Traitors, Pirates, and Thieves: Part 1, by Josephine Smiley
Chapter 1: Gang Darkshadow
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.” - Pirates of the Caribbean
“No matter how long the arm of the Alliance might get, we just get ourselves a little further,” said Captain Malcolm Reynolds to his first mate and war buddy, Zoe Washburn. Coincidentally, this is also what the Belorussian iCom guard Sergei Aleksandrov said to his wife, Nadya, as they were halfway through the Asteroid Belt. It was cold on that transport ship, and the couple sat huddled together in a corner for warmth, just a tiny drop of water in an endless sea of immigrants from Earth to the Outer Rim. Sergei wrapped his arms around his wife's shoulders. Nadya cradled her two year old son, Ivan, in her arms, looking hopefully forward at the future they would find on the Rim. The both of them had severe problems with authority, which had caused problems at work, and, long story short, they had decided to try their luck with the Mavericks.
Their luck did not hold very long. After settling on Mimas, one of Saturn's many moons, the Aleksandrov family was hit with hardship after hardship. Food shortages, illness, and a general lack of preparation caused widespread panic and a high death toll. Pirates plagued some of the smaller moons, preying on the poor settlers, fresh from Earth and unprepared for the harshness of Maverick life. Day after agonizing day, Sergei and Nadya fought for their very lives, praying that the next day would bring a blessed reprieve, but it never came. Thus is life on Mimas in 2358.
Eight years later, the couple had almost entirely given up on life. Sergei charged into a fight not even caring anymore, with no strategy whatsoever. His only plan was to swing wildly and hope he hit someone on the opposing team. Meanwhile, as Sergei fought, Nadya drowned her sorrows in alcohol. She had upgraded to a cybernetic liver, so that she could supposedly drink more than usual without the negative side effects... or at least that's what she thought. Needless to say, it didn't work.
Each night, the Aleksandrovs would stumble back home, each attempting to carry the other, as both were inevitably in a pathetic physical state. It had become so routine their two children had learned to expect it. Ten year old Ivan Aleksandrov and his younger sister, eight year old Jade, had come to learn that they were basically orphans, and that they might even be better off fending for themselves on the streets of Mimas than staying there, dependent on their good-for-nothing parents.
One night in particular, Jade and Ivan sat at home, playing a game of chess which was one of the few relics Sergei and Nadya had brought with them from Earth. Ivan was carefully teaching his sister how to plan her strategy just right.
“If you got strategy, you win the game,” he said. “It's all about skill and smarts, not muscle.”
“So like the opposite of what Dad does?” she asked, smiling because she understood.
“Exactly,” Ivan said, smiling as well. “But my knight just killed your pawn.”
Jade exclaimed in shock; she hadn't seen his knight there. Then she shrugged it off. “It's just a useless pawn,” she scoffed, “I have more.”
“You need to work on your strategy, Jadie,” Ivan pointed out. “Pawns can be really useful.”
Jade sighed in frustration, and Ivan kindly explained things to her. They continued to play, occasionally talking about the game and occasionally talking about life in general.
“Cait's mom brought us some food by the way,” Jade said casually, holding up a small piece of stale bread. Ivan glanced at it, scowling.
“We don't want or need charity,” he mumbled.
“I hate feeling useless.”
“I know, I know, but – check – we gotta eat somehow. Mom and Dad sure don't feed us.”
He moved his king out of harm's way and muttered, “That's because Mom spends all the money on booze.” Jade just sighed and moved her piece.
“That's your move?” Ivan asked. “My turn now?”
“Good, then I'm taking your queen.”
This time Jade became outwardly angry. How was Ivan so much better than her? She was determined to beat him now. Even though he was her brother and she actually really liked and trusted him, she was determined to win this game.
“Did I make you angry?” Ivan asked, surprised. “I didn't mean to. It's just a game, you're not really meant to take it seriously.”
