The screen blinks to life.
Sober, shocked. Mei composes herself after a split second. “I thought you were dead.”
Every monotone word heavy with threat.
“You can throttle me near death another time. Perhaps when you pick me up.” I smile, feeling relieved the ailing equipment is finally working. “I’ve had to go through a few favours to get even this ship. She’s gone through a lot.” The grin saying the tales she’s expecting.
“Send the package, I’ll go meet you.” She says, gaze darting to another screen.
I clear my throat, Mei’s attention darting to me. “A slight issue. We don’t have a probe launcher. They’re jury-rigging a missile launcher. Poorly. And it wont work.” I pause for this to sink in, “there will be a transport enroute, but no one’s entirely sure how long.”
She grunts, “name of the-” I cut her off with a wave of the arm, the child in my lap squirming.
“These things are slaves. I doubt they have the cognitive capacity to understand anything but the task they’re set.” Mei blanches. “No, they haven’t boarded. No, I haven’t boarded their vessels. No, nothing has passed between the vessels.” She looks visibly relieved, her attention turning to the child in my arms.
“How are they?” She asks, genuine concern in her voice.
“They’re fine, and a little more grown up than you last met them.” The screen flickers alarmingly. “I’ll contact you as soon as I know anything.”
She nods, the hastily fixed ship communications array giving out at last. With a sigh, I turn in after a long day of fixing minor faults. And a nice, long shower.


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