“Thanks for the lift,” Ophelia said. “If you need a favour in return sometime, contact us.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Elijah said. “I was just doing the neighbourly thing. ‘Sides, you lot helped me out a lot too.”
“But we got paid for it,” Ophelia said.
“I don’t see how that’s relevant,” Elijah said.
“Well, let us know if we can help you anyway,” Ophelia said.
“If you insist,” Elijah said.
“Are you going to leave right away?” Lucy asked.
“Nah,” Elijah stated. “I think we’ll get something to eat and rest a bit firs. I’m pretty famished.”
“Probably all that stuff you smoke,” Antoine said.
“Could be,” Elijah shrugged. “In any case, if you guys need anything else while we’re still here, let me know.”
The displaced crew said farewell and moved off on their own.
“Lucy and I will contact our employers,” Ophelia said. “You guys go and get supplies. Paul, you can take Leon and grab medical supplies. Grace, you can take Farah and grab stuff we’ll need for engineering. Kat can buy food. Yuri and Allison can get whatever miscellaneous things we’ll need. Grace, you and Farah should take Hyper and the Baron with you.”
“I’m sending you your budgets on the hand-held units,” Lucy said. “If you want more than that, you’ll have to pay for the extra yourselves.”
“Just take it easy,” Paul said. “Ophelia, your leg may be fixed, but it’ll still be some time before it’s as strong as it should be. And Lucy, you…”
“I know,” Lucy said. “I promise I won’t try to use it. Not that it works on other akumillians anyway.”
“Does everyone have their adornments to let the akumillians know you aren’t interested?” Kat asked. The crew held them up.
“We’ll meet at the shipyard,” Ophelia said. “Get what you need and head over.”
“I suggest we begin by purchasing atmosphere suits,” Yuri said. “Enough for the entire crew with some extras in the event that we are in an accident and multiple suits break.”
“Is something occupying your mind?” Yuri asked. “You have been oddly silent.”
“It’s strange,” Allison said. “Our ship gets torn to shreds. We almost lose half the crew. Yet, everyone’s just going about their business, getting ready to get back up there. They all seem to take it for granted that our crew will reform just as it was.”
“Do you no longer wish to act as a member of the Cerberus crew?” Yuri asked.
“I don’t know,” Allison admitted. “I… I just think that any of us could make a life here on Akumil. This isn’t the Alliance. Our pasts won’t prevent it and yet… we all just stick together. Why do we do it? Why do we take so many risks?”
Yuri gazed at her for a moment. “I can not speak for anyone else,” she said. “My past contains no incidents that would prevent my taking on any form of duties anywhere. I have elected to remain with the Cerberus due to the kindness I have always been shown.” She gently pat Allison’s head. “If it is your intention to leave, however, I will go with you. Though I have fondness for everyone in the crew, my feelings for you vastly exceed that. Should we inform the Captain that we will not be returning?”
“I… I don’t know that I want to leave,” Allison said. “Honestly, I like everybody. Grace may tease me, but I still like her and I think she likes me too. In spite of all her posturing. It’s just… I…”
Allison went silent. Yuri carefully observed her face. The way her lips started to move but swiftly closed. The way her eyes darted. The way she absent-mindedly scratched the back of her head. Yuri took it all in, her circuits formulating a hypothesis for what ailed her lady love. Still, she waited patiently for Allison to get the words out.
“I… I’m scared,” Allison admitted. “This whole thing was such a mess… such a close call. I worry that next time… Next time we might not be so lucky. I don’t want to see You, Ophelia, Lucy, Kat, Farah, Paul, Leon or Grace die. I don’t want to die. I just… When it…” She took a deep breath. “I wonder how many more risks we can take as a group before we lose someone. I mean, I know they lost someone before Grace, Farah you or I joined. It’s just… different when you’re a part of the group, y’know?
Yuri reached out and hugged Allison, tightly. “All of us will eventually cease to function. At this juncture, worrying about what might happen if we are not cautious is not productive. What matters is what we are going to do. Will we remain on Akumil and make a new life or will we continue as part of captain Wester’s crew? I will entrust the decision to you.”
“We thought you had been killed, Captain,” Ophelia and Lucy were talking to the same bureaucrat who had given them their mission. It’s a shame to hear about your ship, of course. Unfortunately, it won’t impact your pay.”
“I understand,” Ophelia said. “I didn’t expect it to.”
“At least we have that data on the Alliance’s new ship,” Lucy said.
“You have what?” the bureaucrat asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing that would interest you,” Lucy said. “We just sent a little boarding party aboard after we blew it up and they got some schematics and the like. I imagine we can sell it to a weapon manufacturer for a nice amount.”
“I guess we have our next stop,” Ophelia said. She and Lucy moved towards the door.
“Wait!” the bureaucrat cried. She adjusted some paperwork. “I believe that we would be willing to negotiate a fair price. If you could just let me contact my superiors?”
“We’ll give you ten minutes,” Ophelia said.