“But I do,” Jade explained. “I take it as seriously as life. It's a way to exercise superiority over others. If you win it's like winning an actual battle, and that means glory and power.”
Ivan stared at her, no longer paying attention to the game. “You're eight years old, Jadie. Where on Earth did you learn that?” he demanded.
“I didn't learn that on Earth,” she whispered, “Never even been there.”
Ivan sighed with exasperation. “You know what I mean,” he told her.
“I heard Dad say something like it one time,” she admitted reluctantly.
Ivan scoffed. “You were actually quoting Dad?” he asked, incredulous. “I thought you hated him.”
“I do,” she replied. “But that one thing actually made a lot of sense. And hey, you still use the phrase 'where on Earth' even though you haven't been there since you were two, and that was eight years ago. I KNOW you got that from Dad. You've got no room to talk, Ivan. Oh yeah, check.”
Ivan was dumbfounded. His little sister was better at arguing her point than he'd thought an eight year old girl could possibly be. That went for chess too, he realized. He was beginning to think that she was actually seeing this game they were playing as a metaphor for their life. He didn't know whether or not he liked that idea.
“You're a scary chess player, Jade,” he said quietly.
“Scary how?” she demanded.
“Well... you're incredibly good at it for a beginner,” he explained, not sure what to say. “A little more work and you could be the chess master.”
“The metaphorical chess master,” she mumbled, barely audible. “Queen of the world. Everyone else is a pawn.”
“It almost makes me wonder what you'll do next,” Ivan said.
“This,” she exclaimed. Then she moved a pawn one space forward, placing it next to Ivan's edge of the board. Smiling broadly, she declared, “I'll have that queen back, thank you.”
Sighing reluctantly, Ivan handed Jade her queen. They continued to play and chat for awhile, until all of a sudden, loud drunken singing and even louder cursing interrupted them.
“Mom and Dad are home,” Ivan grumbled, scowling.
Mere seconds after he said it, Sergei and Nadya burst through the door, Nadya incredibly drunk and Sergei incredibly bloodied.
“Hello Mom, hello Dad,” Ivan said politely. They didn't hear him. In fact, they didn't even look at their children. Still cursing whoever it was who had bloodied him up so badly, Sergei stumbled to the washroom and angrily knocked several things over before falling onto the floor and passing out. Nadya didn't even make it that far. She took a few steps in the door, then tripped over her own feet and face-planted into the ground, out cold.
“Checkmate,” Jade whispered.
Ivan glanced at the board, and, sure enough, she was right. Somehow his younger sister, who that morning had been a complete novice when it came to chess, had just won against him. He could think of only one thing to say:
“Wanna play another game?”
Jade glanced around and sniffed, then made a face. “No, not when the room smells like drunk.”
“No,” Ivan corrected, transitioning their game day into an actual proposition which had been on his mind for a while. “I meant a different game. The real life kind.”
Jade was intrigued. She knew that whenever Ivan got that mischievous look in his eye, that something amazing was about to happen. “Explain it,” she said eagerly.
Ivan took a deep breath and began to explain his idea: “I think we both agree we'd be better off if we were on our own instead of having to put up with... them,” he said, jerking his head towards Nadya passed out on the floor in front of them. “So basically, my idea is... run away. We could start a gang or something, and live on the streets. It's not as bad as it sounds. It's everything we want: freedom, right? Do what we want, go where we want, never have to answer to anyone ever again. What do you think?”
Jade, of course, thought the plan was perfectly brilliant. Her brother was the one person in the entire world that she trusted completely, and she knew that if the two of them stuck together, they would make it out okay. And, even as an eight year old, Jade was very charismatic. She found very often that she could convince almost anyone to do things for her, and they would not object. She didn't know at the time if it was just because she was a child and they felt sorry for her, or if she actually had some kind of real power already.
“I love it,” she said, the grin on her face wide enough to rival the Cheshire Cat's.
