Andy and Kim kicked this one off and I came in later. Kim is so much fun to play with because she isn't afraid to draw blood. Grawr! Thanks, Kim! ––– Maer.
Joshua walked down the crew corridor, heading towards Kiera's container, his head down in thought. The revolver sat heavy in his pocket as he walked, an uncomfortable weight and reminder of the wall that had been taken down from around Kiera and put up between the two of them. The burning hot outrage upon hearing her shoot that man in the head had coalesced into a cold, dark fury and he wasn't sure he liked it very much. He wanted this revolver gone and he wanted it gone now.
He was lost in his thoughts and almost slammed into Kiera, who was walking in the opposite direction. When he looked up, he started to apologize, then bit his lip when he realized who it was. No time like the present, he thought.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the gun. "Just wanted to return this to you," he said quietly, handing it towards her, grip first. "Last chance." In so many different ways.
She had never felt so cold. The sense of brokenness permeated her every cell, a helplessness that she could not fix and did not know how to fight. The drink had banished her ghost as it had done so many times before and yet. . .There was a raw screaming fear inside her now, primal, angry, and yet terrified. She was so raw, so very vulnerable, and needing. Needing what? she asked herself. Shooting the man in the elevator had only made her feel a bit more in control, an act of defiance, a pure act of control. But it had only left her emptier than before.
She realized that she and Joshua were about collide only just before they did, her usual catlike sense of people around her failing as her mind ran amok. Her eyes met his in impassive acknowledgment of proximity and she began to incline her head politely. But his voice caught her mid-nod. She stared at the gun and her heart began to race as her mind exploded in cold fury. "No," came her soft answer. "Keep it as a reminder. Your prize, as it were." Her eyes glittering, she stared into his, defiantly.
"I wasn't trying to win anyt—..." he started and then stopped mid-word. He put the gun back in his pocket. "Fine." His voice was as empty as his heart at the moment.
He reached into his other pocket and in a tight grasp, pulled out the five bullets he had unloaded from the revolver previously. He held his hand out in front of her and let them drop to the floor one by one. The clanking sound as they hit the floor in the otherwise empty corridor was almost as loud as if he had shot them out of the gun instead.
"I don't need these," he said, an icy tone in his voice as he stared at her, not even looking at the bullets as they dropped. "You might take them in case you need to shoot someone else in the head. Or could you sell them. Why bother keeping them around when they can be traded in for some credits, after all?"
She should have been enjoying this, she thought fiercely. She was hurting him as much as he was hurting her and that should have been enough! But it wasn't. The primal scream inside her soul was just intensifying, clearer and louder with each second. Every nerve in her body was reacting, the physical pain mirroring what was going on inside her, and she felt as if she glowed with it, pulsing with each heartbeat. Her eyes narrowed as her nostrils flared, her breath coming light and quick as she pressed her lips together. Like salt in the wound, each bullet hit the deck, grain by grain into the gaping hole inside her. She mentally counted them as they hit. One, two, three, four, five. The sixth in Allan's head. She shuddered violently, her body abruptly unable to hold the tension inside. She allowed only the moment of weakness, her vision clouding with doubt but for a moment. Her eyes showed a pleading fear and infinite sadness before the fury reasserted itself, dark and resentful. "That’s one for each of you," she answered coldly through force of will. "With one left over just in case you miss."
He had turned to leave, but froze when her words pierced him to his core. Joshua remembered not that long ago, waking up to discover that he had shot Rina...that he hadn't even thought twice about it. A vision of him passed through his mind, standing in the crew lounge, *her* revolver in his hand, shooting the crew one at a time. Nika...Arden...Rina. He shuddered and tried to push it out of his head. He had seen that look in Kiera's eyes right before she had said it, that trapped look that he was all too familiar with. But the anger had him in its grip and he was as trapped as she was.
"Well, then you can stand and laugh over our dead bodies. You have some practice with that too." And he turned around and walked back in the direction he had come from, leaving the bullets and their former owner behind.
She stood and watched him go, mute and darkly satisfied. Inside the scream had reached its fevered pitch, churning her stomach to nausea. She finally moved when she couldn't see him anymore, heading to lock down her container before it was put off. With irritation, she brushed at the gnat tickling her cheek and stopped dead in her tracks a moment later to stare at the wetness on her hand. Swallowing, she forced her feet to begin to move again, towards a future that she wasn't certain that she wanted to face anymore. But what was done was done. And they wouldn't want her back. And in time, she wouldn't want to come back. She tried to feel a hollow joy. And it wouldn't come. She paused in the doorway of her container, looking back at the ship. And then walked in her container and shut the door on them all.
