the smuggler’s bible


Juliet jacks in to check the data coming from the monitor. Body temperature, breathing rate, brain activity—the information appears before her and is waved away. Everything normal.

And yet.

There, behind a scrolling double ribbon of caution tape—glowing so bright it would hurt her eyes if she were actually seeing it—she discovers a null value where Rumble’s heartbeat ought to be.

“Doesn’t make any goddamn sense,” she says.

An alert chimes in her ear, and the program displays an incoming message.

“The king is dead, baby,” a voice purrs when she hits play. “Long live the king.”