Wu put the soldering pen down and looked up from the parts spread out in front of him. “Hey man.” He said to the marine standing by the kitchenette. “Can you put the kettle on? I’m parched.”
The marine’s armoured shoulders shrugged at him. Wu took that to mean the soldier hadn’t understood a word he’d said.
Wu mined drinking out of a cup at him. The marine stepped aside and gestured towards the kitchenette. Wu sighed, got up and walked over.
He wasn’t really annoyed. His exasperated expression concealed the mischievous smile that threatened to break out across his face at the first unguarded moment. Their language ignorance was his tactical benefit.
Wu got the kettle going and found his favourite tea canister from the cupboard. He threw the leaves into a cup and waited for the water to boil. Across the room another Marine sat on the couch, trying his hardest not to look bored. The rest of the squad were down in the ship’s hold.
Wu added the boiling water and grabbed a cover so the tea could steep while he worked. When he got back to the table he looked over his components again.
This time he was pretending to fix the high pressure cleaner, it had the power output he needed. More importantly, even though it lacked any kind of wireless transceiver, it had the space for him to hide one inside it while he worked.
The marines would be monitoring wireless networks in the area, because despite their reputation they weren’t idiots. But Wu was a revolutionary, getting away with clandestine communications right under the enemy’s nose was what he did best.
Wu mentally typed out his first message in his nanoputer, compressed it and sent it through the cleaner’s new upgrade. The transceiver broke the message up into small bursts and sent them intermittently. Only when it reached Hae Lee’s end did it unpack and display the full message.
[Are you receiving this. It’s Wu.]
Some time passed before Hae Lee could reply.
[Yes. What’s going on?]
[I need you to pass on a message for me. I’m being watched too closely to send it myself.]
Wu held his breath for a long time after he sent that. There were going to be strings attached to this.
[That’s a big risk you’re asking me to take.]
[I know]. Wu hesitated before adding. [What can I do for you in return?]
The pause before her reply was brief, but agonising. [I’ll help you. If you’re trying to do what I think you’re doing then I’ll do everything in my power to help you, just say the word. But if I help you escape, I want you to give up the Black Mask Society.]
[I’m not going to help you get your freedom back if all you’re going to do is go right back into the fray and loose it again… or worse.]
Wu let out an exasperated sigh. The marine on the couch snapped his head up at him.
On the spot all Wu could think of doing was growl the words “Stupid piece of crap” and slap the side of the cleaner before going back to work.
The Marine shrugged and went right back to sitting on the couch.
[What am I going to do out in the spiral arm without my brothers and sisters?]
[You can come with me. I know someone who can change the Ravenwing’s registration, we could travel across the stars, pulling odd jobs here and there. You’re a good pilot, I’m a good mechanic, there’s a lot of things we could do out in space. You’re asking me to risk everything, my ship, my liberty, possibly my life, so those are my terms.]
[Then no. I’ll find some other way.]
[No wait! Fine, if you won’t give up the BMS then let me join them and take me with you.]
Wu didn’t feel like pretending the cleaner was giving him more trouble. So he resisted the urge to put his face in his palm.
[That’s not a decision I’m allowed to make. We don’t take Blue Lanterns with us when we’re out in the stars. And I don’t have the authority to initiate you as a sworn sister. That’s Sifu’s call.]
[You don’t want me.]
[You’re trying to force me to do what you want and you’re holding something I need to ransom for it. That’s not the sexiest look in the world.]
[I just want you to give me a chance. You keep pushing me away.]
[I’m trying to give you a chance. A chance to live a normal life. The Ranger and I don’t see eye to eye on much but we both agree you’re not cut out for a life of crime. She just let you off the hook and at the first opportunity you’re jumping right back on it.]
[She gave me my life back, that much is true, but it’s mine to do what I want with it.]
[And you want to join a revolutionary movement and die for a free periphery?]
Wu sighed and began screwing the pressure cleaner back together. [All right. If it’s really what you want to do. But I can’t make any guarantees. Sifu may initiate you into the Triad or she may just say the revolution thanks you and give you a pat on the head as we walk off into the sunset.]
Wu tightened the last bolt and had another thought.
[There is also every chance this could get you killed.]
There was a long pause before Hae Lee responded.
[We always want other people to be safe. But for ourselves we want the right to make our own decisions, even if that make us unsafe.]