So, here's some WIP for y'all. The usual disclaimers about first draft-i-ness apply, of course.
Silence settled on the room again. The Imperator traded glances with his senior servitors, then regarded her a while, unspeaking. Mist stood nearly at attention, enduring. She told herself not to expect a headshot from behind with Rhysling’s weapon. Such an execution would be far too crude.
Unless, of course, the Imperator were choosing to be deliberately politically clumsy.
Stranger things had happened. Yet down the centuries, the person of the Interlocutrix had been inviolate.
Stranger times had not happened though, not at least since the Disunification War, and possibly the Mistake itself. There was little enough to trust.
“Mist,” Moreland II finally said. “I must ask you the most difficult question of all.”
Here it comes. “Sire?”
“Do you wish to request asylum?”
She was genuinely shocked, a rare reaction for her in any situation. “Excuse me?”
“It was a simple question, Interlocutrix.” His smile returned, wintry now. “If you wish to change sides, to join the human race, now may be your best opportunity. Before Go-Captain Feuerstein’s imprecations rise to the level of a fatal excitement. I am afraid we shall not enjoy the pleasure of your company any time again soon so unencumbered by security and handlers as you are on this moment.” The Imperator’s voice dropped. “If you are considering a different path, now would be an excellent time to make such a choice.”
“I… I am flattered, Sire.” Mist groped for the right phrasing. This was so lateral to what she’d been dreading. “But I belong to the shipminds, blood and bone. Gene and germline.”
“You are still human, my dear. To be human is to always have the right of choice. Even if only choosing the time and manner of one’s own death.”