Cassidy, it turned out, was a lot smarter than Beckham, Pearce or even Ellis gave her credit for. She could blend in with a crowd or create a perfect diversion with a look. She was also the first to suggest that they do more than spread rumors and mutter dark secrets.
“Just think, Pearce. What would Beckham do if he were in our situation?” she’d say.
Pearce didn’t answer. He knew what Beckham would do. He had a fading bruise around his right eye as a reminder. And she was right. They should be fighting fire with fire, especially because it was only the two of them. In the early days of their work to bring about the end of Beckham’s reign, they had learned very quickly that no one wanted to cross him. Pearce could almost see Beckham’s thin smile every single time someone pretended they didn’t know what Pearce and Cassidy were talking about or flat out refused them.
“It won’t be hard,” she said. “He always stays in that cavern of his. And I don’t want to kill him. Not necessarily. Just shake him up a bit. Make him feel unstable.”
In the end, Pearce agreed. They started small, smoke bombs in the corridor outside his rooms, no electricity within, things like that. Cassidy always pushed for more, however. And, after a particularly intricate plan of Cassidy’s that involved rotted fish, yellow dye and roughly seventy-five feet of wire, which left the majority of Beckham’s inner too embarrassed to be seen covered in dye and smelling as if they had taken a swim in the polluted seas of their home, they found themselves with a steadily growing group of followers. The uneasy peace and calm of the journey was soon interrupted totally. The passengers divided themselves into ever shifting factions, between those who thought it best to stick with Beckham, those who were against him and those who just wanted to stay out of it. Pearce, it would seem, was leading an army.
It went relatively smoothly, or as smoothly as such things could go. One side attacked, the other retaliated. There were minor injuries, bruises and scrapes. After a group of his people had been ambushed by a group of Beckham’s, Pearce overheard one bragging about having a tooth knocked out. It hit him that most of them thought this was a game. This realization left him with a supremely uncomfortable feeling, but there was nothing he could do about it. He knew they wouldn’t take it seriously until something serious happened and by then, it would be too late.
Later, Pearce would realize how underhanded it was, but he would no longer care. Cassidy was taken from her bed one night and put into a deep sleep, like the passengers who the endless hours of travel had driven mad. There was an ultimatum, stop or Beckham would release those people into the void of space, Cassidy included. The world around Pearce stopped and started again when he found himself at Captain Aaron’s door. He entered his code and entered. Captain Aaron was gone. Instead, Beckham sat in the captain’s chair. Richmond stood on his right, Taryn on his left. Taryn, who Pearce had not seen up close in what felt like weeks, looked worse than he’d have imagined. Her skin was pale and large, dark circles under her eyes. Her eyes were glazed and her face tight, as if she were in pain. Her hair hung dull and lank around her face and she looked as if she’d lost a great deal of weight.
“Where’s Captain Aaron?” Pearce asked.
“Indisposed,” Beckham said.
“What did you do to him?”
“Slipped him a tranquilizer. He may be bothersome, but we need him to fly this ship. You see that?” Beckham asked pointing to a small, blue speck in the distance. “That’s our new home. Once we land, he’s nothing. But now, he will keep us from crashing. The Voice doesn’t much care for him, but it knows his necessity.”
Pearce had stopped listening halfway through the speech. He tried to catch Taryn’s eye. She would know what to do. He certainly didn’t. It was too much to be put on him. He was no leader, he knew that now Cassidy had been the brains and before that Taryn. But her eyes were dull and unfocused. Everything was resting on his shoulders and he felt buried by the weight.
“So, Pearce. What’ll it be? Stop this silly game you’re playing, and everyone lives. Or let them all die. It’s really all up to you.”
What does Pearce decide to do?
Please return to the top of this episode to vote on what happens next!
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