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Dante’s hand on her shoulder surprised her. Mainly because she hadn’t been watching him. That changed as soon as she felt the pressure of his palm. It was calming for the moment it was there.
His reminders that she had been nothing but a burden made Rhea feel even smaller than she was. Her stomach tightened as he rejected her request. He seemed to be under the impression that treating Atlas with any level of decency would be considered prostrating himself. Whatever had broken the man in front of her must have been terrible to damage him this greatly. The aggrieved expression that graced his features attested to that.
As the cerulean male moved bout, Rhea could almost see the wheels turning in his mind. He was putting something together. Perhaps it had found a better solution that would suit everyone. It was a tremendously optimistic thought.
His eyes would come back to hers before spoke again. It was brief and he turned away. To Rhea it was unclear what he was trying to say, but it gave her a bad feeling. She waited for him to go on. There was nothing. Taking a couple of steps closer once more, she wanted to know what this ‘perfect’ solution was. She had not made it to his line of sight when he continued. Dante’s words stopped her in her tracks. Her eyes widened in disbelief. He was trying to pawn her off. After everything, he wanted to leave her here.
The Pyrenian searched for anything on his face that resembled him struggling with what he was saying. Had the girls not have come she would have found it. The two rushed excitedly from the ship and instantly had the captain’s attention. An unusual smile came across his face as he directed the twins. Something was not right, but the woman hadn’t a clue what it was. There were too many things going on to accurately narrow it down.
Dante really knew how to direct the little ones so that he could keep business running smoothly. She really enjoyed watching him interact with them. It was another facet of him and he didn’t let slip often. It hurt to think that she wouldn’t be seeing it anymore. That emotions it brought up rested plainly on her face.
The younglings were swiftly off to the competition that had been laid out for them. It took him no time at all to jump back to where he had left off once the girls were preoccupied. “I intend to inform your accomplice immediately to my intentions. I am sure he will be happy to supply me with some rudimentary materials and equipment to maintain the ship to have me leave as swiftly as possible.”
Rhea was devastated, but his last outreach called out to her. “Unless there are any objections?” She was torn. Being stuck on this planet was not what she wanted, but it would be much safer for everyone. It would be selfish to object. Dante wouldn’t be saying any of this if he didn’t think it was the best option. And yet, in the end, she couldn’t go along with it.
Her weight shifted from one foot to the other as she tried to search for her words. “No.” She was still floundering too much to realize he would take this as an answer to his question rather than how she meant it.
It dawned on her when he turned toward the ship, intent to carry out his proposal. She panicked, running to catch up to him and grabbing ahold of his arm. “I said no!” The volume of her voice caught her off guard and by the look in his beautiful golden eyes it had done the same to Dante.
Rhea’s whole body was shaking, but her speech came back down to a more acceptable level. “No, I don’t want to stay here.” It almost felt like she was pleading with him with the tone she took, but that transformed to intensity as she persisted. “I can’t abandon this now. I’ve given up everything for my research. I have to find out who we are, who we used to be. I can’t let it all be for nothing. I would rather be dead than know I relinquished my dreams for this.” She halted when she felt the self-loathing begin to bubble up. It was an old acquaintance she thought she had cut out of her life.
Able to repress the antipathy quickly, the rosy skinned woman pushed on. “And what Atlas and I had was created out of a necessity that has long since passed. There was never anything there that could be rekindled for me.” She hadn’t ever really come to reciprocate his feelings. The idea that Dante was misinterpreting this squeezed at her chest. The sensation was one that she hadn’t felt in a very long time. While she knew what it meant, Rhea was not ready to come to terms with it.
Looking up into Dante’s eyes, she saw a glimmer of relief. Just what she had been searching for. Letting loose an airy, tired laugh, the woman rested her head where she had ahold of his arm. “You are going to have to deal with this thorn a while longer.”
Not allowing herself to keep the cool comfort of him for long, Rhea pulled back, putting a casual distance between the two. After all the little ones were within sight. Who knew what kind of rumors they would spread if they noticed their tutor being oddly familiar with the captain. There was already enough discord in their lives at the moment. She would refrain from adding to it any more if at all possible.
Unfortunately this left the Tiefling with the task of coming up with another idea. One that involved the translator keeping her position on the Enduring Odyssey. Had she not already given him a bunch of inadequate advice and tramped his latest plan, Rhea would have been more gung-ho to pitch in.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat There is a short and sharp moment where he wants nothing more than to scream out his anger and his fists clench tightly, cheeks puff out, tongue runs over dry lips as a means to stem this wave of emotional rage. It had been a sudden shift in his emotional state and had shocked himself as much as Rhea.
Dante looked at her as she spoke. Fiery red and shining gold eyes met and tranquility began to seep into him. Her words, spoken in a manner akin to how they had conversed at his bedside, were soothing and had the desired effect of forgoing any physical response to his thoughts. He knew of Pyreen history regarding the Termani, as had been revealed with his passing knowledge of the culling, yet he allowed her to repeat such droll facts once more. However she paused.
[i "I need you…"]
It had thrown him for the few seconds she had gone silent and stepped with some intent toward him. His heartbeat hastened and a tremble ran through his being. It was down to confusion. Or perhaps fear. The Tiefling was not to know what his own mind was thinking in that one phrase as she continued on. He released a held breath and a faint laugh both at the misunderstood meaning and her true intent. Hands run through his hair and he intakes several times as she finishes speaking of solar sails and how Atlas was a key component in their design and manufacturing.
Once she has finished, her head bowed to him in a vague offer of capitulation to his authority, he stares down upon her with regret. He can see that his words were harsh and his tone bitter. Dante is the first to point out his negative traits and his temper was his deepest folly. A tentative hand reaches out to her shoulder, grasping her firmly and squeezing the fabric.
[b "You have been the proverbial thorn in my paw these last few weeks. Perhaps it was fate that brought you to sneak onto my ship particularly."] He sighed heavily, hand remaining on her shoulder for a moment longer though it slid away to his side.[b "But I do not believe in fate. I am a man of values and I am not here to pander to an autistic man-child who does not take well to orders. Regardless of what you may think I have already paid my debt to servitude,"] he swallowed and his face tightened with a look of despair and sorrow,[b "and I will not bow to another being or prostrate myself to gain his acceptance."]
He sways to one side of her, feet trailing with his weary figure and hands clasping tight behind his back to stem any nerves. A thought crosses his mind and in an instant he grasps onto it and builds intensively upon it. It is not something he is keen to go forward with on a personal note, yet logically it is the best option. Her eyes follow him, having looked up when he pressed on her shoulder. Looking across at her he nods somewhat solemnly.
[b "However, given your prior relation to this degenerate and given the relative obscurity of this planet,"] a brief pause to accentuate the calm about them,[b "I see a perfect solution to our quandary."] He turns away to run a hand across his side, pain flaring as if his body were trying to talk him out of his idea. Contemplating his words in silence it is long enough he hears her footsteps toward him to draw him from his own mind and he nods in silent agreement with himself.[b "We will leave you here. To live out your existence alongside your accomplice."] He continues nodding as if attempting to convince himself of the validity in his own idea. He partially turns back toward her.[b "You refused to leave Pyreen due to your research and commitment to deciphering your texts. Given the situation you will likely not be returning and regardless, nothing will come of it. You have nothing holding the two of you back from continuing whatever relations you previously held."]
As ever the twins had exceptional timing and came bundling out of the ship and down the walkway with bags clutched to their chests. They looked about in merriment, pointing out certain trees and plant life to the other before losing attention and finding something else that drew their wonder. They made their way over to Dante and Rhea and it seemed the blue male was much more at ease and a false smile creased his lips.
[b "Now, you can explore around the landing area but you are not to leave my sight. If you cannot see me then I cannot see you, use that as a rule of thumb."] They nodded and were beginning to turn and run for the nearest vegetation.[b "Girls!"] They stopped to look back.[b "You have your art materials yes?"] Vigorous nodding.[b "I would very much like a drawing from each of you then. You may choose whatever you like to draw. The best will receive a prize."] At the mere mentioning of a competition each girl grinned and glared at one another like dueling enemies set to fight. He waved them off and watched them as they skittered around to investigate. They would eventually get to drawing.
[b "I intend to inform your accomplice immediately of my intentions. I am sure he will be happy to supply me with some rudimentary materials and equipment to maintain the ship to have me leave as swiftly as possible."] Shining iris' turn on her once more.[b "Unless there are any objections?"]
Rhea had a sinking feeling in her stomach as soon as she saw Dante’s posture. This was not going to go well. When he opened his mouth, it went far worse than she could have imagined. It was inevitable that he would make attempts to intimidate Atlas, but this was too far. Naturally her friend was baffled, when he turned to her all she could offer was an expression that reflected her sorrow and regret for bringing this upon him. There was not much time to relay the feelings before he was pulled back to the Captain’s attention.
The Tiefling’s voice went low and Rhea could no longer hear him. Whatever he was saying she was sure it was terrible and brilliantly destroying their chances to get what she had come here for. She continued to watch in silence. As expected, Atlas had submitted to the hostile attitude. Now he would back down and do the very minimum to get the threat to vacate his planet. This entire trip would be wasted.
Tera lead Atlas onto the ship as ordered, but Rhea’s gaze fell to Dante. She had thought he was better than this. At the very least willing to let a person show his merit before hastily judging them. She had made exception for the Termani due to the circumstances, but this time it was much more personal. Still, she was filled with a sick unnerving feeling. His composure was slipping again and it scared her. Although more for his wellbeing rather than her own.
The shock of discovering that he vehemently hated half of her species sunk in. It was hard to swallow. There was a huge piece of her cultural identity that he was rejecting. It hurt.
“I apologize…” Her voice quivered at first. “Had I have known that you felt this way I would never have even suggested coming here.” Her now apparent mistake had her stomach turning and hands shaking. The idea that this might disintegrate the conviction that not only Dante had in her, but also Atlas made her feel ill. He would not abandon her now, but anxiety still filled her. She wanted to try and make him understand why she had brought him here.
“I don’t know if you know this, but many Pyrenian’s do not care for the Termani.” Living under constant marginalization was a fact of life for Pyrenians on Pyreen, but it was only conferred behind closed doors. To speak out against the injustice was to speak out against the saviors of their species. “We are treated as second-class citizens on our own planet.”
Of course there were the exceptions. If you were deemed useful, you would be treated with a façade of respect and compensated. It kept the few influential Pyrenians on their side. Rhea had been a part of this group, but politics were not her game. As long as she was allowed to continue her research she had been willing to deal with just about anything, so their attempts to placate her were pointless.
