It did not take Ellie long to find the private bar in Vena Helgar’s living quarters, nor did it take her long to polish off what she could only describe as brandy. After emptying the bottle, she decided to raid her mysterious descendants closet for something other than a sheet. To her dismay, the woman only appeared to own silk dresses and leather outfits that looked like something out of a BDSM movie. She went with a pale silk dress because the idea of trying to worm her way into the trappings of a leather bodysuit while drunk and in the midst of a panic attack seemed like a terrible way to die.
Again. Die again.
Immortalizer Lee still waited in the leather chair when she returned from the sleeping room and closet. She went immediately back to the bar, rummaging through the cabinets. Nothing had a label on it. All the drinks were in crystal decanters or black bottles.
“It really isn’t a good idea to drink after just being brought back. That’s a new Forge, you’ve got to–”
“Shut up,” Ellie muttered, pulling the crystal cork from a square decanter and tilting it up to her lips. It smelled strong and tasted foul, but she drank it anyway. “You’re telling me I’m in the body of a long lost decedent, pulled back to life by accessing her inherited DNA, and you don’t expect me to have a drink?”
“A drink, yes. Two bottles? No.”
“I’m about to make it three, so you might as well shut up.”
Immortalize Lee sighed. “Look, I can understand that this is a shock to you. But, I really need you to get it together, for both our sakes. If they find out you aren’t Vena Helgar, and that I brought back the wrong person intentionally, we are both very dead.”
“What does it matter if I die?” Ellie asked. “I’m not supposed to be alive hundreds of years in the future!”
“Do you want to die?” Immortalizer Lee asked.
Ellie lowered the crystal decanter. Her gaze fell on the colors of the dead star just outside her window. A fucking spaceship window. She took another sip of whatever the hell she was drinking.
“No,” she finally said. “I feel like myself. I feel alive and frightened and I don’t want to die. Even if I’m not supposed to be here. I am now and I don’t plan on getting killed.”
“Good,” Immortalizer Lee nodded. “So, let’s get started.”
The next hour felt like the training montage from every makeover movie she’d ever watched. Immortalizer Lee took great care in explaining the type of woman she was supposed to emulate. He made it all but three sentences into describing Vena Helgar when Ellie realized she was absolutely, positively, screwed.
It wasn’t the fact that she liked leather bodysuits or blue hair or kept her feet surgically altered to look like she wore 3-inch heels without shoes. Ellie rubbed Vena’s current, perfectly normal, human-shaped feet with a sigh of relief. Facades were something Elizabeth Porter could handle. What she couldn’t handle? Vena Helgar was a conniving, violent woman who people feared. She knew three forms of martial arts, twelve languages, and maintained a romantic relationship with Vonan Helgar… her brother.
“I’m sorry. Wait. Her brother?”
“Yes,” Immortalizer Lee replied, matter-of-fact and without the level of disgust that Ellie thought appropriate for such a revelation. Then, his eyes lit with knowing and he nodded. “With the advent of genetic manipulation in embryos, the threat of mutation from incestuous coupling is no longer relevant. It is also not as taboo in our modern society as it was in yours, though it is rare.”
“Fuuuuckk.” Ellie’s breath started to come quickly again and she wrapped her hands over her skull. “I don’t know twelve languages. I know one. This one. I don’t know martial arts. I can’t even throw a punch right. I’ve tried. I broke my wrist. And I am not kissing my – her – brother!”
Immortalizer Lee shook his head. “You don’t have to keep this up long enough for them to figure those things out. I just need you to stay in that body until the other Forge is destroyed. Give me forty-eight hours and I’ll have you off this ship.”
Ellie nodded. “Okay. So, I just have to not fight anyone, not speak to anyone, and not kiss anyone for two days. I can do that. I do that all the time. I’m the master of doing that.”
“Good,” Immortalizer Lee sighed.
Ellie nodded. “I just also want to point out that whatever screwed these guys up to make them homicidal, world-murdering, incest-happy weirdos is all on Michael’s side of the family tree. These are not my grand-whatevers.”
“Noted,” he replied. “Okay, there are three-hundred more points to cover, so let’s move on.”
Ellie slumped back into the leather chair. “Are you serious?”
It became clear to Ellie that Immortalizer Lee had made a mistake and that it was slowly dawning on him. She wasn’t the version of Elizabeth Porter he’d wanted. He’d wanted to bring back the version of her that stayed on a dying world to help those left behind, who gave up her seat to safety for a mother and child, and who willingly died in nuclear fallout like a badass hero. He had not hoped to bring back the earlier version of her; the spoiled, stupid girl who had never thought to look past anything other than her own materialism.
When Immortalizer Lee left Vena Helgar’s quarters, Ellie imagined him drooping his shoulders and whispering how screwed he was under his breath.
Because he was.
They both were.