Part Three - 26 - Memphis

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"Log entry 131. Kala Acker speaking. I wasn't able to record for a while. During an explosion, I almost lost my jaw. Debris hit me full force. It took me a week to heal. I couldn't talk, I couldn't eat... I thought about finding help. I almost did. But then I knew people would either sell me out, or they would suffer the consequences of helping me. So, I stayed on my ship. The past two weeks have been the loneliest of my entire life. Painkillers do not work on me, so I had to endure it. I could not stop thinking of Moira and Memphis. How they cared for me when I got sick. I could remember their hands on my face and in my hair. They are the siblings I never had. Sometimes I felt like they knew me better than I did. I miss their light and warmth. But I chose this road, and I am going to walk it. The explosion wasn't an entire failure; I managed to destroy a Europan secret military base. They were making and testing bioweapons. I know that what I am doing isn't doing much in the scale of this war, but for me, it is enough. Log entry over."

Memphis looked around their quarters. Moira's bed, on the other side of the room, was empty. She didn't wake him up this morning to go eat breakfast together. It wasn't a surprise, it was his doing after all. He was the one who made the new rules of their relationship. He punched his pillow in frustration and got ready to get out.

The table in the main room was packed with people. All the crew members were present, including, he noticed, the Lightning Sprite herself. Kala was sitting beside Jessie, a mug of cocoa in her hands. Memphis couldn't help but smile at that. He looked at Hopper, who was sitting opposite of them. He winked at him, and the mechanic rubbed the back of his head, suddenly really interested in his over-toasted toast.

The captain was presiding over breakfast, like a king in his castle. Judging by the way he was laughing and giving silly orders, he already had coffee.

Moira was eating cereals, loudly contradicting Allan at every turn.

Beside her was Daddy, who thought it was appropriate to clean his guns between bites of out of his plate filled with scrambled eggs and salad.

Min-Hee was almost force-feeding Kala, pushing all the food in front of the girl.

Jessie was laughing.

How Memphis loved those people. They were the reason why he had opened up. Until a few years ago, Moira had always been the only person in his world. His second half, his reflection. Now he knew better, there was more out there than the two of them. It made him sad somehow, like a dull ache in his chest. Yet he was drunk on the possibilities.

An alarm suddenly echoed in the ship, and everyone stopped talking around the table.

Jessie groaned, "They found us again..." She stood up slowly, in no rush despite the loud alarm.

The Ushus were still after them. Five days now they were fleeing but still didn't seem to be able to shake their pursuers off.

"We are getting closer to the Rim," said Allan as he stood up too. "We will lose them there."

The Rim was the border of the known universe. The limits of the territory the humans occupied on the Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies, which represented only two percent of the supercluster. Of course, the three nations kept creating new gates and expanding, but in the scale of it, it was slow going. It was on the Rim that they found Kala five years ago, on the remote planet R-607.

The real adventure was beyond the Rim, in the Unknown. You could get lost beyond, where there were no more gates, no more communication relays. Some people left for the Unknown sometimes, never to be heard of again. Maybe they found a faraway planet and settled, or maybe they died. There was no way of knowing once they crossed the Rim. Memphis shivered at the thought. They've been to the Unknown themselves, once or twice, but never too far. Without gates, the distances, even at lightspeed, became too great. It could take weeks or months to travel from a system to another.

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