Saturday, 27 Sep 2521
Kuiper II class, Summer's Gift
En route to New Hope
0930 hrs, ship's time
I'd woken early to steal some time repairing Joshua's robot before going on the clock and with my morning routine running on automatic for the nonce, I'd slipped into the galley to cadge whatever I could find of the breakfast I'd missed. Again. The galley was spotless. Joshua had already cooked, served, and cleaned up with his usual attention to detail.
Thank God for that, I thought and pulled open the fridge door. As was his wont, he'd saved some back for me and it sat waiting on a covered plate inside. I took it out and shut the fridge with my boot as I turned. Under the cover lay homefries and sausage links and a veggie medley from last night's dinner.
Thirty seconds in the microwave took the chill off and I scarfed it down standing up. Coffee waited in the brewer at my elbow. I poured myself a cup and lingered over it as I polished off my plate. Ever mindful of how Joshua liked to keep things tidy, I washed and dried my plate and fork and stowed them in their proper places before leaving with my coffee.
Hm. Paprika. I licked my lips. Paprika on the potatoes was a nice touch.
It was a game I played in my head, identifying the little touches Joshua blessed his cooking with as a way to continue my informal education in the art. But my thoughts had already turned back to the robot by the time I set foot in the crew corridor and I'd gone another ten strides before my head caught up with what my eyes had seen.
Shiny ... Shto?
I retraced my steps, eyes on the deck, and stopped when I found it. Five bullets lay at my feet and I automatically swept them up.
"The gorram hell? Leaving rounds rattling loose. Begging for disaster." Hardly as dangerous as artillery rounds in a cannon bay, I had reason to know, but still. I shook off the past as the cool brass casings rolled in my curled fingers. Odd. Something's not right. I opened my fist and finally saw what my fingers already knew. The bullets weren’t the 9mm rounds our crew used. To a man, we all used pistols. The bullets I held were .45’s. Revolver rounds.
I froze and then looked up and down the corridor for an invader—knee-jerk reaction from paranoia. The bullets weren't ours, so my reasoning went. Therefore they belonged to someone else, someone foreign. Someone from outside our ship who'd somehow snuck aboard. To kill us all in our beds.
Like I said, knee-jerk reaction. Common sense asserted itself an instant later, helped along by the hot coffee I'd sloshed on my hand as I'd turned around to look. I pocketed the bullets and pulled my bandana to wipe up the mess.
Then I went to find Joshua. The robot would have to wait.
Joshua sat on his bunk, staring at the revolver in his hands. It felt cold and alien. It wasn't like he had never held a gun before. But this one felt like it had a life of its own. Could items have their own ghosts? If they could, this revolver had its share.
He had just put it away in his bunk drawer when the knock came. He didn't really want to answer it, but such was the way of things. The knocks didn't stop coming, life didn't stop happening. "Come in," he called out.
I knocked on the door as was my habit, despite Joshua's standing invitation to enter at will. Everyone needed a space to call their own, somewhere he could shut the Universe out. God knew, Joshua spent more time in my cabin these days than his, but his cabin was still his cabin and therefore I was reluctant to barge right in.
"Hey," I said, ducking inside once permission was given. I fingered the rounds in my pocket, wondering what the hell I could tell him. "You got a minute?"
He nodded, not feeling very talkative. The cold anger from dealing with Kiera still hung with him, but now it was settled into his stomach, causing it to roil. "Shoot," he said, immediately regretting his phrasing.
His reply caused me to grip the bullets in my pocket, even as I caught the undercurrent of his mood. I looked closer and saw the tightness around his eyes, familiar to me from his recent injuries, and knew something pained him. I immediately sat next to him and smoothed his hair back.
Joshua nodded tightly again. "Yeah, I'll be alright. Just some...I don't know...just..." Why was he so reluctant to talk about how angry he was with Kiera? He didn't know, but he felt almost ashamed of the way he felt, like he had failed Kiera somehow...or failed himself.
He waved his hand dismissingly. "It's nothing. What did you want to talk about?" He managed a soft smile, trying for reassuring but not quite getting there.
I’d only known Joshua intimately for little under a year, but it was long enough to know when something was bothering him. Many were the times Joshua had seen and coaxed my hurts out of me and I didn’t hesitate to do the same for him now. I ran my hand over his hair again and caressed his face.
