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memory's grandniece

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"Sing, o muse," River murmurs. Simon looks up from the clothes he's been packing, confused. It's alright, though. River wasn't speaking to him.

I am no Muse, child, River's muse says-but-doesn't. Their petty domains are nothing to mine.

"Not a godling. Source of inspiration." Simon asks who River's talking to. She doesn't respond, wanders off to another part of the ship. Somewhere quieter, without voices to interrupt her muse's not-speech.

I am far more than that, River's muse not-says, following her. And I have great and terrible knowledge to give you this day.

"Then sing." River reclines, lets her head fall over the edge of the table. Her hair fans out in the air, settles and lands on the chair her muse occupies, falling through her not-there aegis. "What epics of old will be retold today?"

Not an old story, this time, but a new one. Yours.

"Mine." River stares up at her muse, at her too-perfect face, even upside down. Atypical symmetry, an idealized form displaying beauty and wisdom and battle readiness all at once. Ready to tell her story. "Can't be a history, comedy unlikely. Tragedy?"

They often are. Her muse's too-perfect face shows too-perfect, too-precise sympathy, but her not-voice has none. The voice is more trustworthy, honest; River shuts her eyes.

"Too broken already to be an appropriate protagonist."

That presumes your story hasn't already begun. River sucks in a breath. She hadn't considered that.

"In medias res."

It's how the best stories start.

"Why now?" Foolish question. She's begun to heal. Now's the best time to ruin her further, punishment for her crime committed in ignorance.

No. Because now the story requires that you remember something you've made yourself forget. River's muse not-touches a finger to her forehead, then presses through. Inside, within folds of tissue and clusters of cells and vesicles of neurotransmitters, until she finds the one she needs. She touches it, not a physical contact but one felt all the same, a spark of light and electricity and memory. Remember, River.

River's eyes fly open. "Sing, o goddess," she breathes, "the anger of the Reavers, that brought countless ills upon the Alliance that birthed them."

Remember.

She does. "Sing the tragedy of Miranda."