“Excuse me, are you Tenacity? I’m Isla.”

“Yes, it’s lovely to meet you. Please do sit down.” Tenacity was taken aback. Isla may have a Confederacy name and a Confederacy home, but certainly not the look. She was thin; not the taut lengthiness brought on by generations of sub-standard gravity, but the thinness of a balanced diet and a life without need of labor. Her hair was long and caught the light like the ocean catches the falling sun. She walked with her head high and her eyes forward. Overconfidence, to be certain, but confidence nonetheless, a thing not born naturally in the cratered wastes so far from blue skies and free oxygen.

She smiled halfheartedly and gestured at the carafe on the table. “Imported mineral water. Please help yourself.”

Isla smiled in reciprocation. Her cheeks rose and her different-colored eyes appeared to briefly sparkle—biomods, out here?—and she said, “That’s such a kind offer but I’m quite alright, thank you. I’d like to get right to business if it suits you.”

Tenacity picked up the slightest accent, a th sound in place of hard t‘s, but the girl had done well to hide it. Who had ever heard of a comet-dweller not guzzling mineral water at any given opportunity, though? She must have great self-control, this one; surely she was parched and malnourished.

“Absolutely,” Tenacity lilted. “Tell me, what can Terra Financia expect from the sizable investment you’ve proposed?”

“Clean hands,” she said, still smiling radiantly.

“I’m afraid I don’t take your meaning.”

“You’re quite right to be afraid. My apologies. All those years of Earth gravity must have drained the blood from your brain.”

Confederate bitch! Tenacity stammered apoplectically.

“We will do what you cannot,” Isla continued, raising her voice. “Break the Martian government. No one can beat the asteroid belt in a rock throwing contest, but a proxy war does require a certain amount of capital outlay.”

“We will have no part in some Confederate scheme to—”

Isla rose from her chair in a way that appeared unnatural to Tenacity’s earthbound experiences. “You will, or we will bring our offer to the Martians. Enjoy your water as you consider your options.”

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