“Considering these circumstances I thought a Pyrenian would be the best person to contact. There is very little threat that any Pyrenian off home planet will be a threat.” All the loyalists tend to stay on Pyreen so it was not likely they would run into one way out here. On top of that she had known Atlas his entire life. There was no way he would bring the Termani into this. “And more than anyone else they deserve to know what has happened.”
The reasoning behind the second accusation was harder to communicate. “As for mine and Atlas’ parting, the altercation comes down to the same issues.” The Termani seemed to be at the root of everything. “The last time we spoke was when he decided to leave Pyreen. He was fed up with the disparagement and constant demands.”
Memories of the day were unpleasant. She had not handled it delicately. “He wanted me to come with him, but I refused.” She remembered the pleading expression on his had been hard to deny, but her motivation won out in the end. “I was not willing to leave my work; the position benefited my research too much.” She paused as the half a century old conversation ran verbatim in her head. “We said some awful things to one other, but it went both ways.” Their entire relationship had been complicated, but it was that moment that ate at her still.
She hadn’t expected him to come to trust Atlas, but she hoped he would put his faith in her. “I need you…” For a second she lost her words. Her eyes just hovered over Dante for that moment. She took a few steps in closer to the Tiefling. His intense gaze was locked with hers. Her mouth was dry from a combination of talking and being nervous. “I need you to give him a chance.” Once again she found herself asking too much of the man.
Her hands moved up defensively, and she tried to get her words out before he could get any angrier than he already was. “I am not asking you to forget or forgive whatever it was that made you feel the way you do, but Atlas will not respond well to the method you are using.” Right now they were no better than the Termani. Coming in and demanding he work for them like this was exactly what he had absconded from in the first place.
“You don’t have to be his friend or even pretend to be, but if you don’t at give him some respect as a person, he won’t do anything worthwhile for us.” She watched his face to see if he would give her anything to read. His hand ran through his snowy hair and she knew he at least trying to calm himself down. She worried that perhaps he was pushing himself to hard both physically and mentally.
Sighing, the roseate woman was tired. “Look, I am confident I can get him to fit us with solar sails.” The name was misleading as the technology was more of a film to go on the ship than a sail, but it described what it did perfectly. The material could be used to collect the photons emitted by stars. The energy gathered was then used to run the ship and fill an energy reserve. Conventional fuel could be saved for an emergency backup.
They had been advertising the tech for a while now, but it had not hit the community market. “Atlas is one of the developers working on the sails. I know he doesn’t start promoting his stuff until it is fully functioning.” They were probably just trying to work on making the product pretty now. That was usually what the last year or two went into it. “I have to be able to freely speak with him, it won’t work if you have to relay everything as an in-between. You can mediate if you like, but without him knowing what is actually coming from me there is no way he will go along with it.”
The urge to reach out to touch and comfort him was real, but she held back. She had just forced a bunch of logic down his throat. The opposite of what he needed when he was so caught up in strong emotion that he clearly needed to let out. Rhea wanted to help him, but she didn’t know how without compromising the objective. All she could offer was her compliance. “I won’t talk to him unless you give me permission. So please don’t worry about that.” Her head fell and she spoke again. “Again, I didn’t know how you felt, I am sorry. If there is anything I can do to make things easier on you while we are here, please let me know.”
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Nothing was needed of the Tiefling for a long time. When the Pyrenian had entered the bridge there was a tensity that crackled in the air like the precursor to thunder. Dante as per usual was in his foul mood stoked by the discomfort in his side. Having removed the patch in favour of a light bandage that morning, the regulated air of the ship a light comfort on the quivering wound, his fingers dipped under the edge and caressed the inflamed skin. Akin to a hernia any pressure eased the pain and he shuddered softly, eyes closing gently, as the unease trickled away.
Tera had been unhappy from the moment he had been shot and her mood was not much better that day. Patience was a virtue she did not possess and dealing with the Pyrenian being in control of their arrival was a sign of her losing some semblance of power. Whether she saw herself as a Vice Captain or next in line of authority, to be left waiting on bent knee for the rose coloured woman's directions frustrated her to no end.
Indeed, when Rhea had informed them that it would take some time to reach the reclusive man it had only exacerbated things for the disgruntled due. Whilst the twins and Jax amused themselves, via stories and video games respectively, the anthro busied herself inspecting Dante and conversing in soft voices. Constantly her hands would reach out to take hold of his own and often push it aside to brush at the injury. He would compare her to a tending dame though begrudgingly he had to admit her cool touch helped. They sat awaiting some form of confirmation from the bespectacled woman and when it came, via a flinch and small cry, Tera's hand was removed regretfully and she returned to her seat in eagerness.
The landing was smooth as ever and a look in their exterior cameras showed a well cleared and paved area perfect for them to land on. Dante was up before the landing gear had fixed into place and steadily making his way toward the gangway to leave. He was keen to view this man and assess him for what he was worth in the manner that he carried himself. An individual was easy to read if you looked for the right ticks. However as he fixed his clothing and retrieved a jacket Tera entered.
[+red "I'm coming along."] She stated adamantly and folded her arms across her ample chest.
[b "I would not have it any other way."] There is no defiance in his voice as he fixed the zipper, easing it up over the shirt so as not to catch it. There is a stutter from the anthro who had expected objection and came prepared.
[+red "Wh-.. really? Is this because of-"] Her confusion was quite evident.
[b "Regardless of my injury,"] He stemmed her question immediately, an icy glare accompanied his ill tone, [b "I do not trust meeting this man. He is a stranger and not only a danger to ourselves but Rhea also."] There is a subtle undertone to his words though Tera did not show if she read it. Her silence he took as agreement and pressing against a small compartment he retrieved a small weapon. Turning it over in his hand he stepped over to her and pressed it into soft fingers that curled about the piece aswell as his own fingers.[b "I want you to keep this close to hand. He is a hermit, a recluse, therefore he is likely startled easily. And despite Rhea's presence I do not wish to be ill prepared for any eventuality."]
The weapon was taken with a nod of understanding and tucked away in her waistband, her small waistcoat covering it just as Rhea stepped in to meet the duo. The twins and Jax were accustomed to remaining behind though as the door opened to permit the trio to leave he did consider it an area they could explore; even if it was within a limited radius from the ship.
They were out in the cool breeze and sound of rustling trees and had made it several meters down the path before the red figure had emerged from his humble dwellings. At the speed he moved it was not long before he was coming to a stumbling halt and arms wrapping about his kindred race. There was a muttered Tiefling curse and arms folded tightly across the blue males chest in distaste of both the act and the man himself. So engrossed in his simmering rage it was only when the man approached him with a sickeningly sweet and unassuming smile.
[b "I do not profess to know why you are thanking me nor do I frankly give a damn you worthless excuse of a life form."] Not the most diplomatic of starts though his Termani was quite fluent.[b "Let us get one thing clear; I despise your kind and had Miss Rhea informed me of whom you were I would have had second thoughts on agreeing to come here. You Pyrenian men are nothing but a blight on your race."] The man looked truly startled and looked back to Rhea somewhat incredulously.
[+green "Is this man serious?"] A firm hand grasped his shoulder and turning back he was met with a withering golden gaze.
[b "I am the Captain, she is my crew, and you will address only myself. Do you comprehend what I am telling you? You are here for a job and nothing more so do not settle into friendly tones for we will be here only as long as needed."] The man looked at him with incredulity but slowly his head nodded. Dante allowed his voice to drop to a whisper, stepping closer to the man and staring down with a snarl.[b "There are two Pyrenian girls aboard and if you so much as look in their direction I will take personal satisfaction in making your last few days ones of protracted torture. Do we have an understanding?"]
The step toward him had caught the man off guard and he seemed to be perplexed at how to respond. There was no response at all and Dante only took it as a means of his acceptance. He had set out to intimidate the man and he felt that had been accomplished. Turning back to Tera he nodded for her.
[b "Show him the systems. He is not to be permitted access to any of the quarters. Have Jax accompany you, the girls can come out with their bags."] She nodded slowly, attempting to maintain some semblance of authority so that this man would not try to take advantage of the situation.[b "And keep a very close eye on him."] She nodded again as she waved for the man to follow after her. He gave a look of surprise to Rhea before following obediently after the anthro.
Dante could feel the stern gaze of the rose coloured woman burrowing into him as he stared side on at the retreated male. His fists clenched tightly across his chest as the discomfort of allowing the man aboard coursed through his being and he felt a shiver run up his spine. With his gaze still turned he addressed her.
[b "Why did you not inform me he was a male Pyrenian?"] Staring up the ramp long after they had ducked from sight though at length he did turn toward her.[b "Let us put to one side the fact they are vile and twisted beings. But considering our current predicament and past actions you saw fit to take us to another Pyrenian? You say you left in less than acrimonious circumstances. Not hard to believe considering [i what] he is."] He was bubbling with anger and distaste, his body shaking lightly. Previously when distressed he would show an air of calmness and resolute anger. Yet this was hard to suppress and he had come very close to striking the man outright. Never could it be said that Dante was a easy to understand man.
Rhea had to track down the pilot in order to relay the orders from the top. She explained to her that they would be meeting one of her acquaintances and where she would need to go. Tera got right to setting the course. The anthro seemed to be relieved that there was a plan and that it involved taking refuge out of the open. Normally she didn’t seem the type to stray from excitement, but with Dante injured her stance had changed. At least she could read the atmosphere in that regard.
Over the course of the next few days the Pyrenian silently questioned if Tera was more of a help or a hindrance. Dante’s shouting could be heard halfway across the ship when it was particularly bad. His diaphragm couldn’t hurt that bad if he could still roar like that. Rhea was confident he was going to be just fine. Still, she checked in on him from time to time. He had done the same with her. Usually it was just long enough to see if he needed anything. Generally he didn’t but there were a few times she would sneak him his tablet pad back from where Tera stuck it away. The man needed rest not complete boredom.
Most of her time still went to decoding the mysteries of the journal. While new horrific details came out, nothing that was really useful for a motive behind it all. Every lead dropped her right back to the rhodolite crystals. She was hesitant to reconsider her stance on the old Pyrenian’s crackpot gem reverence, but that was all there was. After much deliberation with herself, she decided to take another look into it.
