“Come on, Beck,” she had begged. “I know you’re good for it! Just the entry fee, and I’ll pay you back. I’ll pay you back double!”
“Not a chance, lady. I wouldn’t ante up for you to go racing if you were the queen and I was the royal shitter of gold bricks.”
Rebecca Constance was a saint in wolf’s clothing, and Selene wasn’t the only one who thought so. Little Hope was a place that lived up to its name. It was Basilium’s ugly little sister, looking up at The City of the Future from across the Black Bay. It was poor, and mean, and dirty with coal dust from the mines, and home to more vagrants than Selene Pryor could count. She had been one, before Beck. So had the other eight girls in the house. Rebecca Constance came from the life herself, but she’d made good off the Eyrie Programs, one of the first girls they sent to the University, and she hadn’t forgotten Little Hope.
“But you have to see it, Beck. The Doge is ready!”
“Lady girl,” her caretaker said, “You’re one talented little fiddlestick. The oil bulbs you made up light the place like nothing, and so I paid you for them. And of course, you spent that on your precious Doge. But, I have seen it, Selene, and it’s a pile of junk.”
“It doesn’t matter what it looks like!” The teenager practically yelled at her. “The Doge’ll win!”
“I said no, my darling fiddlestick, and so help me Creator, I never go back on a no!”
So, it was a no. But, Selene was still here; Beck couldn’t help that. She could keep her from money, but she couldn’t keep her from the races.
“I’ll put up the Doge,” she said softly, laying a hand across the rig’s steel dash. It was warm, from the furnace in back. It thrummed. Like a great beast, Selene thought. Like a lion.
“What, her?” the man scoffed. “I gotta say she looks like you patched her together from rust and wet glue,”
“Shut up!” said Selene. “You ugly, wart-faced harpy! You’re just scared to race her!”
“I don’t race anymore,” he said. “I just make sure they run ‘em right.” He paused, scrutinizing the girl.
“Well,” he finally said, “When you wreck the damn thing, I ‘spose the winner can take her apart and sell her innards, at least.”
She fumed. Her hand twitched on the throttle.
“Whatever,” she spat at him. “I’m ready to start when you are.”
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