3-2: Blind Guides

Laurie groaned, and even though the painkillers had her firmly in their grasp, she was certainly aware of the need for more medical attention. That attention would be for little good if the Venturess was drifting listlessly in space.

“I need to know what shape she’s in first,” she said with a grimace.

“Captains are supposed to go down with their ship, not ships with their captain,” he replied.

“Neither of us is going down.” I hope, she added to herself. “We’ve both been through worse.” I think.

She climbed up to the mid-deck, pain noticeably lessening as the drugs did their work. She felt downright chipper by the time she reached the cockpit.

“Talk to me,” she said, half to herself, half to the ship. The main display responded with a garble of green and blue static. “That won’t do,” she said, pulling the cover off the console. She swore at the results, gazing down into a jumble of wires, many of which had been severed, apparently at random.

“What else do you suppose they did?”

“Probably a safe bet the engines are tampered with,” The Bartender replied. She wondered if Fuesellians had rhetorical questions.

“Who the blazes did this to us? And why?” She hoped he had an answer to that, at least, but the reptilian Fuesillian remained silent. She pondered why he remained unwounded. Had he hid? He was a revolutionary- hardly a coward. Was he the inside man for whoever boarded them? They had no cargo of value.

Except…

“Is Miiram’s package still on board?” She looked intently at him.

“I thought you had it.” The scales under his eyes remained steady. With his face, scales and hair, it was hard to tell if he was being truthful.

“I did. At one point. Who did this?” she asked again futilely. “Where is his damn package?” And why would they want it? “Let’s check the engines. Maybe we can get underway.” She didn’t feel particularly optimistic, in her gut, but the painkillers made her feel good enough to try.

“Do you remember anything of us being boarded?” she asked on their way to the engine room.

“Not a thing. Last I remember was breaking orbit around Maciia.”

“Me too.” They came to the engine room, and she walked to the console in the center of it. The screen was smashed. “Of course it is.” She sighed and slumped into the lone chair in the room. “There’s no way we can make a jump in this condition.”

He examined the console. “Don’t give up just yet,” he said. “It may not be as bad as it appears.” He picked up the small screen, bringing with it a tangle of cut wires as it snapped in half in his hand. “I suppose it is, then.”

“Worse. They cut the coolant lines.” Laurie nodded down the small walkway beside the large powerplant. “Even if we could make a jump, the engine would tear itself apart.” She wiped sweat from her brow with the back of her wrist.

“Captian, you’ve been sweating worse and worse since you woke up. Something must be done.”

“Yes, we can rig up something to send a signal.”

“How bad is your fever? You took medicine that should reduce your fever, and I can see you burning up.”

“No!” she shouted, slamming her fist down on the arm of the chair. “No, we have to find a way out.”

“Captain, there is just you and I. It is essential that you survive. Then we can send a signal.”

“You’re no doctor.”

“But I have seen more than my share of battle wounds. Yours can be treated- if we treat it now.”

“But we have to send a signal. And find Scorch. And recover Miiram’s package.”

“We will do all that, I promise you.”

Something nagged at her in the back of her mind. A small voice, telling her she had missed something very obvious. It was probably nothing- it had to be nothing- but the voice remained.

She set her jaw and gazed determinedly into the cold, black eyes of the Fuesillian.

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