“Feeling better, Kat?” Lucy asked.
“I am,” Kat said. “Just got a helluva headache and I can’t really remember what happened.”
“I’ve compiled a report based on everyone’s testimony,” Lucy said. “You can peruse it whenever you like.”
“Short version,” Ophelia said. “Some kind of creature was controlling the plants and managed to put the akumillians under its sway. Paul managed to kill it.”
“I’m surprised,” Kat stated. “He’s not exactly a fighter.”
“He seems to be pretty upset over it,” Ophelia said. “Leon’s trying to cheer him up.”
“There are two things you can keep in mind from this whole thing,” Lucy said. “First off, never get drunk. Ever.”
“I don’t drink much or often,” Kat said. “Not my fault the spores had that effect.” She scratched her head. “What’s the other thing?”
“Keep your relationship with my Ophelia friendly, but not too friendly,” Lucy said.
“Huh?” Kat asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” Ophelia said. “You just said something a bit… foolish while you were being affected by the spores.”
Farah and Grace sat in Grace’s quarters. Hyper was in Farah’s lap. The Baron was in Grace’s. They sat close, occasionally stroking the small animals.
“I don’t know,” Farah said. “It just feels like I missed everything this mission, you know?While the others were out taking care of things I was just…”
“Wasting your time with me,” Grace interrupted. “Is that what you think? That I’m a waste of time?”
“Not at all,” Farah explained. “I just wish I’d been able to help.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Grace said. “According to Yuri, they didn’t really do anything when they were there with the entity. My brother took care of things. Probably the only time that’ll ever happen outside of actual medical issues. No offence, but I don’t think your being there would have changed anything.”
“You’re probably right,” Farah said. “I don’t know. It just feels like I haven’t done much in missions lately.”
“You were invaluable during the whole Gauriel Prime thing,” Grace said. “Trust me, no one here questions your usefulness.” She put an arm around Farah and gently brought her closer. “Or your intoxicating beauty.”
“Grace,” Farah whispered.
They embraced, their lips coming together. Hyper and the Baron moved away from the two of them. They were interrupted by a knock at the door. The Baron ran over and started pacing in front of it.
“Damn it!” Grace muttered. “Just when things were getting good.” She moved to the door. “Piss off!”
“Let me borrow the Baron!” Leon’s voice returned.
“Why?” Grace asked.
“Because Paul likes dogs and I think he’ll cheer up if he has some time with little Wolfie,” Leon said.
Grace whistled. the Baron scrambled over to her. She picked him up and opened the door. She carefully handed him to Leon. “Take good care of him and bring him back in six hours.”
“Agreed,” Leon said. He stroked Wolfgang’s fur. “Come on, Little Guy. Let’s go see Paul.”
Grace closed the door and locked it. “Sorry about that.” She said. “Now we’ve gotta try and recapture the moment.”
Leon took Wolfie to the quarters he and Paul shared. The little dog sat in his arms with a smug look.
“There he is,” Leon whispered, pointing the little dog at the sofa where Paul was lying down. “Go get him.”
He set the Baron down. Wolfgang sniffed around the room for a moment before running to the sofa. He jumped up onto it, crawled onto Paul’s stomach, moved to his face and began licking.
“Wolfie?” Paul asked. “What are you doing here?” He pet the dog’s head. Wolfgang sat up on his hind legs, exposing his belly. Paul obliged by rubbing it.
“You look happy doing that,” Leon said.
“Is that why you brought him here?” Paul asked.
“Well, you did look down,” Leon said. “Killing that thing really bothered you, didn’t it?”
“It does bother me,” Paul admitted. “But it was the only real choice I had to save you guys. Don’t worry, I’ll be able to live with it.”
“I know you will,” Leon said. “But if you need to cry for it… or to talk to someone about your feelings, I’m here for you. It’s the least I can do for the man I love.”
“Thanks, Fuzzy,” Paul said. “I love you too.”
the Cerberus crew continued on their course for several days while Lucy and Ophelia went over potential jobs.
“I think I’ve got it,” Ophelia said. “A bounty from Omicron Zeta.”
“It’ll be dangerous,” Lucy said. “But doable.”
“I’m not sure how dangerous it’ll actually be,” Ophelia stated. “Some low life who embezzled a bunch of credits.”
“Enough to hire protection?” Lucy asked.
“Probably,” Ophelia answered. “But how good will their back up be?”
“Depends on how seasoned of a criminal they are,” Lucy said.
“Do you want to keep looking?” Ophelia asked.
“Well, let me see the listing,” Lucy said. “It probably is safer than our last job.”
The Cerberus’ intercom activated. “Ophelia, Lucy come to the Bridge.” Kat’s voice pleaded. “We’re being attacked!”