The captain stared at her open desk drawer. She couldn’t remember why she’d opened it. She pushed away the new schematics from Seahorse, turned to the window behind her, and stared out into space. Her stomach ached with hunger but she had no appetite for the dinner on her desk.

image This was the same route her old partner and she had flown after taking their first mozzie. The two of them, a few friends from the jailbreak, a hired wing or two. The tankers were scarcely defended back then since the other pirates focused more on supplies than the liquid gold blood of the moon. It was here, looking at these stars, that she and her old partner had sat on the floor, a knife between them. She remembered her hand shaking and her eyes welling up as she carved a scar into her old partner’s cheek. The captain reached up to touch her own scar, the bright ridge from her eyebrow through her eye and to the edge of her mouth. Somehow her old partner’s hand had stayed steady. That woman was the bravest person in orbit, and the captain felt like a fraud again, nervous as that breathless flykid making herself a pirate, dreaming of a free moon.

Forty years of piracy felt futile now.

She left the window but realized she didn’t know where to go or what to do. She chucked bitterly and went to the middle of the room. Her partner and she had thought it would be a few years until the Utopian Socialists of the North decided to treat the trashmoon as a sovereign nation and pay for the fuel they sucked from the core. Instead, trashmoon-Earth relations were in tatters, and the pirates had become essential to the lunar economy’s stability. It was stability built on the bodies of the pirates, living and dead: because the mozzies were militarizing. According to Seahorse’s informants, public fervor in the USN was being whipped by vicious government propaganda into tankloads of new missiles and anti-personnel defenses. How many more flykids she would have to bury in Rockpile’s styrofoam graveyards?

It made her sick. All the captain had done with her glorious dreams was to shackle the moonfolk to an unsustainable drip of fuel, turning them into parasites on the back of parasites, sucking blood from bloodsuckers.

And it would make her flykids sick if they knew. She wanted to quit but she couldn’t and it made her want to die and she couldn’t. There were no natural leaders among her crew to take her mantle. Except maybe – but even if Minnie hadn’t been a Socialist pawn the captain couldn’t bear the thought of sustaining the moon with decreasingly effective piracy for another generation, or worse, the moon collapsing as the piracy failed. It had to end soon but she didn’t know how. She felt so hopeless.

But her old partner wasn’t. She grew her hopes in a greenhouse to protect the moon from famine. The captain went back to the desk and threw her untouched dinner in the trash and snatched a tomoonto off the shrub she’d bought. She bit into it and the earthy sweetness brought her to tears. She put her head down on the desk and breathed heavily as the juice dripped onto the maps.

They had made so many plans that night they cut each other’s faces. They sketched dream pirate fleets and figured out how to organize the first flykid squads. And swabbing their wounds, delirious with pain, they’d come up with the wildest plan they could. When they woke, the captain’s head was in her old partner’s lap, the two of them curled up by the porthole, eyes opening to the stars.

The captain smiled and turned to look out the window, the tomoonto in her lap. She saw both trashmoons and the earth behind them. Maybe it was time for that wild plan. It would take the largest crew she’d ever assembled, the cooperation of thousands of moonfolk, and at least one massive prisonbreak. But she could do it. Now, with her reputation, her experience, and her desperation – it was time.

She chuckled and raised the tomoonto to her mouth. She was going to hijack the moon.

Juice sprayed across the window.