, that seat had direct access to a computer terminal. Direct and easy access. That allowed her to use her extensive slicing skills on the ship, and using that as a booster to get into the Arcernment systems.
But he was fine with that. He had placed an alert into the system, a small snooper program that would follow, trace, tail what she did. It automatically saved it to an external hard drive that was ejected the moment it was tampered with.
It would also set off an alarm if it was tampered with. The system was secure should she prove dangerous to the Arc.
“I deactivated your tracer by the way Kral. It evaded me for a day or so, but then I found all the different features and disconnected them. Sorry”
Kral shook his head in annoyance. The trip had gone much thusly.
“Well, we are landing soon. Go get your cargo ready. I need to get clearance”
“I can get the crates ready when we land. I want to see the approach”
Kral sighed. There would be no getting rid of Lian. He opened a channel to the ship.
“Attention Redeemer, this is Agent Kral. I’m aboard the MET. Please do not shoot it. Requesting clearance to land”
“Attention Unregistered MET. Agent Kral, we were told to expect you. Stand by for docking instructions”
He leaned back in his chair and gripped the controls firmly. In military landings he always landed the vehicle manually. You could never be sure when the fleet might need to jump, or leave, or perform some type of emergency maneuver. You could never be sure when enemies would arrive and throw everything into disarray.
In short, you could never be sure. And the autopilot guidance system could theoretically react to such an event faster than a human pilot could, but when it was locked into a landing Kral just didn’t trust it.
It would try and land his ship through a firestorm if need be. And he preferred to be able to, at any time, take complete control in an instant, know exactly how the ship would react, and not have to deal with another pilot’s meddling as he reacted to the situation.
So he didn’t let the AI take over when landing these ships. It had payed off more than once. He was hoping that it wouldn’t have to pay off this time.
“Attention Kral. You are cleared for docking bay 6. It has been cleared of personnel, so do as you please, but, try not to scratch any paint”
“Will do Comm. Agent Kral out”
Kral smiled as he rolled the ship over onto the right heading. He had thought that Jor would have the bay cleared, and apparently he had been right. Jor would want to have the conversation as soon as possible.
“Why don’t you let the AI take over? Do you not trust computers?”
“Not when I know what you, and people like you can do with them no. But mostly because in a combat situation I want this ship under my control”
“And you always do this?”
Kral didn’t take his eyes off the approach, but he wanted to glare at Lian.
“Why the constant questioning Lian? You’ve been doing it ever since you got on board. I know that you want to be sure that you can trust me before you try and recruit me into whatever crazy terrorist, anti-Arcernment scheme you have going on” he knew that he was being unfair; he was pretty sure that she wasn’t really interested in being a terrorist, but he was pissed “But I’ll save you the time. I don’t like you. I don’t trust you. The only reason that I am doing this is because Jor asked me to. And I trust him with my life. I’d trust him with the lives of most of the Arc’s citizens. But I don’t, can’t, and won’t trust anyone who claims that the Butcher is their friend”
There was a moment of silence before Lian spoke again. When she did her voice was frosty.
“If that is how you feel Kral, then so be it. I won’t ask you again”
Kral didn’t respond. He was looking into the bay. Jor stood atop the gantry, watching the ship come in for a landing. The plastic atmo-shell was down now, but Kral knew that as soon as the bay doors were closed Jor would be opening that shell and coming down to meet them.
“I’ll go check the cargo now. You’d better land the ship and go meet your beloved boss”
Lian got up and marched off for the cargo bay.
Kral ignored her as he spun the ship around to land. It began to settle onto the landing gear when it rocked with an explosion.
As the ship was flung onto its side and Kral’s head smashed against the dashboard, he had the time to think that he knew that Lian was no good. Probably his declaration of loyalty had been what made up her mind to kill him.
But how was she going to escape the exploding ship? Then his head cracked against the dashboard again, and everything went black.