On the day Tera had projected their arrival to be, Ino came running into her room. “Miss Rhea, Tera says she needs you now.” Her words snapped Rhea out of her state of concentration. “Also, Captain Dante is up!” The girl seemed much more excited about that news than what she had been asked to relay.
“That is wonderful to hear. I will be out in a moment, tell Tera not to do anything without me.” The woman smiled at the youngling then finished up the passage she had been reading just so she would have a better place to come back to at a later time.
The young Pyrenian lingered at her tutor’s side. Rhea thought it odd that her other half had not tagged along. She must have been sent on a separate errand. Ino didn’t look entirely contented to be alone which was probably why she took an extra moment before leaving again to head to the bridge. By the time she left, the older Pyrenian was not far behind. It defeated her purpose of sending a message with the girl, but she was by no means upset.
It was a quick trip to the control room. All the same, there was an air of impatience when the two arrived. “Finally,” Tera’s tone was more flippant than anything else. “We are in orbit. What now?”
Rhea had asked to be contacted when they got to this point. It was likely Atlas had put some sort of shield or defense system up. That and she was not entire sure where he was on planet. “I need to contact him now. Hopefully he is near his radio.” The tech was archaic, but using the regular transmitter was risky. It was likely someone would tap into it. That was much harder to do with radio waves. There were too many variables.
Moving to her seat, she set up the transistor. She had been mildly surprised there was still one onboard, but the datedness of the ship would help them this time around. “This could potentially take a while.” Once she set the frequency, everything was ready to go.
Drawing in a deep breath, she slowly exhaled. It was nerve wracking. Who knew what would happen if this didn’t pan out. Calm enough to go on, Rhea began. She chose to speak in their common first language, Termani. He would best recognize her voice that way, and with any luck she would not have to use her name at all. There was minimal danger with this setup, but she would avoid it if she had the choice.
“Requesting the location of Pyrenian Atlas and permission to land on Dolorosa 413.” While waiting for a response, Rhea looked around. She wasn’t sure if anyone aboard spoke Termani. There was generally little need to learn languages other than your own peoples and the common language that had been established forever ago. It was popular enough that you could go nearly anywhere and find someone who spoke it to get you by.
After a few minutes, she repeated the message. This process continued for a while. At times when she became frustrated at the quiet on the other end of the receiver, she threw in some variance to the dispatch. As she was about to give up and try again later, Rhea threw out one more plea. “Atlas, this is important. I need you to answer, please.”
A familiar voice rang loud in her ear. “Rhea?!”
She flinched and pulled the earpiece away. “Ow, sh.” When she thought he might have actually listened she replaced it. “Calm down. We need to land, can I get your location.”
The Pyrenian on the other end of the receiver quickly gave the coordinates. Rhea passed them on to Tera who had been growing even more impatient than she had. She was actually shocked she stayed for the whole process.
“Alright, we should touch down in no time.” Her energy seemed to be rejuvenated from the prospect of getting off ship even if it was on some densely wooded planet with no people in the middle of nowhere.
Finding the position that had been given to them, she was thankful to see it was cleared out and paved. There was no official docking port, but it was better than trees everywhere. Rhea had been half expecting to have to crash land in the forest because Atlas was too paranoid to have a landing sight on planet.
The Enduring Odyssey came down without a problem. Once Tera gave the signal, Dante sent orders to Jax to power everything off. The Pyrenian was out of her seat in as soon as they touched the ground. Her long time friend was probably already on the way to them now. She had mixed feelings about seeing him now, but it was happening no matter how she felt.
Still she was not in a huge hurry to get off the ship. Tera was adamant about tagging along with her and Dante this time. After all that had happened she was worried something else was going to go wrong. The captain permitted it, but everyone else was staying put. Rhea was sure it was to get her to stop fussing so much.
When the trio came off the ship, Rhea looked around. The orange and yellow leaves on the trees rustled in the wind. She had expected the forest to be more still, but it almost seemed alive with how it danced. There was a path that led through the foliage to a large building in the distance. It was Atlas’ shop. Her gaze hovered there until she saw the large door move. A red figure came running down the hillside.
The male Pyrenian came into focus curtly. He didn’t slow until he got closer to the group. Rhea was afraid he was going to run into her, but he managed to stop just short. His Termani words strung together as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his embrace. It caught her off guard for a moment. A smile of relief formed on her features. She spoke quietly back to him for a while. When she noticed he didn’t seem all that intent on letting her go, so she wiggled out of his arms to finish the conversation. His expression went through several fazes. Starting at elated it became frustrated, thoughtful, and eventually compliant. There was a lot more she needed to say, but Rhea didn’t feel there was time at that exact moment. She had given him the basics that he needed to understand the situation so far and what they needed.
As soon as she could, she transitioned back to common tongue and turned to her crewmates. “These are some of the people helping me.” She gestured to the pair. “Tera here is the pilot and Dante the Captain.” Turning back to the new man she formally introduces him as well. “Dante, Tera, this is Atlas.”
The taller Pyrenian stepped forward with a smile. “Thank you so much, it is a pleasure to meet you.” His words were thickly accented, but easygoing. “Rhea here says you need some renovations.” Atlas looked over the ship quickly. “By the looks of it, quite a few of them. Do you think you could give me a tour so I can see the extent of it?”
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her mutterings on death and the need to vent every so often gave him thought to ponder on. Not at that moment, as he was hastily reforming his stoic image and laying an arm about her slender shoulders whilst she supported his waist. It was not the easiest position given their differing heights but regardless the need for her being at his side remained.
His head dipped in assent for her to go on about her idea, not a man too proud to hear another's thoughts. Often he would disregard it with a polite response. Yet it was the sign of a good leader to hear out his subordinates. He couldn't cover all aspects and from what she was saying him, the parts he picked out between waves of pain washing over him, it sounded rather promising. They had paused at his chambers entrance as he clumsily tapped at the pad.
[b "I suppose it is an option. We are not likely to be operating as a merchant vessel for much longer."] That was self evident from their encounter. He could not travel from port to port with cargo knowing they were being hunted down, the weight of the ship playing into the hands of their would be captors.
There was a moment of hesitation in allowing her into his quarters, not least when he caught her gaze drifting over the countless little etchings and coloured marks across one wall. The personal touch was a stark contrast to both his character and personality, but also to the rest of the room with it's neat and orderly design. Had it not been for the drawings it could have passed for a room in a tourist destination, created a thousand times over for simplicity and little cost. Gratefully she made no comment on it and instead helped to ease him onto the bed, drawing back his covers to assist him further.
Dante held a hand out to her to hold her at bay and with some amount of time, a few curses under his breath, he eased under the comforter. She proceeded in tucking him like a mother to her child though he quickly removed his arms, not one for being trapped within bedding. Though there was a touch of animosity in his gaze as he looked up to her, her soft spoken jovial words brought a wry and rare smile from him. It was more for how awful it had been to hear his own words repeated back to him. He could well understand how she would have felt hearing him say it to her days before, though he hoped she saw his reasoning.
[b "That may be so, but you are not a Captain, and therefore can afford to take time to rest."] He heard himself and how insanely formal he made things, how he had to make sure a touch of respect remained in everything.[b "But thank you."] A small concession to her kind nature. Yet she may have taken it in a different manner as she ran her delicate fingers between his horned extremities and proceeded running them through his hair. It was peculiar. Not because of their strained connection they had to one another. It was that it calmed his nerves, eased any fears he held and the tension of his mind seemed to melt away with each passing.
A hand flitted out subconsciously, without much warning to himself, and came to rest against her leg just above the knee. Her desire for him to relax was returned with a minuscule amount of pressure on her being, no words coming forth as he simply basked in her touch and his eyes began to feel heavy. She pulled away in time, though he made a guttural noise to regain her attention.
[b "Have Tera plot a route to this gentleman you know. Regardless of his use, it will do no harm to our cause to gain an ally."] His voice was drifting, a mixture of painkillers from the patch taking effect and fatigue from the past fortnight.[b "Thank you.. Rhea.."] His hand brushed down her leg before dropping limp along the side of the bed and his head rolling to one side.
The ship ran itself for a few days as the Captain remained out of sorts and bed-bound by a quite demanding nurse Tera. She had ignored any amount of cursing, promises of death and plea for leniency that the Tiefling could off up to her. Nothing mattered but having him in his bed, sleeping or relaxing. If ever she found him out the bed, sitting at his desk reading through scans and checking on a myriad of systems for example, she would berate him with a long speech of how he was essential to the ship and needed to return fully healed.
It began to grate on his nerves after the first day so much so that he only left his bed to wash or take care of his bodily functions. On the former, Tera had been next to adamant that she accompany him so that he didn't fall and that she help him with washing. Dante had been forced into locking himself into the washroom when she had stepped in with his thumbs hooked into his underwear and close to stripping fully.
But at last, he stepped out of his quarters and out onto the bridge in a taut white sweater and figure conforming black pants.
[+gold "Ah, Cappy is up!"] A delighted Jax clapped his hands at the sight of the blue skinned male, more delighted for having spotted him first than for seeing Dante up and about. The twins rushed across to him and wrapped tiny arms about his legs, resting heads against his hip as a hand resting on each of their backs. Tera was sat in her seat close to fuming and launching into a tirade at how he had defied her and left his room.
[b "Before you say a word Tera, are we close to the destination Rhea gave you?"] To which the anthro rolled her eyes theatrically and nodded before turning back to her station. He could not see the older Pyrenian woman, surmising she was either in her own quarters or in the canteen area. At this, a frown tugged at his lips though on Dante it was not an uncommon sight to see.
Rhea found it fascinating how the two men interacted. Dante made things simple enough for the giant of a cybernetic man, but he did it in a way that was less condescending than you would expect. Her attention was temporarily taken from the Termani man as the Captain praised her again. It was embarrassing, but she bore with it. Apparently he was just that impressed with her actions. Jax seemed to be as well. While he was not an intelligent man, she was glad to know he knew himself well enough that he wouldn’t try anything outside of his physical capabilities. Although, she could not imagine there were many things on that list.
It was clear the Tiefling could see straight through Jax’s vague attempt to deceive him. Well it was less deceit and more of an omission of the whole truth. Either way, Dante got right to the point and coaxed the reason out of his electrical engineer. While he had a hard time forming his words, it was clear what the ogre was getting at. The topic was gone in a flash. Almost hastily the slender male directed the conversation to what was to be done. Rhea was rather curious to hear what he would come up with. Not entirely to her surprise, he went with what could have easily been her fate weeks before. The airlock was finally getting some use. The maliciousness in his voice and command was unusual. While he was generally cold and calculating, this was a new edge in his tone. She did not care for it.