With their plans decided, Jade and Ivan went running from house to house, looking for kids who were in similar situations as theirs and who wanted to join their newly formed gang. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, they got a lot of supporters, including Jade's friend Cait Grimalkin, a girl who saw life in about the same way that Jade did, and an older boy who had nicknamed himself “Lucien Bloodmoon,” who was as charismatic as Jade herself was, and who seemed like he knew what he was doing. They all kept recruiting more of the neighborhood kids, and soon Jade and Ivan's band was a good twenty strong. The Aleksandrov siblings abandoned their surname and nicknamed themselves “Darkshadow” in its place. It was a name that they thought should help them build an airtight reputation, one that other gangs would learn to fear. They felt that with that and their numbers alone they could take on the world, and maybe even win.
Four years later, Gang Darkshadow had indeed become what they had dreamed it would be when they formed it. Of all the gangs on Mimas, theirs was the most revered and feared. They felt powerful, and they wanted more. Jade had become the official gang leader, but the real leader was Ivan. Jade looked up to him for advice, and when he gave it, she never turned it down. Together they were indeed unstoppable, or at least that was what it seemed like to them at the time. However, there was not much else they could do on a backwater moon like Mimas. They decided that it was time to move on to the big leagues. At only twelve years old, Jade decided it was time for her and her gang to go to Titan.
Chapter 2: The Birth of a Villain
“Time for some thrilling heroics.” - Jayne Cobb, Firefly
The members of Gang Darkshadow stowed away on a cargo ship heading to Titan Station that very afternoon, and when they got there, they were amazed at what they saw. For just a minute, they were not a gang of Maverick teens, but simply a group of tourists on their first visit to the capital. Titan Station was well-deserved of all its praise. They all declared the first impression to be a magnificent sight indeed.
For the rest of the day, as well as most of the next, they wandered the streets as per their usual routine, but this time, they were less interested in searching out rival gangs to defeat and more interested in having a look around the place itself. Titan Station was everything they could have asked for, and more. From nearly every window, they could see the enormous, spherical figure of Titan moon, in incredible detail, including all of the thick, orange clouds swirling above the surface, casting an eerie light on everything surrounding them. Then, of course, there was everything itself. The civilization on Titan was like none they had ever seen. These people, unlike the poor settlers on the rest of the outer moons, seemed to have everything they needed, or if they didn't have it, they knew how and where to get it. Jade and Ivan were amazed at the power the Mavericks displayed here.
They decided to see where the center of activity was, and they found it quickly, in the nearest bar. The Mavericks were fond of drinking, and on Titan Station there seemed to be a bar on every corner. Laughing, Jade led her gang toward the bar called the Clockwork Cheshire, eager to decipher how they could climb the ranks and make themselves known in this brave new world.
An older boy sat down at the bar in between Cait and Lucien. Jade was sitting on Lucien's other side, watching and listening.
“New gang in town, huh?” he mumbled under his breath, looking back and forth between Cait and Lucien. “Which of you two is the leader?”
“Jade is our leader,” said Lucien, gesturing to her as he spoke.
The new boy looked slightly surprised for a moment, then regained his control. He smoothly switched places with Lucien so as to be situated closer to Jade.
“Jade, huh?” he said. “So, what's the deal here?” Jade detected an undertone in his voice that suggested he was actually very pissed at her, but was doing a very good job hiding it.
“What do you mean?” she asked, surprised by his tone. What had she done to this boy?
“You think you can just walk in here and expect us to let you pass?” he demanded, “That ain't how it works here. You gotta pay the bridge-keeper.”
Oh. So that's how it was. This bar must be the hangout of this guy's gang, and Gang Darkshadow had unknowingly pissed them off just by walking in the door. She had seen this kind of thing before- in fact, she'd been in his position a few times against some lesser gangs on Mimas who thought they could stand up to her.
