Upon storming onto the bridge, Charlie came to a halt when she saw that Missy was conversing someone on the main bridge monitor. It was a man with a substantial moustache and closely shaved salt and pepper hair. His large eyebrow lifted in Charlie's direction.
"And who is this, Mistress?" he asked, putting a hint of derision in the title, making it clear that he didn't believe she warranted one of such deference.
"Oh, this would be my lieutenant," Missy remarked lightly.
"Good god, the rumours are true," he muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I suppose I should have expected as much from a madwoman who decided to take one of our colony stations for herself."
Missy smiled at him. "I do aim to do the unexpected."
"So you're from one of the other colony stations? Are you in charge of one?" Charlie asked curiously, coming closer.
"Charlie, this is Captain Verdan of Colony Station Three," Missy introduced, her hand coming to rest on Charlie's shoulder. "Captain, this is Lieutenant Charlotte of Colony Station Two."
There was something smug and mocking in her introduction of Charlie, something that made Captain Verdan grit his teeth visibly.
"What exactly are you trying to achieve?" he asked her, losing some of his composure. "You've been in charge for months, and for what? All you've done is slaughter the inhabitants of your station, and for what?"
"Don't be ridiculous, I've been saving all the ones who actually possess brains and making them work nice and hard on some rather exciting weapons technology."
Captain Verdan lost a bit of the colour in his face. "What? What for?"
"You know, I can't quite remember now," Missy said, blowing her hair out of her face and tapping her fingers on Charlie's shoulder. "Might have been to just make some of them fight for my amusement, when they're done. Might have been to aid future conquests. Who knows?"
"If you try to attack another station, we will be ready for you, and you will not win," Captain Verdan told her.
Missy blinked at him and then just started laughing. Charlie bit her lip to smother her amused smile. Verdan looked rather disturbed, and not half unsettled.
He ended the call without so much as a farewell, turning the screen to a blank black.
"Are we taking over another space station?" Charlie asked her mother.
"Don't be ridiculous, what would I need another one of these for? Can you imagine the maintenance?" Missy scoffed.
"Now, why in the world were you barging in here in such a panic?"
Charlie, having momentarily forgotten her reason for arriving, was thrown back into her previous panic as she remembered what she had learned. They're going to kill your mother.
"There's going to be an attempt on your life," she said. That was how people phrased it, wasn't it?
Missy arched an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"Some people from my sector, or the leader is, at least, my spy overheard them talking and came to tell me, but apparently it's going to be this afternoon, with the guard changeover-"
"Is this spy of yours the one that helped you a few months ago?"
"Maybe," Charlie said, trying to sound as mysterious as possible. Missy laughed a little.
"Hmm, your lying could still use work, kit, but that wasn't bad, at least above average for your age," she told Charlie with a fond pat to the head.
"Now, what exactly is this attempt on my life supposed to entail? Am I going to laugh myself silly?"
Once Charlie conveyed Dun's supposed plan, Missy still didn't seem massively worried, but did agree that it was best to take precautions. She scheduled an early changeover of guards, and invited Maya to come and keep her company on the bridge for the afternoon, while Charlie was left in their living quarters, out of harm's way.
"Why do you want Maya there?" Charlie had asked.
"Well, it'll throw them off," Missy had explained. "And worst comes to worst, she'd make a decent shield."
Charlie didn't really like the sound of that, but couldn't fault the logic, and decided it was best not to argue at this particular moment. So she had gone to their suite and waited.
There was just one problem. The attack, or rebellion, or assassination attempt, or whatever it was that they would call it… never came.
"Well, that was uneventful," Missy sighed, after she'd sent Maya off with another whisper in her ear and a smirk as the woman had blushed yet again.
Charlie, having just arrived, was baffled.
"I don't understand, there's no way Cail would lie to me," Charlie said, frowning.
"Oh, so that's his name," Missy remarked, and Charlie realised her mistake. "Oh, don't look so worried, kit, I'm not going to do anything to him. It is possible he just misinterpreted the information he heard. It is also possible that he was messing with you, though, you should keep that in mind."
"Cail's my friend, he wouldn't lie to me," Charlie insisted.
