Kyra fingered the edge of the thin blade in her hand, half hidden in an alcove on the prison floor. The edge was polished, smooth, sharp enough to cut through meat and tendon with barely a hitch. She liked it that way. She liked blades in general. They were quick, quieter than other weapons; easily concealed and easily cleaned. Guns left traces, bullets, forensic shit that could come back and bite you on the ass if you weren't careful. Blades didn't jam, didn't misfire and leave you looking like an idiot when your mark realized you were there. With a good blade, all that was left was a corpse.

She remembered her first blade, little more than a piece of sharpened scrap metal she had the good luck to pick up. Remembered the days she spent shaping, sharpening, until it resembled the shiv Riddick had on that God forsaken dust bowl of a planet.

She got it on Lupus 5, a few months after she hooked up with Har and his group. She was so stupid then, so naïve. He'd picked her up in a bar, just another run away, another orphan with too much hope and too little sense. Looking back, she couldn't believe she actually agreed to go with him to his ship, that she'd trusted him to teach her to be a merc. The first time her back hit the hard slab of his bunk she learned her first lesson: Never trust anybody, anytime, unless you had a knife to their throat.

That was how she spent the next five months; on her back for him or for his 'clients', unless she was on her knees. Hoping from planet to planet, eating whatever scraps they threw her way. They never stayed in one place for more than a week or two. The official age of consent set by the Galactic Accord was fourteen, and eventually someone would notice her and ask questions. But that didn't stop her from working when they first hit port.

Once they landed on Helion Prime, right in New Mecca, and she'd hoped that Imam would see her, recognize her. Even if he didn't, someone would. She'd spent six months in the city, someone should have remembered her face, her voice, even with her hair a little longer, her eyes a little emptier.

No one did.

Life went on for her as it had; her turning tricks, Har collecting the money. It got to the point where he could give her an address and a time, and she'd go there without being watched and come back, all without thinking of escape. Har was good at discouraging her from attempting it, and after the first four times she couldn't even think about doing anything but going and coming back without shivering.

After making the rounds, ducking questions, they went back to Lupus 5. He had good paying customers there, he told her with one hand fisted in her hair, and they were asking about her. The first day back she went out three times, each time to another address, another man.

That's when she found her blade.

It was thin, razor thin, as long as her hand; curved, tapered and strong as hell. High grade, industrial refuse, she learned later. She saw it stumbling back from her latest trick and palmed it. When she got back to the ship she went straight to the shower and shoved it beneath a loose girder. Almost a week of catching moments when the others were out gambling and drinking to work it, to make it into what she wanted. She remembered testing the gray blade on her thumb, happy when it slid through her skin with barely any feeling.

Boy, was Har surprised.

He was her first in more ways than one. He was the first time still-warm blood covered her hands. The first time she heard that strange gasping gurgle that signaled a death blow; the shiv cutting through flesh so fast and deep he didn't have time to scream before he was drowning in his own blood. The abdominal aorta, Riddick had called it a lifetime ago, poking the center of her chest. She'd stared at Har afterwards, straddling him as his face grayed out, his eyes glazed. Barely thirteen years old, and she was already a killer.

She slipped off the ship after that, hiding in the city until the Grey Dock finally set out. It didn't take long. Nel and Kel did little more than dump the body, ask a few questions, and cut out as fast as they could. No one even investigated when the body floated its way into dry dock. Who cared about the third rate merc who got a shiv stuck between his ribs?

She whored a bit after that, took up with street gangs, learned how to fight, to survive. How to hide blades so the best hand searches wouldn't find them. She was hard, harder than beaten steel, and it didn't matter if the job was sucking someone off or shoving a shiv through their back, she was good at either so long as the money was right. She stopped being Jack. Jack was a stupid little girl who thought someone would always rescue her. Jack trusted, followed orders and never questioned.

Kyra did none of those things.

There were other blades after that first one; some proper ones brought from traders, others shaped metal, but that first was her favorite. She kept it until Crematoria, would've managed to smuggle it in if the full body scan hadn't caught the bundle shoved up her snatch. The guards had loved that, laughed as Gregori held her down so they could 'extract contraband'. It wasn't usual that they got something like her; sixteen years old with a bounty on her head, and they took their time. It was all good for her, she knew how to act, how to move. She could handle them all in her sleep.

Kyra spent the first year of her sentence getting them back. A cut throat was a cut throat, and the guards soon learned she wasn't just a pretty piece of patch. She'd earned her place in Crematoria, and if it took four dead guards and one who'd never be able to speak through a sliced voice box for them to learn that, that was their problem.

Still, sometimes she dreamed about that blade, wondered if they'd kept it locked away somewhere. At times, when it was quiet, she imagined she could hear it calling to her.

The sound of the alarm snapped Kyra out of her thoughts. That alarm meant one thing: fresh meat. Already the other cons were drumming away. She remembered hanging from that line, spitting at the people leering at her, kicking one who'd gotten too close. She turned away, uninterested. He'd probably be dead in a few hours, anyway.

"I'd take the money, Tombs."


Kyra looked up. There he was, the man who'd saved her life just to abandon her, the one person she'd ever felt attached to. The cancer that had eaten at her soul for three years, when she wondered why he didn't come back and save her like he had so long ago; a cancer she thought she'd cut out two years ago.


As he twirled his way up the rope the girl settled on her outcrop, feeling a strange swell of amusement. She checked her hip, her calf, the top of her mouth and the back of her neck. All her blades were in place.

She had a feeling she'd need them before long.

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