“So, Jade, what'll it be?” he was asking, spitting her name out like it was something loathsome. “You wanna fight me? Battle to see who's the real champion? Test your gang's strength against mine?”
Jade looked him over. He was at least four years older than she was, if not more, and the expression on his face suggested he really meant business. Furthermore, he was dressed like some kind of steampunk space pirate, with a coat that had one of its sleeves torn off to expose his obviously cybernetic arm, and a top hat with a pair of goggles strapped to it. He was looking at her as if she was something disgusting that had intruded onto his turf and needed to be exterminated.
“That depends,” Jade said to him, getting angry herself, but unsure whether or not fighting this guy was a good idea; “Who are you?”
“We're known 'round these parts as the Cast Iron Jabberwocks,” he replied, a fierce tone in his voice and a proud gleam in his eye. “And... who are you?”
“Gang Darkshadow, the most feared gang on Mimas.”
The older boy laughed icily. “Mimas? You're serious? And you expect to win here?”
Jade was confused by his tone. “What do you mean?” she demanded of him.
“Let me make myself clear, little girl,” he snarled. “This is Titan. The big leagues. My turf. Your kind doesn't last a day here.”
“You threatening us, sir?” asked Ivan dangerously, spitting the last word out as if it were an deadly insult, and standing to face the stranger.
Immediately, every gang member in the bar, be they from Gang Darkshadow or the newly announced Cast Iron Jabberwocks, stood up and took a position behind their respective leader. Jade carefully positioned herself in between the new guy and her brother, trying to look as threatening as a twelve-year-old Maverick girl with no cybernetics could, while gauging the danger of the situation at the same time. Surprisingly, she saw that Gang Darkshadow actually outnumbered the new gang by about five people.
Behind her, Lucien, Ivan, and Cait, as well as many of the other members of her gang, unsheathed different kinds of blades. The steampunk gang leader in front of her unsheathed one as well, motioning for his gang to do the same. Jade pulled out a vibro-dagger, noting again the look of surprise on the Cast Iron Jabberwocks leader's face as he saw it.
“Jadie,” Ivan whispered to her, “We outnumber them. We can take these guys!”
“Wait,” she whispered back. “We don't know these people. They could be hiding something.”
“Do you want to fight us or not?” demanded the rival gang leader. “We're all here, drawn and ready! You a coward or something, Jadie?”
That was the last straw. This guy had been getting on her nerves already, but calling her and her gang cowards, as well as using Ivan's nickname for her, was over the line. Jade uttered an indistinguishable cry and lunged at the older gang leader, fury in her eyes.
She found herself blocked by the bartender. He stood right in between her and the Cast Iron Jabberwocks' leader, a firm grip on her wrist, stopping her from stabbing anyone.
“Whoa there, girlie, calm down now,” he said, holding her back; “I know you two wanna fight, and I fully support your right to do so, but this ain't the Nest. You'll have to take it outside.”
The two gang leaders stepped back and glared at each other.
“Back ally. Ten minutes.” the space pirate said coldly to Jade.
“I'll be there.”
Ten minutes later, Jade, Ivan, and Gang Darkshadow convened in the ally behind the bar. The older boy and his gang stepped out from the shadows and stood facing Gang Darkshadow in the middle of the ally. There was a moment of stare-down between Jade and the boy.
Before anyone knew it, Ivan had shouted something like “Let's do this,” and charged forward at the other gang. The ally erupted into chaos. Slashes were made on both sides, and blood ran in the streets. No one involved could tell what was going on, they just fought to keep themselves alive.
Out of nowhere, Jade heard someone whistle sharply, and she looked to see about ten or fifteen more people emerge from various hiding spots. They all belonged to the Cast Iron Jabberwocks.
“That low-down, cheating bastard!” Cait screamed. “He tricked us!”
“They outnumber us now,” observed Lucien, quietly fuming as he stood in a pool of blood.