Lian staggered as the ship began to tilt, and threw herself into a roll. She landed against the wall, which was no level, and pushed herself back to her feet.
What had happened? Had Kral hit something? Or was it more sinister? Had they been attacked?
She reached for her gun, then remembered that she had left it behind on the Arc.
“Dammit” She looked both directions down the corridor. To check on Kral, or to check on Iris’ box. Every moment that she hesitated could mean the end of all of them.
Iris. Kral could take care of himself.
She took off down the hallway, jumping over the doorways, not wanting to risk them falling open beneath her. She continued down the corridor until it curved down. She tried to pull to a stop, but she had too much momentum, and ended up sliding down the wall, grabbing at door handles to try and stop herself.
But, she couldn’t catch any of them, and crashed into the divider painfully. Her legs were like fire. She had probably sprained something, but she pushed herself to her feet and limped to the door into the cargo bay. She punched the button to operate it.
It refused to open.
She pushed it again. Again. It refused to open.
She pressed it again, and looked at the readout.
“Containment breach: Area depressurized”
“But, why would it be depressurized? The doors should have closed and… oh no. Jor!”

Friday, 27 December 2013

HyHm Pt 2: Chapter 13

Chapter 13

The Artist walked out onto the platform with the other miners. She suited up along with them and watched as the great doors opened.
They stepped into the airlock, bulky pressure suits slowing their movements as they stepped forwards. The doors closed behind them and the lock began to depressurize. They were going out now.
The Artist tilted back her head and breathed deeply the stale scent of recycled air. It had been a long time since she had worn one of these suits. Not since she had first lived on Star’s End. A long time ago now. On the tiny little platform that had become the mighty Arc.
She shook herself out of the memories and stepped forwards with the rest of the crew, She picked up her tools, and stepped through the hatch into the great driller ship. She knew these.
They would launch down into the ring, penetrate deeply into a hunk of rock, ice, or whatever happened to be the target. Then the sides would open and they would go to work, sawing off the edges, and placing them in their analyzers. If any of them found something worthwhile the chunk would be towed back to be fully mined. The one who found the resources would be able to stake a claim, get bonuses, extras. But not enough, never enough to get them oiut of debt to the mining companies. They would do this for a few hours, then switch to the larger strip miners that just tore the ring apart regardless of what there was there. That way you would get some time working towards a big payoff; striking it rich on an asteroid that was full of valuable minerals, staking a claim on it, and getting it dragged back, and also with the cheap, reliable work that was the strip mining.
She hated both of them. The asteroids were for desperate fools, while the strip mining was for those who had given up hope of everything else. But this was her ticket off the Arc if she could just be patient a bit longer.
Patience had never been here strong suit, but she would wait. She would wait, and plan.
She passed the morning drilling and slicing, cutting pieces of the asteroids and chunks of ice off and slotting them into analyzers. Nobody found anything.
When the spike finally returned to the Arc the crew was tired, dirty, and exhausted, but they just walked over to a lift and stepped aboard. The Artist was glad that she could follow them or else she would never have been able to find her way to the Strippers.
The lift descended through the floor and doors closed above it. The cabin re-pressurized long enough for the miners to open their vents, get some fresh air, and change out the power cartridges on their suits.
Then the cabin began to de-pressurize again as it passed down into the transport loading bay. The shuttles would take them out to the strippers, and bring whoever wanted to return back. The Artist took a window seat.
As the shuttle flew out she watched the Arc recede into the distance behind her. Soon it was gone from her view completely.
She watched the rings spiral by instead. There was a swath cut through one, which they were following. It would lead them to the stripper. And there it was.
A great metal behemoth, the stripper was a pyramid. The base led, and was open. It collected the asteroids, rocks, and ice, and funnelled them deeper inside.
Next there was a large sorting area. There workers would drift about to attach long cables to the chunks and drag them to the right sections. Once there they would be melted down for their constituent components.
But it was hard to describe what she saw. The thing was so massive. The engines at the end glowed and roared, the debris spiralled out of vents and holes in the sides, there was a near constant flow of shuttles and carriers moving back and forth around it, too and from the Arc. And she knew that this monstrosity was one of a dozen.
But aboard it she would find a way out, and even a distraction to help her escape. Soon she would be free. Soon.

Kral sat back and stared after Lian as she left to check on the cargo crates. He didn’t trust her. He couldn’t trust her.
Not really. No friend of the Butcher’s could be a good person. But Jor had said that they needed her. If they needed her, well, he would put up with her for as long as needed.
He spun back to the screen and watched the minutes count down to the jump. Soon he would be back at the fleet where he belonged, and everything would be right again. Soon.

