Part Three - 25 - Hopper

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"Log entry 201. I am Kala Acker...It's my name. Only a handful of people know it: my friends, the seven crew members of the Capricieuse. The rest of the world now calls me the Lightning Sprite. This is ridiculous...(laugh) I can picture the twins making fun of my new nickname. And Hopper...Hopper would think it's cool. He always thinks I'm cool, somehow... Through his eyes, I always saw myself as better than I am. I wish I had a way to talk to him. I would tell him that I am sorry for leaving. That I miss him so much it hurts, like an ache deep in my chest. That every day I wonder if I should have asked him to come with me. But I know it would have been selfish because he would have said yes and abandoned his life on the Capricieuse for me. And I wouldn't wish that for him. Wherever he is now, he is surely safer and happier than with me. (silence) Log entry over."

Hopper ran through the ship, faster than ever before. His skin was tingling something fierce. He was the first to arrive in the cargo hold as the huge metallic claw pulled Kala out of the sea. When her small figure appeared, arms outstretched to the sky, he felt like crying. He felt like laughing. He unhooked the claw and grabbed her with his arms, accepting her embrace. They both fell to the floor.

She barely took space in his arms now. Was she ever so small and skinny? Such a tiny woman with such a reputation.

Kala was shaking. Or maybe he was, he didn't know. But now that they were finally reunited, it felt like an earthquake.

"We got you now. You're safe," whispered Hopper. "You're safe."

He heard her small laugh, almost a sob.

When Hopper managed to force himself to let go a little, he realized she was out of it, deep in the slumber of exhaustion.

Kala hadn't grown much in the past two years, and yet she was so different now. Her hair was short and black, the long steel-colored hair was gone. She looked more mature, sharper. Then he noticed the scar going from her eye to her jaw. He ran a thumb along it, gently. It told stories he didn't know, events he didn't share with Kala. Sorrow filled him.

Hopper put his forehead on hers and inhaled, breathing her in.

He heard quick footsteps getting closer, he didn't take his eyes off Kala as the twins came to crouch beside them.

"How is she?" asked Memphis.


A silence followed, broken a few seconds later by Moira, "You are needed in the engine room. Our cover is screwed. Some Ushu ships noticed us and gave the alert."

"We will take care of Kala," continued Memphis. "We will take her to the med bay."

Hopper took a deep breath. Letting her go was one of the hardest things he had ever done. But he had a job to do, he needed to be in the engine room in case any damage was dealt to the Capricieuse while they fled. He let the twins grab her and stood up.

As he was walking out of the cargo hold, he heard Memphis say, "You did it, Hopper. You found her."

Three days ago, they had witnessed the mines cave-in as the Ushus collapsed them over Kala. In the aftermath, no one said a word. They just waited. No crew member said they should go. They all had faith, somehow, that it wasn't over. Kala was resourceful, it couldn't be over just like that, and they had been right.

Quickly, Hopper's skin had started to tingle, like it used to with Kala's energy in his scars. So they set out to find her, guided by his instincts and the itch under his skin. Until it got unbearable, the tingling, and they saw a small shape floating over the surface of the ocean. "Unbelievable," said the captain "This universe will always amaze me."

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