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Artwork by Dangiuz

There it is, she thought to herself, squinting against the tunnel wind to eye the many-ringed behemoth in the distance. That’s where the prick lives.

Her calves ached from magno-walking the outer shell of the orbital transitway for hours. She’d had the bright idea of hiring a taxi drone to cover the distance, but then had a not so bright slip up. In a rush to leave before that week’s round of EBA sweeps, she’d accidentally loaded her card with credits with a crypto that was… questionable in its ability to hold value for more than a few hours. So travel was by foot the rest of the way since late last night.

After the credits ran out, she tried activating the distress call on the drone’s screen, which eventually pulled up a live feed from its owner, but he was having none of it. She even tried appealing to his better nature — she could tell he was half-Amari — but it only led to him locking the drone to a bay in the transitway and calling authorities. She chose to walk away rather than hack the drone. She knew she could start it up with some effort, but she was so close now she couldn’t risk any more complications.

Despite being holed up in the drone for a good 27 hours, she didn’t sleep much. Dozed off a few times but it was mostly snatches of discomfort and dreaming. Dreams left a residue. Dreams of her mother. Like the drone owner, her mother was Amari. Full Amari, 100% Martian-born. Her mother had never really fit in on Earth if you thought about it for more than a couple seconds.

Her dreams constantly drove home why she was here. Her father never told her the full story, of course. “Accident,” he said, in his typically brusk way, slouching in his chair and turning back to one of those awful survival game feeds. So she’d had to dig for herself. Well, if it was an accident, apparently there were a couple dozen other Amari who’d suffered similar such “accidents”.

The prick — Station Chief Yaholt as his staff knew him, but she preferred “prick” — was known for his contempt of Amari. He was one of the early and most fervent supporters of the Earth Before All movement. Calling it a movement was generous, though. More like a prolonged wave of terror and brutality in the land-based Earth cities. (The Undersea Settlements wanted no part of it, and quietly fortified and made themselves hidden to the best of their ability.)

It was probably after delivering one of those hateful EBA speeches that he was feeling puffed up on jingoism and took it out on her mother. She’d been reading old Earth history in her downtime and realized what happened to her mother wasn’t that different from the Argentine Dirty War’s “death flights” of the late 1900s, when political opponents were gruesomely tossed out of helicopters. Except this time it was the help who were the victims. Her mother was among thousands of low-paid (rumored near-slave) labor that maintained the Station Chief’s complexes. And the accident method of choice was a quick shove off the thousand meter tall primary residence.

So that’s where she was headed, slowly, on aching feet now, against the pink light of sunrise.

Was it revenge? She idly played with the handle of the wicked little weaponized thermowire strapped to her thigh. She’d thought about it often, and often turned it over and over in her mind as she drifted off at night.

The newsfeeds buzzed in her neurolink about more tragedies of one sort or other like a swarm of angry hornets. Revenge? No. Not revenge. Justice.

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