Part Two - 13 - Hopper

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"Captain Allan Roy's log, entry 249. Why is it so damn hard to find a decent crew? I've been looking for months. But all the people I recruited are either stupid enough to try to stab me in the back or stupid enough to die before their trial week is even over. Jobs are hard on my own. I can't fly, fight, and scavenge all by myself. I know I need a crew. I need people who I can count on. Efficient, intelligent, skilled... And, if they could worship and admire me, that would be a nice touch too. I need people around to call me Captain. Log entry over."

"Captain, we have 32 minutes left of oxygen," said Jessie.

Allan nodded, dead serious for once, "Let's hurry then."

Hopper helped Kala place herself in the center of the dead flux generator. He had taken away all the parts they wouldn't need. It was a weird sight, the small figure of the girl standing in the heart of the ship. She was still so tiny for an 18-year-old woman. The opposite of him, who had always been too big and strong for his age. It felt wrong at that moment, that she would be the one inside, risking her life to save them, while he was just useless on the other side.

The other members of the crew were all standing behind him, waiting to help.

Kala spoke, "You guys have to leave the engine room now. I will release all my energy at once, and I'm not sure I will be able to contain it. You will be safer outside."

Jessie was already back in the cockpit, ready to pilot the ship back to the gate.

"Are you sure?" asked the captain.

"Yes. I will have one less thing to focus on if I know you are protected behind walls, away from me," she said.

"Okay then. Everyone out now," Allan ordered.

They all obeyed without saying a word. It was rule number seven on the Capricieuse: No goodbyes. Goodbyes are bad luck.

But Hopper didn't follow the others, he didn't move. Kala was opening her mouth, surely to tell him to go too, but he cut her off, "I'm staying with you. And there is nothing you can do about it. This is my territory, my engine room. And I am staying right here. Also, don't worry about me. We both know my body can take it. Your powers do not hurt me."

It was true. During those last three years, they had come to realize that his body was able to resist her electricity and energy, where other humans would combust from the inside. For the first time in his life, and surely not the last, he was happy for his mutation, as twisted as it was.

"Hopper..." she said.

"Seriously, I'm staying with you. You might need a hand to get out of there once it's done."

Because it was going to work. It had to work.

"Okay," she seemed worried and relieved all at once. "But take a step back please."

He obeyed.

Kala closed her eyes. She didn't move, but Hopper knew something was happening. The air was starting to shimmer all over the room. A normal person would have felt the electricity rising in the air. But he was not normal, so he felt nothing. But he knew.

The girl's hands were tightly clamped on the edges of the flux generator, knuckles white. A deep scream started to build in her throat. It didn't sound like her, and when she opened her eyes, they were not their usual icy blue, but two pools of light, brighter than stars.

Then she let go of all her energy, and Hopper was hit by the force of it. He was projected backward and hit the bulkhead. Suddenly, pain invaded his entire body. His skin was burning, his organs were burning. Apparently, he had overestimated his body's capacity to resist Kala's power. He wanted to scream but his jaw was closed shut, all his muscles tensed to the point of tearing.

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