Quinn of Cygnus: Lift Off–Chapter Twelve

This is a somewhat revised draft, so there are some inconsistencies with previous chapters. For example, I’ve renamed the “extreme fitness challenge” to the “Atlas Challenge” and other such stuff. The main story hasn’t changed, and there are still some awkward phrases, typos, and some fine details missing. I’ll also be adding additional background for people who haven’t read the Folding Space Series.  This chapter contains spoilers for Lightwave: Command Decision.

Warning: To avoid having issues with book retailers when I publish, I will be deleting Chapters One through Eighteen the week before I post the last chapter, which is Chapter Twenty. You have been warned! Read fast!

See Chapter One here.

Chapter Twelve

 

Ruhger shook Saree’s shoulder and she blinked up at him. “You okay?” Ruhger asked.

Saree rasped, “Maybe. Need the sani-mod.”

Ruhger said, “Okay. Q can help you.” He unstrapped the belts and raised the seat.

Q forced a smile. Saree was going to slow them down. “Yeppers. Helpful, that’s me.” She sounded like little-girl Quinn again. But she was so happy to have someone who wanted to help her and it wasn’t a bad thing to be underestimated.

Saree smiled a little. “Thank you. I feel pretty shaky.” She rose slowly, keeping her hands on the armrest.

“How’s your head?” Ruhger asked.

“Okay.” Saree wrinkled her nose. “It’s kind of achy, but not horrible.”

“Good. Drink some water while you’re in there. You’ve got time for a shower too if you want. Q printed a shipsuit that ought to fit you and a hat to cover your hair.” Ruhger nodded and returned to the pilot’s seat.

“Great.” Saree stood.

She looked pretty shaky, so Q stepped up next to her. If Saree fell, it would take her longer to recover and make their escape harder. Saree shuffled to the sani-mod, but her stride steadied and lengthen as she walked. At the hatch, she turned to Q. “I think I’m okay.”

Q nodded at her and trotted back to sit next to Ruhger. If Saree felt steady enough, she didn’t want to hang out in the sani-mod with her.  Besides, she had work to do while she had Kathe’s e-torc. She started moving credits, creating new numbered accounts at a couple of different institutions, including one that wasn’t Familia. It was riskier but she had nothing to lose. Go big or get captured.

When she finished, she realized more than a few minutes had passed. Q jogged back to the sani-mod, ready to break in if necessary, but Saree exited, her hair partially dark brown and raggedly chopped off. It looked terrible. “Girl, what did you do?! There’s a Style Three Thousand in there—let’s go.” Q grabbed her arm and pulled Saree back into the sani-mod. What cut would look good on her? Q activated the Styler and swung Saree around to sit on it. “Take the top part of your shipsuit off.”

Saree did as Q demanded, chuckling a little.

Q grimaced. “How long do you want it?” Maybe just a medium-length, straight blunt cut, nothing fancy or fussy. Saree’s body was flashy enough; she must get lots of unwanted attention.

Saree shrugged. “Middle of my shoulder blades, I guess.”

Q programed the styler and told Saree, “Sit still.” The styler got to work, combing and cutting Saree’s hair. Since she’d already colored most of it, it didn’t take long. Q had the styler do an updo, changing Saree’s look further.

Saree stood up and stared at the styler for a long time. “First time I’ve seen that.”

“Really? Huh. I thought everyone had those.” Sure, the Sisters didn’t, but they had them at Adzari Academy, she’d seen them at stations and spaceports, everywhere. Well, except Indomito stayed in the core mostly, and if she remembered correctly, Lightwave flew the fringes of the known universe.

“Seems easier than finding someone.”

“Oh, yeah. Much. Unless you want something really special.” Q checked both sides of Saree’s hair. “Looks like the color covers all of it. Good. I’ll throw some makeup on you and no one will recognize you.” At least she hoped so. Q turned to the Beauty-in-a-Box.

“Maybe not so dark?”

Q laughed. “What? You don’t like Old Earth twenties? Me neither.” She snorted. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you something more dignified. But makeup makes a big difference in appearance. With your hair up and dark and color on your face, no human man will recognize you.” She grimaced. “Facial recog will, but not most men. Or women.” Too bad they didn’t have some of that light-scattering makeup. That would blur their appearance on most vids. But that didn’t seem to be an option in the Box. Which seemed odd; you’d think Familia Enforcers would need that stuff occasionally.

