8.6

Jessie had fallen asleep in his lap, two movies in and halfway through a second cup of tea. She purred softly as he turned off the movie and moved her cup to a safe surface. The tricky part was always standing up without waking her. She slept harder now, but was also getting big enough he couldn’t carry her with one hand. Vortran was still sleeping so he put her in his bed, nearer the control room. His bed was larger and she splayed out automatically as he pulled the covers over her. He’d stopped trying to tuck her in neatly years ago, she always tossed the covers off during the night.

Since his bed was occupied and he was wide awake he took the time to inventory what he’d need to buy at the station. Jessie’s clothes had mostly been lost, as had a lot of his. His sisters would replace any toys when they got home. They’d get new pictures too. Luckily Jessie had taken her pendant with her, because that wasn’t replaceable. He pulled it out of his pocket and activated it, reading the file again. The technopath really had fixed it, it seemed. Whether this was a good thing or not he wasn’t so sure now. He turned it off and shoved it in a drawer by the console. That could wait for later.

He’d almost forgotten how quiet a mostly empty ship could get. There was nothing he wanted to watch or read, leaving him with just his thoughts to entertain himself. Part of him wished they hadn’t finished off that bottle Vortran had bought, the rest of him remembering the next morning. The  clock said it would be a few hours until sunrise back home. Sam went to the console again and called home anyways, knowing someone would answer.

***

The accursed one’s friend seemed to largely ignore Yik studying him, taking his time checking on the security officer and the Sutro boy. Once he had nothing else to do he offered Yik some water, and sat down next to him. Yik expected conversation to start, but the man seemed content to sit there and pass time in silence. The silence grew stifling and he finally spoke up to break it, “So how do you know the accursed one?”

The man laughed heartily, “Who? Sam? I towed him once a long time ago and we’ve just kept in touch. How about you?”

“He spared my life once, I must destroy him to restore my honor.”

The man laughed again, unfazed by the statement, “Yeah, Sam makes enemies as easily as friends some days.”

Yik frowned and lapsed into silence again. He drank some of the water and stared down at it thoughtfully. The man stood up, still smiling, “We’ve got a bit of a trip to the station, so make yourself at home.”

“Thank you.” Yik frowned harder at the water. He didn’t know how to handle this situation, there were too many unknown variables. The man left him to his thoughts and he looked around the ship. The medical area was towards the towing end, with a large quarantine door ready to divide the ship if needed. The bunks and bathrooms were halfway down the side opposite the kitchen and storage. The control area was at the far end. It was very functional and impersonal, clearly designed for tow and rescue operations. Everything seemed clean and well-maintained but he could tell nobody lived on this ship long-term. The station would be this man’s home territory, and probably familiar to the accursed one. Yik would still be at a disadvantage there. A disadvantage for what, he was no longer sure.

***

Jerret was full and tired as he found his dry little cave again. He curled up on the grass piled on the floor, resting his head on the worn out book on the floor. It smelled comforting, as did the coming rain and he fell asleep as the first drops fell and thunder rolled. The cave’s entrance sloped down stopping any rain from coming in, and was a couple feet up a cliff to discourage intruders. He’d chosen carefully, ensuring he could get in and out but nothing would wander in on accident. He slept soundly through the night.

***

Mark slept, though fitfully.

***

Vortran slept harder than she wanted too, unable to put it off longer.

***

Calvin lay awake but dead to the world, save for the little cleaning bot resting faithfully by his hand.

 

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