The Good Fortune was too small to boast a separate D-mat room for personnel. When Trevyn and his security team rematerialized, they found themselves in the tug’s cramped cargo bay, surrounded by stasis cubes and storage bins, stacks of water barrels, and a tangled jumble of slings and lifts. An irregular path wound its way through the clutter from the D-mat pad to a hatch, where Lael Saphora lounged, one shoulder against a bulkhead, a laze rifle held loosely in her hands.
His security team snapped to attention, bringing their own weapons to bear.
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” she said. “Your captain would be dead before you could twitch, and then where would we be?”
Trevyn motioned for them to lower the weapons they’d raised. They did as they were told, though he could tell they didn’t like it. It was dim in the cargo hold, and Saphora was outlined by the lights from the passageway beyond the hatch where she stood. He couldn’t see her face. All he had to go on was her form—slim, not tall, but full of leashed energy—and her voice, which was so low it was nearly a growl. No, not a growl. A purr. He waited for her to speak again.
“I’m well aware that your ship has the advantage,” she said.
He tilted his head. “This is you making a point?”
“I don’t like having my space invaded,” she answered. “I’m territorial like that.”
He could understand the feeling. “I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.”
“The second ship, you mean. Friend of yours?”
She sighed. “So no wiggle room. I was just going to ask what an evil Thrane like you was doing mixed up with the do-gooders at Rescue.”
“Maybe I want to change my ways.”
She straightened and pushed off the bulkhead. “Not fucking possible.” The purr had roughened to a snarl now, deep and angry. She turned and ducked into the passageway before Trevyn had a chance to react.
He and the others were moving before her shadow had fully disappeared down the corridor. His team was well trained; he didn’t have to tell the two men to split up ahead of him to cover the small hidden areas of the ship—the galley and crew lounge, such as it was; the single crew cabin, now empty; the captain’s quarters. He himself took the bridge, no more than a cockpit. That’s where he found her.
She had set aside her weapon and regarded him empty-handed from her conn. He confiscated the laze rifle and passed it back to the security officer who stood in the hatch behind him. There was no room for three of them in the compact horseshoe of touchscreens and data readouts.
Trevyn had assumed her to be Thrane, but in the harsher light of the cockpit he saw it was not so. Her smaller frame should have given it away; a closer look at the fine bones and saffron skin of her face, the delicate shape of her ears, the striking pale gold of her eyes confirmed it. She was Hinarr. Ghost. Other. One of the hunted and despised of his planet. He saw the moment he realized her true nature reflected back from her eyes. Hatred. Bitterness. Pain.
She lifted her chin. “Disappointed?”
“Why should I be?” He held her gaze though sparks flew.
“You’re thinking it won’t be so easy to interrogate a ‘mindless idiot,’ I suspect.” She stared him down. “That’s what you believe, isn’t it? My people have no telepathic skill, no communication mind-to-mind, so we are no better than animals to be hunted or used for . . . well, whatever.”
Shame burned its way red-hot through his body. Yes, that was how his people thought of hers. How his family—his father, his mother, his brother—had taught him to think of the Hinarr. It was one of many reasons why he had run from Thrane and never wanted to go back, coward that he was. And though there was no mindlink between them, he had no trouble feeling her rage.
Still, Trevyn was not his father or his brother, no matter what she thought of him. “Your mind would have remained your own,” he said, “whether you were human, Thrane, or any other sentient being. Members of Rescue do not violate minds to take the information they seek, and neither do I.”
She laughed, her sleek dark head tilted back. “That’s a lie, and you well know it. But luckily my little skull is as empty as a jug. Or as dense as a rock, depending on which simile you choose. No telepathy can penetrate it or extract what is inside.” She shrugged. “That is, if you believe there is anything inside.”
Trevyn ignored this and turned to order his security team to begin the sensor search of the inner hulls of the tug. He knew the weapons were tucked away behind the bulkheads; there was no reason to waste time asking the Good Fortune’s obstinate captain about it. He would simply leave the other questions to Rayna Murphy. Interrogation had always been his brother Kinnian’s specialty, until their half-brother Gabriel had put an end to it—and to Kinnian.
“You promised me a name, Only.”
Trevyn’s gaze snapped back to his captive. “I haven’t stepped foot on Thrane in seven circuits, but I still remember ‘Only’ is an insult. I don’t recall naming you ‘Ghost.’”
A smile curled her small mouth, and she nodded. “Fair enough. Thrane, then, if you would have me Hinarr. What is your name?”
“Trevyn Dar, captain of the Blood’s Honor.” He braced himself for what was coming.
It took less than a heartbeat. “Dar?” Saphora shot to her feet. “Son of Kylan Dar, the Butcher of Four Systems!” She stared at him. “Not Blood’s Honor. Bloodstalker! Once your father’s ship. Now your brother Kinnian’s.”
He held his ground. “Until a circuit ago. When my half-brother Gabriel and I defeated Kinnian and the Minertsans on Earth. I took the ship and those of the crew who would fight with me and joined Rescue. We gave ourselves a new name. And a new purpose.”
“You can never repay the blood you owe this galaxy,” she said, her gold eyes aflame. “Or my people.”
“You tell me nothing I don’t already know,” he answered, refusing to look away, even when his security officer appeared in the corridor behind him.
“Captain,” the man said. “We’ve found the weapons. Enough to equip a small fighting force.”
Trevyn turned at last and nodded to his team. “Leave them where they are. We’ll tow the ship and its cargo intact. Secure the prisoner. She goes back to the Honorwith us. And take care, she’s Hinarr.”
“Ptark!” the woman raged. “You have no ‘honor!’ You’re just a pawn. The oligarchy on Thrane is using you—all of you!”
She said more—a lot more—but Trevyn stopped listening and refused to think about what he’d already heard as he made his way back to his ship.