The childish fellow left without any thought to it. He must have either already understood the motivation or just not entirely grasped the situation. In the end, no matter the reason, it was probably for the best.
Again she was alone with Dante. She watched him intently. After sorely shifting around, he continued their dialog from before Jax had come. His question was rhetorical, but she nodded all the same. The look on his face continued to express his physical suffering. He gave her instruction to keep the men’s conversation confidential. She saw little reason why she could not oblige him, however he went on to explain why. The farther into he went the more discomposed he appeared. The Pyrenian was getting to see farther beneath the surface than she imagined he would ever let her.
By the time he concluded, the atmosphere was heavy. Her stomach was in knots seeing him so close to the brink. Bottling this all away had clearly taken its toll on him. There was nothing she could say or do that would change this, nothing that would ever truly give him relief in whatever traumatic events had made him this way. Still, she would not leave him for the silence to devour. “I understand.” Her voice reflected how his confidence in her had left her shaken. “I mean that in the I follow your reasoning kind of way, not the I have seen the same struggles as you way.” She had her own list of regrets that panged her, but they would never be perfectly similar and therefore she would never fully understand. “But please remember, no one can keep all the agony inside forever, Dante. The dead leave behind a heavy burden, more than any single person can carry. Don’t let it consume you, lest you destroy yourself in the process.” Rhea did not expect her words to impact him, but she cautioned him all the same.
When his hand found her, she replaced it around her as she had when she moved him before the jump. This way he could put more of his weight on her. He directed her to get him to his room. It was much easier when they were not rushing against the clock. They had barely made it off the bridge when she remembered she needed to talk to him.
“Um, about your plan… I have an option for you to consider.” Rhea was not entirely sure he would go for it. “I know someone who could definitely help us. He is a mechanical engineer. I could probably cut a deal with him to upgrade the ship. At the very least get us some parts to make things easier.” There was absolutely no question in her mind that Atlas would be an asset. “Also, he hermit-ed himself out on an otherwise uninhabited planet in the Dolorosa star system. So there would be almost no chance anyone would find us there in the meanwhile.” Before they had made the jump they were not far from the system, but she was not sure exactly where they were now. “However, like any course of action there is some risk.” She paused a moment to focus on walking a bit. It was a quick reminder on where they were going. If her mind wandered too much she could end up taking him on a very unnecessary detour.
“The last time we spoke, we were not on very good terms and it has been fifty years since then.” That left a lot of time for things to either stew or improve. “But, even if he hates me, I am confident he hates the Termani more.” Who knew, maybe the two would bond over their distain for the species. “Ultimately it is your choice, but I wanted the option to be on the table.”
Rhea wavered slightly at the entrance to Dante’s chamber. She had never been in his living space before. It was not long before she stepped closer to the door with the Tiefling, it slid open. Inside was neat and sparsely furnished. While the bed was in plain view from inside, it was positioned so that it could not be seen from outside the door. On the walk there she caught sight of the countless doodles on his wall and smiled. He must have been particularly fond of them to keep them so openly displayed. Her eyes took in all the simple details before they finally made it to the well-kept bed.
Pulling back the blanket, the Pyrenian made space for her Captain. It was a combined effort to lower him to a sitting position; she hoped he would be able to rest properly before he pushed himself to get up. While she could not completely put him in place, she did pull up his comforter and tuck it around him when he made himself comfortable.
Standing up from leaning to over him, the roseate woman smiled gently. “I believe being shot is right up next to poisoning, so I don’t want to see you up for a while. A few days would probably do you some good.” There was a light tone of humor in her soft voice. But the glint of drollness was fleeting.
Though she kept her content look, an odd concoction of emotions for the man in front of her boiled up within her. They ranged from concern to fondness and were dangerously mixed with somatic attraction. She brought up her hand to run through his hair. Something she had seen him often do it to calm himself. Perhaps it would have the same effect when she did it. “Just don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”
Leaving his side was more difficult than she thought it would be. Away from the distraction he provided, the opportunity to mentally review what had occurred arrived. The graveness of it all was overwhelming. The twins were most definitely going to want some answers to why they had been boarded by another ship. Unfortunately, Rhea would have to leave that for Dante to handle. She fervently hoped they would not make the connection between their tutor’s appearance and the abnormal event.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her residual warmth remains as she pulls away, the arrival of Jax drawing their quiet moment to a close. He watched her a few seconds longer before nodding meekly and shuffling in the seat to turn toward the large male. He collected bodies from the floor like he was tidying away plates after a meal, throwing one over each shoulder and hauling up the third by it's belt. Looking across he saw Rhea and Dante watching him and smiled that casual goofy way he had.
[+gold "Jax clean up!"] Seeing the faint look of discomfort on Dante's face however he frowned and dropped the body in his hand, walking over.[+gold "Cappy okay?"] He asked and pointed at the wrapping, visible through the hole in his clothing.
[b "Yes Jax, I will be fine with time, though thanks to Rhea here I managed to forgo any further injury when we went to warp."] He waved off the man's concerns though there was intrigue at hearing Rhea had helped. Dante was not one to shy away from praise where it was due, and he could see that the young woman warranted such.[b "She performed a hyper run without injury."]
[+gold "Ohh! Jax not quick to do dat. Jax slow. Strong but slow. Yeah. Jax knew it good to have pink lady here."] A beaming smile for the rose coloured female as he shifted the weight of the bodies on his shoulders.
[b "Are you okay Jax?"] His golden eyes dart around the mans physique but it was rather difficult to ever tell if the man was hurt.
[+gold "Yes Cappy. Jax did what Cappy told him."] He nods his head repeatedly and turns to retrieve the other body.
[b "The explosion was rather large."] There was a hesitation in the mans movement.[b "Did you perhaps use additional detonators? More so than what I told you to use Jax?"] It was not said with an accusatory tone, rather he was simply inquiring. When the man looked back to the duo he looked down to the grown guiltily before a small smile tugged on his lips.
[+gold "Jax use two booms Cappy."] Like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar he stared at his feet.
[b "And, [i why] did you use two?"] Again his curiosity was pronounced.
[+gold "Jax see Term.. Ter-Ter.. dat man!"] Unable to enunciate himself adequately he pointed with the body in his hand over to the unconscious man.[+gold "Jax remember Cappy hate dem guys. Hate dem lots. Jax make sure ship make big boom. Dat mans ship gone."] The logic was simplified and a delighted smile accompanied it. There was a brief prayer of thanks from the Tiefling that the bumbling fool had not divulged any more details. The Pyrenian's aboard the ship did not need to know of his distaste for Termani and he quickly changed the conversation away to avert attention.
[b "Yes, well you did an excellent job Jax. Take all of them to the air lock. Remove any credit sticks and weaponry before you eject them."] None were wearing any particularly expensive or interesting clothing or armour that he could perhaps recycle for the others.
[+gold "And dis one Cappy?"] His foot struck the mans side and even in his unconscious state he cried out in pain, curling up. The golden eyes flash over to Rhea momentarily in thought for what he wished to do as opposed to what was more sensible. Though he would have liked to take time to extract any information from the man and in the process cause him a good deal of pain, he knew it was a leap down the wrong path.
[b "Remove everything from him including his clothing. Place him in the air lock with the others and eject them all at once. If possible.. I want him awake when it happens."] His vindictive tone slid so seamlessly into place at the end and there was a solemn nod of understanding from the hulking giant. Without a thought he bent to his task and whisked off the bodies.
Sighing deeply he shimmied his way to the edge of his seat and brushed his free hand up past his horns, fingertips grazing across the extrusions. Any adrenaline had at last died away, his body sagging forward and his eyes closing over. It was not a particularly comfortable position and he hissed as he sat upright.
[b "You want my trust?"] He spoke softly and looked up at her with a stern expression, partly from suppressing the pain.[b "Then you will keep what you just heard to yourself and do not under any circumstance inform either the twins or Tera."] He could read the look of wonder on her face at such a request.[b "Jax is simple minded. He does not understand social constructs or why someone can come to despise another race. He does not let such things concern him. But Tera, Oni and Ino do understand. They know right from wrong in the broader sense of the word."]
Swallowing a lump in his throat he shook his head softly. It was not easy for the usually reserved man to speak openly. But she had heard enough that her inquisitive nature would no doubt best her and she would only torment him for an answer at length. From what he believed he understood of her, she was highly intelligent and not ashamed to seek out the truth if her curiosity was not sated. Thus how she came to be in this predicament in the first place.
[b "I need their compliance. I need their respect, Rhea. I need them to see me as someone to follow and listen to. Someone to trust absolutely. To put their faith and therefore their lives in my hands each day and know I will do the utmost to see them through. And if they think I am some mindless savage then that belief is shaken. They begin to query what I say. They begin to question my orders. They do as they wish and.. and they.. die.."] His voice broke like a pre-pubescent boy and his hand grasped his throat, turning away from her as he blinked furiously. Memories surged forth in rapid succession leaving him closer to breaking forth of the thick casing about his being. And with a minute or so, taking deep breaths and repeatedly running his hand up through his hair, he found calm once more.
A jittery hand rose up to her and grasped onto her forearm tightly.[b "Help me to my quarters. I will rest for a few hours, by then I should know what to do next."]
Having been lost in though, Rhea did not notice when the pilot neared to leave the area. It wasn’t till she placed a hand on her shoulder to brush past, that she came to. “Sorry,” she spoke as she quickly stood and took a step back. By that time Tera had already made it passed. The anthro smiled at her in response, but did not speak. Rhea wondered what she was off to do. Her eyes trailed over to the Captain. He must be all right if she was leaving him now.
Her red eyes lingered on his sitting form. She was still peeved he hadn’t kept her informed. This all could have gone so much better if she didn’t have to be surprised by it. There was the hint of a scowl on her face when he beckoned for her. Rhea really did not feel like obliging him at the time. Sighing she strode over to him, ready for whatever it was he needed of her. At first she was thrown off by his sitting. Seldom, if ever, did she have to look down to meet his gaze.
As expected there was a lecture waiting for her. Her line of sight stayed on the ground until his comment about her stripping. At that her eyes snapped up, just in time to catch him wincing in pain. The intensity her expression held faltered at that. There was no way she could continue to be angry with him in his condition. Taking in a deep breath, she released it slowly and with it went most of her irritation. She listened carefully to what he said. Although she did not agree with everything, she nodded letting him know she was hearing what he had to say.