“Good point. Do your worst.” Saree’s nose wrinkled.

Q laughed and made her final choices, positioning Saree in the right spot. “You bet. Close your eyes and don’t move.” When it finished, Q closed the thing up and mirrored the surface. “Take a look.” The shuttle jolted a little—they must have docked. Now the fun part started.

Saree looked, turning her face from side to side. “Wow, Q. Nice job on the shading—my face shape even looks different.” She plopped the small brimmed hat Q printed for her on her head and pulled it down and to the side a little. “Especially with the hat.”

“Thanks.” Q remembered all the parties she’d had to attend, dressed up like a doll for Enzo. Never again. “I’ve had a lot of practice.”

“Ready?” Ruhger called. “We should get going. Nasty boy there wouldn’t be wasting time.”

Q sighed and slid Kathe’s e-torc into the recycling. But she snickered as she left the sani-mod. Nasty boy was a great name for Epstein. “Sure. Hey, what do you think?” She swept a hand down Saree’s body.

Ruhger’s eyebrows rose and he nodded. “Great job. I wouldn’t recognize her.”

Q chuckled and handed carrysacks to Saree and Ruhger.

Ruhger nodded. “Okay, so what are we calling each other? I’ve got Epstein’s e-torc, so call me Ep.”

Not a “Q” sound, but something close… “Clove,” Q told them. “It sounds close enough to Q for me to hear it, but not close enough for others to recognize.” Q looked at Saree, who seemed to be thinking hard.

“Hmm.” Saree’s fingers tapped some sort of complex, repeating rhythm against her thighs. “I don’t want to use an old name…. How about Ferra? I’ll certainly remember it.” Saree grimaced.

Q couldn’t hold back a gasp, then she grinned. Q wouldn’t forget that name either.

Ruhger said grimly, “Good. Ferra, Clove is our daughter. We’re on our way to Nexus Station where we’re meeting our new employers, Universal Fold Incorporated. We’re changing folders here, but the next one won’t be in for a couple of days, so we’re headed to a hostel. I’ve already paid for it. Let’s go. They could discover we’re gone at any moment.”

Q followed both of them into the airlock.

Saree turned back to her. “Where are we?”

Q snort-chuckled. “Valenti Prime, the main station. Customs is here and a lot of zero-g medico research.” And a whole lot of Familia.

Saree turned back to Ruhger, her tone urgent. “Ruhger—I mean Ep—if we’re stuck here for a while, maybe I can body mod back.”

Well, that explained Saree’s figure. It wasn’t natural. Right now, she’d fit right in with the Familia Enforcers.

Ruhger shot an incredulous look at Saree. “On a Familia station?”

“Oh.” Saree snorted. “Sorry, I think I’m a little fuzzy still.”

No kidding. She clearly wasn’t thinking at all. They’d have to guide Saree or they’d get caught. Q bit her lip.

“Great,” he muttered. “Get unfuzzy, because it’s going to take all our wits to get out of here in one piece.” He nodded at them. “Ready?”

Q nodded at him and motioned to his e-torc, but he turned away before she completed the motion. Sand and sun! She had to get the e-torc before they went too far, but the hatch was open now, and she couldn’t chance making a fuss. All she could do is hope no one was actively watching the vids. They left the airlock, entering a moderately busy passageway, big hovercarts full tools, and what must be shuttle replacement pieces shoved against the bulkheads, leaving a narrow, winding path for them to walk through. Q started out trying to walk like a station worker, not paying attention to anything, but she couldn’t help but look around. She’d never been in this part of the station.

No one paid any attention to them and soon they entered the maintenance worker market. Q hadn’t been here either, but she’d heard about it. You could get food, drink, clothing, and all kinds of stuff at low prices. Low for a station anyway. She looked at the decking as much as she could and used the crowd and the sales kiosks to block her from easy view.

Ruhger wove around the kiosks, obviously familiar with avoiding vids, and they strolled to the other end of the market, entering a connector shuttle to Valenti Prime Station Central, someplace Q had been too often. They flew through space for a few minutes, docked, and exited into Prime Central’s main shopping area.

Much nicer and a lot larger, there were rows of shops and restaurants around the outside of the area and kiosks with food, drink, and all kinds of wares sprinkled across a wide plaza, the high ceilings making the area feel spacious. The walls were decorated in gold and red, the shops had formal clothing and fancy restaurants with people doing the service rather than remotes. All high-credit stuff too.

