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Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

Author:Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2020-08-04T00:00:00+00:00


* * *

It took every spare moment Ariadne had to claw back from the Oracle’s endless work schedules. But even when she was crafting code, or recording her voice for the Oracle to blast through spaceships, buildings, people’s very brains, she was always dreaming of escape.

They were a trio of different skills and knowledge subsets, and a triangle was the strongest shape. She was only sleeping a few hours a night, slurping down the kykeon the Oracle provided her. She grew even thinner, and she had little enough to spare before.

She made mistakes, and the Oracle punished her.

The months crawled by. Sometimes, in the deep of night, she looked up through the porthole of the garret at the stars and cried, certain she’d never be able to make it. Even if everything went to plan, the idea of finally leaving the Temple was terrifying. Rhea and Nyx hadn’t even seen her.

What if they found her strange and repulsive?

What if she wasn’t any good at being human?

The day finally came. They had done all they could. Rhea had some valuable information from the madam, Juno. Ariadne had hacked the registry of Zelus. She had massaged the Oracle programming on the soldiers aboard so they wouldn’t think to question Damocles’s favorite courtesan and one of his top mercenaries joining a complete unknown as dona aboard the vessel. She had programmed a way to cut Zelus off from the Oracle’s main network once they boarded.

Rhea had spirited their costumes away, talked Nyx and Ariadne through how to carry themselves with confidence, how to speak, how to pretend to be something they were not.

Nyx had planned how they would kill everyone aboard once they hit space. Ariadne wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do that. But she had a knife and a Mors from Nyx, just in case.

Once Ariadne left the Temple, they wouldn’t have much time. Ariadne had tried to run a proxy of infrared readouts to fool the Oracle into sensing that she was still asleep in the garret, but it would not last long. Ariadne also had to hope that once the Oracle realized she was missing, One would be too protective of the secret that she’d used a human child at all to sound a palace-wide alarm. One would try to find One’s daughter on One’s own.

Ariadne knew she was no match for the Oracle. Eventually, One would find her. But Ariadne could help Rhea and Nyx escape, and she could have a taste of that freedom. It would have to be enough.

When Ariadne finally left the garret, Nyx and Rhea were waiting. The pity on their faces when they saw her scrawny frame made Ariadne ashamed. She hunched her slight shoulders. Rhea reached into her pocket and held out a small wrapped package.

“What’s that?” Ariadne asked, almost suspicious.

“A sweet. You look half-starved.”

She’d hadn’t told them she’d never eaten food. Looks of pity, again.

“Here. Try it.”

“We don’t have time,” Ariadne protested.

“Suck on it as we walk. Come on.”

Ariadne unwrapped it with shaking fingers.



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