LUX #21

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There was no time to dry or get dressed. With the clarity of mind that only comes from a crisis, Eve wrapped herself in a towel and charged out of the bathroom, leaving steam in her wake.

She dashed for the lounge, where Coronis said she would be. It was on the far end of Deck 2, so Eve had to run across the entire deck in nothing but a towel- fortunately the deck was almost abandoned. The only people here were either asleep or so high that they may as well have been comatose.

Eve burst into the lounge. It was a dark and smoky room, the walls and ceiling painted black and a richly perfumed scent in the air. Everyone here was drinking or snorting, and a few had paired off to make out or otherwise.

Coronis was in the center of the room alongside Libera. They were… playing checkers? “Corey, we have a problem,” Eve said desperately.

“Don’t distract her,” Libera called, her speech slurred. “She has two thousand digits riding on this game-”

“I win,” said Coronis.

What?

She pointed at the checkerboard. “I took your last piece. I win.”

“Oh.” Libera picked up the piece, which was in fact a shotglass, and downed the contents. “Ha! You win! Best of seven?”

“Sure, lemme help May first.” With a winsome smile, Coronis stood up and guided Eve to the corner of the room. “What’s the problem?”

Eve made sure nobody was listening in. “Are you sober?”

“Yeah! Don’t worry, I never use my own product. The vodka in my pieces is just water.” Coronis winked. “Did something happen?”

Eve gave Coronis an abbreviated version of events. Again, Coronis just stared like Eve had said nothing interesting. “You know she recognized you?” the smuggler asked skeptically.

“She’s seen the footage, she must know. Most people don’t have a pair of extra arms sticking from their ribs.”

“Oh. Yeah, that’s true.” Coronis rubbed her chin for a few moments. “Hmm… well. What do you want to do?”

“I need to get out of Lethe-2, now,” Eve said urgently. “I can take my same spacecraft if need be-”

“No can do. Nysa’s put it in storage. We have evacuation ships but they’re biometrically locked to Nysa and Libera.” An illusion of Nysa dropping a spaceship into a box materialized next to Coronis’ head. “Or I could get a ship to come and pick you up, but it’d take a while… weeks. Months maybe.”

Eve’s stomach felt like an iron ball. She was trapped down here. Even if she wanted to, she couldn’t leave. “B-but Cressida knows who I am… I can’t stay.”

“Cress’ no snitch. I think you’re worrying too much again if you don’t mind me saying. We’ll take care of it.”

How?!” It was all Eve could do not to scream at Coronis, who took a step back when faced with her intensity.

“I-I’ll think of something! I-” Coronis looked over at Libera, who had started to loudly sing to herself. “Okay look, I gotta keep an eye on the boss lady. I’ll have a plan by dinner tonight- and I guarantee you Cress won’t snitch on you before that. Just… go put some clothes on and don’t worry about it.” She looked Eve in the eyes. “I mean it. I’m gonna make this go away.”

Eve was on the verge of losing her temper. Not now, not now! She had to leave, get far away from here and try to calm down. Turning on her heel, she returned to the bathroom to shower and dry herself off. Breathe. One and two and three and four. Five and six and seven and eight.

It took almost an hour of deep breathing before Eve felt her temper had finally receded. As she pulled her purple robe on, she realized something. If Cressida was in the shower room and Coronis with Libera… that meant Eirene was alone and unprotected.

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