"The Voldraddi don't like you to do things. They want you to simmer down and do nothing. In return for doing nothing, they give you a little something. Just enough to keep your soul in your skin, see? And you'd better be happy with that. Hunker down and be happy and don't make any fuss. Be happy doing nothing. People who do something...make their own clothes, grow their own veggies, paint their own pictures...well, they tend to get shot at a lot by the P.D.F. You don't want that, so you do nothing.
It's like...if you've got something they didn't give you, they figure you must have stolen it from them, somehow, and they want it back. They want it back even though it were never theirs to begin with, and they didn't know or care anything about it before they saw you had it. They'll kill you for that. Stealing from them. That's the one thing they'll kill you for every time. So you don't do things and you don't make things...you don't ever try to make anything better. But I always knew there was something good about doing things. Had to be, or the Voldraddi wouldn't be doing them. They have all the nice things. And busy, busy all the time, doing things. I used to sit on the roof at night with my brothers and we'd watch the little silver ships jump up into the sky from the Voldraddi palaces, and watch them coming down again, all the lights and the sounds from them palaces. And I'd think, what a lot of somethings them big dogs know how to do! And I'd say to me brothers, "If only I could, I'd do so MANY things!" And they'd laugh at me, of course, why wouldn't they?
"Fancy me, I'd say to the Clown, half a little speck of nothing from the land where they shoot you for trying to do things, and here I'm in a silver ship, swimming up in the stars just like them rich Voldraddi ladies do, doing so many things, runnin' guns and juice and gettin' scrappy way up there where you look back and Geminion Secundus is just a little green cat's eye, like the little green balls they'd give the kids to play with way back when, when we were so little and didn't know nothing about how to do things!"
And the old clown would laugh through them brown broken teeth of his and scratch his gross old self.
"Din't have to sittle fer they little green balls now, do ye, girl? he'd say. You kin hilp yerself ta all they got!! Just reach out there in it's all rite inder yer glove. Take it, girl! Take it!"
"Oh, and I took some, I'll have you know...but you know that, don't ye? That's why yer're here. Once I got up here where I never had to look at Secundus 'cept as a little green ball behind glass, well, I never wanted to come down. I wanted a ship of my own, so I went and got one. This sleek little runner, fine thing, ain't she? Took her in ambush one day, she was full of rich ladies and gents from the white palaces on Prime, up here for a cruise, they got sleepy and sluggy and we were on 'em fore they knew it. Took her in a twinkling, I did, and I didn't lose one of my boys.
Talked to some of 'em, those Voldraddi big dogs, before I did the big thing. Or I tried to. I wanted 'em to know...know about me...know that I was there, I guess. That I had always been there, that I had been a little girl once, taking their little balls and bags of nothing, letting 'em cut me heart out in exchange, letting 'em kill me 'fore I was even dead. That it was me, Meg, talking to 'em, see? And that they had to listen and to know me, and to learn. I guess that's what I wanted. But they couldn't understand me, and I couldn't understand them. It wasn't the words; we had a lot of the same words, it was that the things in their heads are different. All the things we knew how to do were different. I guess, to them, I might as well have been some Ork or something.
So I did the big thing! I flushed 'em all out the airlock into space. Watched their faces as they tumbled out. Thought I'd feel good. I didn't. I mean I did feel good, but not about flushing 'em. All the good I felt come from the knowin' that I had this sleek little racer under my boots. I had my own ship now, and damn the clown. Oh, I still get on with him all right. But I won't work for him no more. I'll work with him, but I won't work for him...
...I do all my own things now.