"To be honest, I'd rather just put it behind me. That's not you, that's just me. A bad morning, but you being here makes it better." He didn't want to hurt her, but he just wasn't ready to talk either. "Is that okay?" he asked, looking for confirmation.
It wasn’t, but I knew I’d gain nothing by pushing. I leaned in and kissed him gently in apology for prying.
“I hope this won’t throw another log on the fire, but …,” I said, sighing. I pulled the bullets out of my pocket and held them out to him. Warmed from my hand, I could smell the sharp metal scent rising off them. “Do you know where these came from? I found them in the corridor and they’re not ours. They can’t be. All we have are pistols. No one aboard uses revolvers.”
Even as I said it, I mentally kicked myself. None of the crew uses revolvers. You forgot about our passenger. It was a measure of how deeply and completely Kiera had made herself ours that I’d considered her crew without thought. Already putting the pieces together—the bullets, Kiera’s status, Joshua’s mood—I had a hazy idea where everything fit but waited for Joshua to confirm it.
When he saw the bullets, his face sunk. Not enough to be haunted by the gun, but by the bullets too?
There's one for each of you. With one left over just in case you miss.
Joshua held out his hand, palm up in front of him and waited for Rina to drop the bullets in. It was clear they belonged to him now, whether he wanted them or not.
I saw his reaction. I gave him the bullets. And I wrapped my fingers over his hand, holding the damned bullets with him.
"Please," I said softly, my brow wrinkling as I entreated. "You don't feel right. I know something's wrong. What is it?"
In response, he got off the bunk and on his knees, pulling open the bunk drawer. He reached inside with his free hand and grabbed the revolver, carefully lifting it out like he was afraid it might try and go off in his hands, even unloaded. "They go with this," he said quietly. "They're all mine now."
I lifted my feet to clear the drawer and set them down sharply when I saw what Joshua held.
"Where did you get that?" I said, keeping my voice soft to avoid giving him the impression of censure.
He put the revolver carefully back in the drawer, the bullets alongside it. He then closed the drawer again and climbed back up on the bunk. "They belonged to Kiera. Now they're mine. For when I lose control and shoot the crew." He cleared his throat and did an eerily good impression of Kiera. "You will be able to enjoy the hurt in their faces as you destroy them."
A gun cursed to help you kill the ones you love? Maybe it was only right that he have it. Jake dead when he arrived, Rick dead, and Rina shot at his hands. Maybe it was inevitable.
"No." That shliuska bitch. "She's wrong." I cupped his face and kissed his brow, kissed the damned ghost of her off him. Fire lanced through my gut, stoked by anger bitter as acid. Putting my cheek to his, I whispered, "She couldn't be more wrong."
Rina's attempt to comfort him had the unfortunate effect of making him feel more guilty. Kiera hadn't been in a good emotional place when she had said that and it had been wrong of him to share it. But he was still angry, ashamed, guilty, and a whole other mess of unidentified emotions and the turmoil was clearly causing his judgment to slip.
"Wrong or not, she doesn't want them back. I 'earned' them." He rubbed the side of her cheek. "It was wrong of me to say anything. It was private. Just a little off my game at the moment. I'll get it back together."
I leaned into his caress and kissed his palm. I knew I'd hit the wall and couldn’t pursue it any further with him.
"Fair enough," I said into his fingers. I slid a look at him. "You want me to take it and lock it up?"
Firearms had to be locked up. It was our standard operating procedure while on board. I let slide the fact I currently wore my rig under my coveralls, since that was also standard operating procedure. Just not officially.
He nodded. "But leave the bullets." He had plans for those.
"As you wish." I rose and retrieved the gun. It was an old style revolver, a touch long in the barrel with a well-worn wooden grip. It had the look of a favored weapon, heavy with history. Likely stained by it, too. Which would go far to explain Joshua's mood. I knew that psychic residue had a way of hammering him if it was dark enough. That's probably why she gave it to him. She knows his weaknesses. Hell, she collects them to use against everyone. Bitch. I hefted it and slid it into my cargo pocket, then leaned down for a parting kiss.
"Find me if you need me," I said quietly, caressed his face, and left.
After I stowed that gun, Kiera and I were going to have a talk, even if I had to beat her senseless to do it.
