Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The sensation of having no legs is new, and I’m not liking it. Being unable to connect to the in-ship stream is worrying. At least I was able to reach the emergency button. Right on cue, the door panel slides back to admit-
A ghost in black.
She smiles. Another one that doesn’t warm her eyes.
“Nearly, Miles. I called it a good effort.”
My mind flashes back to that day on the Eventide. We stood at either ends of the shuddering evacuation room, atmosphere venting about us, she in the ballgown I gave her, me in the environment suit I’d changed into before the bomb I planted killed her along with the ship. Her eyes went wide, I pulled the trigger. She went over back-
She rose up before she went backwards when the beam hit.
“You tip-toed! Took it through the face instead of the brain.”
Callisto smiles. This one reaches her eyes.
“Your recall is good as ever, but still needs prompting to work properly. That arrogant surety versus actual attention to detail never changes. I’ve watched you, on and off, ever since I got out of rebod.”
She always loved to have every angle covered. Which is why a lover’s betrayal was the only thing that – judging from the evidence before me – only nearly caught her out.
“How’s the new bod?”
There’s a grimace in reply.
“This is the second. Emergency relief was pushed, trying to save all the worthy from the Eventide after you cracked it open. The go-bod I ended up with wasn’t optimal. I had to live with seizures for a year until I could get a me-bod printed and have myself cut across to it.” She smiles. This one makes her eyes flash. “I kept going by knowing we’d meet this way: you paralysed, and me standing over you.”
I wave my arms.
“Partially paralysed. You’re slipping, Callisto. Getting sloppy.”
Her quickdraw is flawless. The dart gets me centre-mass. Got to admit, had our situations been reversed, I’d have waited before taking the shot. Gloating has always been a weakness of mine.
I slump back. Fast-acting, major muscle groups only. I can still roll my eyes.
When I flick my eyes from side to side, doing the closest thing to a nod I can manage, she laughs properly. I’ve missed that… Surprisingly true, and a realisation too late – again.
Callisto holsters the weapon as she steps closer to stare me in the eyes.
“The crew are sleeping in the lifeboat they’re headed away on. They didn’t know their wealthy client is a double-crossing interstellar thug.”
She straightens up.
“The other lifeboat is mine, because I’m not leaving here in the fresh produce container I arrived in.”
So that’s how she got on board.
With a move I don’t quite follow, she stabs me low in the side. The drug cocktail she used is very good: pain receptors aren’t affected at all.
Crouching next to me, cerametal dagger cradled idly in her offhand, she gives me a smile like she used to when we were in love. Well, she was. I was in lust while getting paid a fortune for revelling in it.
“I’m not sure if the overloaded drive core exploding, the decompression it causes, or the blood loss will kill you, but a little variety never hurt anyone, did it?” She chuckles, quoting one of my favourite pre-kill phrases.
She gets up and leaves. Just like that. I’d definitely have gloated. Such a beautiful set-piece. Shame it’s me in it.