Adda Karpe and Iridian Nassir have escaped the AI that tried to kill them on Barbary Station, and earned themselves coveted spots as engineers on Captain Sloane’s pirate crew. Now they’re enroute to Sloane’s home base on Vesta to start the lives they’ve dreamed and worked for, as wildly successful pirates. In the asteroid belt, they’ll finally be able to start stealing from the megacorporations that would’ve kept them apart if they’d opted to work legally.
Unfortunately, the political situation on Vesta has deteriorated in Captain Sloane’s absence. Instead of running the place, Sloane and the crew find themselves trapped in a contract with Oxia Corp., one of the very megacorporations they’d hoped to prey on. Oxia is terrifyingly powerful, with a reputation for getting what they want — and they want Sloane’s crew working for them. Instead of stealing from the rich, they’re forced to rob and intimidate targets they’d never have chosen on their own, all for a shadowy corporate overlord with a dangerous secret.
But Adda and Iridian didn’t pull off the heist of the century and survive a murderous AI just to be defeated by a megacorporation. If they’re ever going to have the independent life together that they’ve always wanted, they’ll have to free themselves from Oxia Corp. — or die trying.
R. E. Stearns wrote her first story on an Apple IIe computer and still kind of misses green text on a black screen. She went on to annoy all of her teachers by reading books while they lectured. Eventually she read and wrote enough to earn a master's degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Central Florida. She is hoping for an honorary doctorate. When not writing or working, R. E. Stearns reads, plays PC games, and references Internet memes in meatspace. She lives near Orlando, FL with her husband/computer engineer and a cat.