They passed the restaurant Kathe took her to with the weird food, then the one Enzo chose. That food was almost as weird, there still wasn’t much of it, and it was the most awkward eating experience of her life. Even if the food had been good, she’d been far too nervous to enjoy any of it. Enzo must not have enjoyed it either, because they never did it again. She shuddered, remembering.

While sweeping away barrages of advertisements on his e-torc, Ruhger said, “This is level forty. We’re headed down to level Twenty-One. Cheap hostels there.”

Maybe not having the e-torc was a good thing—resetting it to standard left it open to the ads. But her neck felt naked. Q followed Ruhger and Saree to a float tube and down they went.

Q kept glancing around. She recognized some of these places. As soon as she had an e-torc, she’d be back into Valenti Station Security.

The shopping on level Twenty-One was basic: food and clothing, a few gadgets and trinkets, and no fancy decorations. They stopped for a quick meal of pasta with red sauce, which wasn’t good, but it was filling. Then they entered a narrow interior station corridor. The walls were bland beige with industrial multi-hued plas decking underfoot and the occasional holo sign for guest check-in popping up as they neared each hatch.

Ruhger finally stopped in front of a holo for “Albergo Firenze” and checked them in, getting two access stickers for Saree and Q, since they didn’t have e-torcs. Q copied Saree, sticking hers to the inside of her forearm, underneath the shipsuit. Ruhger walked forward and a hatch slid open. They entered an even narrower corridor with hatches on both sides. Walking along, Ruhger found the correct one and entered.

The room was small and plain but it looked and smelled clean. Bunk beds on both sides, the narrow space between them leading to a tiny sani-mod. Q could fit four of these rooms in her compartment on Indomito, but she was way happier here.

“So, Clove, let’s see who’s on station we can fold out with,” Ruhger suggested.

Smart of Ruhger to assume someone was watching. Time for her to get into character. With the makeup, a bratty teenager was best. “I guess, Ep.” Q sighed, loud and long, cocked a hip, and looked up at Ruhger through her thick bangs. “Can’t we go shopping up on forty? They had some out-orbit stuff up there!”

“Shopping later,” Ruhger growled. “Virtual shopping. No way I’ve got credits for forty.”

Q whined, “You’re no fun.” She stuck her lower lip out and blinked pathetically.

Ruhger sat on one of the lower bunks and patted the space next to him. Saree pushed past both of them and entered the sani-mod. Ruhger stared at the sani-mod hatch, frowning.

That didn’t look fake. Saree wasn’t feeling good at all. Q bit her lip. She didn’t want to go it alone, but she wasn’t getting caught because of Saree.

“Let’s find that ride,” Ruhger said, widening the view of his e-torc.

Q sat close to him and made snarky comments about ship names. She didn’t recognize any of these folders. Daedalus, Excelsior, and Icarus were scheduled to be here now—did something big happen somewhere?

Saree came out of the sani-mod, clutching her head. “My head hurts. Too much ruckus out there. You two find us a ride out; I’m napping.” She looked wan and shaky.

Ruhger scowled at her. “Sure, Ferra, you rest, we’ll do the work.” He turned back to Q and pointed at a folder called Basestar on his holo. “What about that one?”

Saree climbed to the top bunk across from them. Both she and Ruhger tensed, ready to catch her, until she reached the top.

Suns, what did Ruhger ask?  Oh, the folder. It wasn’t one of the folders she was looking for. “Nah, she’s a rad-blaster. Can I scroll?”

Ruhger pulled the e-torc off and handed it to her, frowning at Saree’s back. Then he huffed, got up, and went to the sani-mod.

Good. Q could do this a lot faster on her own. She slid the e-torc around her neck and found a net node with one of her backdoors and got into Valenti net security easily. She set up alerts tied to their names, current faces, and this station corridor. Good thing she’d memorized all the net access codes rather than relying on her e-torc. Then she returned to the fold transport list—they had to leave this station quickly.

Ruhger dropped into the bottom bunk directly across from her and under Saree. “Wake me if you need anything.”

Q nodded at him, and he closed his eyes, seeming to drop into sleep immediately. Perfect—she’d work faster on her own. After scrolling through every folder leaving Vela, she didn’t find any she knew or trusted. Giving up on the passenger folders, she looked at the short-term work contracts.

