Andromeda Five, it seemed, had abandoned Sofie.
Endless hours passed, stretching into days. The young Cappellan remained isolated in the medical bay. The invisible bonds that kept her strapped to the medical bed were unbreakable. She knew that for sure. She’d strained against them long and hard enough to dislocate her right elbow and both wrists.
Synthetic blood pumped through tubes embedded in her stomach. The cold, ultraviolet blue liquid filled her belly, but it made bile rise into her throat. It made her mouth taste like vomit and ash. It took the edge off but didn’t assuage her ravenous thirst. For real blood. For human blood.
In her forced isolation, Sofie made a token effort to reflect. On all the things that happened. On what might happen next. She did her damnedest to ignore the vague, persistent ache sinking deep and down into her heart. Something precious that she couldn’t quite name was slipping farther and farther away. She refused to dwell on it.
She didn’t bother to open her eyes when she heard the door slide open.
“I didn’t ask for this–” she began.
“Yes, you did,” The ancient one countered. “But that’s beside the point.”
Sofie watched in speechless surprise as Andromeda Five disabled the graviton restraints. She removed the tubes and disabled the life support module. Finally freed, new immortal stood on shaky legs.
Sofie flexed her arms. The machine had repaired her dislocated bones. She didn’t expect to have such free range of motion so soon after being immobile for so long.
Sofie eyed her elder, speculating. Andromeda Five had put her through quite the ringer over these past few days. Now might be a good time to make known her displeasure. The perfect chance to test the newfound strength that made the empress so wary.
Andromeda Five, though, was wise to Sofie’s new way of thinking. She wasn’t about to let it slide.
“Don’t even think about attacking me, Sofie.” She warned. “My capacity for self-control only goes so far.”
Andromeda Five was wearing black this time. She drew closer, looming over Sofie like some massive, ominous bird. A fierce and challenging light in her eyes. The new vampire took a reflexive step back. Her heart stuttered, cold and fear snaking through her veins. Attacking the empress was not an option. She immediately knew she would die if she tried.
She brought up both hands. A resigned and placating gesture. She backed farther away.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” She muttered with a grudging toss of her head.
“Good, Sofie. I’d hate to have to destroy you,” the empress said.
Sofie’s hackles rose.
“I’ve been thinking.” she ventured, full of spite. “I understand why you turned me. You must be feeling guilty, after all.”
“You already knew, didn’t you? That those pirates were going to attack.” Sofie accused. “When you summoned me to your garden. You knew they were coming.”
“I knew something was coming. I had no idea what.” Andromeda Five said in her own defense. “I only knew that suspicious agents had infiltrated the Celeste.”
“That’s beside the point!” Sofie snapped, throwing the empress’ words back at her. “I begged you to let me stay with you,” hurt crept into her accusing voice. “Even then, you rejected me. Even though you knew exactly what you were going to do.”
“Not true, Sofie.” The empress gave a firm shake of the head. “I knew about the danger, but I never imagined it would be necessary to make you… like this.”
Sofie’s fists curled into tight balls. She didn’t believe Andromeda Five. She didn’t believe one word of what she said.
“You’re a liar!” She hissed though clenched teeth. “You–“
Andromeda’s eyes flashed. She lost her composure, and a muddy swirl of emotions came pouring out.
“I am not in the business of making monsters!”
Sofie registered fury, regret, and revulsion.
“What are you even talking about?” She demanded. “You think I’m some kind of monster?”
When Andromeda Five said nothing, Sofie’s breath caught. Realization came in an instant.
“You’re not angry because I killed,” the raw truth came tumbling out of her mouth. “You’re angry because I couldn’t stop.”
“How astute,” Andromeda’s head tilted.
She smiled but that smile never quite reached her eyes. Sofie saw only anger, sadness, and no small measure of regret.
The empress raised her arm. The weapon she pointed was unlike anything Sofie had seen before. Already wary, Sofie was all the way across the room before leaping out of the way was even a conscious thought. The empress matched her pace without effort.
She pressed the cold metal muzzle against Sofie’s throat.
“Can you guess what I’m going to do next, Sofie?” She asked.
Without waiting for an answer, she fired.