7.4

Vortran untangled herself from the blanket and struggled to her feet. The kid wasn’t in her bed and for a moment she panicked, until a shriek of laughter reassured her last night had happened. She smoothed her fur out a little and peeked out into the hallway. The outside door was open. The sun was either just rising or just setting, and everyone seemed to be outside.

“Oh good, you’re up! Come join us for breakfast!” Sam called from where he was seated on one of the logs. He had a dish with food in one hand and the kid tucked under his other arm. She kicked and squirmed, laughing again.

“Misa! Put me down!”

“Uh-uh. Not ready to let go of you yet.” He offered her a piece of food and she grabbed it, tipping precariously forward until she was nearly upside down with another shriek. He righted her a bit and set her down on the log finally so she could sit up and eat. Mark and Yik were sitting at the far side of the crude fire pit and someone had propped the Sutro guy up against a dry part of the log. There was no sign of the Vagrant anywhere.

“Where’s the other guy?” She crawled up on the log next to Sam with some difficulty. Mark and Yik were busy eating and simply shrugged.

“He went out earlier, hasn’t come back yet.” Sam stared down at his food for a moment, then offered the dish to Vortran, “He’ll turn up again, probably.”

Vortran took the dish and ate a little. It was just cold, unseasoned meat so she handed it back quickly. Sam gave it to the kid, who hopped off the log and walked cautiously over to the unresponsive Calvin. She sat next to him and leaned against him, shutting her eyes. Vortran could hear Sam make an unhappy noise at this and looked up. He was staring daggers at the other man.

“You called your mom yet?” Vortran asked, trying to ease the tension a little. Sam cringed visibly.

“Gods… guess I’ve got no excuse now. At least I have good news.” He stood up and brushed himself off. He patted her on the shoulder briefly before turning to the kid again. “Come on, Jess, we should let grandma know you’re safe.”

“Okay!” She jumped up again and left the food on Calvin’s lap. Sam put a hand on her head and frowned, mussing her hair.

“What happened to your hair, kiddo? I’m pretty sure it was longer.”

“A robot ate it.” She said, grabbing his hand with hers, “Come on, I wanna tell granny about the fish I caught!”

“You caught a fish?” Sam scooped her up and the two headed off for the other ship. Vortran watched them until they were out of sight, then felt two pairs of eyes on her. Mark and Yik were watching her.

“What?” She snapped at them.

“Nothing.” Mark said, going back to eating.

“You had a strange look on your face when he touched your shoulder. Like you ate a really good dessert.” Yik said at the same time. Mark nudged him rather hard and he hissed, “What? It is the truth.”

Vortran narrowed her eyes at both of them and they fell silent, going back to their food.

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