Lightning Seeker

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Useless Manual

Darkness took Vale’s mind to the secret parts of her heart she had been avoiding, to thoughts of her scars, her grief, her pain. How is it that in the darkness our true selves come to light? She took in an unsteady breath as tears filled her eyes. “I didn’t know.” She swallowed past the lump in her throat, her lips trembling. A mirror of the unstable state of her sanity. “I didn’t know my father was dead.”

Her vision blurred as her heart began to drown, falling deep into the chasm of despair that was too dark, too deep to pull back from. A man she never knew was permanently in the “unknown” category. She had never known him and now, she never would.

Sky turned her body so they faced each other. He gently reached out and cupped her face, wiping her tears away with his thumbs. The gesture shattered her resolve and she broke, her strength gone as Sky offered her his own. Sobbing, she cried over the loss of her crew, over the father she never knew, over her arm, over the lives lost since she left home. Maybe if I had seen this ship on the horizon sooner Mortem would still be-. She killed the thought, ignoring the whispers of the dark.

Instead, she looked up into Sky’s eyes, two pools of power, the color of a storm, on the verge of erupting. Words flashed through his eyes. Emotions, on the verge of escape. His eyes were ablaze. A cry so loud that it spoke directly to Vale’s heart. His voice may have been silent, but his words were far from it.

His breath tickled her cheeks, his hands still holding her face, caging her in his warmth. He tilted her chin up and searched her eyes, his own holding unashamed, raw care. His pain and the raw understanding in his storm-filled eyes made it difficult to breathe, to think, to be anything else other than a bystander, watching the most beautiful set of twin heavens she had ever seen.

Vale closed her eyes, grasping at her sanity and focus, collecting her thoughts until they were clearer, coherent, and able to be spoken into words.

“You were right Sky. We need to get out of here,” Vale whispered. She granted her heart’s request and opened her eyelids, stumbling into his eyes again. “We need to warn the people on the list... The ones left alive.” Sky nodded, his eyes hard, determined. “Who are they? Do you know where they are?” Sky shook his head. She could tell by the frustrated furrow of his brows that there was far more to it than that, but she wouldn’t be able to understand. He had given a simple answer to a complicated question.

“We’ll figure it out when we get off the ship,” Vale offered. Sky’s face filled with a strange panic. He shook his head, leaving Vale confused. He dropped his hands from her face and motioned to himself, shaking his head again, then he motioned to Vale and nodded. Vale moved away from him, shocked. “You aren’t coming?”

Sky clenched his jaw and shook his head again. “You can’t stay here. Not after what’s happened.” She looked up at the bridge through the grate. It was half destroyed. He would be blamed, hurt if they found him. Buzzing came from somewhere in the bridge, a warning that it wasn’t quite safe to leave yet. Sky made no move to clarify, to respond. He just stared at her, a vulnerability entering his expression that made Vale’s words die on her lips.

“I’m sorry. I just assumed... I thought that...” She sighed, running her fingers through her hair, working through a wild tangle with irked determination, ignoring the sudden feeling of loss that hit her. She couldn’t remember the last time she had brushed her hair and took a moment to tame it, pushing past the strange feeling of sadness at the thought of being without Sky. “I wish you would come,” she finally admitted.

Sky leaned his head back against the wall, looking at Vale. He seemed to be wrestling with something, a war of constantly changing minute and minuscule facial expressions. Then he offered her a sad smile, shaking his head in defeat.

Vale tilted her head and appraised him. He’s not coming. “Okay, but before I leave you on this crazy ship, which I still think is a terrible idea by the way, can you at least explain what you did to my arm and if there is anything else about it I should know?”

Sky’s lips quirked up into a smile, amused. He shoved his hands into his pockets, cutting off all communication, making it clear that he wasn’t going to answer her question. “So... I’m just supposed to walk around with a weapon for an arm with no idea how to use it? That doesn’t seem fair, especially with the manual sitting right in front of me.”

He gave a silent laugh, his eyes sparkling in the dark. Vale let out a huff of frustration and laid down on the ground, turning away from him. “Well useless manual,” she said, oozing irritation. “I’m going to try and get some shut-eye until we can get out of here. Hopefully, the lightning will lighten up long enough for us to get out before more AI’s find us. You can continue being difficult when I wake up.”

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