Peyton nervously bounced her leg, making an exceptionally loud jangling sound as the chains of her shackles rattled against the steel of the floor and bench. The holding cell at Top End Spaceport—outside of Darwin—was little more than a seat in the center of a three meter cube. The ceiling was one big light panel, steady and bright and yellow, and the four walls were all slightly concaved mirrors. It was like being locked in a fun house.

The cell was, of course, inside a cavernous warehouse-type room with dozens of other cells staggered at intervals in the dark. The mirrors were one-way; she occasionally heard officers patrolling the area, but for all she knew there was someone staring into her face right now. It was disconcerting; intentionally so.

When the sirens went off, she’d been even more surprised than the security agents. Colette had done it twice and said it was easy money. Should have known better than to trust her. Peyton was being used. Everything was going according to plan, she was sure—it just wasn’t the plan that had been sold to her.

Bloodrunning. Mosquito work. Seeing stars and making bars. She wasn’t cut out for this. Had she really needed the money that bad? No. She hadn’t really needed it at all. It just sounded easier than working some crappy office job for forty years.

She decided she would cooperate. Tell them everything. Roll on Colette, and Kingston and Beckett, too. Their synth guy out in the sticks coded the formula into a junk section of her DNA. The plan was to hop up to Copernicus and meet their contact at Mare Vaporum so he could extract the code and start printing the latest cocktail of hexaphetamines for Lunar distribution. Mostly small-time shit in the scheme of things.

But from what she could piece together, that asshole didn’t put a drug recipe in her blood—he uploaded a goddamn virus. It wormed deep into the spaceport’s security system the moment they pricked her, and now she was up against interplanetary destabilization charges. Bioterrorism. Blood fraud. A half-dozen lessor offenses. She was fucked.

The mirrored wall in front of her swung open and a small man with pinched eyes and a neat mustache leaned in. “Peyton Judge. Twenty-four years old. No prior record. You’re looking at multiple life sentences.” His breath was like burnt coffee. “I suspect you’ve made a series of mistakes. How would you like to make a deal?”

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