Lian walked back to the cargo hold. She wished that she could convince this man to trust her. He seemed like a good person, and he was truly devoted to protecting the Arc. That much she could tell from their conversation.
The rest she would tell from hacking his files later. But for now she had to check on the crates, make sure that Iris was still ok in her stasis. If she wasn’t then this whole trip would be worthless.
She checked all the crates. All of them still had green lights flashing. All of them were powered, were active. Good.
She leaned back against the wall and stared at them. When they arrived she would open them all, deactivate the traps, and wake up Iris again. Then she and Jor could plan the downfall of Callion. It would start soon. Soon.

Jor squatted beside his mother. She was searching through a pile of refuse.
“Now Jor” she said “Remember this. Its an important lesson. You see these marks here? Here and here. That means that this is human flesh. Do not consume it”
She threw the piece of meat into a growing pile at her side.
“Now look at this. No marks. None of the colours I warned you about. See? This is safe. It is not human meat” She gave the much smaller piece the Jor.
“Eat it quickly my son. If someone sees us with meat, we will become targets”
“But Mother, what about you? You never eat anything yourself. You should eat this”
His mother shook her head and leaned forwards to kiss him on the forehead.
“I eat plenty my dear. You need to eat this. Keep up your strength. You are younger, and still a boy. A growing boy needs his food”
“But Mother”
“No ‘but Mother’-ing me. Now eat”
Jor chewed on the rotting food as he looked around. The Undercity was disgusting. It was a wreck. It was miserable.
But it was his home. It was where he lived, and he would make the best of it. He had his mother who loved him and cared for him and protected him, and so he was fine.
As she continued to sort through the pile of refuse Jor saw movement in the shadows a ways off.
“Mother” he poked her arm “I see something”
She was instantly alert, spinning him around behind her, one hand reaching for the pistol that she had managed to hang onto even now. Jor was not sure if it had any shots left.
“Right here missy”
Three men stepped out of the shadows. Two held clubs. The one in the led did not.
“You’re cutting in on our territory. That cannot be allowed. You gotta pay us”
He stepped forwards. As he did Jor looked around to see another four men step out from the other directions. They were trapped.
His mother pulled out the pistol and aimed it at the leader.
“This doesn’t have to end in bloodshed. If you let us go then we can all walk away and I won’t have to shoot you. Make the right choice”
Her hands were steady, stock still as she stared at the man. But she hadn’t noticed the other four.
“Mother!” Jor shouted, but it was too late. They rushed her and tackled her. As the five of them scuffled on the ground the gun went off, once, twice, three times. Jor could hear it clicking again, but it didn’t fire. Evidently there had only been three shots left.
Two of the thugs pulled themselves out of the mess of bodies. His mother didn’t move.
“Well then kid, looks like you are going to have to pay. Since you’ve been eating our food you are going to give us more food. And we’ll start with your legs, and then maybe your eyes, and then we’ll go from there”
The man stepped forward, but Jor just stared at his mother. His mother. Dead. She had looked after him, cared for him, been everything to him. And now she was dead.
Something in him snapped.
He leapt towards the leader, dodging past the two thugs, and flipped up into the air. Midway through the flip he latched his legs around the man’s neck and twisted. His momentum combined with the twisting produced a sickening crack.
As the man fell Jor rolled over and out towards the next one. He grabbed a piece of jagged metal from the leader’s bel and sliced at the tendons in the legs of both the thugs, and then bounced back.
As they fell his blade flashed once, twice, across. Their throats cut they collapsed. As he rushed the last two.
They had been frozen with surprise, but no more. The one on the left grabbed for a spar of metal while the one of the right dropped into a fighting stance. Jor’s thrown shard caught the one with the spar in the eye.
As he dropped Jor leapt into the air and, flipping around, landed on the amn’s shoulders. He dropped down, sat, and his fingers sought the man’s eyes.
The man screamed as his fingers dug deep, the long jagged nails tearing at the tender flesh of the eyes. He dug his nails deeper and deeper until he felt hardness. Later he would realize that it was the skull, but at the time he knew that the man just collapsed.
Jor managed to tumble off his shoulders as he fell. He retrieved the knife from the corpse without thinking, then realized what he had done, and looked around.
He was four. He had killed five men in seconds. Brutally. And he hadn’t even been scratched.
He panted, the men dead around him. He knew that he would have to run after this, and not stop. He was on his own. But he could defend himself somehow. He already had.
Jor looked one last time at his mother before breaking into a run.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