Rhea winced as she watched Dante’s hand dig into his side. Her first instinct was to grab it and stop him from exasperating it further. Tensing she managed to keep her hands to herself, but he did not. Her eyes dropped for a moment at the feeling of his leathery digit on hers. When she looked back to his face, it had softened some. The level of praise she was receiving was too much, she thought.
His placid laugh rang in her ears as she also looked around at the carnage. A place that she had previously felt safe was blood splattered and littered with unconscious bodies. He was correct, this was not how she expected to show him she was capable. This was not anything she had expected at all. Nor was it something she wanted to have to have to show her use in again.
The Pyrenian tried to gather all the things she wanted to say. Often times she had difficulties with this task when her words were important. Her voice was quiet when she put together what she would say. “You don’t owe me anything.” The notion that he was indebted to her for anything was not something she could comprehend. It was her own selfishness of not wanting to see him in any more agony than he already was going to be. In hindsight it was also best for the ship. Without their Captain the ship would undoubtedly descend into chaos, but this hadn’t crossed her mind when she ran to help. She just wanted him to be safe. “I just did what I knew I would regret less.”
There was a moment absent of sound. In it, she took in the cool constant impression of his touch. She would soon be the one to break the silence again. “I wish…” Rhea was unsure she even had a right to voice her insecurity. Her hand pulled away from his for a second, pausing briefly, then tightly grasped it again. “I just wish you trusted me.” Her expression was pained, but in a different way than his. “I understand, I struggle following blindly after you, even if I can feel deep inside myself that you will do what is best for me.“ Feeling vulnerable, she was not sure how much more she would say on the matter. “Any bit of insight as to what you are thinking in times like this, please just give me something to hold steady to until I learn to rely on you fully.” She was unsure if it was too much to ask of him, but she hoped he could assuage her, even if it was only for a short while.
With that out on the table, she stopped. Rhea would wait for another time to try and tell him about the possibility of a safe space for the crew to regroup. There was a lot to get done with the state of the bridge being what it was. Once it was all taken care of and he got the chance to rest she would let him know.
As the sound of the door moving on its tracks could be heard, their hands disconnected. The faint cool remained on her smooth skin. Jax probably would not have noticed the motion and if he had, it was unlikely he would think anything of it.
The lumbering man got straight to work. With his strength he was able to take them all into his arms and upon his shoulders at once. Rhea uncomfortably watched as the Termani Captain shifted some in his captor’s arms. Even though she knew he posed her no threat in his current position, he still unnerved her. Her tail twitched nervously and her eyes stayed on him as if to make sure he didn’t do anything unexpected.
From his seat, Dante gave Jax instruction. She pondered if he considered dealing with the intruders to be the first priority or if he might detain those who had survived the encounter in order to rest. He had been adamant that she kept bed ridden when she was unwell. Rhea thought it likely he would not hold himself to the same standard.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Pain sears through his abdomen better than a branding iron and his mind conceded to the torment, unable to bring a thought to completion. Without meaning to the males body curls into something fetal. The pain was increasing in waves, the small lulls giving false hope of an end. Each peak robbed him of his ability to speak and all he can muster is the occasional gasp of air.
When Rhea flashed into his view he had reached out to grasp at her arm, holding it like a vice as his teeth ground against one another. Though internally he begged for her to leave him be, to find safety in her seat and take the thought of injury coming to his crew out of his mind. However all he could muster was a scowl of discontent as she drew his arm around her svelte figure.
Feeling her tug uselessly on him he knew his concerns were well founded. He was far too heavy for her to heave up and over to a seat. However she took on a familiar look of authority; perhaps something she had picked up from watching him. Screaming an order for him to move his legs slid forward and did as he was ordered, pushing upright until he was stood at her side though still hunched over. Her diminutive height didn't help matters and he was bent over just to keep level with her. He had been hesitant to move but again she found the strength to pull him along to her own seat, depositing him with a grunt of effort from both of them.
She was gone in a flash, leaving him be to grasp onto a strap and wrap it several times around his hand not clamped over the wound. It would have to do as he judged the sound of the engine and, after years of listening to it, he knew when it was ready to jump. Tera wasted no time in taking them to warp and in no time at all he felt his body thrown forward as they came back out. It had been half a minute, no more, yet for Dante it was a second or two at most.
It was only a few seconds longer before the deep muffled voices of Tera and Rhea hummed in his ears and he looked up to see the duo towering above him. Death was written across his slight features. Not in the physical sense, it was not a deadly shot and likely it had only cut through flesh and fat and muscle, no organ, it was all purely metaphorical. The feeling of the warm blood still dripping through his fingers focused his mind and his hand unraveled from the strap. He rotated onto his side and with a gentle hand Tera began to address the wound. Pulling his hand away she clicked her tongue across the roof of her mouth and grasped at his shirt, pushing it up and away to clear her view and assess it more.
For the next ten minutes there were occasional groans and hissing and a plethora of curses directed to Tera, though she knew to not take it as personal. The plasma burn wasn't too severe but with a few days of careful management would see him begin to mend.
[+red "It'll scar nicely Cap but otherwise just keep changing the patch every twelve hours and you'll be fine."] She was rather formal in how she talked with him, tying off a thin strip of cloth that was much more for show than any use. Without a dedicated medic or a medical station, having to rely on the crew around them was all they could hope for. And so the solutions and remedies to injuries were just as basic and simplified.
[b "Thank you."] A hand extended out to her, taking a hold of hand gingerly and squeezing ever so slightly to show his truly appreciative nature.[b "Check in on the twins for me and have Jax come up to the bridge to remove the bodies. We'll have to move off in a few hours but for now just make sure everyone is okay."] The anthro female gave him a soft smile and nodded, stepping over to Rhea and slid around her. Not a simple task for the ample woman.
Left alone with the Pyrenian woman once more he swiveled in his seat to face toward her. One hand, having been cleaned off by Tera, rested at his side just above his hip and grazing along the patch placed over his wound. The other extended out to her and with a gentle roll of his eyes he beckoned her toward him to show he wanted her to come closer. When the rose coloured female finally grasped his intent she came to his side and he let his hand drop to his thigh.
[b "First of all, I wish to inform you that insubordination on my ship is not tolerated. You have your orders and you follow them out. Whether I tell you to eject yourself from the air lock or to strip down to your undergarments, I expect my orders to be carried out."] He drew in a deep breath, eyes fluttering as a wave of pain overcame him for a moment, but he refocused on her quickly.[b "Second, you should have remained in your seat and done as Tera told you. To risk injuring yourself is beyond foolish. I am the Captain, I can take care of myself."] Their eyes met and as ever there was little but ferocity in his golden iris.[b "Lastly, a hyper run is not only idiotic but entirely dangerous to attempt, you are lucky to have survived unscathed."] A quick and sharp comment, spoken at a higher pitch as his hand pressed down hard on the wound. He was attempting to numb the area but it would take time.
[b "However,"] his hand reached up once more but this time grasped her hand, his thumb running across the backs of her fingers,[b "although you went against my orders and you risked yourself to assist me and then risked injuring yourself in performing a hyper run.. I am indebted to you Rhea. As I said to you days ago, I knew you would excel. Perhaps this is not how you expected to show it,"] a gentle laugh as he nodded over to the bodies strewn about,[b "but I knew if it came to it you would show your usefulness."] His thumb had continued to brush against her fingers as he simply looked up at her.
There is a part of him not wishing to let go of her whilst another louder voice tells him the negative outcomes that may happen should he not release her. Jax would be along shortly to retrieve the bodies, to remove anything of use or value and expel them into space. And then there was the conundrum that the unconscious Termani posed him. Yet in that moment, there is simply her hand in his and the silence of the bridge.
All four of her eyes stayed plastered to Dante as he listened to the transmission. The man said nothing as it replayed in his ear. All those on board began to question what was happening. She wondered what answer he would give, but when none came she had to question as well.
“Captain, what should I do? They are repeating their message and demanding a response.” It kept coming. For the moment they were not threatening to open fire, but it would not be long before they would.
When he spoke out, Dante’s words rang loud for all to hear. Within seconds the message containing her orders appeared on her screen. She sat in utter disbelief. Rhea could not look away from the words that commanded her to set in motion a plan that ended with her capture. What had it all been for? All the words of solidarity Dante had fed her and she had eaten up. She felt like a fool, and what was more she felt worse than that because after this direct betrayal she still wanted to put her faith in him.
Half of the crewmen exited the bridge, the half unaware to her being wanted. Once she heard the shuffling of footsteps no more, Rhea looked up from her screen. The captain’s eyes were on her, like he had been waiting for her.
Making attempts to steel herself, the effort only made it to her voice. “You want me to invite them aboard? But…” There was no fault in his countenance. He had not mistyped. “But Dante, that means...” She was unable to finish the sentence before cut her off with a gesture of his hand.
“Are you saying you won’t follow your orders, Rhea?” The Tiefling said it so coldly; it was as if he had no care in the world for what he was doing. Still, she wanted to listen to him, but she could not. If she tried to relay any sort of message her voice would give. It was likely there would be tears as well. Before she could compose herself to say anything in response he was coming toward her.
A leathery, cool hand, pinned her back to her chair. The thin man took control of her station with no resistance from the Pyrenian. The conditions were clearly relayed to the opposing ship. There was no emotion in his voice. In that moment, Rhea thought everything about Dante was arctic, from his voice to his touch. That was until she saw his eyes. It was all ice, except those shimmering pools. In them she could tell there was more beneath the surface than he was letting on. It calmed her. She took a deep breath of hesitant relief, but she was still hurt that he would not trust her to know what his true scheme was.
The S.C Immortal’s comply rang in her ear. Once they had confirmed, Dante disconnected and walked away. The three of them waited. It seemed like an eternity before the door opened to reveal the Immortal’s crewmen. The uniforms were not those that she could recognize, the captain however was Termani. His smile made her skin crawl and after his sleazy commendation Rhea visibly shivered. He was not the type of man she would want to be left alone with.
The trio of lackeys hardly made it to the Pyrenian before a loud crack was heard. By the time the following thud could be heard, Rhea’s eyes snapped to the pair of Captains. The shady man was blacked out on the floor. Two more fell within the second, but the third took aim. Once again her eyes were adhered to the cerulean Tiefling. As he fell to the floor, she stood from her seat.
