Part Two - 16 - Kala

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"Captain Allan Roy's log, entry 332. Today I lost one of my crew members, Victor. He got shot during a bar fight on Zhangdar. He did deserve it. I intended to fire him anyway...or leave the planet while he had his back turned. The bastard wasn't worth all the drama. But now we are down to four crew members. Me, Jessie, and against all odds, the Wayne twins. I need more staff, so I hired the man that shot Victor. He asked for a ride to escape the city law enforcers. His name is Lucas McFry, a veteran from the Expansion Union. Big as a mountain. And a good shot too. He is old enough to be my dad, (laugh) but can break a man in two with his bare hands. I think he might prove really useful. Log entry over."

When Kala opened her eyes, the tent was pitch black. The only light was the soft blue glow of Hopper's scars as he was sleeping at her bedside, head and arms resting on her cot.

For a few seconds, she could only watch him. His chest slowly going up and down with the deep breathing of slumber, his peaceful expression, his eyelashes fluttering slightly. She wondered about his dreams. Her energy was all over him, at the surface of his skin, like a blanket, and he was holding on to it, even in his sleep. But the rest of him, his core, was always a mystery to her. She could not read him like other humans. She could not read the electric signals coursing through his body with each of his emotions. Without those particular tells, she was left with guessing and questioning. Listening to his words, understanding the meanings of his gestures and expressions.

Kala lifted a hand, wanting to caress Hopper's cropped black hair. But at the last moment, she stopped herself. She didn't want to wake him. He needed rest. He had been guarding her sleep and recovery for three days now.

She slowly sat and slid out of her cot, without making a noise. She felt much better now, finally, her body won over the virus, and already she was healing fast. She needed some air; she felt like she spent years in restless sleep.

When Kala walked outside, she found the twins fast asleep and snoring under their blankets, guarding the entrance to her small tent like sphinxes. She smiled and sidestepped them.

She wasn't sure what time it was; the darkness was thick under the trees. But she could see a figure beside the campfire a little farther.

She found Min-Hee making breakfast over the embers of the fire. Dawn isn't far then. When the woman saw her, she smiled and offered a warm hand. Kala took it and came to sit down beside her.

"Are you hungry?" asked Min-Hee.

Kala nodded, and the woman didn't waste a second to start feeding her.

By the time she finished eating, the morning sky was starting to appear over the trees, and she could feel the crew members slowly waking up all over the camp, their familiar energies pulsating on a different level than the forest.

But someone was missing.

"Where's the captain?" she asked.

Min-Hee gave her a meaningful look, and said while pouring a cup of coffee, "The captain has been...restless. He barely spends any time in the camp; he just wanders in the forest all day, alone."

She handed her the hot cup of coffee. Kala didn't drink coffee; she preferred cocoa, and Min-Hee knew it.

Kala took the hint and stood up, "I will find him."

The Ushu woman just smiled knowingly, her orange hair looking like flames under the light of the campfire.

Kala found the captain easily. It hadn't been hard. His human energy acted like a beacon in the middle of the forest. He was sitting on a huge rock near the river, his figure just a shadow over the pink morning sky where the trees were scarce. From the outside, he looked the same, his back straight, shoulders high. His brown curly hair now touching the back of his neck. But when she looked at him with her third eye, it was another story. His heart seemed heavy, and his energy was a chaos of colors.

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