Chapter Four: Evie

The last few hours had given me whiplash. Sakev going from rude patient to attempted charmer was hard enough to wrap my head around.

“Who knew humans were so good at pulling things out of arms?” Sakev marveled at his new line of stitches.

He was clearly still under the influence of the painkillers. I almost regretted giving him so much.

Almost, but not quite.

“Your general did.” I picked up a water pouch and brought it to him. “Drink this.”

“Is it poison?” he asked, wide-eyed.

“Nope.” I shook my head with a chuckle. “Just water.”

“A lot of people would like to poison me. I can never be too careful.” Sakev looked suspiciously around the empty room.

“I’m not one of them,” I assured him.

He looked at me, eyes narrowed.

“That’s what they all say. I’ll drink your water. But if you poisoned it, I’m going to know. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

He took a slow drink.

“Really?” I asked. “You’ve been poisoned before?”

“Three times,” he said with pride. “Though one of them was from a bad slab of roasted meat, but I’m counting it.”

“Who would want to poison you?”

“Who wouldn’t want to poison me? Even you poisoned me.”

“I gave you painkillers! There’s a big difference!” I exclaimed.

“If you really gave me painkillers, why does my body feel like a tree fell on me?”

He polished off the water.

“Because painkillers don’t last forever. You’re going to be sore.”

“Couldn’t the pretty doctor lady give me more painkillers?” Sakev asked, and I chuckled.

“Flattery will get you far with me, but not with expensive and potentially addictive medications,” I said with a mocking pout.

“Worth a shot.” He shrugged, and then immediately winced.

“Try not to rip your stitches open. I worked so hard to make them pretty for you,” I warned. “Plus, if you do, you’re going to be in a lot more pain.”
“Does this stuff wear off gradually?”

“I’m not sure. In humans, we metabolize medicines gradually. But with Skotans, I don’t know.”

“Oh,” he said through a wince. “Well, I think I just metabolized it. Skrell, that hurts.”

He did seem more lucid now. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. It was sort of fun sitting with a doped-up alien.

“I think full amputation would have been less cruel.”

“Don’t be a baby,” I tutted. “You’d hate me if I took your arm. You’d hate General Rouhr, too.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Though I hate you both a little bit right now, anyway.”

“I’m not the one who told you to charge solo into a pack of hybrids.”

“Ah, you heard all of that?” Sakev asked. To his credit, he looked a little embarrassed.

“It was hard not to. Why did you charge in like that? You had to have known something like this could happen.”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” Sakev said defensively.

“Why do I get the feeling you say that a lot?”

I perched on the stool beside his bed and glanced at the empty med bay. Sakev was the only one who’d been ordered to stay overnight. Only the fluorescent light above his bed was still turned on.

“What are you?” Sakev narrowed his eyes. “A psychic as well as a doctor?”

“All human doctors have psychic abilities,” I said smoothly.

Sakev gave me a long stare that was a mix of awe and worry.

“I’m just screwing with you.” I laughed.

“You had me again. I’m impressed.”

“You still have to answer the question, though.” I knew he was trying to dodge the subject.

“Fine,” he surrendered. “Tu’ver, the one with the busted arm, spotted four hybrids. The team couldn’t decide what to do about it. They were taking too long to talk it out. People were in danger. I decided I would handle it right then and there. Four hybrids weren’t a big deal. But I was ambushed. I walked right into the trap they set. The whole team paid the price.”

“We know so little about the hybrids,” I said. “I doubt anyone could have predicted they’re sophisticated enough to plan an ambush.”

“Vrehx could’ve. If I’d given him enough time to work it out.” Sakev lowered his head. He looked defeated.

Just by looking at him, I could tell he hated being confined to the med bay. He was the sort who needed to be constantly moving. That was something we had in common.

“How’s your pain?” I asked.

“My pain is a pain.” A small smile appeared on his lips. “Think I could flatter you into giving me some more painkillers?”

“Not a chance,” I smirked. “But I have an idea. Sit tight.”

Before Sakev could ask me anything, I strode out of the med bay. As soon as I passed through the doors, my confidence faltered. I had no idea where I was.

I hadn’t thought to pay attention to where I was going when I was escorted out of the refugee bay. I was in shock that had General Rouhr asked for me.

