The Gazelle plowed through the clouds like a knife slitting a lying man’s throat. The skies were cloudy and clear from a passing storm. The anchor lurched free of its secured spot as it splashed into the waters to keep the ship from drifting away. Nolan yelled into a metal tube to order Timothy to stop the engines. He dialed down the throttle to his right, thinking, “The new engines work like a charm. I guess all that time down was a good thing.”
He stared from the railing as he contemplated the consequence of what had just transpired in Kuu. It weighed heavy on his conscious: kidnapping, murder, arson, poaching. The list seemed to pile on and on with multiple counts. It usually wouldn't bother him much, violence, torture, and murder like drinking water to him. A shrill shriek echoed through the ship, breaking him from his contemplation. He didn't like feeling regretful for what his actions might cause, but Kuu had turned out to be a second home with real family. He turned as he rushed below deck. He knew she had regained consciousness finally. They had moved her from his bed to one of the spare rooms.
Fear clung to her fragile frame like wet rags from a heavy rainfall. She wedged herself in the corner, fearing the worst after the savage beating and torture they had given her underneath the courthouse. The fresh scars still stung in the open air and some were bandaged, which was odd, she thought, staring at her hands as she wrapped herself in the sparse sheets.
A loud creak came from the door across the room as it opened slightly, a pair of eyes reflecting the light from the porthole. The rest of the figure seemed wrapped in shadows. She pulled the sheets tight across her body.
Nolan approached the cabin, seeing the tiny frame of Rilain being creepy and staring into the room. He slowly walked up behind her, which was a surprise to him with the size of her ears. He smacked the back of her head.
"Quit staring and go get a glass of water for her," he said.
Rilain spun on her heels, giving Nolan a pouty look. "But...but," she murmured.
Alexander let out a sigh and put his hand on the top of her head. "Be nice, she's been through a lot, Rilain."
She quietly gave in to his demand as she sulked away to fetch the water. "She is gonna be mad at you," Franklin squeaked.
"You think so? She'll get over it," he replied to his small octopus companion, pushing the door open and taking the first few steps across the threshold.
Vera's eyes went wide and tears welled up from the corners as they flowed down her face. She tried to stand up but with her first step, her legs buckled, having not been used for a while. She fell forward, but Nolan stepped in, putting his arms out and catching her in mid fall, like a fish in a net. He pulled her up, bringing her back to the bed as she continued to cry into his arms.
"Wow, she can sure cry a lot," Franklin squeaked.
Alexander said with a slight tilt of his head, "You know you're not helping this, Franklin."
Franklin let out a chuckle. "Well, she just got beat up. You survived an airship crash and lost an eye, but you didn’t cry this much."
"You know girls can be fragile sometimes, and I had a concussion, and blood loss, and dehydration," Alexander muttered.
"But what about Ruby? She isn't fragile," Franklin said.
A small sigh escaped Nolan's lips. "Well, she is a special case. She hung around us too long and has seen some shit."
A faint chuckle emanated from Vera as her face was buried in his chest. "Feeling any better, my dear?" he asked.
Her head moved slower than a clock tick before she answered." Yes," she said with a death grip around Alexander waist.
Just then, RIlain stomped into the room with a glass of water and a plate of food. Alexander cocked head and said, "Good girl," gently patting Rilain on the head even though she still had a sour expression plastered across her face.
"Alright, now try to eat something, then I can explain the situation," he told Vera.
"Situation?" she tried to ask, her voice raspy from crying.
Alexander scratched his head as he thought about what to say next. "Well we might have kidnapped you from Kuu and caused some small collateral damage in finding you."
"We killed a bunch of people and set some things on fire," Rilain added.
His shoulders slumped at her brashness. "What she said, and I’m going to assume we're not allowed back in Kuu for the time being. So if you want to go home, we can book you passage when we hit Araz."
Vera took a bite of whatever meat the Nakalo had given her. “Can I stay for a bit?" she asked after a long pause.
"You're more than welcome…but you might not like what you see. This life is a violent and brutal one," Alexander added, but she just nodded.
"Well, get some rest. We're anchored for the night. Rilain, come on. Time to get some training in," he said as he started to leave. A smile crossed RIlain’s face, as she would get to spend some time with Nolan.
Franklin climbed off Nolan’s shoulder. "I’m gonna give her some company," he squeaked.
"Don’t be creepy, Franklin," he replied.