Chapter 38 - Kenos

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Archangel was whole again. At least, the ship was.

Terris set Dawnhammer down in the center of the expansive hangar bay. Though she couldn't see him, Ghost waved at him from her small wheelchair at the other end of the deck. As soon as he engaged the locks on the landing gear, the pink wall of the hydrogen barrier shimmered and dissipated.

The pilot smiled at Ghost who started wheeling her way forward, slapping One's hands away from her in defiance.

"How long until Archangel is jump-ready?" Terris asked the empty space beside him. Golden light flared into focus as Haden materialized.

"I'm not sure it's even possible, Terris. It was a good idea, but it's never been tested." Haden's brow was creased with concern.

"Silas says the theory is sound." The pilot countered. Terris had grilled the pirate extensively over the issue and even Haden seemed mollified by his confidence.

"I'm not suggesting otherwise. I'm simply stating that it's never been done."

"We either try it or we leave her here." Terris already knew Haden wasn't going to abandon Archangel. There was no telling how long it would take the Owl battle group to prepare for another mass interstellar jump, but leaving her wasn't an option.

The AI pursed his lips. "Then, I would say she's ready now."

Terris looked into Haden's concerned eyes. "It'll be alright." He said quietly. "There are a few other matters to settle first. Ezra's team is safe?"

"Yes, the drone departed a few minutes ago, camouflage active. They'll be back with Kodiak shortly." Haden paused. "You're going to set him free?" The AI already knew where Terris was headed. Despite his reservations, Terris was in command. He would deal with the captive as he saw fit.

"I gave my word." He said over his shoulder. "Give me ten minutes and have everyone meet me back here."

He made his way to the cells. Marcus' sheep milled about lazily in their own room, but neither he nor Valeri were in attendance. Terris stopped in front of the alien's cell. The tall being sat cross-legged on the narrow bunk.

"As promised." Terris stated. He waved a hand in front of the holographic control panel beside the door and pushed a finger towards a light. The panel flared green and disappeared. "Haden says the shield will drop as you enter and exit, so the atmospheric integrity will waver momentarily. Remember that this ship has sensors everywhere. You will be tracked constantly while you are outside of this cell."

Terris waited for confirmation. None came.

"I know you understand me. The silent act is finished. Either you walk out of that cell and explore the ship of your enemy, or you stick to the act and stay where you are. One of these options has a tactical and strategic advantage. The other does not."

The alien slowly uncrossed his legs and stood.

"You are a unique race, Terris." It's voice was low and melodious. It's lips moved in an unfamiliar pattern, as if they were translating the words as he spoke them.

Terris suppressed a moment of surprise at the alien using his name, directly. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" The pilot stood to the side and allowed the alien to exit. Long limbs moved slowly, almost fluidly as it strode forward. It held a breathing mask.

"It is an observation." A few days. That's all the alien needed to learn their language. Already, it was displaying a mastery of vocabulary and inflection. "You see what those around you do not. What you know that they do not is an advantage for negotiation." The alien lifted the mask to it's face and secured a strap behind it's head. Terris could still see it's mouth through the clear film.

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