Now he was in for a surprise of his own. If I ever found his office, that is.

After several failed attempts at retracing my steps, I ended up in some sort of lounge for off-duty crew members. At least two dozen K’ver, Valorni, and Skotans stopped what they were doing to stare at me when I wandered into the room.

“This seemed like a good idea at the time,” I muttered to no one in particular.

“What?” A nearby Valorni asked.

“I’m looking for General Rouhr,” I spoke clearly. The crew exchanged looks as if I’d just told a joke.

“Koso. You’re not going to find him in here,” A Skotan snorted. A handful of others laughed before resuming their activities.

“I could use some directions.” I forced a smile onto my face.

“His office is two decks up, near the bridge,” a K’ver answered.

“Thanks.” My smile was genuine this time.

I hurried out of the lounge to the nearest elevator. There was a map of the Vengeance etched into the metal, but General Rouhr’s office wasn’t marked. As the lift rose, I did my best to memorize as much of the ship’s layout as possible.

I gasped when I stepped onto the correct deck. The bridge of the Vengeance looked nothing like I expected it would. Everything was sleek, streamlined, and beautiful.

The center platform’s standing console projected a huge, though incomplete, map of the planet, marked with cities, known Xathi locations, and refugee camps. Data was pouring in from the ship’s external scanners.

A third of the screen was dedicated to measuring and calculating something unfamiliar to me. I could only assume the Vengeance was closely monitoring the rift above us.

With everything going on with the Xathi and the refugees, it was easy to forget that the rift was still open. Anything could come through.

Another, different ship had already fallen through the rift after the Xathi ship and the Vengeance fell through.

I didn’t know much about it. Vidia told me the ship was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. Even stranger was that it was totally abandoned.

I forced myself to focus. As much as I loved a good mystery, I’d come up here for a reason.

Now that I was on the proper deck, General Rouhr’s office was easy to locate. I expected a stately room decorated with plaques and medals. While I was right about the medals and plaques, it was a cupboard of a room with just enough space for a desk and chair.

A holographic false window took up the entirety of the far wall, projecting a landscape I didn’t recognize. The Skotan home world if I had to guess, but I wasn’t going to ask.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you, sir,” I said quietly.

General Rouhr looked up from a datapad. His brows shot up in surprised.

“Disturbed? No. But this is rather unexpected. What brings you to my office, Dr. Parr?”

He set the datapad on the desk. He seemed grateful to put it down. I doubted it contained any good news.

“I wanted to talk to you about Sakev.” I was surely overstepping my bounds.

“And the surprises continue. His condition hasn’t worsened, has it?”

“No.” I shook my head. “In fact, he’s bouncing back quicker than I anticipated. He’ll be fit for duty soon.”

“Shame he’s on probation.” General Rouhr clicked his tongue.

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” I said quickly, before I lost my nerve. “He told me what happened. You must see that his intentions were nothing but selfless. I think his punishment might be too severe.”

“I ask you for assistance once and you’re already telling me how to run things on my ship?” General Rouhr’s glare was withering.

“I mean no disrespect,” I added hastily. “But a patient’s mental state has an effect on their recovery. Keeping him off duty might have adverse effects in the future.”

“On any other day I would have you escorted from my office immediately,” General Rouhr warned. “But it just so happens that I have a favor I’d like to ask you. If you accept, I can make an exception for Sakev.”

“A favor?” I couldn’t believe it.

“I’ve been receiving reports from the town of Einhiv about increased hybrid activity. Paired with the reports from today’s incident, it paints a concerning picture. I want you to travel to Einhiv and investigate the physical aspects of hybrids and also the potential for curing the condition. If you agree, Sakev may be your guardian.”

“I accept!” If I could find a way to reverse the hybridism, it could save so many people. Even if I couldn’t, I’d be out, working in my profession with people who needed me.

“You’ll leave at dawn tomorrow,” General Rouhr said by way of dismissal.

I practically ran back to the med bay.

Sakev sat up a little straighter when I entered.

“Go to sleep,” I said excitedly. “We’re going on an adventure tomorrow!”



Sakev is a work in progress. I’d love to know what you think! (and… Sakev is available for pre-order now!)


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