Missy frowned at her. "And I'm your mother, and I'm telling you that it's possible he might have. Because everyone lies, about something, at some point."
"Even you?" Charlie asked. "To me?"
"Well, except that, obviously," Missy sniffed.
"Is that true?"
"I don't know, is it?" Missy arched an eyebrow, and Charlie felt weird in her stomach. She didn't like this turn in the conversation. "Hard to tell, isn't it?"
"Cail wouldn't lie to me, we have a deal," Charlie said again, squaring her jaw. "I'm going to go and find him. I bet he's just as confused as I am."
"Fine, you do that, if it'll make you feel better," Missy said, shaking her head. "Report back here with what he has to say."
Charlie nodded and left.
She met Cail in their usual spot, and he looked at her expectantly.
"You managed to stop them, I'm assuming?" Cail asked.
Charlie crossed her arms. "We took precautions, but no one came."
The bewilderment on Cail's face is too powerful, too genuine, for Charlie to ever doubt it. Not that she had ever doubted him for a second, really. That Missy might lie to her, if probably for good reason? Sure, she could believe that. But not Cail.
A moment later, the shock had given way to pensive confusion as he started pacing and stroking his chin, a deep frown furrowing his brow.
"What precautions did you take?" he asked.
"Um, well, we did the guard changeover early-"
"That must have tipped them off," Cail muttered. "You two should be careful. They might try again."
"You're right," Charlie agreed. "We'll be careful."
"I'll do my best to keep an eye on Dun in the meantime."
There were precisely seventeen weapons in the suite that Missy shared with her daughter. All hidden, with precise calculation. Charlie knew about four of them.
Of the remaining thirteen, Missy made her way around and extracted the dagger inside the vase of flowers so that she could tuck it into her boot, and took the blaster underneath the desk chair to fix to her garter. Her multi-functional disintegrator she kept in her hand, ready to look like an innocent personal device that could actually zap anyone who got in her way.
Word was that apparently her little conversation with Captain Verdan had spooked him, and now he was amassing the other stations and their forces to try and take her out.
The backstabbing Missy could respect, but it was done so poorly that she could only be disappointed. She'd gotten wind of it so easily, just by hacking into a chat channel for maintenance workers on the third station, since all the stations ran on the same online network.
Regardless, it wasn't something that Missy could allow, so she was preparing to board the Station Three and kill however many people necessary to shut this little rebellion up. Or better yet, perhaps she could try hypnosis. She hadn't done that in a long while.
"Mum? What are you doing?"
"Mummy is going out," Missy replies, double checking she has everything and adjusting her clothing one last time before moving to reapply her lipstick.
"Station Three, they're being rather naughty and I'm going to go and kill a lot of them to make them regret it."
"Oh," Charlie said, eyebrows up. "Will you be gone long?"
"A day or two, maybe," Missy said with a shrug. "Don't mention it to anybody, don't need anyone getting any ideas."
"Okay. Do you want me to keep an eye on the other sectors?"
"Yeah, just a quick look in every couple of hours, that should be more than enough." Missy ruffled Charlie's hair. "You're a good kit. I'll be back soon. Don't stay up late watching holovids just because I'm not here."
She kissed the top of Charlie's head and headed out, to the interstation teleport she'd thoroughly uninstalled upon arriving.
After about ten minutes of it work, it was up and running again and she was stepping out into the corridor of Station Three. The design was hilariously identical, the walls just more in hues of pale purple than pale blue.
"Should have taken over this one," Missy murmured. "Far closer to my personal colour scheme."
She crept along, keeping out of sight of random personnel. She knew from her late night hacking sessions that the other stations had flashed her personal image around as a big blah blah scary lady who took our space station sort of informative poster, so she didn't want to risk being seen. Not that she had any qualms about killing civilians, of course, but too much screaming and mayhem might tip off the captain. Better to start at the top and murder her way down.
Finding Captain Verdan's quarters was almost too easy. Hacking through his door seal was even easier.
"Hello, Captain, fancy seeing you here on this fine evening," she said, smiling at him as she entered the room and he stumbled back, staring at her with a deliciously amusing amount of fear.
"How did you-"
"Oh please, don't insult me," Missy snorted, getting out her disintegrator and starting to calibrate it to the right setting, walking casually as she did so. "Do you really think you can organise a rebellion and I wouldn't hear about it?"