I locked the gun away in the locker without telling Nika. Time enough for that later. Right now I had something I wanted to get. Since Kiera was apparently in a gift-giving mood, I thought I’d return the favor. I took the stairs to the upper deck and made for my machine shop aft. Over the years I’d picked up a trick or two from Mike. There would be times when you needed to keep something important but had to hide it somewhere no one would think to look. And yet ideally it had to be a place you could get to in a pinch without a lot of fuss.
Still smarting over the filching of my dress by the Lenore crew and wanting the extra insurance that my Christmas stash would survive unmolested until the proper day arrived, I’d concealed my purchases outside my quarters, which would have been the first place tossed in the event of a take-over. So prompted my paranoia, at least, and I couldn’t really fault it. Our fortunes as a crew had been nothing but a roller-coaster since we came together and so long as our girl survived, so would anything I stashed aboard her. It made me feel better knowing that, even if I also acknowledged that my stash stood a fair chance to outlive me as a result.
Such is the twisted logic of paranoia and I’d stopped trying to understand it a long time ago. I just went with my gut and hid my stash. Making sure I was unobserved, I opened up the maintenance panel on my machinists lathe, stuck my hand inside, and felt along the bottom of the cabinet. There. I sank my nails into the seam of the panel I’d cut into it and pried it up. I removed the deck plate waiting underneath and finally put my hand on what I sought. I put it on the deck beside me and put everything else back to rights with no one the wiser. I straightened and dusted off, eyeing my lathe. The thing was bolted to the workshop floor. If anyone wanted to get at my stash, they’d either have to cut it free and lift it off the deck plate in question… or open her up and fish around for the access panel I’d made.
Assuming the idea would even occur to them. Pity there aren’t many places I could hide myself. Now that would be something … Focus. Right now you’ve got something to do.
It was the work of a minute to put myself at Kiera’s door. It was the work of a few more to get a grip on my anger and smother it enough to keep it from showing. When I was sure I had myself in hand, I put my usual face on and knocked.
“Kiera? You free?”
"Sure. Come in."
I walked into her container and found it draped liberally with her clothing, her belongings strewn across various surfaces, and several suitcases and foam-lined boxes standing open.
Huh. Looks like I got here just in time.
“Going somewhere?” I asked lightly. No point in giving the game away completely.
"Repacking and doing inventory." She gave a light smile as she turned to face the engineer. "Got money. Time to re-order and think about some new clothes." She brushed a pile off the reclining chair. "Want a seat?" The motions gave her time to study Rina. Short, but well-made and hard, the smaller woman had worked the other goon over. Very surprising and very interesting. She gestured towards the chair and waited.
I took the seat offered and held up what I'd pulled from my stash. About the size of a thick paperback book, it was a package in plain brown paper, taped shut.
"I never really thanked you for all the work you've done on Joshua. Then I saw this a little while back and thought it was perfect. Here."
I held it out to her with a nod.
"I hope you like it."
Eyeing her with wary confusion, Kiera took the package and opened it. The simple and beautiful case was done in a fine-grained wood finished to a satin sheen. She stroked it once and then opened the box to reveal the inlaid wood squares and the collected chess pieces that lay inside. Putting it on her counter, Kiera lifted the pieces up, gently rolling them between her fingers as she admired the carving. At length, she closed the box and favored Rina with a bemused smile. "Thank you. It's lovely. But you didn't need to get me anything." She studied the engineer again, searching her face for clues to the genesis of the gift.
I didn't miss the look she gave me as she took up the package and I watched her carefully as she unwrapped the gift and examined it. I could tell she was trying to figure my angle, my hook. I saw no reason to make her wait for it.
"You might not want or need getting it. But I definitely wanted and needed to give it." I sharpened my gaze and continued. "I found the bullets. I saw the gun. I saw what they did to Joshua. Why did you do it?"
Nope. No reason to wait.
The answering smile spread slowly over her face as the green eyes chilled. It was a pleased twisting of the lips, an almost predatory expression. There it was, she thought. Thank you for not making me wait. "Joshua took the gun and then gave it back. I told him that it was his now." She turned back to the chess box, tracing the smooth lines of the walnut wood. "I don't know why he dropped the bullets. You need bullets in a gun."
“Yes, you do.” I said, my voice going lower as my anger stirred. “You know exactly why he refused the damn bullets.”
"I left them on the floor, Rina. We both abandoned them," was the soft answer.