Jade looked around for Ivan. She loved him to death, but she knew that when he was deeply involved with something, he had a tendency to not notice things around him. Like the fact that they were outnumbered now, and probably wouldn't win this fight.
She caught a glance of him fighting with another of the rival gang members and started heading over to help him, when a glint of something silver caught her eye. She turned to see the rival gang leader, half hidden in shadow, holding a shiny silver gun. He was staring at Ivan with a look of hatred and bloodlust on his face.
Jade turned and ran towards Ivan, shouting a warning, but was intercepted by yet another Cast Iron Jabberwock. It was a girl about her own age, who laughed as she slashed at Jade with her dagger. Jade defended herself half-heartedly, still focused on trying to get to Ivan and warn him...
A gunshot sounded. Jade stopped fighting. So did the laughing girl. All around them, people stopped and turned to see who had been shot. Jade looked, too, already knowing what she would see, but hoping that it wouldn't be true.
Ivan was standing stock-still in the road, with a look of shock on his face. His knife dropped to the floor. He brought both hands to his chest. A blossom of bright red blood appeared there. Slowly, as if falling through molasses, his body dropped to the ground.
Jade sheathed her blade in the laughing girl's chest and hurried to her brother's side. As she cradled his body in her arms, she felt tears come to her eyes for the first time in at least four years. As a last, desperate hope that she might be able to save him, she looked into his eyes. He stared back at her with a sad expression on his face.
“Jadie,” he murmured, speech obviously being difficult for him right now, “Jadie...”
“I'm here, Ivan,” she said, through her tears. “I'm here, I'll always be here...”
“Jade,” he said, with his last effort, “Avenge me.”
As he collapsed into unconsciousness, Jade felt someone gently touch her shoulder. It was Lucien. He handed Jade a silver gun like the one the Jabberwock leader had used. He didn't say anything, just nodded at Jade with a meaningful look in his eye.
Jade took the gun, stood up, and looked at the surviving members of her gang. They were all looking at her with sorrowful expressions, as if they knew what she was feeling inside. How could they know? All her sorrow for Ivan's death had been replaced with an undeniable rage and an urge for vengeance. She wanted that bastard who shot her brother dead at her feet. No, wait. She wanted him to suffer first. He didn't deserve a quick death.
She turned around and saw him standing there, right where he had been. He hadn't moved at all. She cocked the gun and gave him the most scathing look she could possibly muster, filled with all of her hatred and loathing of the very person he was. Something of it must have registered with him, and he realized that by pissing this girl off he had made a terrible mistake.
He turned and ran. She pursued him, shouting insults the entire time, and occasionally firing a shot or two his way. They all missed. He eventually outran her and she was forced to return to her gang unavenged.
They buried Ivan there on Titan, mainly because none of them wanted to try to stow away on a flight back to Mimas with a corpse. It would be hard to hide.
“Jade,” asked Cait, tentatively, “What's going to happen now?”
Jade was silent for a long time, and then said: “Go back to Mimas. I don't want anyone else to die today on my behalf.”
“But boss,” another gang member protested, “We can't just leave you.”
“You have to!” she cried. “Cait, you're team leader now. Go back to Mimas. I'm not coming with you. I'm not going back to that godforsaken moon even if my life depended on it.”
“Cait's team leader?” asked Lucien, skeptically. “But Jade, I don't follow her, I follow you.”
“Fine!” Jade snapped at him, “Go make your own gang.” To the rest of her gang she announced: “Anyone who doesn't want to follow Cait can follow Lucien, but don't follow me. I'm leaving the group.”
“What are you going to do?” Lucien asked.
“I'll stay here for now,” she said decidedly. “Titan is the capital of Maverick Space, and that's the perfect setting for me now. I'm going to get my revenge.”
Chapter 3: Titan Station
“This world is rotten. Rotten people should be killed off to cleanse this world.”