Tera made quick work of the final man standing. When there was no one left, Dante barked his orders to the giant of a man at the other end of the ship. Rhea stumbled, but caught herself on the back of her chair. She seemed to be doing that a lot recently. As she stood straight everything came together in her head. Tera screamed from the helm for her to strap in, but all she could think of was the injured male in the middle of the room. The hyper jump would not be life threatening, but there was no way he would come out of it without some serious damage. With no more thought than that, she was running toward his fallen figure.
Thank goodness his sights were set on the pilot, because the Pyrenian probably would have turned around if he yelled at her like that. For the time being, she had no orders to be seated, just a friendly suggestion from Tera. When she made it to his side, he was not happy, but Rhea did not give him time to speak. Fitting herself under his arm, she tried to pull him up. She was not strong enough to do it all on her own though, “Move!” Surprisingly he went along with it.
Her chair was the closest option, so the rose colored woman lead him towards that. Dante was hesitant, but went with her. If he didn’t, they were both going to be in a world of pain. At the communications desk, she pretty much pushed him into the seat. Hopefully he was able to buckle himself, because she did not have time. She turned on her heel and broke off in a dead sprint to the back wall. There was barely enough time for her to brace herself there before they made the jump.
The great force of acceleration held Rhea to the wall. The bodies on the ground rag dolled and hit it as well. Luckily nowhere near her. Incredibly nervous, the Pyrenian waited for the right time to initiate her idea. She was about to do something she promised herself she never would. When the accelerations influence lessened, she began to run again, but to the other side of the bridge. As she went, the direction of the change in velocity began to switch. With it she gained speed. She hit the opposite wall hard, she would definitely be sore, but it was not hard enough to really hurt her. All the force that had been pressing everything to the back now flew it to the front as the ship returned back to regular speed.
All the left over adrenaline caused Rhea to tremble fiercely. Her knees wobbled as she made her way back to her seat where Dante was. Tera joined her. “I have heard of Hyper running, but I ain’t ever seen anybody dumb enough to do it.” The comment way made with a smile and a slap on the back. The anthro seemed elated that everyone came out relatively unscathed.
Nearly toppling forward, the Pyrenian had to fix her glasses. “Yeah, I spent a lot of time with this one stupid crazy friend back before I went to college. She would do anything just to say she had.” Her voice was flat; Rhea remembered being horrified when she had to watch her hyper run. It was something that she had never ever wanted to do, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
For the first time in a while, Rhea laid eyes on Dante. He still did not look pleased. She wondered if it was for the stunt, or the fact that he was in pain. Tera moved in to try and administer first aid. The ship did not have a proper medic, but at least they had a couple of people who knew what to do in emergency situations. She wanted to ask if he was going to be okay. She also wanted to apologize, because one again this all stemmed from her being here. But none of these things would be helpful, so she stayed quiet.
The nagging sense that the girls might return to the bridge ate at the older Pyrenian. She made herself scarce and went to guard the door so she could turn away the twins if they did come. The pair did not need to see Dante in this state. If they grew insistent she could threaten them with homework. That usually got them out of her hair.
Separating herself from the situation also allowed Rhea to come down from the high she had received. It cleared her mind so that she could think. It was official. The universe knew where she was and this ship was not made for daring escapes. They had completely lucked out this time. Someone who could help came to mind, but she wondered if it would be worth the risk. They hadn’t been on good terms the last time they parted. Sitting cross-legged in front of the door she weighted the pros and cons. Things would likely be fine, but in the end it would not be her choice. She would have to tell the Captain. At the time being he was in the best of condition. The woman opted to wait to bring up her contact till things calmed down a bit. The stress of a big choice right now was not what he needed.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her leaving comment on not having her cook anything had dashed his hopes of them ever eating a well prepared meal. Tera was adequate with what she knew but to have a dedicated being who knew how to bring their taste buds alive or prepare a feast in celebration of something would have done wonders to morale at times.
The thought of a personal meal was not to be ignored either, the memories of so long ago rushing back. It dampened his spirits a touch, his smile had lost a touch of it's luster as he left her be. Heading back to his quarters he had enough common sense to drop a message to Tera and Jax that he would sleeping and they would be excused duties for the rest of the day.
Two days later the scans had come up fine for the fourth time and with a defeated look in his eye he had excused the Pyrenian from her bed, allowing her to regain her freedom to roam. It had been somewhat peaceful knowing where she was and he had stopped in once or twice on her tutoring of the twins. Not to spy on her and her curriculum, but rather to just listen to all three animated voices and know there was some joy to be had aboard his vessel.
Though Tera had quite obviously been keen for the two to speak and talk over any outstanding concerns, it was Dante who continuously fobbed her off with a story or lie that he was busy. There had been a few heated but hushed exchanges between the two that had hastily broken down into staring at one another in the hopes of intimidating the other.
Yet Dante held the luxury of being Captain, and time and again he would walk away from her and sequester himself from the others. There was a faint hope she would drop the subject entirely and focus elsewhere, but when hiding and sitting put it was inevitable she would want to air out the problems between them.
It was with sinister thanks that after a few days they were contacted by a passing ship and hailed to open communications with them. He had been sat alone on the bridge when it had occurred and had immediately sent a directive for everyone to join him at their stations immediately. It took a few minutes for them to arrive, his rather calm voice over the comm's simply not portraying the emergency he deemed this to be. A rudimentary scan of the opposing ship made it clear what was likely to happen.
Taking his seat he perched on the edge and his thoughts ran rampant as his hands busied themselves. It belied any calm indifference he was trying to give off. The incoming message stopped at Rhea's station and the twins had to stop themselves from rushing over, having been in control of that area for so long. When the older woman looked at him, a mixture of fear and shock obvious in her gaze, he stared back glumly.
[+green "Captain, I am going to patch something through to you."] Her hands moved swiftly and there was a faint admiration that she had taken to her controls with ease. It wasn't overly difficult but regardless he felt a touch of pride.
As the message replayed to him he continue to look across to her though he felt the eyes of everyone upon him. He listened in silence, watching the bespectacled woman intently as the message played over to him. Licking his dry lips to rid them of their tackiness he nodded slowly and sat back into his seat. His fingers tapped away at a console to his side and there was a faint cough from in front of him.
[+red "Cap? Whats going on?"] Tera's gaze flickered from the blue male to their linguist quickly.
[+gold "Something wrong Cappy?"] Jax was sat with his hands resting on his knees, looking around innocently. In return Dante held up a finger on his free hand and continued to type.
[+green "Captain, what should I do? They are repeating their message and demanding a response."] Rhea's voice held firm and he nodded as he finished on his console.
[b "Everyone will follow the orders I have sent to them without a word. Go about your duties and things will run smoothly."] On all their screens popped up a small message symbol in unison. Turning back they each read their own messages, the twins together, and as the more swift reader of the lot Tera turned to look at him. She looked doubtful but he only inclined his head for her to know he meant what was said. The twins quickly exited the room together, scurrying past Rhea without a word to her. Jax followed not long after, nodding vigourously at Dante and giving a thumbs up to further show he understood.
It was Rhea who took the longest to turn back to him and she looked rather shaken at what she had read.
[+green "You want me to invite them aboard? But.. but Dante that means-"] He held a hand up toward her to stem her.
[b "Are you saying you refuse to follow your orders Rhea?"] It was said so simply, so matter of fact. As if there was no concern for her. When she continued to stare at him, mouth slackened and partly agape, he pushed from his seat and strode confidently over to her. Pushing her back into her own seat and leaned across her to begin setting his own order in motion.[b "S.C. Immortal this is the Enduring Odyssey. We will agree to your demands under the stipulation no more than four guards come aboard and no rifles are to be brought aboard to ensure the safety of my crew. Do you agree to my terms?"] Looking across to Rhea, his hand still pressed just above her crystal embedded into her chest, he heard nothing for a few seconds.
[+blue [b "We will agree to your request. Coming in for boarding."]]
Turning off the link to the other ship he pulled away, standing upright before her. There was little expression to him though he could see the look of hurt in her eyes that he was giving her up at the first instance. She said nothing and he backed away, nodding to Tera for her to go about her work and taking a place with folded arms watching the doorway.
It was several minutes for the other ship to come down, take its place beside them and line up their airlocks, to step through and be directed by Jax on what direction to take. Dante could feel the four eyes of the Pyrenian burrowing into the back of his head as he waited and at length the door slid open. Stepping through first came three individuals in matching uniforms though in places they differed, such as the curve of the clothing or shape of the items attached to their belts. They wore full helmets made of an opaque black material that obscured any discernible traits about them.
Following in close behind was the unmistakable captain of their vessel, a Termani no less. He stepped inside with a scowl though upon seeing Rhea, his head swiveling around wildly in search for her, a sickening smile crossed his lips as a hand toyed at a pistol resting on his hip.
[+blue [b "Ah, there she is. Fits the description well. Though I had hardly thought she would be as beautiful as this."]] It is a pathetic attempt at flattery and if as an afterthought he comes to look upon Dante. Stepping past his three crew members he flicks a wrist toward the Pyrenian woman.[+blue [b "Go get our prize, now."]] The three beings seem flustered at the sudden demand and quickly stride forwards as the Termani male stops beside Dante, looking over to the bespectacled woman who's reaction was blocked from sight.[+blue [b "Many thanks for being so cooperative."]]
[b "You have my thanks also Sir."] There is a look of curiosity dancing about the other mans eyes at what he could be thanked for.[b "You let your greed become your own downfall."] The insult barely has time to register in the feeble mans mind before Dante has snatched a hand forward, withdrawn the mans pistol from it's holder and brought it with force across the others temple. He is unconscious before he touches the floor.
The sound of the man grunting from the hit and slumping to the floor drew the attention of the other beings who turned back. Two flashes of light darted across the room in an instant as Dante fired with the utmost precision and two of the other ships crew fell down immediately. The time to aim and fire had given the third the few seconds needed in such a moment to draw his own weapon, yet he fired rather wildly. Regardless Dante cried out and collapsed onto his knees, clutching at his side as he gritted his teeth tightly against the pain. The one who had shot him didn't last much longer however, Tera turning in her seat and in three shots had struck the beings leg, side and smashed the helmet with the third attempt.
[b "Jax! Do it now!"] Dante cried out into his headset and fell forward to lay on his good side, hands clasped about his side where blood was trickling through his fingers very slowly. Tera, fighting back her concern for the Captain, slapped her hand down hard against her terminal. With no ceremony the ship lurched forward. The other ship was decoupled rather easily and with a slow hum the warp drives began activating. There was nothing for a few seconds before the ship rumbled and shook violently. It pushed Tera back into her seat as the shock wave of an explosion rippled through them all. Everyone had been instructed to buckle in within their orders, all bar Rhea and Tera had enough time to shout for her to do so as the engines sprung to life.