HyHm Pt 2: Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Kral piloted the MET in a curving spiral down into the dock. As it settled on its landing pads he ran a quick check on the systems before shutting it off. If they had to get out of there in a hurry he’d have to start it cold, which would be bad for the engines, but it was less suspicious to turn it off first.
He took a minute to stretch his muscles, then another to buckle on his gun belt before popping the hatch and descending the ramp.
“Are you the owner of this ship?”
Kral looked over at the woman. She was wearing an official looking jumpsuit and had a portscreen in her hand.
“Yes, ma’am, I am. I’ve been cleared with the landing crew”
“What’s your purpose here Agent?”
“...How did you know I was an Agent?”
“It says so on your registration”
“What is your purpose here?”
“That is also on the transcript. I’m here to pick up a Preacher  And her assistants”
“The Preacher has assisstants?”
“I was told that she had one, but in my experience, you plan for one and you’ll get a half dozen. If you plan for the half dozen then maybe you’ll get the one. That sound like fair logic to you Ms. Lian?”
“The logic is sound Agent Kral. I trust that your trip was comfortable and speedy?”
“It was neither, but it was enlightening”
“Enlightening? You’ll have to tell me how on the way back”
“Maybe. Jor didn’t tell me to share. Now, I’m supposed to bring back you and someone else. Where is the someone else?”
Lian’s face dropped a bit.
“Well, I had to put her into stasis. I didn’t want her getting caught. See those crates over there?”
She gestured to a stack of refrigeration crates against the wall. They were all blinking green for active.
“She is in one of those. You need to load them, and once we get to Jor’s ship we can unlock them all”
“Don’t you know which one she is in?”
“No. I don’t. I know two that she isn’t in in case we get searched, but I don’t know which one she is in. That way they can’t torture it out of me”
“Smart. But they would just open all of them”
“Two of them are rigged with explosives. I also know which two those are”
“But they won’t be able to get you to tell?”
“I’ll only be able to tell them once I half open them. There is still enough time then to stop the explosive from triggering, but any more, and if I don’t do it right away, they’ll detonate”
“Smart. Well, lets get to loading”
Lian walked over and turned on a loader while Kral lowered the cargo ramp.

The Artist smiled as she walked down the street. She had a new target in mind. A very special target.
Her “best friend”. The one who was always there for her, always there to help her. Always there, always pulling her back from glory, beauty. Lian.
It was time for Lian to stop being the brake, the thing in her way. It was time for the impediment to be removed.
She smiled at the thought as she continued to walk through Poletown. Blood dripped off of her with every step that she took, but she did not take notice. People bled all the time in Poletown. What was truly unique was the fact that not many other people payed attention to her either. Poletown.
The Arc. Pah.
Why had she cared? She should have let the Arcernment mold her into a better weapon. She would have been better able to kill those who irritated her.
But, if she had allowed the Arcernment to change her, to keep her, then she would never have been able to come to the realization that she should have let them keep her…
That was…unimportant. Too much thought would dull her edge, dull her moments, dull the truth. Her truth. The truth of the new dawn.
She smiled at the thought of those she had left dead behind her. Anyone who had been foolish enough to get in  her way, or to even look at her wrong had ended up dead in the street. Oh, so foolish! Such foolish people on this foolish foolish ring.
She smiled again as she walked down the street. She would have to clean herself up before she could find her way off the Arc, off to find and kill Lian. And to find and save the Sniper. She would save him, save him from Lian and from himself, from the Arc, from insanity. Together they would make wonderful art. Two artists, the only two true artists.
She laughed. Some might think, if they could hear her thoughts, that she was in love with him. No, she was not in love with the Sniper. She did not lust after him, She only wanted more art. Better art. More beautiful art like the two of them could create.
She broke into an apartment, killed the owners, cleaned the blood off of herself, and stole some clothes. Nice clothes too, as well as some money.
Well, nicer than her rags. A faded, patched miners jumpsuit.
Then she would just go to the spaceport and…
A miners jumpsuit. That gave her an idea.