-Light Yagami, Death Note
Jade wandered through the streets of Titan dejectedly. It had been weeks since the rest of Gang Darkshadow had left, and she still hadn't come any closer to finding the leader of the Jabberwocks. She had managed to get herself involved with a few of the bigger gangs on Titan though, including the Knaves, the Hellcats, and through them, the Cogs. She'd used a different name each time, so that none of the gang leaders would realize that she was a “double agent” so to speak, and she had gathered several important pieces of information from each gang that she thought might come in handy some day. She knew that having information gave you a sort of leverage over others, and that was a kind of power she rather liked having. However, here Jade saw that she not only needed power to get ahead, but also money, preferably a lot of it. The problem was getting it.
A few days ago, a fellow gang member had given her the name of a guy who might have some useful information for her, and she had left in search of him. However, he was hard to find.
“You lookin' for someone?” a stranger asked her. She glanced up. It was a woman, who looked like she was in her early twenties... maybe. She seemed nice. Trustworthy, even. Jade decided to see if she knew where to find this contact.
“I need to find a guy named O'Connell. You don't know where he is, do you?”
To her surprise, a glint of recognition shone in the woman's eye. “Who's lookin' for him?” she asked quietly.
“I don't work for any gang,” Jade said quickly. “This is purely a personal matter.”
The woman smiled then. “As a matter of fact, I do know him,” she said smoothly. “What's your name again?”
“Knives,” Jade lied. “Knives Palenken.”
“Follow me, Knives,” said the woman to Jade. “I'll show ya where he lives.”
About ten minutes later, they were standing outside a crumbling old house with lots of graffiti on the walls. Jade was surprised that anyone lived here, but the woman seemed convinced, and so she gently pushed on the door. It swung open, and, with an encouraging glance from the mysterious benefactor, Jade slowly walked inside.
She walked through the house, looking for signs of life and finding none. Just as she was about to turn around and go back, she heard a man's voice from behind her, and whirled around.
“O'Connell?” she asked, hoping it was him.
“What are you doing in my house?” he demanded. “How did you find me?”
“Long story,” she said, not wanting to mention the woman who had helped her, “And it's none of your business. Now, do you know anything about a gang called the Cast Iron Jabberwocks?”
“It bloody well is my damn business! You’re in my house!” he screamed.
“I don’t have to explain anything to you, scum,” she hissed. “Now where are the Cast Iron Jabberwocks?”
“Why should I tell you?” he demanded of her, looking at her with hatred.
Jade scowled at him dangerously and said, dangerously quiet: “You don't want to make me angry. I suggest you tell me what I want to know.”
“Heard of 'em,” he said hesitantly, obviously disturbed by her. “Don't know much else.”
“Do you know anyone who might know how to find them?” she asked, frustrated.
“Well...” he muttered, obviously trying to hide something from her.
Jade unsheathed her vibro-dagger halfway, just to show the guy what kind of person he was dealing with, and to show him he should be honest with her if he knew what was best for himself.
“I've heard of a guy named Radical Doitzel,” he stammered, eyes wide. “He's... well he's supposed to be from the Cartel, he might know something!”
The Cartel. Interesting. She had heard of this gang before, apparently it was a powerhouse of information, a super-powerful spy network, centered on Europa and run by a man who called himself “the Gambler.”
“Where can I find this... Radical Doitzel?” she asked.
Later, following the directions the man had hastily given her, Jade made her way to the bar called The Drunken Womprat. As she entered the bar, she saw a very chaotic scene. However, this was not the usual chaos one finds in Maverick bars, as this was not caused by a fight. This chaos was caused, apparently, by some kid who was buying rounds for everyone there. This was so unexpected, Jade paused a bit before actually walking in.