Ah, here we go. A freighter looking for a net tech, a pilot, and general workers. Q looked through the work history. Yikes. These guys were barely limping along but from the reviews and fines, they didn’t get along with Familia. Perfect for them—Nebula Wraith wouldn’t ask questions. Q sent off inquiries for a crew of three including her real skills, and Epstein’s piloting qualifications, and got an offer back immediately. They traded messages for a while, Nebula Wraith’s captain insisting on pics of all of them and assurances they weren’t Familia because Familia was evil. No kidding. But this guy wasn’t any better—he was a sand flea. Q sent the real Epstein’s pic, and doctored pics of her and Saree—no one would recognize them. Really, Captain Bonnet—which wasn’t his real name, of course—should know better.

Q finally convinced Bonnet she knew her stuff by breaking into his personal e-torc and putting a message in his display. She got an agreement with a ludicrously low offer of credits. She was about to fire a counteroffer back when one of her security alerts went off. Sand and sun! Their escape from Indomito was discovered and the three of them had been spotted on the station. She accepted the employment offer and got up.

She poked Ruhger. “Got to go now. Security noticed us.” Q grabbed her carrysack and Saree’s.

He jumped up. “Wake up—we’ve got to go, now,” Ruhger hissed to Saree.

Q stared at the holo, reading her alerts. “We were spotted on forty on vid. It won’t take them long to find us.” She looked up at the two of them. No time for hair or makeup changes. “Sa—Ferra, take your hair down. Ep—suns, nothing we can do about those shoulders. Give me your hat.”

Ruhger took his hat off, dropping it on her head and walking to the hatch. “As much as I hate to ask, do you have any idea what Below is like here?”

Q shuddered. Dead, that’s what the non-existent station Below was like. “Bad idea. I got us jobs. We’re going back out, turn left out of the hostel, and to a float tube. Up two levels and out to shuttle arm Tango. I made a deal with a freighter captain for net work in exchange for passage. He expects help with piloting too; his pilot left him here and he hasn’t found another one. It’s not safe; he’s got a bad rep. But he hates Familia more than he hates anything else.” She whispered the name.

They left the Albergo. Q started spoofing vids with blank corridors and shunting alerts off to hidden data locations, but net techs were actively fighting her now. She jumped a little when Ruhger wrapped an arm around her shoulder, but quickly realized he was guiding her while she worked. Q trusted that Ruhger remembered her directions and kept working the security.

“We’re here,” Ruhger hissed in her ear.

Q looked up and entered the security code Bonnet gave her into the hatch. The hatches opened for them and they walked in, Ruhger shoving her behind his bulk.

But it didn’t matter. A short, fat human male pointed a laser pistol at them. Despite the weapon, Q was sure the stench of rotting food was a bigger threat. She gagged along with Saree, her eyes watering.

“Fools. Hands up. Didn’t you think I’d know Familia wants you?” He snorted. “You just paid my debt. Move there and sit.”

He motioned at the row of observers’ chairs behind the pilot and co-pilot’s seats. Q bit her lip and walked to the right, Ruhger going with her. Saree went the other way. The man’s pistol followed Q. She sniffed at her ridiculousness. The pistol was following Ruhger, not her. Before Q reached the seat, a stunner buzzed.

Saree lowered her hand and Q gaped. Where’d she get a stunner? Oh, Ruhger must have given her the one from the Familia shuttle.

Ruhger sprinted to the pilot’s seat and pulled up communications and navigation.

She shook her astonishment off. What if Captain Bonnet had better security than she thought?  Q pulled the e-torc off the unconscious Captain’s neck and started looking through it. No security so far… what about messages? Had Bonnet already messaged Familia?

Ruhger said, “Get us an orbit out to… hah, here it is, Fold Transport Nebula Wraith.”

Q looked up. Oh, he was talking to Saree. Good. She went back to Bonnet’s messages, checking all his systems.

“Sounds like a pirate,” Saree said.

“Probably is,” Ruhger said. “Q, did he contact Familia already?”

“Doesn’t look like it,” Q said, looking through less obvious messaging systems. “But he could have sent something coded.” Some of these messages looked weird. And this one—yikes! She pushed it to the delete folder. Eww. People should know better.

“Any idea how many onboard the folder?” Ruhger asked.

Q recalled the messages between them. Bonnet hadn’t said anything about the other crew. Or if there was anyone else on the crew at all. “Let me look.” There was no organization in Bonnet’s e-torc. Nothing was put in any kind of order. This would take forever.

