WINTER'S ORBIT meets The Expanse
Mage pilot Nikita has a problem: she's not a real mage, and her magic-generating augmentations are killing her. So when her ex appears with a dangerous job in exchange for a cure, she can't refuse. All she needs to do is hoodwink a legendary captain, avoid falling for the ship's spy, and steal a human soul without losing her own. No pressure.
Every proximity klaxon in the Unbiased Sycophant blared in Nikita’s ears, and data poured onto her display in red and green rivulets.
Her adrenal augments pounded her body with alacrity. She whipped her head around, a hundred tiny cameras on the hull transferring a seamless feed of the outside universe to the bulbous rig covering her head.
Above, the total blackness of infinite distance and hard vacuum. Below, the orangish-red clouds of the gas giant Athena. A constant gyre of lightning strikes and winds fast enough to tear the ill-maintained Sycophant to shreds.
And at the horizon, twin exhaust plumes showed through the glare.
“How many?” Captain Regran demanded over comms.
“Two incoming,” Nikita said.
“Where the fuck’s ErSec?”
A pause, then the first mate cursed. “No response!”
Typical. You couldn’t trust Eriadanus Securities at the best of times, and this wasn’t the best of times.
Regran growled. “Why do we even pay taxes? Pilot, get us out of here.”
Nikita rolled her eyes. Always the best ideas.
She breathed deep, pulled magic into the augs implanted throughout her body, and drove the molten energy into the control arm in her hands. The magic scalded all the way, a familiar pain.
The control arm absorbed the raw power and transferred it to the ship’s reactors to combine with the primary fuel. The freighter lurched, shimmied, rocketed forward.
But it wasn’t enough.