Regaining her concentration, Jade walked up to the bar and seated herself next to the crazy kid who apparently felt like wasting all his money on drinks for other people. He was about sixteen years old, and seemed to be of an average height, although there was something fundamentally wrong with his height that she just couldn't describe. He was also wearing a pair of goggles on his head that reminded her too much of that bastard who had shot her brother, and a T-shirt which read: “Keep Calm and Listen to Bowie.” He looked insanely happy, as if he had just successfully pulled a prank on someone very important who did not tolerate pranksters, and lived.
“Um, you wouldn't happen to know anyone by the name of Radical Doitzel, would you?” she asked the kid, unsure of how to go about this.
“Doitzel? He's only the coolest gorram Cartel agent this side of the Belt!” he replied enthusiastically. “You mean you haven't heard of him?”
Jade sighed. “You're him, aren't you?”
“Zounds! I am discovered,” he exclaimed. “What can I do for you? You want a drink?”
“No. I need info. What can you tell me about the Cast Iron Jabberwocks?”
“What do you want to know?”
“Where's their hideout?” she asked.
“Their hideout?” he repeated. “No one knows. Rumors have it they move it every month, so as not to be ambushed while unprepared.”
Damn. No chance of surprising them at home. So that plan was crap.
“They have a meeting place?”
“A bar 'round these parts, the Clockwork Cheshire, last I heard.”
Jade knew this was a lie. She had staked out that bar every day for a week, and no sign of any Jabberwocks. Maybe it used to be their hangout, but it wasn't anymore.
“Who is their leader?” she asked him, hoping this answer would be more helpful than the last two had been.
“Hmm,” Doitzel muttered. “You sure you don't want a drink? I'll pay for it!”
“I don't want a drink,” said Jade, annoyed. “Who is their leader?”
“Don't actually know myself,” he said. “Though I know a guy who knows a guy who could maybe help you out.”
“Oh? And who would that be?”
“Michelangelo Hypercube. Leader of Cube 2 Hypergang. They're supposed to have some dealings with the Jabberwocks. He might know something.”
Making a mental note of this new contact, Jade stood to leave.
“Wait!” Doitzel exclaimed. “It's dangerous to go alone. Take this.” He handed her a small steel marble. It was shiny, but it looked worthless to Jade.
“Er, thanks,” she said, unsure what to make of this kid. She then left the bar, thinking that this Radical Doitzel guy was not all there, and that someone should lock him in an asylum somewhere. Or just shoot him. The guy was pathetic, and completely insane.
When she walked outside, the same woman who had shown her the way to O'Connell's house earlier was standing there in the ally, as if waiting for her.
“You're determined, I'll give ya that,” she said smoothly, “and you seem to know what you're doing. Would you like a job?”
“Who are you?” Jade asked, suspicious. “And what kind of job?”
“The kind that would get you money, power, and the reputation you want and deserve.”
Jade paused for a minute. She did want that, a lot. That had been the reason Gang Darkshadow came to Titan in the first place. Could this woman really help her get it?
“That Cartel loser didn't give you any useful info, did he?” asked the woman.
“No,” Jade admitted, “he didn't. He just pointed me to someone else, like they all do. 'Sorry, I can't help you, but here's someone who can!' I'm sick of it!”
The woman smiled. “Thought so,” she said. “You know, with the Accord, you wouldn't have to deal with that. People would respect you, and fear you. Forget Cube 2 Hypergang. Join the Accord.”
Jade was stunned. This was the kind of chance that could get her to the top, the place where the biggest gang leaders ruled, the place where the winners were. The other gangs she was involved with were nothing compared to the might of the Accord. This was her chance.
“Okay,” she told the woman. “I want to join.”
“The Accord'll be glad to have you, Knives.”
As she followed the Accord woman toward central Titan Station, Jade looked back at the dirty alleyways where she had spent most of her time these past few months. Ha, she thought, no more bottom of the ladder for me. I'm with the Accord now, I'm in the big leagues. Now I'll be able to find those Jabberwocks for sure! I'll avenge Ivan, and then I'll show the world they never should have messed with Jade Darkshadow!