"Fine. You left them after he dropped them. But that doesn't erase the fact you gave them to him in the first place. Inside a gun. 'For when I lose control and shoot the crew,' he said. Not a Joshua thing to say. But it's something you damned well would say."
I slid off the chair and stood with my hands fisting at my side.
"You never say anything without aiming it first. You knew full well what giving him that gun would do to him. You knew what taunting him with our deaths would make him feel." My voice was falling for my toes. A warning sign, should she choose to heed it. I could feel my lip lifting in a snarl and didn't bother to smooth it. "What I want to know is why you did it. What the hell did he ever do to you that deserved gut stabbing him like that?"
I wanted to pound her through the deck like a tent peg but I held fast. As long as I was demanding answers, it behooved me to leave her in a condition to deliver them.
"You've never had anyone in your head before, have you? Probably not. Machines don't tend to do such things. They're very easy to deal with, machines. Can't make you feel guilt, don't really judge. Easy relationship, not demanding, not fraught with regrets and expectations. Machines can be very forgiving." The voice was calm; she spoke into the cabinets, not turning back to look at the engineer. "Joshua isn't a machine, is he? Warm, soothing, comforting. Makes you feel better when you make mistakes. Forgives you no matter what? No wait, he is much like the machines, only cuddlier. And even better, instead of you fixing him, he fixes you. What happened with you and Mr. Carter?"
In the months since she'd joined us, I'd had time to observe Kiera and her jab wasn't unexpected. Even so, for a split second I thought back to the night I finally slew the Lieutenant as my personal demon and for once, acknowledged the important part he'd played in my make-up. A painful part, but important nonetheless. In a that-which-does-not-kill-you sort of way. So Kiera made her jab and paradoxically the Lieutenant was my armor against it. So I was able to face it square and reply back without flinch or fidget.
"You have no idea who I have in my head. No. Fucking. Idea." I took a step closer, willing her to look up and face me in combat. Which this was. "You have no idea what I've seen. What I've endured. What anyone's done to me. Joshua and Mike? Again. You have no idea." I took another step. "But I'm not here about me. I'm here about you. Kiera Sullivan. Salesman. Sharp shooter. Shliuska Bitch. Let's stick with that, shall we?"
I took another step and gained the counter where she stood. I didn't crowd her--it wasn't time for that sort of thing yet--but neither could she look away.
"I told you once what would happen if you fucked the crew over, Kiera. You fucked Joshua over. Fucked him good. So tell me why I shouldn't strap you to your own damned chair and go to town on you with my blowtorch and pliers. One good reason," I growled. "Just one."
"Because it would diminish you in Joshua's eyes." Kiera turned and looked the small woman fully in the face, her cold lack of emotion as frigid as the other woman's anger was hot. "And right now, that'd kill you inside. You do seem to give a damn about what he thinks. I'd not want to look him in the eyes were I to do that to you."
Touché. Give the woman a point.
"I could, however, make it look like an accident. Poor Kiera goes on a bender, spills some acetone and some fancy aromatic candle she's got burning makes her go up in flames. So tragic." I looked pointedly left and right, keeping her firmly in my peripheral vision before focusing on her again. "Plenty of stock in here I can jerry rig to burn nice and hot. Leave nothing of you but ash."
I nodded. Satisfied. She'd given me what I'd needed to dig further.
"So. You maneuver me into hurting you, which maneuvers me onto Joshua's shit list. Two birds with one stone. I get it. Nicely played, madam. My choice of present was more insightful than I realized. However," I added, leaning in and invading her personal space at last. "Joshua's not the stealing type. You said he took the gun. It wasn't on a whim. He hates the damned things. Won't touch them without good reason. So why was he touching yours, I wonder? You got an answer for that?"
This was the real reason I wanted to question her. I knew Joshua. I was pretty sure I had the important parts of Kiera nailed, too, but it never hurt to verify your findings. So I leaned in and breathed her air and asked, "What are you hiding, Kiera Sullivan? What skeletons do you have buried in your closet?"
"One dead lover, little woman. I shot him right through the head," came the brittle words. "I've kept that gun since the night I shot Allan. Kept the remaining five bullets in it. Joshua came to check on me, lord knows why. But your man thought he'd play hero and make sure that I didn't do anything with that gun. I supposed that he thought that I'd be drunk enough to shoot myself although it's pretty damn clear that I ain't ever felt the need to do it before."
Her mouth twisted into a sardonic smile. "He took it from where I threw it. It's his now. I gifted it. He wanted to tear down the walls that guard me from the Allans of this universe." Her eyes flared, icy and savage. "Well, they're down now. The gun is his prize. To remember his success."
