“What will you do?” Alitma repeated, in a frothing anger. “You have no option but surrender! Every other choice is suicide. And I know you won't kill yourself … coward.”
Daniel stood still. Coward. There was that word again. His subconscious threw it at him nightly.
“And why would you kill yourself?” Alitma said, sarcastically. “You have so much to live. You are a disgraced duster turned underpaid janitor—sorry, ex-underpaid janitor—trapped in a flying junk-ship with a neutered Mek and a third-rate pilot Aye as his only friends.”
“Third-rate?!” Rachel-7 yelled, fuming.
“Neutered?” Trak asked. He didn't disagree, he just wondered if it was the correct word.
“Actually, Daniel,” Alitma said, “maybe you will destroy yourself. I know I would, if I had your life.”
“Did you know you’re still wanted for murder?” Alitma asked. “Not just everyday murder, mass murder. Even I don’t have that on my wanted feed.”
Daniel flinched again. He hadn’t known they upped his charges.
“It was just a mistake. I didn’t mean—Cassandra wasn’t—I am not a murderer!” Daniel said, but he wasn’t sure.
“Coward” wasn’t the only word his subconscious repeated over and over. "Murderer" was there, too.
“Now that I think about it,” Alitma said, “nothing I can do to you would be worse than the life you already have, you complete and utter failure.”
“Failure” was the third most common word in the arsenal of Daniel's subconscious.
His mind fired “coward,” “failure,” and “murderer” at him every night, until he killed those thoughts with liquor or its alien equivalent.