“Why, this is one of the greatest specimens of potential extraterrestrial sentience I have ever seen,” said Minister Malorious, leader of the planet Veicion and one of the foremost scholars in this quadrant.
“Yes, I was quite impressed by its cognitive ability while we battled it,” said Dr. Yammoh. “Should we discuss this over dinner sometime?”
“In your dreams,” said Malorious.
Everyone laughed, but Mikka felt a little strange as she did. Like some part of her was upset, but she didn’t know why.
“Well, here is your payment,” Malorious said, extending his hand as truckloads of credits were being wheeled onto the XSS Savior. “I heard your ship was heavily damaged in a firefight of some sort. These chips should be more than enough to compensate your damages, as well as the initial payment for the complete mission and the specimen itself.”
Koin looked at the money with sparkles in her eyes. “The processors in those credits… we could build a new AI system with that!”
With the mention of an AI system Lor gave Brit a sideways glance. Brit realized she was probably more useful on this ship as Maenad, the defective computer she used to be.
“I think…” Brit began. “I think this is where my ride on the Savior ends. I’ve done nothing for any of you but cause trouble. I’m just glad you didn’t send me out the airlock.”
“Nonsense,” Mikka said. “You’re just as much a member as the rest of us, even if we can’t remember it. And you’re the one who killed Luminosa. Without that, we’d have been erased from existence.”
“But… I killed her because…”
Mikka gave a hearty pat to Brit’s back. “Whatever. I’m not letting you leave, no matter what you say.”
At this same moment, Wins was trying to sulk off and leave the ship behind, but Lor and Tor stopped her in her tracks. “Wha… What?”
“Wins, what the hell are you doing?” Mikka asked. “We’ve got to go soon.”
“You don’t understand!” she shouted. “I had a perfect life. I lived happily in a world with the love of my life, and it disappeared as soon as we defeated the author. I’m never getting that back.”
“So what were you going to do? Not be our pilot because of that?”
“I… You’re right.”
“I know I’m right,” said Mikka. “Now come on, and let’s all get some promotions.”