Brand waved her hand in Lizin’s face and pointed to her eyes with two fingers. “Up here, L.”
With a roll of her eyes, Lizin dragged them away from Brand’s cleavage. “I’m listening, jeez.”
“Francine Dezine is calling.” Brand struggled to keep the urgency out of her voice. “What do I tell her?”
Lizin shook her head; her expansive belly rolled along with it. “We’re up to our mascara in debt. If she gets a hint of where we are, she’ll send her drones to tear a hole in the goddamn ship. Keep her off our tail.”
Brand huffed an impatient sigh. “Fine, I’ll think of something.”
"You'll do great, Pistachio." Brand pushed away Lizin’s questing fingers.
“I’ve asked you not to call me that.”
“It doesn’t mean anything down on Vortal-C. It’s a snack.” Lizin closed the gap between them and leaned in to bite down on Brand’s earlobe. “A tasty little snack, like you.”
“Enough about Vortal-C,” Brand snapped. “We’re here now, let’s deal with one place at a time.”
Lizin rolled her eyes again as she pulled away, a guilty tic. “What did Rike say about the distribution?”
“He’s working on it. Quim is already showing to around fifteen per cent of the population.”
Lizin sank into her seat with a groan that was echoed by the suffering chair. “Just fifteen? But people need to know what’s going on down there.”
“They will, L.”
Brand gave a little smile and perched on Lizin’s lap. She pushed aside the bad tempers, the poor hygiene facilities on board, the three months cooped up in the tiny metal prison, interspersed with running for their lives across an unfamiliar landscape. For Lizin, she could make herself forget all of that. She could close down the broadcast report screen and pretend she’d never set foot on the screwed-to-hell surface of Quim.
“You know,” she whispered as she pushed the braids back from Lizin’s face. “I always wanted to sleep with a pirate.”
Lizin snorted. “Sure you did. Come on, stick Vortal-C on.”
Brand scowled, but stood up to do as she was told. As she reached the console, the ship shuddered as if against some impact, and Brand froze.
“What the hell was that?” She glanced over her shoulder, where Lizin looked at scared as she felt. “Lizin?”
“They’ve found us.” Scared or not, Lizin kept her cool. She struggled to her feet and glanced at the contact screens. “How quickly can you forge a temporary broadcast license?”
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