Nerissa was hungry; a state not unfamiliar to her. Hunger in perpetuity. It was a lifestyle choice—came with the whole space pirate thing. She wanted to eat, sure, but she was hungry for more than food.
Everyone knows space is mostly empty, knows it logically, but most everyone doesn’t know know it like Nerissa does. It’s not just empty; it’s totally and completely bone-crushingly emp-fucking-ty. It was as if after God made the Earth She decided it was way too much work and gave up on the whole rest of the universe. Leave it empty, go get high for a hundred billion years and maybe try again. Or maybe don’t.
Nerissa’s little black ship, the Lasciate Ogne Speranza, hung cold and motionless in the darkness of the nebula like picked-over carrion. Twenty-sixth century piracy relied on the treasure coming to you, not the other way around. It was a waiting game. And waiting meant rationing. She had a store of dehydrated nutrient powder that was 800 calories per ounce. It kept her going but it tasted like piss. Don’t ask how she rehydrated it. Kept her appetite to a minimum, anyway.
As she floated dreamily, contemplating a meal, a small monitor came to life. Had to be small—the EM shield generators burned fuel like nothing else. She pulled herself arm over arm across the tangle of ropes that crisscrossed the empty belly of her ship and checked the alert. A ship was coming. A big one.
A really big one! A pleasure cruiser.
The gang back at port would never believe her. Here fishy fishy. Come to mama.
She prepared the cyberwarfare suite using the little screen, anticipating the big splash it would make. Worked perfectly, like atomic clockwork. As the cruiser approached and its thrusters brought it to rest, Nerissa took a small joy in pressing the big black pushbutton on the console. A thin void-black carbon fiber banner unfurled above her ship. It bore an ancient symbol still recognized universally from Earth to Andromeda: a sun-bleached skull with an empty smile above two crossed bones.
Time to satisfy those old familiar hungers.