Chapter 27 - The Box

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Ghost rolled her slim wheelchair into the corridor. Valeri turned to the young woman and unseen communication passed between them. It wasn't her intent to intrude. She produced the silver flask that had taken out the pirates, Silas and John, brandished it in the corridor light, then set it silently on the deck before maneuvering back to medical.

Marcus was still asleep on the floor beside the exam table. The gift of the chair from Silas had been unexpected and deeply moving. The young pirate was unusual in the extreme. His gaze did not take her in like most people's did. He didn't look at her youthful beauty and compare it to her crippled legs. There was no recognition of the tragic contrast that made most people react in sympathy.

No, Silas recognized a need and filled it. The man was kind and humorous, and based on the swift and efficient construction of the wheelchair, both capable and intelligent, as well. The pirate cannibalized the remnants of Defiance to piece together the mobility platform while drunk. Her special beverage was both expensive and potent, but given the circumstances of the last few days, she shared it freely, despite the pain in her back and legs. The effect on John was much greater than on Silas, which was odd considering the giant was easily twice Silas' mass.

She thought of Valeri and Dawn in the corridor and wished she could have stayed. Ghost didn't know what she could have contributed to the moment, but knew that whatever was happening had great import to the smooth function of the ship and would have liked to have been a part of it.

"You're awake." Marcus' honey-colored eyes shone from the floor. His smile was lazy and tired, causing her to grin.

A few hours prior, the pain in her legs had reached an extreme and her muscles were sore from both the attack of the silver-bladed fighter and the impact of Dawnhamer's rather abrupt rescue. Marcus recognized her difficulty in falling asleep and asked if she had ever "counted sheep" to induce to sleep. He left the room and came back with a small white ball of fluff that he identified as Mittens, got down on his knees at the end of the table so as to be out of sight and lifted the sheep into the air above him. He then crawled across the floor, making it seem as if the sheep were gently gliding by the exam table of it's own volition.

"One." His disembodied voice stated. The sheep disappeared behind the foot of the table and reappeared in it's original position before floating back across and dropping out of sight again. "Two."

The young woman knew on a visceral level that memory would be one to cherish for a lifetime.

Laughing and giggling, she forgot about the pain and let Marcus count as high as fifteen. He poked his head up to see if she were sleeping. She stopped him and asked him to just talk. As if he were passing over a toy, he handed her the little sheep and slid down the wall beside her.

It didn't take long for her to realize that his mind frequently missed logical connections to reality. He knew it, too, but didn't let that stop him from communicating with her. He was genuinely interested in what she had to say and, despite going off on wild tangents in the conversation, she enjoyed the deep, smooth rumble of his voice.

-

The AI nodded absently. If the ship had a heart, it would have been full. Silas and One dragged John's unconscious form into a lower sleep pod. Silas took the one above him and both were showing signs indicative of deep sleep.

One was building a blueprint of the weapon from Ghost's ship.

Ghost, Marcus, Dawn and Captain Valeri had each found a friend.

The AI watched Terris, his focus absolute as they bisected the field. The young man was alone, as well. He was going to need a friend and confidant. Haden couldn't allow it. Terris' feelings for Dawn were both understandable and expected, given what the AI knew about the boy, but they couldn't be allowed to interfere in his decision making ability. If the time came to make hard choices, there could be no hesitation.

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