[+red "Get strapped in Rhea!"] She shouted frantically to her, turning her seat more to look down at Dante who was curled up holding himself tightly. Looking up at the anthro he shook his head as she reached for her straps.
[b "Don't fucking dare! Get us out of here now. Follow your orders."] It was clearly said with discomfort yet anger gripped his heart. He would not have someone risk themselves being injured when he was already in such pain, especially when the pilot needed to be at her controls to keep the ship moving. And thankfully she saw his point, most likely in the fierce rage in golden eyes. When they were ready, they enter warp and escaped the S.C. Immortal.
The azure man stood before her after a short stillness. Rhea watched as his eyes ran over her. They were golden windows into his mind. He was not contented with what she had explained. That in itself told her he didn’t really grasp what she had meant by it all. It didn’t bother her. One day he might understand it, but for now she would hear his rebuttal.
It began with a display of dominance, stating facts and using them to his advantage. She was mildly annoyed that he left out the bit where she was only a part of the crew so she could be watched more carefully. When he ordered her back to her bed, she thought it must be his guilty conscience that gave him such great concern for her health. The Pyrenian was not about to let his pity stop her.
Deliberately she shook her head, eyes held fierce to his. “I must help, Captain Dante.” She put an emphasis on his title. If he was going to hold it over her, she would do the same. “I will not sit here and feel… feel useless!” Too much of her life had been spent doing just that when she could have been productive. Now was a dire hour, there was no time for hesitation or to worry over trivial things. “I am the reason that you and Tera and Jax and the twins are in danger now and I cannot sit idle.” Their lives had become too precious to her. Bonds between people were fickle things. They were created and destroyed in an instant. “Not anymore!” The final two words were discreet but filled with a determination she had lacked for a long time. It caught her off guard, but she would keep her gaze locked with her captain’s. If only she could halt the trembling that tore through her, she might actually be taken seriously.
All of this was ineffective. “I will not repeat myself, Rhea.” The return of his sternness told her that there would be no arguing. The screech of the chairs legs across the floor aggravated her ears. The loss of the seat shook her balance, but Dante had ahold of her before anything could come of it. Regardless she held her feet in place. When that failed she attempted to push him away from her. Being unwaveringly obstinate was not in her nature; she gave up part way through. This allowed the man to take her gently back to her bedside. She sat there crestfallen. Her hands became very interesting as she was overwhelmed by her inability to do anything at all.
The pouting did not last long after he came down to her level. Her eyes met his through thick lashes. The pressure of his hands on the mattress shifted her even closer toward him. Oddly, she was becoming accustomed to his exceptionally near presence. Although, she could not help but wonder if he was like this with everyone. Rhea had yet to see it, then again no one else was consistently pressing his patience in the same way she was.
Again he brought logic to the forefront of the conversation, but a trace of sincere concern seeped through the front he put up. That small bit of emotion left her unable to fight him on the matter anymore. She would stay put, at least for a while longer, but he would go on passed this point. His words became noticeably possessive until he faltered. From then on he moved on to the others on his ship. When he added the bit about Tera her sulked lips turned to a smile. Knowing her, by the third time she was doing it on purpose.
“I have no doubt you will excel.” Dante’s words suggested he held unswerving faith in her. The red-eyed woman was not sure if it was well invested.
His eyes flickered back to the entryway. It was not till after this that his hand came to hers. He admitted their futures, whatever they may be and for many reasons, were now hitched to one another. The knowledge was bittersweet. Rhea would not have to go on alone, but the price to pay for mistakes was greater. Much greater.
Although his motions were unhurried, it seemed sudden when the Tiefling moved in closer to her. Behind her sitting form he prepped the bed for her to be contented. She wondered just how long he planned on confining her to it. Too long and it would be torturous. This particular piece of furniture was not her friend.
Gently he positioned her against the setting he had made. Rhea thought it odd that she, a grown woman, was being tucked into bed. He really was not letting her do anything herself. Once she got over that it was actually a somewhat enjoyable experience. She caught herself thinking it might be nice for him to stay close a while longer. A though she would keep to herself.
He left her side soon after that and went to her workspace. Rhea thought he might be confiscating her things so that she would not be tempted to leave her bed again. Instead he brought them to her, placing them within reach for her. His reasoning for this action was sound. The Pyrenian nodded. She would have eventually gotten up, although it would have taken a while before she worked up the nerve to do it. Especially if her crewmates did stop in to see her.
His last words were a mixture of advice and an attempt to lighten the mood. Rhea could not tell if he was entirely teasing when he said he would find her new things to do. The smirk on his face was mischievously attractive, but hard to read. She burst into restrained laughter. “Sorry,” she covered her face with one hand and held the other out as if to say she was not finished. “I just can’t imagine what you could be thinking with that look on your face.” When she settled some, she gave him one request. “Just don’t make me cook anything, alright?”
After this encounter, Rhea felt closer to Dante than she had felt with another person in a very long time. There was a strong sense of solace in it, a sense of trust. Looking back it had been growing for a while, but it wasn’t until now that it hit her. The Pyrenian took a while to just look over him, as he did the same to her. The residual smile lingered.
With how nosy those children were, Rhea was not surprised when they nearly came tumbling into Dante on route to leave. He made quick work of sending them on their way to cater to their teacher. When they returned the older woman was going to have to look into their homework status.
The door slid open too soon for it be the girls. Instead Tera stood in the doorway. The light red Pyrenian wondered if there was a line outside waiting to see here. Would Jax be coming back next as soon as Tera left?
A smile flashed on the anthro’s face, “ya can’t get on this ship without causing a commotion can ya?”
She was not wrong. Rhea shrugged shyly. Maybe one day she could walk on without things going to hell. “It’s just a small food allergy. The Captain is completely over reacting.” For now she would have to push the idea that that was all that had happened. Although, she did believe that he had overreacted to some extent.
Tera came in to stand next to her friend. “Well, ya didn’t wake up for two days, so I think it is warranted.”
Rhea had been unaware that it had been quite that long, but it did help put things in perspective. “I guess.” Her eyes fell to her hands that he had touched so tenderly and she sighed. “But I better understand why you follow him so completely now.” He was not nearly as stone hearted as he had first led her to believe.
A conflicted look crossed Tera’s face for a second. Her counterpart did not look up in time to see it. They would chat until the twins returned from their mission. The busty woman took the opportunity to excuse herself. She feared too much commotion could be detrimental to their recovering linguist.
It was another two days before Captain Varias would allow her on her feet. She found it excessive. He kept his word and for the most part kept the others out of her room. While it helped her keep on task, it cut off her information to what was happening on the bridge. Both this and the confinement made her stir crazy. Once she official had permission to leave, Rhea spent a good chunk of time walking about the ship. The details of her room were seared into her brain, seeing different settings refreshed her even if they were similar. This newness would allow her to clear her mind and come back to the problem she had been pondering from new angles.
Pyreen had very few commodities. There was its people and its iron. Iron was not scarce; it was not worth the chance of being caught with the blood of a nation on your hands. So what did the old Pyrenian’s have that anyone could possible want? It must have been something that her people had valued or else they could have just taken it without killing everyone. Most sentient races document things that are highly treasured by their society. The only thing that she had consistently seen pictured was their senseless religion. They had literally been worshipping the bioluminescent rocks in their cave systems. While these crystals were a marvel, as no one had figured out exactly why they glow, they were not worth adulating. That was where her trail went cold.
Rhea gave the girls a break for once. Lightening their workload. They met regularly for lessons still, but instead of making them memorize or learn anything new when they disbanded. She asked them thought provoking questions that they could struggle with until the next time they met. They were the type of inquires that did not have a singular answer. Not only would it improve their critical thinking skills, it was helpful to Rhea as well. She would be able to analyze their thought processes and apply it to her own way of thinking.
Dante’s plan to simply keep the ship out of sight until things died down some was working well for its intended purpose. It would not work forever though. Eventually they would have to make port. The problem there seemed to lie with the Termani allegiances being so wide reaching. And with the bounty out, even those who were not fond of them would be on the lookout. Delia had not explicitly told the Termani with whom Rhea was traveling in her transmission, but to be safe they would have to assume she was later bribed into leaking that information as well.
It was confirmed when they made contact with another ship. The Captain had called the crew to the bridge. At last he had come up with a course of action that seemed safe enough for them to move from their current location. At least that was the only reason she could fathom he would call them.
Rhea took her seat at the head of communication. She had not bothered with the headset at that time, discerning she would not need it. As she had dismissed the equipment a light on her display began to blink. There was an incoming transmission. Hurriedly, she fit the piece on her head and played the recording. Her eyes widened and darted to Dante. “Captain, I am going to patch something through to you.”
Dexterously her fingers dragged across the display to include his earpiece. Dragging it back, she replayed the message for him. “Enduring Odyssey, this is the S.C. Immortal. You are in our sights. Relinquish the Pyrenian, Rhea, and no harm will come to your ship or crew.”
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat She accepted his apology with such ease it left him incredulous to her words. She is rotating out of the bed before he can fathom a meaning behind her words. Perhaps she felt forced to forgive him in return for having taken her away from certain capture? Or that she was silently brooding on a true response whilst luring him into a false sense of comfort? He was not a particularly intelligent man when trying to solve the riddle that were women.
It had been many years since he had lain with anyone and the memory of their quirks and small personal qualities was not sufficient knowledge on how this beautiful yet oft bewildering gender functioned. If she was simple palming him a sweet nothing response, he had to simply take it and move on. Usually he would not have given it a second thought yet his mind was in tatters over every action and syllable coming from the petite stowaway. The deception he felt at Delia's hands was deeply felt and he felt mistrusting of everything she did, even down to her removing cloak and boots. Though he knew being cautious to this innocent woman was pathetic, a desire to not be wrong could take a person deep down the wrong rabbit hole.
Dante had not felt it appropriate to remove any articles of her clothing as she had slumbered. There was the initial concern of simply having to touch another body; an aspect of his personality he had come to loathe. To feel another's touch left him in shivers and he could only imagine how she would have felt knowing his hands had caressed along her figure.
Next was the inappropriate nature of the task. Undressing someone of the opposite sex was something left to loved ones and the closest of friends. Not a irate self-loathing Tiefling stranger. He had kept all movements down to her one hand, constantly testing and retesting her with the scanner, and even then he felt like he had violated her personal space. He felt sleazy.
