But let’s talk about you.

“So how does it happen that the Crown Princess of the UFP takes taxi service on a tramp freighter to Mars?”

“Well, I had to get there somehow.”

“Yeah, but suppose I threw you out the airlock right now. Then what?” Casey caught the quick flicker of her eyes to her right hip. “Yeah, I know all about your little disintegrator. Don’t worry though; you won’t need it.”

She did not look convinced.

“Alright, alright. My interest is purely academic—surely, we know that our lives would be forfeit. But in any case, we like you, ‘red-top’. Even though you have no official power, your influence has been enough to get the merchants the best tech, even in these troubled times.”

Her Royal Highness relaxed a bit, and at the moniker ran one nimble hand through her crimson hair, self-consciously.

[shrugging shoulders] “Well, to tell you, then—I’m really nobody at this point. If I died, the regency would just continue until someone figured out what to do. Probably someone in the court would take over. . . . I take it, though, you want someone of my persuasion in-charge?”

“That we do, Your Highness.”

“Yeah. You weren’t even supposed to know that I’m she, except—”

Ed. note: we last saw the Polaris here.

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