As far as political catastrophes go, Chrisjen Avasarala is having a terrible time in her election campaign. She has to admit that the man who has spaced all the Belters seeking a better life across the ring gates and then sought to use the Sojourner to attack Earth is still running free. She has to admit that her precarious alliance with the OPA to police the gates is crumbling. Her opponent Nancy Gao is closing in on her, and her political advisers tell her to do things that she doesn't feel confident with, like admitting errors instead of showing strength.This new political situation isn't playing to Avasarala's strengths, and worse than that, her husband is worried because for the first time ever, she seems to want to win for the sake of winning (or, as she puts it, because she is afraid of the uncertainty of losing), rather than because she wants to accomplish something. Avasarala has always been a consummate political animal, someone who steered clear-headed through the past's many catastrophes and paradigm changes, but it seems as if perhaps her time is now coming to an end. What will the future look like without her?
To save political face she is given two option by her military leadership: they can destroy the Belter freighter that Marcos Inaros is hiding on, risking the political fall-out of killing civilians but avoiding the risk of losing UN Marines, or they can choose a tactical strike, which comes with all the risks and unknowns but the upside of possibly apprehending Marcos alive, and making him an example of him to deter future pirates from attacking the ships waiting to cross the gates. Avasarala knows that she needs the latter, especially with Nancy Gao at her heels. They watch the strike - they hear the shots, the screen going black, the life-signs of each and every Marine going flat, and then, the news that the freighter has disappeared.
On Ilus, the horror of space continues. The Belters and the RCE military personnel have settled in different parts of the alien structure, and Murtry is gearing up for what he predicts will be a war for the few resources that everyone has, with a possible rescue becoming more and more unlikely to happen soon as everyone's ship is without fusion drive. The only other solution - for Miller to reappear so that Holden can fix whatever he activated - seems more and more unlikely the longer Miller remains conspicuously absent. With tensions rising between the well-stocked RCE and the Belters that outnumber them but are running out of clean water to drink, Elvi's news that an alien microorganism has co-opted a new biological niche - human eyes - doesn't exactly come at a good time. Everyone is going blind, except Holden, who is special. Plus, to make matters worse, a few minutes after Murtry shares his idea to get rid of Holden and claim Ilus for himself and anyone else who wants to make a good profit, everyone realises together that another organism has entered the arena: killer slugs, whose trails are literally everywhere. With Holden being the only one who will be able to see and protect people from them, someone is about to never get any sleep again.
Up in orbit, Lucia struggles with what she has done, and the fact that her daughter Felcia refuses to speak to her after finding out what she did. Felcia made it to the Barb, trying to escape this new world so she could study in the old one, but now instead she is learning engineering on-site from Naomi. Lucia is the one who comes up with an idea to prevent the Barb from crashing in 2 days - hook her up to the Rocinante with a kilometre-long cable, and use the Rocinante's remaining battery power to drag her up higher, with the hope that the laws of physics will start to apply again once the ships cross the range of Ilus' many moons. It's a daring endeavour, maybe as daring as the Belter's original colonisation of Ganymede, the home world they so tragically lost to the protomolecule.
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