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Aethra Sunder sat in a soft, padded chair strategically placed in front of a large window which looked on the main launch tube of the station and languidly sipped her coffee.

Now that she was fully awake and the memory reintegration was finished, she felt great. Breaking in a new clone, she mused to herself, is like breaking in a new ship. Everything works perfectly, and you feel that you could take on the world… but there’s a rough edge, almost an eagerness, which rarely persists past the first few injuries.

It was almost like two thoughts at once, equally expressed – “I wish I could keep this newness forever!” coupled with “I wonder what the first injuries will be?” became, like when adding divergent vectors, one strongly expressed force: To head out into the unknown and find out.

And as if summoned by her thoughts, she saw the reflection of her head maintenance technician approaching her in the window.

“Ma’am”, he nodded to her. “Everything is in order and to your specifications. There was a problem fitting all the cargo in… that portable warp bubble generator is rather delicate, and so takes a lot of the cargo space. I had to leave some of the ammo you purchased in your personal storage here on the station.”

“And the drones? You were able to locate them, even out here?”

“Ah, yes, ma’am, although at somewhat greater expense than we had originally estimated.”

Aethra made a dismissive gesture with her mug. “Cost doesn’t matter. When you are building your symphony instrument, you do not allow cost to stop the creation.”

She takes one last gulp of the coffee and stands. “And I’m sure the fact that every credit more it costs to buy, means two credits in your pocket as a technician’s service charge had nothing to do with it.”

He momentarily looks shocked and guilty, and then they both break into wide grins. “Well, then. Time for another first launching. How many does this make?”

A glance at his datapad, a hesitation. “Many.”

She grins at him. “But not nearly enough. Come on, we’ve got work to do.”

The sign on the wall for the hallway they went down read: “Launching Port A, Cruiser Class Vessels”

About an hour later her mug of coffee, abandoned on the table in the observation lounge, watched the sleek and deadly Republic Fleet Stabber silently slip out of the station and warp away. Before it fled, the mug noticed that the white identification letters painted on the ship’s hull were the same shade as its own porcelain. It wondered what those words meant…

“Hungering Cold”