"Awww....widdle Kiera got a boo-boo," I drawled, saccharine sweet. Deliberately placing my words, my tone, like knives. I'd suspected the root of her innate drive to manipulate, to seek advantage, to play for keeps had its roots in heartache. She called machines simple. She wasn't wrong. But humans are simple, too, deep down where rational thought loses its supremacy to emotion. I knew that landscape well, thanks to the War and the Lieutenant. And I knew what to do.
"You think for one minute that you're the only one who's killed someone you've loved?" I said, quiet and low. "The only one who's pulled the trigger and regretted it? You think carrying around a freakin' murder weapon is saying something? God, you're pathetic. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. I thought you were made of sterner stuff, Kiera Sullivan, but that's just a lie."
Maybe it was the emotional rollercoaster I'd ridden recently. Maybe it was the relief of having finally gotten off it. Maybe that armor the Lieutenant lent me was working still. Whatever the means, I managed to say everything with conviction, without remorse. I wanted to make Kiera bleed for what she'd done to Joshua. I wanted to open her up like an oyster and slap her out on the deck. She'd shown me the chink in her armor and I zeroed in on it.
"Like everything else about you. Actually, you did the guy you killed a favor. I doubt he'd have liked finding out what a fraud you really are. The bullet was kinder. Instead of feeling guilty, you should feel proud doing him the kindness. Oh, wait," I added, snapping my fingers. "That's right. That whole morals business doesn't apply, so kindness doesn't enter into it at all. Tell me something, Kiera. Was he your first love? Did you kill your first love, too?"
I knew that personal hell. I leaned in and let her see it.
"Did you want to die afterward? Or did you just pick up the gun and go your way, job done?"
Kiera merely smiled at her, studying her face for long moments before she finally spoke. "Talk a lot, don't you?" she asked softly with a mad grin that failed to reach her eyes.
“Eih,” I said, shrugging. “Nobody’s perfect.” I saw her grin. I saw her eyes. I knew she was hurting and I admit it, right at that moment, I didn’t care. “Joshua tore down your walls. He won. You lose. You’ll have to face the universe like the rest of us stupid saps who let themselves love and feel and move on. Fate worse than death really.” I stepped back and shook my head with a grim smile. “I don’t have to kill you Kiera. You’ll do it on your own. Enjoy it.”
The green eyes stayed on her. "Let me give you a bit of help, little girl. Your killing methods are amateurish and overly dramatic." She abruptly tossed a hyperdermic needle at the engineer, watching as she caught it. "Pull the plunger out and get a good bit of air. Put it in a vein. Just promise me you'll stop talking. Your lover is better at it." The expression that she wore was that of a cobra; she had lost all expression, death in her eyes. "But before you kill me, find out one thing. Why is Joshua so upset by this? You're trying to milk me for an answer that I don't have. Why don't you find out why I can get to him so well?"
I caught it and pulled it apart and let the pieces fall.
“Dramatic?” I laughed, delighted I had pushed her to the gesture. “Absolutely. Blame it on the Russian in me. We’re stupid that way.”
"As for the rest? Sure. He's better at it. And you're wrong about one thing, Kiera." I turned to go and stopped, faced her sidewise. "I know why he's upset about it. I just wanted to know why you did it and you gave it right up. Don't bother. I'll show myself out."
And suiting action to word, I left. It was a calculated risk, turning your back on a snake you've riled, but Kiera had said it herself: she wouldn't want to look Joshua in the eye if she did anything rash to me. Still, I resolved to watch her closer after that. Kiera was more cunning than your average snake and given my luck at snake charming, I fully expected her to find a way to bite me in the ass.
Kiera watched her go, her eyes narrowing as she watched the engineer leave. Too foolish to know what she'd done, that what few ties that Kiera had to the ship had now been severed as firmly and effectively as with one of Rina's cutting torches. The little one was too cocky to understand that death waited for her with every mistake, had failed to be there when Joshua had gone down the last three times. Lucky for them both that Kiera had been there as well as Arden to save the fool. But that was the little Russian and luck seemed to follow her every misdeed. Leaning back, she pulled a pistol from the drawer under the chess set and sighted it thoughtfully through the open door. She was aware from Rina's words that the woman thought that she understood Kiera. And maybe she did. The death's head grin came back.
It wouldn't help her.