Saree said, “Release scheduled in nine minutes, forty seconds.”

“Perfect. Secure that idiot and see if there’s any armor on this boat.”

Q searched for personnel files while Saree secured Bonnet. Saree started poking around the shuttle, opening compartments. Waves of new and different stenches wafted to her, mostly rotting food.

Q finally found Bonnet’s crew roster. “Eww. There’s a crew of twenty on the folder and most of them are Blattos.” She’d never seen a Blatto, but the very idea of meter-tall cockroaches made her shudder violently. She scrolled down the crew list—Bonnet didn’t even put their names down, he just numbered them. Yuck. Most of them were unskilled labor, like cargo loaders and cleaners. Blattos cleaned? There was a name by the engineer and purser, but they were lined through, and blank spots by the pilot and co-pilot. So, Bonnet had needed a pilot badly.

“Blast and rad. Those things are impossible to stun and hard to kill,” Ruhger said. “Are any of them command or pilots?”

“No. And it looks like the pilot and co-pilot left, so the whole crew is Blatto except that guy.” Q pointed at Bonnet. She smirked; Saree had not only flex-cuffed his wrists but secured them to a loop under a broken plas floor tile.

Ruhger said, “Find out if this shuttle is usually the folder’s command center or if piloting takes place elsewhere. Either way, see if the Blattos have access.” He huffed. “I’m willing to bet they don’t.”

“Oh yeah? How much?” Q asked, laughing inside. The relief of being off station was making her silly.

“What?” Ruhger asked.

“How much are you willing to bet? I need some credits.” She didn’t, but Ruhger and Saree didn’t need to know that.

Ruhger snorted. “It’s a figure of speech. I don’t gamble.”

“Of course you don’t.” Q snorted. Ruhger seemed pretty humorless. Was he? She’d find out. Q yelled, “Saree, does he do anything fun?” Ruhger’s back stiffened. This was kind of fun. And she needed some of that in her life, especially right now.

“Not very often.”

“Figures. May as well be back on Cygnus with the Sisters.” They both ignored her. Fine. Q flopped down in the co-pilot’s seat and kept looking through Bonnet’s messy files.

Saree said, “Ruhger, I’m not finding anything but garbage.”

“They’re saving it for the Blattos,” Ruhger said. Q’s stomach turned. He continued, “They’ll eat anything, and believe it or not, stations pay good credits for Blatto waste. Makes good fertilizer. Find a seat. Launch in five….”

Saree plopped into a seat, while Q fastened her harness. It was sticky. Yuck. Q jolted in the seat as the shuttle was shoved out.

“Thrust in five, four, three, two, thrust.”

A surge of heavier gravity and then the grav generators came on. Q almost floated, then landed back in her seat somewhere near one-g.

“This thing needs an overhaul,” Ruhger muttered.

“And an intense cleaning,” Saree said.

“We might have the time,” Q told them. “I don’t think we dare message your Lightwave. Familia has too many sniffers on the comms out of Valenti; all of Vela, really. We need to fold out on Nebula Wraith or another folder already here. And taking this shuttle to a different folder will raise a stink.” She laughed at her pun. “A bigger stink than this shuttle.”

“Can you imagine what the folder smells like?” Saree asked, revulsion warring with wonder in her voice.

“I’m hoping we can dock the shuttle and avoid the folder entirely,” Ruhger said. “We’ve got rations here, right?”

“Meal packs,” Saree said. “I haven’t counted them yet.”

“If we fold out to wherever we want, then make a deal with the Blattos to give them the folder, hopefully, they’ll just leave us alone.”

Q said, “I don’t think so. I think they’ll try to swarm us and eat us.” She’d seen it in vid games enough that she looked it up.

“They eat sentients?!” Saree said over Ruhger’s exclamation, “Seriously?”

“It’s never been proven….” Q let the words trail off. “But I’ve seen lots of rumors on the net.”

“This gets better and better.”

More of her alerts went off as Valenti’s security tracked them. Q went back to tweaking security’s figurative nose. Security found most of her backdoors and shut her out. But she still had a few… “Sand and sun! Familia figured out we left the station.”

“Blast and rad,” Ruhger said. “Will they look for this shuttle?”