And finally, what if she had awoken part-way through and assumed he was about to have his way with her? Or had his hand grazed across an intimate area, come across private markings or any other unknown element. It would be mortifying to the man, his ego more important than her state of being it seemed.
[b "What do you think you are doing?"] The words spurt forth without him really considering them, drawn from his trance of internal monologue as she pulled herself upright next to him. She dodges the question and moves behind his seat but he pushes up and takes a firm hold of her arm. He reasons to himself that it is to help her retain her balance, but it is to assert dominance and demand a reply.
[+red "I am inadequate."]
It is so final. It is a matter of fact. There can be no argument in her voice and she talks to him like he has to accept it of her and agree. But a pang of disagreement grasps at his chest, drawing him short of breath, body tensing though his hand remains relatively loose on her arm.[+red "Right now this, is all I can do to help you."] His gaze drifts across to the desk at her motioning and he stares blankly at it, a deft drop of his brow in confusion. There is a few long seconds of silence before he steps around the chair to stand before her and he looks over her in inspection. His fingers slither away from her arm and she supports herself with the help of the chair.
[b "You are part of my crew. Is that not so?"] The tone is more controlled this time and it holds steady. She gives a nod in agreement.[b "Then you will return to your bed until deemed healthy enough to return to your duties."] His greater height aids him in stating his order, though she surprises him with a look of defiance in return. She stares up at him and her soft features rotate from side to side.
[+green "I must help Captain Dante. I will not sit around and feel.. feel useless! I am the reason that you and Tera and Jax and the twins are in danger now and I cannot sit by idle. Not anymore!"] The intensity of her words and the trembling of her figure due to the manner in which she speaks shocks them both. It is almost as if she has watched a playback of her words and notes how out of character it is for her. She keeps her eyes focused on his however, hand clenched by her side.
[b "I will not repeat myself Rhea."] He says in a cold and unnerving voice, stepping toward her and pushing aside the chair which grates against the floor. Taking a hold of her arm his other hovers at her back and he forcefully guides her back to the bed. Though she struggles at first, pulling away from him, her generally weakened state plays against her and he eases her to sit down on the edge.
Her chin drops to her chest, staring down at her folded hands in her lap and he can only feel a small amount of pity for her. The whole situation feels foreign to him. There is no logical means to progress in this narrative yet he feels it is his duty to say something, to ease her mind and be the leader he claims to be. If he cannot assist his crew then he is merely an authoritarian. That thought alone brings him to crouch down before her, her bed low enough that he is still at eye level with her regardless. His hands stretch out and press down either side of her, mimicking the gesture in the bridge days before. His tongue darts out to lick at dry lips before speaking.
[b "How will you help me if you remain weak and tired? How can you help me if you never start off at a hundred percent? What use is a crew member who can only work to half her capability because she refuses to rest?"] Looking at her as he talks there is a sparkle of genuine concern somewhere in his golden gaze.[b "You are this ships translator, my linguist, my-"] He falters, as if catching himself from saying something.[b "You are the tutor to the twins and have endeared yourself to this crew in such a short time. Yet you sit here and tell me you are clumsy and naive. That you have few skills. Listen closely Rhea when I say no-one on this ship started off perfectly. Myself included. Jax did not know how to open a panel without using his fist and Tera almost steered the ship into the same sun no less than three times in her first week."] He had a tone of incredulousness which brought a faint smile from the woman.[b "And they went through exactly what you're thinking right now. [i What is the point? I am not useful. I can not do this.'] But they saw I was understanding. That I take my time with my crew to become accustomed. Because to continually replace members is more costly and destructive to overall efficiently than giving you time to show how useful you can be, of which I have no doubt you will excel."] He looked away at the door, checking it was still shut and locked and taking a slow breath in.
[b "Everyone out there, this ship, myself,"] a hand is placed atop both of hers,[b "you,"] he is looking back into her larger red eyes,[b "we are entwined in the same fate now. I have had nothing but time to think it over and there is no other option. Knowing what I do now about the Termani and considering the twins past, I cannot in good conscience let you take them on alone."] Reaching around her being, chest brushing against her legs, he draws back the covers more and fixes the pillows in an upright fashion. Wrapping an arm around her legs he lifts them up and into the bed, pulling the covers back over her lower half as her back comes to rest against the pillow.
Using the bed to ease himself upright again he strolls across to the desk, brushing his hands over her tomes Delia had handed them and looking at their titles. He had no knowledge at all on their value or which were of more use from one to the next. Therefore he swept up the pile and carried them across to her bed, placing them onto the nightstand.
[b "I know if I leave you will only get out to retrieve them, as everyone on this ship seems to revel in disobeying me, so here they are."] He fixed them into a neat stack.[b "I will have the twins fetch you some food and drink, hopefully they will have learned from your teachings and bring you something you will enjoy. Though I will attempt to keep the entire crew busy it is perhaps inevitable they will come in to converse with you at some stage."] Back across to the chair he lifts it up and replaces it before her desk.[b "Take time to relax and rest Rhea. Now I know that you feel you are not being productive I will think through some more chores and jobs for you to do."] There is a deft curve to his lips as if he has made a joke, stood at the end to her bed and hands clasped behind his back.
Watching her for a few seconds more he turns away to the door, tapping at the keypad and having two small Pyrenian's fall in against him though they scramble back embarrassed. They are immediately sent off to fetch their tutor her food and drink, conversing amongst themselves candidly. As he leaves he sees Tera walking in the opposite direction and there is a moment of silent acknowledgement between the two. There will be a time where they must talk of the incident earlier, but now is not it. Instead he heads for the bridge.
Surprised at just how quickly Dante had made it to the room, Rhea took notice of the concerned expression that flashed across his features. She also saw the subtle heaving of his chest. He was visibly disheveled. It was the first time she had ever seen him in such a state. Normally he was a bit of a dandy, looking en pointe. The girls were not fazed by this whatsoever. They only listened to his reassuring comment. To Rhea it sounded like he hadn’t been sure of the words himself till that moment. As if he was also trying to convince himself that she was going to be fine. Her conscience ran rampant and she was filled with guilt. This could have been avoided if only she had warned them that this was liable to happen.
The Captain took an unfamiliar tone as he requested, not demanded, that the younglings leave the room. It put Rhea on edge. The girls stayed quiet as they left and he locked the door behind them. The Pyrenian shifted in her bed, antsy. The silence was maddening as he took the seat by her side and proceeded to hook her to the scanner. Dante touched her as if she were made of glass. She scrutinized his every move. Something was not right.
When she was about to tell him that this wasn’t really necessary and confess to her folly, he beat her to the punch. The apology takes her back. The residual grogginess must have been completely muddling her brain up. Why would he be pleading for forgiveness? There was no time to question before he explained what had happened. The news was shocking. She could scarce believe it. Had he not backed it up with the transcription, she might not have believed him. It turned out Delia was too good to be true.
The man before her was perceptibly shaken by the events. How he held onto her and spoke to her both attested to it. Rhea understood it to some extent. The betrayal dazed her as well, although not in the same way it did with Dante. Greed was an ugly thing, but it seemed to be one of the leading causes of action in the universe. To put it plainly it got things done.
Rhea did not find her voice; she could only listen to the Tiefling as he repeatedly apologized to her. Her eyes followed his other hand reach up to touch his hair. By now she knew this as one of his many ticks. This time the hoary tufts of his stayed in place, pushed back against his scalp.
He went on to give the cover story he had fed to the others aboard the ship. It put her off to know she would have to deceive them as well to keep this farce up. The pink woman wanted to speak out against it, but the man before her looked to be on the brink of breaking. It would not be her place to undermine him with the condition they were in. Their eyes met through her wide brimmed spectacles and her core felt as though it faltered in her chest when she heard his voice drop. She wanted to be able to fix him. If it were not for her, a stowaway he had met by chance merely weeks ago, his life would still be the same as it ever was. Safe with his crew and connected to his friend.
When she managed to speak, she wasn’t entirely sure what to say. It caused her to ramble some. “I… I had really thought it was my fault.” In a way she wished that that had been the case. Her gaze dropped from his, down to their hands. Even though his had been on hers for so long it still felt cool. His light, dry touch kept her grounded, reminding her that this was really happening.
Her voice was timid. “I do not blame you, you only had the best interest of your crew in mind. But it helps you consider yourself already forgiven.” There was no way she could fault him for any of this, but the terror started to sneak into her again. A tremble ran through her. The Termani knew whom she was with. It was much more difficult to hide an entire merchant ship and crew than a single person. The Enduring Odyssey would come under fire and it was no longer just her life at stake. Dante no longer had a choice. Delia had set him against the Termani nation. The only way to fix that was to finish it as soon as possible. Seeing as she was too much of a coward to come forward and sacrifice herself in order to save everyone else, she needed to move and get to the bottom of this.
Taking her shaking hand back, Rhea used her arms to turn herself. Her legs dangled over the side of the bed. She then took the liberty of kicking off the boots she hated so much. The cloak went with them. When she stood, she stumbled. The full function of her legs had not completely come back, something she had not taken notice of while bedridden. Using the nightstand to stable herself Dante looked as though he was about to jump out of his seat.
“What do you think you are doing?” His voice was still lower than normal. She had not looked at him in the face to see if his eyes held any of the relief she hoped they would.
The Pyrenian moved from the table to the back of the Tiefling’s chair. Now that she was expecting the numbness it was less challenging. She was confident she would make it to the desk on her own. That was if he didn’t stop her first. With that thought, she felt his hand wrap around her upper arm. Her four red eyes met his at the same level. They demanded an answer from her.
“I am inadequate.” While they got her point across, the words were awkward and didn’t quite portray what she was trying to say. “I mean there isn’t a lot I can do. I don’t have a lot of skills; I can’t even sleep right. To top it all off, I am clumsy and naive.” She was painfully aware of many of her faults. Recently they had come out more than usual. “Right now this,” she motioned to her desk, “is all I can do to help you.” Perhaps this was only an illusion of grandeur; maybe there was absolutely nothing that she could do. But if Rhea didn’t try she would regret it for the rest of her life. And that was something she could not bear however short that time might be.
Speaking out so fervently left her astonished with herself and incredibly embarrassed. It was starting to happen more and more. Something about seeing him so dejected had pulled it out of her this time. How badly she wanted to crawl back into bed and cover her head until he went away.
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