The Agent watched the battle swirl in front of his drones. He fired twin shots from each of the four drones before spinning them away and around for an attack run on a cruiser. The pre-battle assassination done he had been spirited away to one of Callion’s new carriers. They were impressive he had to give them that. And the excellent thing was that every time he lost a drone another one would launch into his squadron.
He opened fire with the heavier cannons; they had a slower rate of fire but were strong enough to actually pose a threat to the ship’s shields.
Another excellent thing about this much precision in the control of one squad was that it allowed him to do…this.
He spun all four through an out and in again pattern and fired simultaneously. The bolts all hit at the same time, same spot, and punched through the shield, then the armour.
As he pulled his squadron up and away from the ship he saw in his HUD the ship fracture and blow apart, its armour rupturing from the inside out. His shot had evidently hit something important.
But it had only been a small cruiser, and escort frigate. While maneuvers like that were impressive, more often all that these drones did was die in droves like what he saw before him.
Squadrons spiralling away from incoming fire into each other leaving only two survivors. As the new six drones deployed to form up they didn’t worry about what was in their way; just flew, and so were mostly blown apart.
He sighed and shook his head before spinning his drones back into the battle. He would do his best to make up for the inefficiency, the deficiency of the other pilots.

Lian watched this strange man. Kral.
Who was he? Jor trusted him. But, that was starting to seem like not enough.
“So who are you?”
“Me?” Kral didn’t look away from punching in the course.
“Yes you. Who are you?”
“I’m one of the Agents assigned to Jor’s team”
“I know that. I mean, why does Jor trust you?”
“I…I don’t really know. He asked me my name”
“Your name?”
“Yes. My first name. Out of the blue”
“And then he trusted you?”
“Thats what he said he needed the name for. But I think it was because of how we started out”
“How did you start out?”
“I hated him”
“And that leads to trust?”
“Yes. Because I hated him. I wanted to protect the Arc. And Callion had told me that Jor was a threat to the Arc. So I hated him”
“And that changed?”
“Yes. As I worked with him I began to see that he was not a threat to the Arc, no more than I was. Oh, he may be better than me, may be able to do more damage on his own, but he didn’t want to hurt the Arc. He said treasonous things, but they were only treasonous towards Callion. The rest of the Arc he served loyally”
“And so you became friendly with him?”
“No. I began to trust him. And I think he could tell that I did. I would question his orders to fix flaws, not to find them. I would trust him to watch my back, and would watch his for all I was worth. And slowly, he began to trust me”
“And then he asked your name?”
“And then he asked me my name. And then I got sent on this mission”
“Is his trust misplaced?”
“No. I grew up on a mining colony. I know what its like to be crushed by the big guy, to be ground underfoot. I know-”
“Sorry to interrupt, but you grew up on a mining colony?”
“Yes. Star pf Tomorrow. They never did correct the typo in the name” he smiled fondly “But as I was saying, I know what it means to be the little guy. And I know what those who protect the little guys and those who crush them look like. And Jor is one of the former while Callion is starting to look more and more like the latter”
“How much like the latter?”
Kral spun his chair around to look at Lian directly.
“You’ve been the one asking me all the questions so far. My turn. Why did you get excited when you heard that I lived on a mining colony?”
“Because I grew up on one. Star’s End. Sho and I both grew up there”
Kral’s face darkened.
“Thats right. You’re the Butcher’s childhood friend. Well Lian, this conversation has been nice, but I think you should go check on the inventory now while I file my report to Jor”
He turned his back on her in what was very clearly an end to the conversation.
Evidently Sho was a sore topic with him. And he hadn’t even seen the news from the past few days.
Lian shuddered at the thought. Dozens and dozens of murders, murders with her signature style. But they had been in Poletown so nobody cared. This world was coming apart. And it was up to her, and Jor, and yes, maybe Kral, to try and fix it.