Lightning Seeker

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A Luxury

Vale stared at Dash, panic rising in the pit of her stomach. “Please tell me you’re joking. Please tell me this is a stupid, terrible joke and you are just trying to mess with me.”

Dash crossed his arms, taking her in, his face serious. “Although I love a good joke set up, a joke in this situation would be in poor taste.”

Vale stared down at her hands, rolling them into fists to stop them from shaking. “Shit.”

Dash’s face softened. “You don’t have to go that route. It really depends on how long you can wait for it to heal.” He put down the scanner. “You give off a... I won’t be around long, vibe.”

“I’m dying!?“She stared at him wide-eyed.

Dash held up his hands, flustered. “Woah! That came out wrong. No. I mean, you have this ‘im going to sprint off at any moment’ type quality.”

“Oh,” Vale said, letting out a sigh.

Dash pulled up a chair and sat down across from her. “But if you can stick around for... four to six months, then I’d recommend the heal naturally route.”

Spots filled Vale’s vision, and she found it hard to breathe. Dash was suddenly on his feet and placed his hand on her back, pushing her head down between her knees. “Take slow deep breaths. Passing out won’t make any of this go away. It’ll just add bruises to your list of problems.”

She slowed her breathing, trying to keep her panic away. Either trapped on another strange ship for six months or lose another piece of myself. She sat back up, forcing herself to continue to breathe slowly. “How long will it take for my friend to heal?”

Dash crossed his arms. “I have to run a few tests, but Sky should be good in a month or so,” Dash said dropping back down in his chair. Vale ran her hand down her face, her mind spinning. One ship to another.

“Is there a possibility that my leg could be better faster than four to six months from now without going the... metal route?”

Dash leaned back in his chair. “I won’t know until after surgery. Whether we go metal or natural route, I’ll have to open you up and take a look inside. It’s pretty bad.”

Vale bit her lip. It will take me a long time to recover and one of us has to be a lookout. She thought of Sky’s words. You are the muscle. We are on their list now. There’s no coming back from that. They will hunt us down.

The entire situation was a gamble. Trust that Dash’s crew wasn’t going to discover who they were, and slowly heal, hoping they weren’t found, or remove her leg and get out as fast as she could.

She looked up at Dash, realization hitting her. “You think I should go the natural route.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, his eyes guarded. “Yes. Not everyone gets that luxury.” He glanced at her arm. “And something tells me you didn’t get a say in it the first time.”

His words shook Vale to her core. He was right, she didn’t have a choice before. The fact that he was giving her that option now was a good sign, isn’t it? She found herself nodding. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

Dash set up the room for surgery, sanitizing the operating table. He scrubbed down, changed into another pair of operating clothes, and put on a mask and gloves.

Dash scanned the room, his eyes in constant motion, a calculating look on his face. He scanned the walls, searching for something. Vale waited, watching him stare at the space like the doctor that he was, searching for the tools to heal, working to be creative with everything he had to work with. A sense of deja vu washed over her as she watched him. Something familiar about his movements. The way his fingers hovered over tools as he appraised them.

He plucked up several tools and placed them on a small table nearby. Once he was ready, he helped Vale lay back and placed a gas mask over her face. As she took in a deep breath, a chill went down her spine. A warning screaming in the back of her mind.

By the time she understood the source of the panic that began to consume her, she felt her body relax, her mind fogging over. And as she fell into unconsciousness, one thought screamed at her, begging her to fight to stay awake. I never told him Sky’s name. How does Dash know Sky’s name?

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