The artist sat in the cafe nursing the mug of ‘coffee’. She had tasted real coffee once after killing a rich man. This synthetic garbage was nothing like it. Nothing like it at all.
She lifted the mug to her lips and drank anyways. She could not appear conspicuous, not right now.
She lifted the mug again as she watched the building across from the cafe. She wondered why Lian had chosen a building across from a cafe; it was asking for trouble, for an easy way to watch her. But it was convenient for the artist.
As she lifted the cup to her lips again she caught the scent of hot chocolate wafting through the air.
A delicious scent wafted up from the mug her mother brought to her. Sho looked at the mug with wonder in her eyes, and sipped a bit of the thick brown liquid.
“What is it?”
“Its hot chocolate darling. Its a special treat. I’m not sure if you’ll ever get it again, so enjoy it”
Sho did, tipping the mug back, sipping the drink slowly. Her mother smiled at the delight in Sho’s eyes.
There was a knock on the doorframe and Rathum stuck his head in. There was a small frown on his face.
“Computer’s telling me that we’re approaching something, I’m going up to the cockpit to check. Everyone else knows about it already, thought I’d warn you guys. Bela, you better do your task just in case”
Her mother nodded as Rathum ducked out, her face grim.
“I’ve got to go darling. Enjoy the hot chocolate. I’ll be back in a few minutes once everything is done. Stay here now. I want you ready for bed when I get back”
Sho nodded, still sipping her hot chocolate. Things like this happened every now and then. She continued to get ready for bed as her mother had said, changing into her pajamas, a pair of pants and a shirt that had been worn in too many places to be patched. Then she combed her hair, and brushed her teeth. She was always very meticulous about that, brushing until there was nothing left on them that she could see.
Then she went and picked up the hot chocolate again. As she was sipping it the ship rocked. The hot chocolate slopped around and almost spilled out, but she kept it all in the cup by sheer luck. Alarms started to blare.
She knew that she was supposed to stay in her room, but this had never happened before. She stepped out into the corridor. The other girl, Lian, stepped out of a door a bit further down.
“Whats going on? Oh. Its you. Well, get out of my way stupid. I need to find out what's going on in your rubbish heap of a ship”
Lian pushed past and started towards the hold when the ship rocked again. Sho managed to keep her feet but Lian fell.
“What is that?” Lian pulled herself back to her feet again and turned to look at Sho “Well stupid, are you coming or not?”
Sho looked at her, took another sip of her hot chocolate, and started walking.
The ship rocked once more when they were in the hallway outside the hold. This time the rocking was accompanied by a bang and a flash of light from the hold.
Sho pushed past Lian to look into the hold. She saw a scene from hell.
Flames burned around a hole in one wall. Armoured soldiers marched through, rifles raised. Bert struggled to his feet, a cut across his forehead, Mary in his arms. He twitched, doing a ragged dance as the marines spun and their guns made awful clacking noises. They spun and began to move their guns back and forth in a sweep, shooting everyone.
Sho stared, horror in her eyes. But there was also something beautiful about it, about the destruction, the fire. And that terrified her.
One of the marines turned, and saw her. He raised his gun to fire. Sho stood, frozen, staring at the lines of that gun, the beauty inherent in its design. The marine’s finger tightened on the trigger and Sho knew she was going to die.
The artist came back to the feel of lukewarm liquid running down her arms and warmer liquid in her palms. She looked down to see the shards of her mug clutched tightly in her hands, the coffee dripping down her arms and onto the table. She knew that the warmer liquid would be blood from cuts from the shards.
She set the mug pieces down on the table and looked back up at the apartment. A woman sat in front of her.
“I had to know it was you. I thought, but I wasn’t sure. Only you though would react that way to the scent of hot chocolate”
The woman leaned back, her brown hair in a ponytail over one shoulder, still slightly shorter than the artist. Her eyes had lost some of their inquisitiveness, and the suspicion was permanent now. But it was the same woman.
“Its been a long time Sho” Lian said.