Cleon Moon
“Although, you could let your hair grow out if you don’t trust my styling abilities. How did the empire feel about cyborgs with pigtails?”
    “They wouldn’t have been regulation,” he said, as if she had been serious about the question.
    “Unfortunate.”
    Alejandro made an exasperated noise and stalked toward the stairs.
    “Doctor?” Alisa called after him. “Do you need any supplies for sickbay? As long as we’re going to be shopping for masks, I’m sure I could pick them up for you.” She meant it as a conciliatory offer, but supposed it was self-serving too. Given the number of times they had all been injured, they needed a well-stocked sickbay. And a non-grumpy doctor.
    He narrowed his eyes at her, always suspicious of her intent, even when he had no reason to be. Maybe he was still thinking of her theft. And the fact that she chummed around with Alliance commanders. She sighed, doubting he would ever consider her anything but an enemy.
    “You have your comm with you?” he asked.
    “Yes.”
    “I’ll send you a list.” Not bothering with a thank you, Alejandro climbed the stairs and headed back to the passenger cabins.
    “I think he’s warming up to you,” Leonidas said.
    Alisa blinked up at him. “Was that a joke?”
    “If you have to ask, I suppose it was a poor one.”
    “Yes, but I liked it anyway.” She linked her arm with his, though snuggling up to a man in combat armor wasn’t exactly cozy. “Will you escort me shopping, good sir?”
    Beck, who was leaning by the hatch, snorted. “The words every man dreads hearing from a woman.”
    “Even when you’re shopping for weapons?” Alisa asked.
    “I’m sure you’ll want to buy more than that. Women always do. Poor Leonidas will think he’s going to buy e-cannons, but before he knows it, he’ll be in a clothing store, waiting outside of the changing room and being asked for his opinions on outfits.”
    Alisa couldn’t imagine how clothing shopping might go in a city run by the mafia. All she said was, “You sound bitter, Beck. How many of those twelve siblings are sisters?”
    He grimaced. “Ten.”
    “We should go,” Leonidas said. “Alejandro’s concerns are legitimate. I’m not comfortable leaving the staff unguarded. Or where Abelardus can easily decide to stroll off with it. There’s no reason for him to stay with us. He might grab it and head to the Starseer outpost on his own.”
    “I don’t think he’ll do that,” Alisa said.
    “Just because he’s enamored with you doesn’t mean you should trust him.”
    Leonidas said the words matter-of-factly without any rancor or jealousy, but they made Alisa uncomfortable. Was she trusting Abelardus too much? He had given her his word to help her find her daughter, but could she count on that? He had lied to her before.
    “He’s not enamored with me,” she said, keeping her voice down, not wanting Beck to listen in on the conversation. “He wasn’t interested in me at all until he found out I have Starseer gene mutations. And I’m trying very hard to discourage that interest,” she said, meeting his eyes, just in case she had not made that perfectly clear to him.
    “I know,” he said. Her arm was still linked with his, and he laid his hand lightly on hers. “Shopping?”
    “Beck, open the hatch, please,” she said and smiled at Leonidas. “I would love to.”
    Beck hit the button, the hatch opened, and the ramp lowered. Before any of them stepped out, no less than three spy boxes zipped past, cameras recording footage as they flew over the crowds of people thronging the docks.
    Alisa swallowed. She had expected thugs and bullies, not high-tech surveillance such as the empire had favored.
    Beck plopped his helmet onto his head and tinted the faceplate so his features were not visible. Leonidas sighed and extracted his arm from Alisa so he could don his own helmet. She hoped her face was not on any wanted posters out there, because she could not do the

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