A search of her cabin turned up exactly zero weapons. Not that she’d expected any. She’d never done guns. Not even as a pirate. Still, finding one left behind or stashed in a spare compartment would have felt pretty delicious right about now. Instead, her hunt turned up: six empty bottles of Martian Tequila, a mountain of Earth Burger wrappers, two bras, an over sized pen, one glow in the dark yo-yo, two micro recorders, a book that had been banned in at least three sectors, a program from the Haley’s Tail concert and a half dozen petrified Jeb’s fries. Not exactly the ingredients for a daring escape. Definitely not the means to take back her ship, to kill Zander, win over his crew and convince them to let her go directly back to Mercur Omega.
Back to Ignatius.
She did have her slug babies. The glow of the incubators was a constant reminder that she had one thing she might use. One twist of the dial and an army of hungry mollusks would tear the ship apart. That meant her too, however, and it meant the babies would starve or squish themselves inside the Slug One’s narrow hallways. Zora couldn’t live with that, not with her own baby on board. She imagined it more than once, though, in particular when she thought of Zander taking his misplaced rage out on her Emperor.
He had something in mind already. Zander was a first class bastard and dangerous as hell. He’d taken out half her sister’s midsection with an illegal disintegrator. Zora wrapped a protective hand around her own belly and scooted farther up onto the bed, fiddling with the pile of loot she’d rummaged from her bedroom corners. She shouldn’t have ransacked his zoo, maybe, but Murray should have never gone back to his room in the first place, damn it. She should have known better, but then Mur had always been a little bit naïve. Ignatius then. Iggy should never have let his slippery cousin anywhere near his palace…or his planet even. If either of them had been at hand, she’d have given them a piece of her mind, for certain.
Zora sniffed and poked at the burger papers. She wished either of them were at hand. Even Rook would be some kind of company. Any of them would have been better than alone and imprisoned. Any of them would have been help, Murray with a brilliant idea, Rook with a secret, android-esque talent, and Ignatius with, well, with everything he had to offer.
Stupid. She’d never needed anyone else around before. She wiped a hand across her face and straightened her shoulders. She’d been a prisoner before, been in worse scrapes than this. Okay, maybe not worse, but pretty bad, and she’d always gotten out on her own. She was Bloody Red, after all. She was Zora Livingston. The galaxy was supposed to be a breeze for her.
She’d just gotten used to company. That was it. She just needed to buck up and do something, think of something to do, think. Zander had her pinned down. He had her ship and his plans. She needed to know what those were. First thing on her list—she needed to find out what he had up his sleeve.
She sniffled again and squinted at the bed. The mountain of rubbish might not help her, but the two micro recorders could. Maybe. If they even still worked, and if she could get them in the right sort of place.
First she’d need to test them. Zora shoved the wrappers and empties onto the floor and plucked the mircro recorders from the remaining trove. The slim discs would have fit on her thumbnail, under it even, if she’d had her extensions on. She’d picked them up on Cyrus 2 once, bought them from a toad with a very useful inventory under his long coat.
She’d meant to record a concert or two, sell cheap playback over subspace and make a fortune in musical piracy, but when thirty thousand unlicensed recordings popped on the market within an hour of her first show, she’d lost her cred-lust and moved on. That sort of piracy, it turned out, had little profit in it. It was hard work, in fact, and she’d been looking for an easy score.
If she remembered right, however, her little contraband did a great job. All she had to do was remember how to use them. The frequency had to be re-keyed, for one, and that would require a code. She sucked in her bottom lip and chewed on it while carrying her bugs to the room’s computer panel. She might have used Haley’s Tail…or just Haley. She might have used Red5 or Bloody1 or any of her past pass codes. What had been the name of that one guy who’d claimed he was from the Oltron Galaxy?
She smiled just thinking about him. Damn. She had too many codes in her head.
Well, she also had too much time on her hands. She shoved her stack of mumus out of the chair and sat down to face the console. The disks blinked green when she squeezed them softly. Good sign. At least they still had power. She slipped the first one into a port on the panel and ran her fingers over the keys. Mikail. That had been his name. She typed it in and the disk bleeped an “unsatisfactory” at her.
It would have been too easy, she supposed. She tried Bloody1 and got the same response, same for Red5 and Haley too. In all versions. So she’d start at the beginning. She had time. She had a lot of history to sort out, too. A lot of old pass codes. Rifling back through them might not be as much fun as living them had. Still, she had bugs to activate. She had a pirate captain to sort out, a fraudulent pirate, but a deadly one just the same.
Zora didn’t calculate the time it would take them to reach Little Vega. She didn’t want to know. She did think about how she’d place the bugs, though, and where she should put them. Once she heard what Zander had planned, well, she didn’t want to think about that either. Mostly because that was where her plan fell completely apart.
Even if she found out what the bastard was up to, what were the odds she’d be able to stop him? Her friends were back on Mercur Omega, Iggy was sectors away, and she was alone with too many babies to protect and only two micro bugs and a lot of history on her side.
If she’d been anywhere near a casino bot, she’d have placed all the odds against herself and then bet the farm on losing.◦