A comforting beep filled up the white room where Sky was kept. Each beep a reminder that he was alive. Vale sat in the chair next to his bed, getting ready to say goodbye. Her arm had been reattached but Sky had still not woken up. They had taken away the medication that had kept him asleep, but when it wore off, Sky remained unconscious.
“I was hoping you would wake up today,” Vale said shuffling her feet against the ground. “They said it’s probably for the best that you remain asleep. All the chaos isn’t good for your heart. Dash says they can always make adjustments to make your heart stronger. So whenever you are ready, he can help you with that.”
She reached out and took his hand. “I just wanted to say, thank you. Thank you for coming with me to the AI ship. For protecting me when I first got there.” She squeezed, weaving her fingers with his. “For being patient with me while I learned how to sign.” She laughed. “I will keep practicing. But I won’t ever look as graceful as you do when you sign. You make it look like an art form. Which would be annoying if it wasn’t so beautiful to watch.”
Her cheeks turned red. “I wanted to talk about what happened in the training room, but I guess I’ll have to wait until I get back. Until you wake up. And if you wake up while I’m gone, try not to kill Dash.” She sighed. “I don’t know what happened to you two, but you need to fix it. You’re family and with how easily someone can get taken from you, you should treasure that.”
Vale stood up. “I’ll be back.” Leaning down, she kissed Sky’s forehead. “Try to be awake when I do,” she murmured against his ear, taking in the smell of eucalyptus and copper, a familiar sense of home. Standing straight, she walked out of the room to find Dash leaning against the wall.
Vale nodded. “As ready as I’ll ever be. Who am I going with on this trip?”
Dash grinned. “You’ll see.” He began to hover above the ground. “Want a ride?”
Vale shook her head. “As much as bolting down the halls at lightning speed is a thrilling thing, I prefer moving around on my own two feet thanks.”
Dash shrugged and dropped to his feet walking in pace with Vale. “Suit yourself. Sounds boring but whatever. How’s your leg feeling?”
“Always the doctor,” Vale smiled at him. “Pretty good.” He had put her in a more sturdy cast, adding several braces to help her movement and to take the pressure off of her bones which were slowly healing. “This is much better than the last casing you had me in.”
Dash chuckled. “Well I know better this time. You need extra layers of protection since you REFUSE to listen to me and take it easy.”
Vale rolled her eyes, “And you don’t seem to realize that I have to runaround SAVING everyone and can’t AFFORD to just take it easy.” They arrived on deck to find someone shouting orders.
“Ye better get ’em tied down unless ye want to get thrown overboard!” a booming voice barked.
“Mortem!” Vale shouted in surprise. He stood at one end of the deck barking orders at Geo and Ace as they bolted around attempting to appease him, adjusting items on a skymaran. She laughed when they both turned and waved Vale over wildly.
“Thought you’d like to go into the unknown with someone as crazy as you.”
Vale snorted. “No one will ever dethrone him,” she turned and smiled at Dash. “But I appreciate the compliment.”
He burst out laughing. “That was meant to be an insult but good to know the theory is true.”
Vale shoved her hands into her pockets, feeling suddenly shy. “Hey, try not to get into too much trouble while I’m gone.”
He shot her a smirk. “Pretty sure I’ll be putting in way fewer hours without you here. You leaving is going to put me out of a job.”
Vale wasn’t sure how to have a conversation with Dash without falling into insults. “Well... I’ll come back soon so you can have something to do.”
He took her hand in his giving it a single squeeze. “I sure hope so.”
“If it isn’t Sharp Eye’d Vale!” Mortem said, suddenly next to them, making them jump apart.
Vale turned and beamed up at Mortem. “It’s good to see you too Captain.”
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and ran his knuckles into her scalp. She tried to pry herself free but he held her tight. “I heard ye took down the ship that took my beloved Libertatem. A job well done.” He let her go and she stumbled back laughing.
“So I take it I won’t be thrown overboard?”
He barked a large belly laugh. “Not me ship. Wait until we are on me ship and ask me again.” He gave her a shove towards the skymaran. “Now let’s see how long you’ll live on this next adventure.”
Vale laughed. “Let’s go.” Offering an amused looking Dash a wave, she took off towards the skymaran. An uncomfortable Geo and a reluctant Ace climbed in with them. “What are you two doing?”
“We’ve been forced-.” Geo smacked Ace on the back of the head and he corrected himself. “- been asked to come along.”
Geo gave a large nod as Mortem turned on the skymaran. “You two get injured ALOT.”
Mortem and Vale shot each other a look and they both started laughing. “The girls got a point,” Mortem shrugged as the skymaran shot into the air. Geo and Ace reached out and clung to the railing, screaming at the sudden shift away from the ground. Vale leaned over the side and waved down at Dash. “Try not to kill Sky while I’m gone!”
He shot up into the air next to the skymaran, his face suddenly inches from hers, surprising her by his sudden closeness. “You aren’t any fun,” he said, his eyes dark.
“Get back on the ground boy! I didn’t make those blasted things for you to show off to a pretty girl!”
Dash turned beat red and moved to hover next to Mortem. “Can you blame me?” Mortem swatted at him angrily and Dash flew away, landing back on the deck gracefully.
“Stupid doctor boy,” Mortem muttered as Ace and Geo both chuckled.
Vale cleared her throat, still surprised by the blush she saw on Dash’s cheeks, surprised by the darkness of his eyes. “So where exactly are we going?”
Mortem scoffed. “It is bound to be dangerous. Full of potential AI’s. Guaranteed battles. Perhaps we shall see a kraken, mermaids, the phoenix army of the sky.”
“I’m sorry but what now?” Ace balked in protest, his short curly brown hair a wild mop. “He’s joking right?” Ace wore a pair of thick-rimmed green glasses, looking at Vale and Geo with panic. “Please tell me he’s joking!”
Vale offered him a smirk and a half-hearted shrug. “You never know with him.
“Yeah, I changed my mind, I want off,” Ace shouted over the side.
“Too late!” Mortem barked and thrust his sword into the air. He placed his worn captain’s hat on his head and gave Ace a terrifying smile. “An adventure will do ye some good. Put some hair on that chest of yers.”
“I can just wait for it to show up naturally!” Ace shouted in protest.
Geo started laughing. “Oh, this is going to be fun.”
“That it is!” Mortem offered her an approving smile. “But first, we need to retrieve a ship. This tiny thing isn’t set up for an adventure. Once we retrieve her from the depths of the sea, we can begin!”
“Awesome!” Geo shouted, clearly beginning to enjoy herself.
Mortem turned to look at Vale. “You ready Lightning Bringer?”
Vale’s face split into a grin. The way he said her new code name felt right. It felt true. The first story in her adventure. The thing that began it all. She leaned her hip against the side of the skymaran and tilted her head, pretending to wear a hat. “Alright, let’s go, Captain.”
TO BE CONTINUED...
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