Death’s Angel, new snippet.

Despite Nyka’s insistence she stay in bed, use a revolting catch-all for her body wastes, Azriel tottered to the small reclamation facility in a partitioned part of her room. Although the lever on the waste catching device was simple enough to figure out, it took several attempts to understand how to turn on the ablution chamber. The symbols on the control pads by the side of the cubical were more like random scratch marks than a written language, but she began to make some sense of them.
Standing under a rain of hot water amid a haze of steam was the height of decadence. Only the super-rich washed in water on Altair. Everyone else scrubbed down with sand followed by a thin coat of vegetable oil. Although the heat made her feel light-headed, she gave in to the sheer joy of the experience.
Each new wake time brought a return of strength. By the fourth wake time she could have taken Nyka down, but the centurion’s threat hung over her, staying her orders to kill, even if she had been so inclined. Did he know how much Nyka resembled her son; how she felt she looked into her son’s eyes every time she met his gaze? Did the centurion guess how hard it would be for her to attack the young Outworlder?
She lay quiet for him as he dressed her wound once more. Having another tend her went against her conditioning as angels didn’t get sick, they got new bodies. The helplessness of her current state aggravated her, but Nyka was quick and efficient at what he did.
When downtime failed again to initiate contact with other angels the hole in her soul grew bigger. Alone for the first time in her angel existence, Azriel craved any contact to take away the barren emptiness, even if she couldn’t reach her companions.
Nyka proved a poor substitute for her comrades, especially Coda. While open about the day-to-day running of a starship, he closed down if she asked questions about her future, or the centurion. The green-eyed Sidhe became a subject of unholy fascination for her.
When Nyka left her meal on the priceless metal table, Azriel ignored it. Instead, she studied his approach to the door without handles. He withdrew a hand-sized metal square from his pocket and put it on a flat indentation on the frame about halfway up on the right side. When he touched thin marks embedded in the square, the thing dropped into his hand at the same moment the door opened. Clever; making sure the mechanism was not only locked, but lacking in an intrinsic element.
Each symbol on Nyka’s square resembled those on the square plate in the ablutions cubicle. He had touched them in a specific order.
Azriel waited a while to let him clear the area and then snagged a spoon on her way to the cubical. A knife would have been better, but knives and forks didn’t figure in her utensil assignment. She needed truths. What if the Sidhe lied? Were Altarians a food source? Azriel didn’t intend to initiate a killing spree . . . not yet, not with the price so high for the other angels. What she wanted was to find the other women to make sure they were all there, or to start a fight. There was nothing for her on this ship except memories. The urge to be gone from life blossomed anew.
The controllers had always directed her actions in the past, except they held no sway over this situation. Her orders were clear. Replace the hostage, get on the Outworlders ship and then take out however many of them she could before she earned her final rest. But the Sidhe threatened the collective soul of the angels with his threat of informing the controllers about their private communication. He could read her mind.
The cubicle plate didn’t lever out clean; one edge was a bit bent by the time Azriel finished picking it out with the spoon. She reversed the plate, squaring it against the gaping hole full of electronics. It repelled away just enough to confirm her guess; a magnet.
Careful to keep the plate facing the right way she walked over to the door. Applying one magnetic plate to the other, she punched in the code she’d memorized. The door slid open. Could this be so simple? Azriel eased out into a gray metal corridor empty of Outworlders.
One of her plans fell apart at that point. She had intended to infuriate the Outworlders into firing on her once she was loose, except they weren’t around to oblige. Azriel padded down the corridor, the metal cold against her bare feet, hoping the ship’s surveillance would betray her sooner rather than later.
A faint movement in the ceiling caught her attention. A lens swiveled around to follow her position. They knew she was free. No sirens sounded; no lights flashed; no warriors ran down the corridor to intercept her as would have happened on Altair IV. She tried her square pad on one of the blank metal door panels. It didn’t open. A bulkhead slid out from one side of the corridor to block her retreat. She was being herded. At least she seemed to have irritated someone into taking action.
Azriel continued forward at a leisurely walk, expecting her path ahead to be blocked. Bulkheads closed behind her as she progressed. No side doors opened to her attempts to avoid being herded. She gave up after a while; curious to know where she was being led. A closed door now faced her in the distance. This corridor lacked side doors. Azriel picked up her pace, now weaving from side to side, expecting to be confronted by an array of weapons when the door opened if it opened.

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