“Thank you for the help, Captain Tawaig,” Kat said. She and Grace were on the Bridge with Elijah’s crew. “We were moments away from losing half of us.”
“S’what I do,” Elijah said.
“You guys really should have had more atmosphere suits,” his companion added.
“No need to be rude, Antoine,” Elijah said. “I’m sure they had their reasons.”
“We did have enough,” Grace stated. “But we lost a bunch of them during our last flight.”
“Shouldn’t experiment with dangerous new propulsion systems either,” Antoine chided. “Lose half your ship that way.”
“We didn’t have much choice,” Grace explained. “We’d lost half our ship already and enemy reinforcements were close. If we hadn’t borrowed their propulsion system, they would’ve killed us.”
Elijah whistled. “That must’ve been scary.”
“Captain,” Kat interrupted. “Can you tell us why you’re out here? We aren’t exactly close to Drotor.”
Elijah stroked his chin. “Not much to tell. We were on our way to Arkasis to put an end to some certain activities.”
“You were going to free the slaves from the black market, right?” Kat asked.
“That was the big thing,” Elijah confirmed.
“I don’t recommend going there right now,” Kat advised. “It’s close to where we had our battle. Right now, there’ll be Alliance ships swarming the place.”
“We don’t have the resssourcesss to fight an Alliance fleet,” Ussie said. “We might want to reconssider for the moment.”
“That’s a real shame,” Elijah said. “I really wanted to save them.”
“We can always wait for a day or two and double back,” Antoine suggested.”Maybe drop these guys off so that we have more room in the hold.”
“That’s a good idea,” Elijah agreed. “Thanks.”
Antoine’s face flushed. “It’s not like I came up with it to cheer you up or anything, it just made sense.”
“Of course,” Elijah said. He reached over and rubbed Antoine’s head before turning to Kat. “So, where do you guys need to go? We’ll drop you off.”
“We should probably head back to Akumil,” Kat said. “We were with a group when we set out. I’m sure the other surviving ships will be concerned.”
“I’ll bet every credit I have in savings that they think we’re dead,” Grace said.
“All the more reason to get you back quickly,” Elijah stated. “We can crash your funerals.”
“Actually,” Ussie said. “Akumilliansss don’t have funeralsss. They conssider them to be vulgar dissplaysss. They hold quiet ceremoniess for family and friendss to reflect on the life that’sss been ssnuffed out.”
“Darn,” Elijah muttered. “I really wanted to bring them in to their funeral and see everyone gasp in surprise.”
“What, like this?” Antoine turned to Grace and Kat. His eyes went wide and his mouth hung open. He pointed, his finger shaking. “The…. they’re alive! I can’t believe it.”
“You’re sspoiling the Captain over-much,” Ussie chided.
“I am not!” Antoine declared. “I just felt like playing along, is all.”
“Can we ask for just one other thing?” Grace said.
“It’s fine by me,” Elijah said. “What?”
“Could you please destroy that propulsion system?” Grace asked. “It could be dangerous in the wrong hands.”
“Guess we couldn’t have that,” Elijah stated. “All right. Ussie, take aim and fire.”
“Undersstood,” Ussie said. “Locking on now.”
“When will they wake up?” Farah asked.
“Probably a couple hours,” Paul answered. “But we mustn’t disturb them when they do. They’ve been through a lot.”
“Of course,” Farah said. “I’m just glad they’re okay.”
Leon came in, carrying a bunch of fabric. “I’ve brought cushions for them. They aren’t much, but they’re all Tawaig had.”
“They’ll have to do,” Paul said. “As long s they don’t move around too much, they should be enough. Farah, help me fix some makeshift beds for them. Leon, you and Yuri should be ready to lift them.”
“I am capable of lifting them by myself,” Yuri stated.
“I’m sure you are,” Paul said. “Fuzzy certainly is. But they need to be moved very carefully. It’ll just be safer if you’re working together.”
“I understand,” Yuri said. “You are taking every precaution for your patients’ welfare. I will comply with your request.”
“Nice to hear it, Hun,” Allison said. She was holding Wolfie and Hyper “More importantly, is there anywhere on this ship we can get some privacy… You know, for later?”
“You possess an unusually one-track mind,” Yuri said. “Now is not the appropriate juncture.”
“We can answer it,” Kat said. Allison, Yuri and Leon turned. Kat had just entered the hold with Grace. “This ship isn’t particularly big. They don’t have extra quarters. We’ll all have to stay in here like the freed slaves do when they’re transporting them. Captain Tawaig has given us permission to visit them on the Bridge. But we’re pretty much looking at here or there.”
“What is our next course of action?” Yuri inquired.
“They’re dropping us off on Akumil,” Grace said. “Until then, I’m going to help fix the ship up. The rest of you can stick around here. We don’t want to be in the way.”
“May I render assistance with repairs and maintenance?” Yuri inquired.
Grace nodded. “If you want.”
“So, what happens when we reach Akumil?” Allison asked. “We’ve got no ship. No work. Nowhere to stay.”
“We’ll figure something out on the way,” Kat said. “I hope.”