“Please step outside.” Captain stood in the middle of his lounge. He waited for Deke and Luca to leave.
“I’m sorry I’m kicking you out of your quarters.”
Captain shook his head. “I’m sorry I’m locking you in them. I really don’t think this is necessary, Kohen.”
He didn’t have the memories I did. The fear I could hurt him only grew stronger the closer we came to the central planets. “You don’t know that. Don’t make me watch it happen.” I didn’t want to become trapped inside my brain while my body moved outside of my control.
“Aparoe is going to bring whatever equipment is needed to scan you here. We’re going to settle this once and for all. Lakshou will come too.”
“Only if Lakshou can keep Aparoe safe. And you have to make sure I can’t make them let me out.”
“Deke’s made sure of all the security. He’s as paranoid as you are.” Captain stepped close to me and wrapped his arms around me. The warmth and comfort of his skin was just as amazing as the first time he’d come to me in my cell on the station. I couldn’t step away, even if I knew I should. “I trust you, Kohen. I know you’d never hurt anyone.”
“But I have. And if they get inside my head again, I wouldn’t have a choice. Before you rescued me, I didn’t want to live but I didn’t have any choices. You gave those back to me, and I won’t go back. This time, it would be break me.”
Captain made a sound in his throat and his arms tightened about me. “I just—” He broke off, and I buried my face against his neck. His throat worked, but he didn’t say anything else. Something about this was harder for him than it should be. I didn’t understand why he refused to believe I could hurt them, but I’d spent so long being weak; I’d be the strong one for both of us.
“You’ll just go be Captain and find out what the hell is going on.” I took one last whiff of the special spice of his skin and pressed my lips to the soft hollow under them. “I’ll be fine. Aparoe and Lakshou will make sure of that.” I’d pretend to believe him if it gave him some assurance so he could leave me.
“Should I salute you and say aye, aye, sir?” Captain said, a small smile finally cracking his stiff expression.
“Of course not.” I looked over my shoulder, but we were still alone. “Go, Everett.” It was still hard to say his name, but the way his smile spread more naturally across his face made it worth it.
Compared to my cell, my quarters had seemed spacious. Compared to my quarters, Captain’s seemed luxurious. Now, as I paced around his bed, then around his lounge, then his hygiene area, and back again it seemed much smaller than before. And every circuit took a few less steps.
The air inside the room stirred as I began my turn around the bed, and I rushed to the door to the lounge. Aparoe and Lakshou was already inside, and the door was already shut. How’d they do that? I hadn’t even heard the door open or shut.
Lakshou had his hands buried in his robes. His horns were glowing. “Interesting. The longer you bond with Captain Querry, the easier I can read you,” he said.
“Really?” I wasn’t sure if I liked that. Then again, maybe that meant he could tell if I wasn’t me. “So… I seem okay?”
“Are you asking me if I think you’re about to turn into a mindless murdering Kohen-bot? Well, we probably won’t need these.” He pulled a pair of restraints out of his sleeve. “Ow!” Lakshou dodged Aparoe’s elbow. “Stop, I’m trying to make him feel better.”
“Stop trying to do it that way.” Aparoe scoffed. “We wouldn’t restrain you, Kohen, don’t worry about those. Deke just insisted.”
“I’m glad,” I said seriously. If I was a danger, I’d prefer they used the restraints.
“How about you let me do some scans, Lakshou stands back and keeps his mouth shut but reassures you, and we move on.” Aparoe held some archaic-looking equipment. “This is the best I could do. It’ll give us actual pictures on the screen of your brain, in two dimensions, but the thin layers will each show as a different image. Paired with the past 3D image, this should help reassure you that they cannot access the hardware install in your brain.”
“Do I have to lie down?” I glanced at the couch and away.
“No, you can sit.” Aparoe started bustling around. “I was surprised to find this kit tucked away, but I’m glad we have it. Try to relax, this takes longer than a scan.” The box Aparoe set on down thunked heavily on the arm of my chair. She held up a small tube. “Just a light sensor. Can’t hurt you.”
I nodded, then froze. “Sorry, do I have to stay still?”
“Yes, but I hadn’t started yet. Right. Now stay still.” Aparoe started at my chin touching every inch. They were right. It took longer than any scan I’d ever had.
“Let’s take a look.” Aparoe plugged the tube into the box, and the top lit up.
“Is that smart?”
Lakshou crouched beside of my chair. “This is a closed system device. No way for a signal to get in or out.”
Aparoe sifted through the scans. “See, here.”
I looked at the squiggles and the oddly squared off and regular shapes that didn’t look natural. They were broken in areas. “This is where we believe they sent the signal in, for lack of better word. But these filaments have invaded the hardware. Based on what the DNA, we believe these synapses are what have prompted your connection with Captain Querry.”
"Your bond with him makes you safe."
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