“Keep fighting the paralytic, Kohen, but don’t overdo it,” Aparoe warned. “If I had a choice, you’d be in a bed down in medical where I could I monitor you more closely. Let me or Captain Querry know if you feel any pain, or tingling in your limbs that grows painful and stronger, not less. Do you understand?”
I tried to nod, but I still didn’t have enough control of my body. “Yes,” I said haltingly.
Left alone with Captain—as alone as we were going to get with his rooms full of the crew members he could trust. Lakshou was gone, along with Deke. I cringed to think just what Deke would do to him. Then again, he had tried to kill me. Well, kidnap me for people who wanted to use me to kill all the good people on this ship who were trying to stop them, or to create more of whatever sort of mindless human slave to their control I’d failed at being. Only without whatever failure I was.
“They’re safe, Kohen. It’s okay.” Captain said.
No, that’s not what I meant. Damn it. “Environ. Mentals.” My breath escaped me in a long hiss on the final syllable. “Sleep.”
Understanding dawned on Captain’s face. He nodded once. “Already being done. Deke and Aparoe sent crew members to isolate the section and add the sedatives.
So the null field was up. The operatives we knew of, and the ones we suspected were locked down. The survivors, and anyone who was suspect in their ranks were sedated. And thanks to Lakshou’s running his mouth, we knew they weren’t planning to wait for us to return to the central planets, they were going to board us.
Now I just had to get rid of this shit in my body so I wasn’t so fucking useless. Waiting was frustrating, even if I got to be in Captain’s arms. All that time in my cell, I’d dreamed about this. Touch. The warmth and pressure without hurting.
“You… have to go?” It was getting easier to talk. There had to be things he should be doing.
“Soon, but not yet.”
“I’m the captain of this ship; do you really think they’re going to let me go charging in?” He made a face. “My role comes later, so we have time. I have a com in. Security is prepared. Medical is prepared. Navigation is prepared as soon as the breach is detected. They must be cloaked, since we have no proximity alarms tripped before now, and we don’t want to set off any alarms by doing new sweeps. It’ll be better to trap them.
“Then we’ll have them, their ship, and any records they won’t have had time to wipe. I have a female Khriskit here who is a miracle worker with tech. She’ll freeze their systems as soon as their ship is connected to ours. Something in her race lets her communicate directly to the computer through the metal of the system all the way from here to there. It just takes longer if she’s farther away. She explained it to me, once, or tried to. I’m not good at understanding what makes people able to do what they can do.”
I raised my eyebrows, then smiled. I liked learning about other species, and I really liked that Captain had picked up on that. I wanted to know all about what had been done to me, what had been put inside me, and that was tied up in it. The universe was full of beings with amazing abilities—and some really scary ones.
“Hey, you’re moving more.” He cupped my cheek. “Want to sit up? Think you can hold your head up?”
Moving out of his arms was the last thing I wanted to do. But I nodded my head. To my surprise, he didn’t put me on the couch, he just shifted me so I was sitting upright, one arm still braced around my back and the other across my lap. My foot finally pulled free from the cushion. “There you go,” Captain said.
I wobbled briefly, but as the seconds passed, I grew steadier. I drew in a deep breath and then another one. My foot tingled, so I stretched it. It moved, so I stretched the other one too. One by one, I moved each muscle group, flexing, contracting, working them slowly.
Lacing my fingers together, I stretched my arms out in front of me, then upward. My whole body shifted on Captain’s lap. He grunted, and his arms tightened on me. I glanced at him. His eyes were shining, and his voice had a deeper, gravelly note when he asked, “Better?”
“Good.” He squeezed my hip, and a jolt ran through my body. The heat had risen in his, and it was like his palm was a brand against my sensitive skin. “I swear, if there weren’t crew in this room who would snitch on me to Aparoe, I’d take you into my room to make sure you got all the movement back in your whole body.”
Oh. Oh! Damn. I had. I definitely had.
And wasn’t that just the worst timing in the universe—something I should be used to, I guess. The ship rocked, alarms sounded, and Captain winced and pressed two fingers just below his ear. “Querry here. Just a moment.”
The crew had reinstalled all the vid screens and even set up a few mobile stations I didn’t recognize. They’d made Captain’s room a temporary headquarters so he could be here with me; I knew it, even if he’d tried to hide it. “Just stay right here for me, okay?”
Captain strode to the vid screen. Multiple images appeared and live updates scrolled in the various views. And there they were.The invaders. They streamed through a makeshift lock, weapons in their hands. Then the lights flickered and they all began to lift off the decking. Gravity fail—probably Priella’s work.
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