Chapter Nine - Echoes of Silence

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Stillness held the air in quiet hands. Everyone participates in small talk at the beginning of their departure, but as the hours go by the less any of them spoke to one another. She's laid out on one of the ships side beds that connects to a wall. It is uncomfortable but it did it's job. She's  almost in perfect view of everyone.

Theo is sitting in the navigation controls area, where he has been sitting for hours, communicating with the Strife.

They still haven't been given clearance to land, especially now that she is injured and infected. Even with all the liquids she's been given, nothing helps her pain. She barely made it to the ship, Xavier had to nearly carry her once they were on board.

Xavier is worrying, as is she. Something from the planet has infected her, seeping into her cut, now running in her bloodstream. She could feel the virus, her pain increasing by the hour. The liquids Xavier gave her wouldn't hold for long, each hour that passes the healing liquid wears thinner and thinner.

She sees why the Strife wouldn't want them coming now. Foreign humans landing on their base, the first group to successfully escape the Revive, and now one of them is infected. If their commands were okay with this, the people of the Strife would not.

Now it is much more complicated. Kohmad her daughters are dead. The son of Kohmad, Galeo, no longer wants to help them. She learned his name hours before when he and Theo were speaking. The conversation ended with shouting, and Theo damaged one of the touch screens with his fist. After Galeo learned his family was dead he cut all communications with them. She doesn't blame him for that.

If anything the Strife should let her friends enter the base. She is the one they don't want. She caused the death of Galeo's family, and now she is a burden, an infected, injured human wanting to use their aid.

Theo luckily got ahold of Bryant Freewond. Out of everyone he is their best chance, not to mention he is the first in command.

She could see the tire in Theo's eyes, he's been working without a stop. He couldn't stop, not until we were cleared. It could be many more hours of talking, persuading, and negotiating until we can be cleared.

Theo has kept his distance from her. It started to unsettle her. She hasn't spoken to him directly since they departed from Kohmad's home.

He glanced her way a few times, this she knew, means he's worrying also. She wonders if she's reminding him of his mother. With her now carrying some type of infection this all must remind everyone of the disease on Earth, of their time during those weeks.

Of course it reminds everyone of that, how could it not? They all were silent, keeping busy in their own ways trying to distract their minds.

Most of all she is worrying about her friends. They didn't know if this disease is spreadable. Some diseases take up to a week to show symptoms. She didn't have to ask for anyone to stay distant, they did that on their own. They knew if they came she would only send them away. She cannot risk another getting affected. Xavier is the only one who came, and she is glad for it.

No words could have kept him away. She knew this, but still tried sending him away.

She could take care of her own but Xavier wouldn't allow her. For hours she refused his aid, retrieving the medicine herself. By the time three hours rolled around she had become exhausted from getting up and down. This sent her fever up three degrees. She didn't like feeling this weak, even in front of her friends. Xavier wouldn't allow her to do it on her own anymore at that point. He enjoyed helping. She thought by helping her, it distracted him. If he helped her, maybe he thinks she would get better.

She didn't.

She sets up, her posture hunched a little, her hands clenching the side of the bed. If Xavier saw her he would tell her to lie right back down. She couldn't anymore. She knew resting would help tremendously but she needs to speak to Theo. She couldn't keep staring at him, watching as he struggles.

Sliding off the bed post, grunting from her stiffness, she forces herself to her feet. "Any new news?" she asks approaching him, already knowing the answer. If he had succeeded they would already be on their way. She wants to spring up conversation, and for the first time in a while she didn't know what to say. His muscles tense up, but relax hastily. He didn't speak right away, gathering his words.

"It seems our luck has been getting worse."

"What has Bryant said?"

"Bryant hasn't said much," his voice echoes coldly.

"There has to be some way they can let us in. Even if it's everyone but me—"

"Galeo thinks we did it."


"He thinks we killed his family," he responds angrily. She can tell her presence has done the least to relax him. He has his thumb resting hard on his pointer finger, his lips hovering close to his forming fist.

She knew that gesture well. On long nights, studying for test cases in their secondary academy classes he would do that exact gesture whenever he was in deep thought, confused on a topic, or simply irritated with his assigned case. On the Acquiescence he would make the gesture in the eating corders. He did this in private, under the table when someone was abruptly snatched from their meal, and forced into an immediate trail run. They were expected to always be prepared of these types of evaluations. At random they would be chosen, and if not well prepared, they would be punished for their "lack" of preparation. This angered Theo, as it did her and the others. He received his first violation from grabbing an officer, thrusting him away from a girl aged around eleven when she was chosen for a trial run. She was so young, one of the youngest, and he couldn't stand to see the trail runs chosen anymore for these young children. She felt the same way, as did the others. Theo reacted through violence, not quite thinking before doing.

"In a way we did, we weren't there to protect them," Theo said.

"We couldn't have predicted the Revive would come, that a hidden base could be there," she said, fixating on his hands. He knew she is right about that.

"We should have. I should have been more careful, I shouldn't have let you leave."

"What I did, is on me. I did what I thought was right. I thought by leaving the planet right away  would help save them all."

"And look where your decision has gotten us!" Theo hisses. Now he is standing, his eyes revealing something new. She looks up to him, rolling her shoulders back, heedfully staring into his eyes.

Heat flashes through her veins, flaring intensely. Scowling him, nothing but pure fury desires to leave her lips. She hasn't felt this for Theo in a long time, so long she barely remembers the last time he had caused a heat like this to rise in her.

His voice is shockingly unforgiving, as real as a punch to the face. For once she didn't focus on his emotions, on anyone's emotions but hers. She let the heat mount, burning through her blood, engulfing every inch of her.

"Then set our course for the nearest planet," her eyes don't shift from him as she spoke. "I will go on my own, allowing you and everyone else to join the Strife without me. I am the problem, the core reason we cannot enter, so let me off on the nearest planet."

"What's happening here?" Nyles voices behind her.

Theo chooses his next words carefully, now seeing the damage he's done. He knows she feels most responsible of all, and she is.

"Nothing," Theo darts his eyes to Nyles, responding. She doesn't hear the steps of Nyles boots leaving. He stays right where he is. "I said nothing," Theo takes a step forward, stepping halfway past her.

"It didn't sound like nothing," responds Nyles.

"No, Theo is right. It is nothing," her voice full of mockery turns to leave.

She focuses on her bed. As she takes steps towards it, her footsteps become heavy, her body becoming abruptly weak. Her vision is now in swirls. Her name is called behind her but she cannot respond for she is already on the floor, blackness clouding her view.

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