"I-" He steeled himself, lifting his chin. "I stand by my actions. You cannot be allowed to continue your tyranny."
"It's adorable that you think you can stop me," Missy said.
He looked at her with powerful loathing but said nothing.
"Oh, so no begging for your life?" Missy asked with disappointment. "Pity. I was quite looking forward to that."
He said nothing. She vaporized him.
Once that was done, and she'd checked his quarters for anything interesting to take (there was nothing, he seemed so incredibly dull), Missy headed back out into the corridor and towards the sector where she knew most of the high ranking officers would be living, if it had remotely the same layout to her station.
She was about halfway there when she caught wind of some voices down the corridor.
"This place looks normal. Too normal. Suspiciously normal, even."
"You find everything normal suspicious, Doctor."
Missy stopped dead in her tracks.
"Where's your mother?"
Charlie trusted Cail, where it counted. All the same, she did know that he wasn't her mother's biggest fan, and still wasn't on their side, not really. Her side, maybe, in some ways, but not theirs.
"Busy," Charlie told him. "I don't know. She's around here somewhere." Here meaning this general location in space, this colony, as opposed to the singular station specifically.
"I think I like her better when I know where she is," he muttered, and she pretended not to hear it or his even quieter addition of 'even though I don't like her at all, obviously'.
"You worry too much," she said, "and you're about to lose your rook, if you don't start paying attention."
Cail sighed, but it was more lighthearted now, his attention back on the chessboard between them where they were sitting opposite each other at the end of a long table in the sector's dining room. His lips curled.
"It's kind of you to pretend that I have any chance of beating you," he said mournfully.
Charlie giggled. "There's always a chance, though!"
"I'm not so sure."
"No, really," Charlie said seriously, sitting up a bit straighter. "I don't know much about, you know… life and the universe and stuff. I'm just a kid, I know all that stuff goes over my head, and not just because I'm not very tall yet. But I know that no matter how unlikely something is, it's still always possible it could happen."
"Yeah?" Cail asked, lifting an eyebrow at her. He almost looked impressed.
Charlie nodded. "It should have been almost completely impossible for me to even exist. Mum says one in a hundred thousand, maybe. But I'm still here."
Cail stared at her, an odd look in his eyes that might be some kind of melancholy. "God, I just wish you weren't-"
"You're kind of amazing, you know," he said, "I think you could be absolutely anything. Anything you wanted to be, or tried to be."
Charlie smiled at him. "Thanks! I hope that's true."
His eyes were definitely sad now. "I just - Charlie, please promise me that you'll be who you want to be, and not who your mother wants you to be."
She considered his words, seriously. She valued her mother's opinion a lot, but she did have to admit that sometimes she wanted things that Charlie didn't. When it came to herself, and her life, as much as Missy's input was important, it was logical that her own input and wishes should come first.
"I promise," Charlie told him, with a singular nod.
"Good, now - Dun?"
Cail's expression of approval faded as his gaze went to something over Charlie's shoulder. When she turned to see what it was, sure enough, there was Dun, with three others behind him. All four of them had blasters.
"I know you betrayed us, Cail," Dun said, glowering at him. "I know you told the kid about our plan, so she could warn her mother. I told you that you were in too deep."
"Dun, you don't understand-"
"Don't you dare try and lecture me like you're even remotely in your right mind. We're here to fix things, once and for all. Word is that the Mistress is on one of the other stations at the moment. So we're taking this one back. Starting with putting down her creepy, evil kid, once and for all."
Charlie and Cail both slid out of their seats, standing and facing Dun with alarm.
"Dun, there's no need for this, she's a child-"
"She's a monster in the making, and you're a fool not to see it," Dun snapped, pointing his blaster squarely at Charlie's chest.
"I'm not scared of you," Charlie told him, stepping forward. "And if you hurt me, my mum will hurt you so much worse. Stuff so bad she won't even tell me about it yet, and she tells me a lot."
"Oh yeah?" Dun sneered. "Well, she can try. Getting my brother back is worth the risk."
And with that, he fired.
I'm so cruel, I know. Let me know what you thought!