“That was… Kohen, I….” Captain stumbled over his words as he stared at me.
“Felt good.” I nuzzled his thigh, then sighed. “But you have to go. And you want me to stay here, with the guards, where it’s safe.” I hated that. I wanted to be with him, now that I wasn’t afraid that my mind was going to be taken from me.
He cupped my head, running his hand over my skull and then running his thumb along my cheekbone. “Yes. I don’t know exactly what these people were planning, even if Lakshou did run his mouth with you. For someone who managed to disguise his intentions for so long, he got damn cocky. But I don’t know if that was just because of you, or if there’s more to this than we know. Until then, I would have you stay safe. Not because I don’t trust you, but because I don’t trust them.”
“I know. I’ll stay here. But when we get to the planets, you won’t be able to keep me locked away from everything.”
Captain echoed my earlier sigh. “I know. But hopefully we’ll have had some more information and more time to plan.”
It was actual hard to watch him walk away as I sat on the bed. Exhausted by the surges of adrenaline paired with the physical and emotional release, I dropped onto the bunk with a sigh. The bed was as soft as ever, and my eyelids had rapidly gained weights that dragged them down.
I stripped and crawled under the covers, burrowing into the softness and safety I’d only ever felt here.
A hand on my leg startled me awake, and I kicked out, then rolled away.
“Deke. What are you doing in here?” I sat up.
“Waking you up. Captain Querry wanted me to get you.” Deke rubbed his wrist. “You have wicked aim. Your eyes weren’t even open.” He wriggled his fingers.
“Don’t touch me while I’m sleeping.”
“Noted. Are you going to get up? We don’t have a lot of time.”
“Wait outside.” Once I’d gained the right to privacy, I found I liked it. Needed it. There was only one person I could tolerate seeing me vulnerable, especially if I had the choice.
“Sure.” Deke shook his head, mumbling under his breath. Of course, I could hear him, but I chose to ignore his grumbles. He shouldn’t have touched me; now he knew better. I’d pulled the kick—mostly.
I really needed to go back to my quarters. I hated pulling on dirty clothing, so I didn’t. I grabbed some of Captain’s off-duty clothes, not caring who saw me in them. With the way gossip moved around the ship, most of the crew probably knew exactly what was going on between us anyway.
“What’s going on?” I asked as I followed Deke off the bridge crew quarter deck.
“Probably best to wait to ask questions until we’re somewhere more secure.” Deke looked grim now that he wasn’t whining. Crew members were everywhere. Deke and I both had to shift sideways to accommodate the bulk of two Scimniocs who were so busy bowing to each other, they’d blocked almost all of the corridor. We had to hop over their third leg which was propped out sideways.
At least I thought it was a leg.
Deke acted like it was all commonplace as he moved among the crew, not stopping as they acknowledged him or asked him questions, just firing responses back and keeping Kohen moving. They finally reached the bridge level. It was much quieter there, and the crew there all moved with silent purpose.
Until Deke got to a door. He put his palm on the scanner and waited while it did a full scan, which also meant DNA. Captain was inside with several of his crew, including Kekillill and a few others I hadn’t met in person.
“Got him, Querry.” Deke gestured for me to go in. “Now I have shit to do, including seeing Aparoe’s assistant for my wrist.”
“It’s fine.” I rolled my eyes.
“Thank you,” Captain said. The door slid shut behind me. “What happened to his wrist? Did something happen on the way to my quarters or the way back?” He stood. “Are you okay?”
I went right up to him, unable to stay away even though every crew member in the room was watching us and I should be discreet. “He touched me while I was sleeping. I kicked him. He’s fine, just being a big baby.”
Captain scowled. “He touched you?” His voice lowered dangerously.
“Just my leg. It startled me, and I was already kicking out before I realized it was him, so I couldn’t fully stop. I managed not to break his arm, but he’ll have a bruise. He’s fine.”
“As long as you’re okay.” Captain put his hand on my back and nudged me to the seat next to his. “We have new developments. And some plans to make.”
“What new developments?”
“The ship’s crew has proven… difficult. Most of them are either deliberately kept ignorant of those in charge or their loyalty is ensured in very specific ways. But we have Freska Derkat, and she has gotten their ship to sing. Access codes, communications, waypoints where the ship has docked, everything. It’ll take some time for the crew to sift through it all, but I trust that we’ll have an accurate picture soon of the true conspirators with the Brox Consortium.
“We’re going to take them down.” He looked around the table and then took a deep breath. “Then retire.”
“What?” Kekillill’s eyes widened. “But you just got command of this ship. This crew. You’re the best captain we’ve had.”
Captain shook his head. “This isn’t what I wanted. And I’m tired of dancing to politician’s schemes.”
“I’m with you,” a woman said. She was the one who’d first commed me on the vid. “Hopefully on our old ship.”
"That's the plan."
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