“What did you do, Kohen?” Captain stood, approaching the navigation console and looking at the screen. He frowned. “You know I can override this lock out. It’s a maintenance code.”
“I know.” I shook my head once, tilting it. “Did you really think I would try to stop you?”
Captain turned slowly without changing out heading, even though we were going to jump soon if he didn’t. “I don’t know. You’re not acting like yourself, and that bothers me. Especially after… what happened.” He glanced around.
“The supply run is not safe. Deke doesn’t need those guns.” I shot him a look. “We have enough ordinance on board, and we have foodstuffs and the medical supplies Aparoe wanted.”
“Why wouldn’t you ask me first?” He gestured toward the console, ignoring the shocked stares of the crew in the command center.
“Can you honestly say you would have listened to me?” I crossed my arms over my chest. “All you keep saying is that I need to rest. You are treating me like a victim again. Well I’m not!” I insisted. My hands curled into fists and I leaned forward to invade his space. “Will you ever stop trying to protect me?”
“No, Kohen, I won’t. What… he did.” Captain’s lips shook, then he firmed his jaw as he took a breath. “I wouldn’t let that go, not for any of my crew. But this is different.” He glanced at my head.
“I did this. This isn’t something that was shoved in my head my someone else.” I’d had that fear for a long time, but my mind was my own. Yes, Danie had invaded it, but I knew what was his memories and what were mine.
But it also gave me a unique insight, and when we sat there, I’d been studying the star charts on the overhead Nav screen. The one with our next leg of the journey had shown the galaxy where we’d planned to go based on the symbol. A planet smack dab in the prime habitable zone with several satellites around it was the focal point.
But there was someone I’d met once… a test I’d failed. I thought it was because I’d given in to the comfort he’d offered, the touch. I thought they were simulations, visions stuffed into my brain through the wires they’d attach.
Not just that I’d failed to kill him. But now, with what I’d realized they’d really been making me do. Everything in my file had said one thing, but the truth of the Elite’s plan was another altogether. They weren’t trying to give me an aversion to touch to alter my sexuality; they were programming me to dehumanize me while altering my brain and body.
I’d been a failure, in more ways than one.
The being I’d seduced wasn’t an easy mark. From a dark world, the ebony skinned man had sought out my pale body to enjoy but as he curled around me afterward, he recognized me for what I was. Before he’d escaped, he’d told me about his world, explained how the sparkling glimmers of the glowcers would shine on me and turn my milky skin to scintillating brilliance in the low-light of his world barely lit by the elemental beings.
One of Danie’s memories was of Elites with glowcers, their dark skin matching that of my target’s.
And only one planet in that system matched the muttered pillow-talk that had captivated me and made me fail to even try to attack the being I’d been ordered to kill.
Surely if the Elite was a target of those who’d tried to alter my mind and turn me into an A.I. then he would be an ally. If we could find him. If he hadn’t been killed by someone else. But it was better odds than getting a damn planet-killer and keeping it on board like Deke wanted.
Then again, by the looks Captain and Deke gave me, maybe I should have explained why I wanted to avoid making that supply stop and jump ahead in the journey with a slight detour before I made the change. It might have been better to ask first.
Of course Deke nearly drooled when he viewed the specs of the weapon as he contacted the seller, so keeping him off that planet might be better for all of our health.
We were at a standoff. I had information I needed to share to make him understand, and it was hard to not be able to just tell Captain what I knew and have him know this was the right course.
I opened my eyes wide, and I gasped.
“This is what Danie faced. He couldn’t figure out another way to convince you. I was his only hope. Now I’m facing the exact same thing.” I let out a sharp bark of laughter. “How do I share with you what’s in my head, what I know is true, and get you to believe me?”
Captain stepped close. “Talk to me,” he said quietly. He glanced at the console. “Before you do stuff like this in front of the crew.”
“If we don’t go now, we might lose the chance. I don’t know if he’s still alive, but the Elites have to know something is up. We’ve taken some of their men, Danie is gone, and we have a limited window before they realize that. But we will need allies. More knowledge, more people.”
“And you think we’ll find it there?”
“I think so.”
“Captain Querry, we had a—”
“Deke, I am sure you can cobble something more than deadly enough together to replace your weapon. Talk to Freska; I’m sure she knows every inch of the ship and her components.”
“You want me to release her?”
Captain considered me. He unlocked Navigation. “Keep us on our current heading,” he ordered the crew. “Deke, get Freska and Danie. I think it’s time we all sit down again.”
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