Letter 01, 14 Aug 2522
Text of a letter from Marina Kseniya Sebastien to her son, Lem.
Lem Kurpinski Edge
Lucifer’s Landing, Angel
Kalidasa (Xuan Wu) system
Friday, 14 Aug 2522
It’s Mama. I wanted to write you a letter telling you a little about what’s been going on with me and the crew. So much has happened since I saw you last I’m not sure where to start. Although I suppose the beginning is as good as any.
We’ve picked up a new member of our crew. Her name is Kiera. She’s from the Core, a doctor like Arden who specializes in plastic surgery. She knows her way around a scalpel. She’s sharp like her scalpels, too. I haven’t met anyone sharper when negotiating for jobs or money. So I’ll give you three guesses who our front man is. She’s damned good with firearms too. As she’s quipped many times before, she could shoot ya and then patch you up afterwards, make you all nice and pretty. She’s pretty, too, with red hair and green eyes and a fantastic singing voice. Good dancer. Like to dance your feet off in a jigging contest—that woman is fast! She likes to have fun and keeps me honest about it. I know I tend to work too hard and sometimes she drags me away from work and makes me get out a bit. And lately, there’s a lot of work to do.
We’ve picked up a new ship. I’m not sure if Papa’s told you about this but we had to use the Gift as a trap to take out a wicked-bad man and his crew. We succeeded and we picked up his ship in trade. We’ve renamed her Equinox, after the balance of day and night, light and dark. It seemed fitting, considering.
I know I make it sound nice and tidy. It’s not, really. Not morally or ethically. Fact is, we didn’t ask that bad man’s permission to take his ship—but seeing as he was looking to kill us and got killed instead, we didn’t think he was in a position to object. Despite its nickname, the Black isn’t a black-and-white place. You have to know how to work the grey areas and sometimes, there’s a lot of grey to work through.
For instance: We found a clue to our new ship’s past while we cleaned her up and made her ours. It’s a journal. It was written in Chinese but it had a code. A code made up of names of people who needed our help. Another grey area, because it basically would involve kidnapping them from the lives they were trapped in. But those lives were lives they didn’t choose for themselves but had forced on them against their will. So … since the New Year, we’ve been kidnapping people. Well, not exactly kidnapping. We’ve been finding them and giving them the choice to leave or stay, and there was one person who had managed to make something good for herself and she chose to remain. But that’s what we wanted to do—to give those people a choice and to offer them an out if they wanted it. If they wanted out, we got them out. If they wanted to stay, we respected their wishes and took back any information for their families they wished to give us.
It’s been a hard slog going through that list. Some heartbreak—especially for Joshua, who made it his mission to find everyone. There was one person we couldn’t save. We stumbled onto the list and found her too late. Seeing that girl’s grave cut him up. Joshua doesn’t talk about it but I can tell it hurt him that he failed.
There’s been joy, though. We’ve reunited more than one person with their family. One family even set up an organization to find missing people because of what happened to their child. More people can be helped through their efforts. I guess you can point to that as an example of turning something bad into something good. It’s not easy but it can be done.
We don’t have that list anymore. Well, to be fair, I think Joshua’s memorized it and will carry it with him always, but we found the person responsible for hurting those people on the list. We managed to find a way to expose her—yes, it was a woman. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes, malchik moi—and the local Diocese stepped up to take care of the rest of the people on the list. Joshua gave it up and I think it was with a mix of relief and sorrow that he did. Relief, because carrying that list on his shoulders was a hard thing, and sorrow, because he could not do more to relieve the misery that list represented.
In the end, though, I believe it will work out for the best. The Diocese has the entire religious network it can call on for resources—churches and offices on every planet spinning, people manning those positions able to hunt down and offer the victims on the list succor or escape. And they can do it all at once, on every world on the list. All the Diocese has to do is send the word and it will be done. Joshua made the right decision. A lot of good can come from giving over that list and now he can put down his burden and rest.
And we’re looking for a chance to rest. A lot has happened since we sacrificed the Gift.
Speaking of sacrifices … That wicked-bad man I mentioned, remember him? Part of taking him out, well, it took out Nika’s beautiful blue eyes. She was blind for a little while before we could find a doctor who could transplant a pair of new ones. She’s all better now and can see just fine, but if you see her again and wonder about their color, yes, they are a different blue. And no, don’t ask her about them. She may not be ready to tell that story. I’ve crossed the line in telling you even this much but in the interest of preventing awkwardness, I’ve given you the heads-up. You can tell Papa, cuz he’ll need to know, but that’s as far as it goes. Not all truths need be spoken, especially if they’re hurtful, and staying silent is not the same as lying. It’s a matter of discretion and I’m trusting you to be discreet. You’re a smart boy, malchik moi. I know you can do it.
Please give Papa a hug for me and feel free to show him this letter. I will be sending one to him soon but it’s always good to have a back up, yes? Be good. Study hard. Grow big. I know when next I see you, you’ll be taller and smarter and as always, pretty damned amazing.
All my love,