Q sighed. Valenti’s net techs weren’t stupid, they were just lazy. For example, their certainty the three of them had left the station, just because they couldn’t find the three of them immediately. “Eventually, they’ll track us through the station by where I covered our tracks. They’ll figure it out.” What could she do? She had to make it look like they were still there.

Ruhger nodded. “Okay, then we’re increasing thrust. We might be under heavy-g the whole way because these grav generators are terrible.”

Q’s arm got heavy and she reclined the seat, despite the stickiness. She’d take a long shower later. She had to keep working now, despite the gravity and the dirty shuttle. “I know, I’ll blank out a lot more vids on-station, try to make it look like we’re still there, walking the passageways. But the interface on this e-torc is terrible and the shuttle net is worse.” Q flicked a fingernail at the flickering holo display. It stabilized for a moment, then went back to flickering. She sighed. “Captain Bonnet is a cheapskate. We should have bought a decent e-torc on the station.” She hadn’t had enough time to find a shady dealer, though. The time lag was starting to be a problem too.

“We don’t have credits for a decent e-torc. I just about wiped Epstein’s account out as it was,” Ruhger said. “If we’d had a bit more time, we could have earned them, but…” Ruhger let the words trail off. Q was about to tell him she had credits when he continued. “If we can make it to the folder, we’ve got a chance. If the fold generators work, I’ll fold out right there. Familia wants to abduct us, they pay for it.”

Wow. Fold out in the fold hold orbit? That would cause all kinds of disruptions for the folders in nearby orbits and to the Valenti fold clock. Ruhger was punching Familia right in the nose. Q snickered, then went back to find out what she could about Nebula Wraith.

“Saree, how did you do that trick in Mensa?” Ruhger asked.

“I used a net worm Hal wrote and broke into the ore transport comms. Why?”

Q considered Saree. She hadn’t gotten the impression Saree was a net tech, but she’d mentioned someone named Hal wrote the worm. But if Saree could use net tools, then getting away might be easier. Sand fleas! Locked out of another backdoor. Q swept the connection away.

“Q, could you do that?”

She brought her attention back to Ruhger for a split second. “Do what? I’m a little busy here.”

“Break into a bulk space transport train comms system,” Ruhger said with a bit of impatience.

What? Why would you want to? Q shrugged. Not much else she could do on the station now. “Probably. Which one?”

“Don’t know; I need to find one.”

Who had time for hypothetical questions? “Well, that’s not helpful, Ruhger. I’m not chasing waterfalls.”

“What?” Ruhger said at the same time Saree did. Q snickered again.

“How about I look around, Ruhger?” Saree asked. “Slide surveillance over to me—oh, blast, no e-torc.”

“Q can move and you can take the shuttle screens.”

Oh, sure, because that would be so easy in this heavy grav. But Ruhger was right. Q forced herself up out of the co-pilot’s seat and staggered back to one of the observer chairs, thudding down harder than she wanted to. Ow. She could hardly wait until she could start training again.

After a few minutes, Saree said, “Ruhger, can you change orbit enough to swing us near Valenti Four-Two?”

“An under-construction station is the answer?” Ruhger asked.

“It might not be the answer for the universe and everything, but it’s the answer for us. Plas shipments. They need lots and lots of raw plas.”

“Good.” He pulled Valenti Four-Two’s orbit into the navigation, still showing on the shuttle display. “Find us an outgoing plas transport and I’ll find us a covert route for intercept. Let’s see, I can duck behind this shuttle….”

An orbit for an inbound transport pinged in Q’s e-torc. What was she supposed to do with this? She was still blanking vids on the station and setting off various alarms.

Saree asked, “Q, do you have any prebuilt worms? I can take on the plas transport infiltration. At least to start.”

Good, because she couldn’t spare the time, not if they wanted to escape unnoticed. “Sure.” Q connected to Epstein’s e-torc and pushed a folder full of worms, viruses, trojan horses, and other fun toys to Saree’s station on the shuttle.

“Wow. Okay then, this should keep me busy for a while.”

Q sure hoped so. With the time lag and Valenti net security actively working against her, it was hard to do anything proactive, all she could do was watch for signs their escape from the Valenti Station was discovered. If Familia figured out they were on this shuttle, they’d have troops boarding them in no time at all. Probably those creepy human-looking remotes.

She shuddered. The sooner they could fold out, the better. If they couldn’t fold out, hiding was the next best choice. No matter what, Q wasn’t going back.

#

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