“Dude, stop pacing,” Allison said. “We don’t exactly have a lot of space in here.”
Leon ignored her.
“Leon,” Ophelia said, grabbing his shoulder. “I know you’re anxious. I know you’re worried about Paul, but you need to keep calm. Your best chance at helping him is to keep your cool. Okay?”
Leon halted and took a deep breath. “Yes… Captain.”
Yuri released her hold on the door. “Someone is approaching.”
The group moved to look. An akumillian was hurrying towards the cell.
“Think it’s time for them to do… whatever?” Allison asked.
Ophelia shook her head. “She’s not moving like the ones before. They were slow, controlled. She’s moving with purpose… earnestness. I wonder if that thing couldn’t control her.”
“Like, if she had the same surgery as Lucy?” Leon asked.
The woman hurried over and opened the door.
“You must be Ophelia and Leon,” she said. “I wasn’t told to expect others, but that’s fine. You’re free.”
“Told?” Ophelia asked. “Who told you?”
“The Doctor,” she answered. “He asked me to find you.”
“Where is he?” Leon demanded.
“Main chamber,” she said. “Treating the wounded.”
“Wounded? Just what happened?” Ophelia wondered.
“Only way to find out is check,” Allison said. “Yuri, you weren’t hurt while trying to open the door, were you?”
“My systems are fully functional,” Yuri answered. “We were released before they were badly strained.”
“Good,” Allison said. “I’m glad.”
When they arrived in the main chamber they found the gelatinous mass scattered across the ground. Pieces of the entity were strewn about and the ground near its previous suspension place was charred.
Paul was knelt down next to an akumillian, carefully pulling fragments of rock and metal from his arm.
“Paul,” Leon whispered. “He’s okay.”
“Paul, what happened?” Ophelia asked.
“I overloaded some blasters,” Paul answered. “The blast killed the entity, but the nearby akumillians were injured in the process.”
“Nice,” Allison said.
“Nothing nice about taking a life,” Paul chided. “Being unable to reach a peaceful settlement is a tragedy.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Allison said.
“I can understand why you would take that position,” Yuri stated. “I am, however, unable to summon any pity for the creature. It forced the akumillians to comply with its orders. Had it been able to, it would have forced us to comply with its orders. Terminating its life functions was a necessary action.”
“Things that are rational can still be regrettable,” Paul said.
Things went quiet for a time. Leon thought about what he should be saying or doing to make his despondent lover feel better. His focus was shattered when Ophelia spoke. “Paul, are you bleeding?”
Leon looked Paul over. That’s when he noticed that Paul’s back was bandaged and blood was starting to soak through.
“How did…” Leon began. “What… We need to get you to the ship!”
“no need to fuss, Fuzzy, I’m fine,” Paul said. “At least, I’m well enough to treat these people. Some shrapnel scratched me. It’s nothing serious.”
“Maybe not,” Ophelia said. “But Lucy’s looking at it when we return to the Cerberus.”
“Agreed,” Paul said. “Once I’m done with my work here.
Ophelia returned to the ship with Allison and Yuri, leaving Leon to keep an eye on Paul as he worked.
“Is it prudent to leave the two of them alone?” Yuri inquired.
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Ophelia said. “The entity is dead. There was no sign of another one. Or anything else dangerous, for that matter.”
“So, all that remains is to write up the report and collect our reward,” Allison said.
“It is curious,” Yuri stated. “If the entity was anomalous among the flora and fauna of this world, how did it develop? If it came from elsewhere, how did it arrive? Where did it come from? Why did it leave?”
Ophelia shrugged. “No way to know for sure. Unless the colonists find some evidence.”
Kat ran up to them in the corridor.
“Cap’n, is good to see you,” she said. “Th… there’s no one here but ghosths. Ghoshts an me.”
Allison nudged Yuri.
“Kat, go back to sleep,” Ophelia coaxed. “Aren’t you tired?”
“Not tired,” Kat stated. “I… I am rilly awake. Hey, lemme tell ya sometin.” She beckoned to Ophelia and leaned close. When she spoke, her voice was just as loud as it had been. “I wanna fly the Ceroboros.”
“You want to fly my ship?” Ophelia asked.
“Comon, it’ll be good clean fun,” Kat stated. “I’ll sit in your lap an I… I will be best pilot. Jusht don’t tell Lucy cause she’d be soo mad.”
“This is absolute gold,” Allison whispered.
“Welcome back Ophelia, Allison, Yuri,” Lucy greeted, stepping out into the corridor. “Kat, come here for a moment.”
Kat looked at Ophelia and put a finger to her lips. “Shoosh.” she said. She stumbled over to Lucy.
“Come with me, now!” Lucy ordered, her words commanding. “You are going back to sleep.”
“Yesh’m,” Kat agreed.
“I am totally teasing her about that later,” Allison said.
“Don’t,” Ophelia said. “She can’t help it. ” She sighed. “I’m going to write up the report. Apprise Lucy of Paul’s injuries and then you can consider yourselves free.”
“Aye aye, Ma’am,” Allison said.