Everything was off when Vale woke up. It was too dark, the surface beneath her too hard, the world around her too quiet and the place was too hot. Vale blinked several times and found that it was just as dark whether her eyes were open or closed.
After several long moments, her eyes began to adjust. She was in what looked to be a strange storage room for metal scraps. Stacks of boxes sat in one corner filled with gears, springs, wire, metal-plated buttons, and pieces of thin metal of all shapes and sizes.
A dim blue lightbulb sat at the other end of the room, located above a crate with tools sprawled out on top. A box sat next to the crate, acting as a sort of chair. The blue light filled the small space with an eerie glow.
Vale sat up and found herself sitting on a worn-down cot. Springs poked out of the threadbare material, making it nearly as uncomfortable as the metal grated floor itself. As Vale moved, she realized that her arm was gone, spilling the events that took place before she had blacked out, back into her mind at a jarring speed.
How am I not dead? And where is the boy who brought me here? The sudden sound of footsteps sent her heart racing. She scrambled into the far corner of the cot, and held her breath. Someone — something is coming.
She glanced around for a weapon but didn’t have time to scramble to the box of gears before the door opened. A figure moved into the doorway, unrecognizable in the dim lighting. Vale watched, waiting to see what the figure would do.
Walking in, the blue light hit the figure’s face. “You!” Vale gasped, her eyes narrowing in anger as the blond boy moved into view. “What did you do with my arm!” He stopped, seeming surprised by her sudden burst of anger.
He held something in his hands, too difficult to distinguish in the dark. He took several tentative steps forward and bent down to place a tray in front of Vale. She stared down at it, confused. “What is this?”
A pair of blue eyes looked up at her, but no answer came from his mouth. He glanced down at the tray and back up at her. A simple meal of bread and chicken sat in front of her. A cup of water in a copper cup sat next to it.
There were no utensils which wasn’t much of a surprise considering she was a prisoner. “I’m not hungry,” Vale lied. She was famished but didn’t trust whatever trick this ship filled with AI’s was planing. They could have planted something strange in the food to keep her from trying to escape.
They tried to kill my entire crew hours ago. She felt dizzy, her head sore from where she hit it. Was it hours ago? How long have I been here? Why would they try to keep me alive now? The boy with blond hair stared for a long moment waiting. His blue eyes flickered in the low lighting, calm and unreadable as he gazed at her. He searched her face, seeming to try and understand something in her eyes. He leaned forward, trying to see her better, which caused Vale to scramble back and fix him with a glare.
If words were not going to make him understand, perhaps her body language would. She raised her chin and crossed her arms, making it very clear that she had no intention of eating. She refused to look away, her sharp green eyes steady as she stared down the boy with breathtaking blue eyes.
The boy blinked, looked down at her food then back up at her, before turning away and walking over to the chest of tools. Sitting down on the worn box, he shoved his tools off the chest, lifted the lid, and pulled out something that was blocked from Vale’s view.
Placing it down gently on the chest once it was closed again, he picked up a tool and began to work. Vale watched, torn between curiosity and anger. “When can I leave here?” she asked, irritation winning out.
He glanced over his shoulder at her, and looked from her to the food and then turned back, continuing to tinker. Vale glanced towards the door trying to map out an escape plan. The boy is strong. I can’t fight him, especially since he very inconveniently tore my arm off. Plus he’s fast. I’ll have to either try and escape while he’s gone, or knock him out.
A low growl from her stomach stopped her scheming. She couldn’t remember the last time she ate. Keeping her eyes on the boy, she reached down and picked up the cup of water. She smelled it, trying to decide if it had been tampered with. It smelled clean.
She decided to take a sip and wait. The odds of being drugged after she was already captured didn’t seem likely, but she forced herself to wait twenty minutes before she allowed herself to down the cup. Noting had happened. That was encouraging. She did the same with the bread. One small bite. Twenty minutes later, she gave into her hunger and ripped into it, eager to shut the grumbling inside her stomach. Twenty minutes later, she finished the chicken, pretty confident that nothing had been added to the food.
It was easier to think now that her stomach had been satiated. Vale stretched out and stared at her captor, trying to analyze him. He hadn’t said a word to her yet and seemed to want her alive, keeping her in the room. For what reason, she still wasn’t sure. He hadn’t moved for the past hour, pulled into whatever project he currently worked on. Feeling suddenly bold, Vale spoke again. “What are you doing?”
There was a slight pause in the boys work, but continued on a moment later, ignoring her question. She sighed, irked. “Why don’t you answer me?”
He didn’t pause this time, leaving Vale to sit in silence. Running her fingers through her ink black hair, Vale was a moment away from lunging at him, when a strange chirp filled the room. The boy jumped to his feet, touching a small gadget at his hip. He glanced down, reading a small green screen and then left the room without a word.
Vale quickly jumped to her feet, determined to be ready for the boy when he came back again. She ran to the boxes, eager to find a weapon. Scrambling through the boxes, she groaned. Nothing seemed salvageable, at least not to act as a weapon heavy enough to knock him out. She didn’t want to kill him. She just wanted to escape. Killing wasn’t an option. Not yet, a dark part of her whispered. She shivered, ignoring it as she moved to glance around the room.
Vale scanned the space, searching for something, anything that would help. She heard a scrape on the other side of the door, urging her faster. He’s coming back. I need to act now! She continued to look around, when her eyes suddenly landed on the chest.
She ran, gingerly touching the item sitting on the chest, glistening in the dim light. My arm. Her heart raced, baffled by what she was seeing. Her mechanical arm was fixed. Perfect. Even better than before. It wasn’t broken, warped, or sprouting angry sparks as it had been after her fall. It was restored.He fixed it. Why? The door suddenly swung open and Vale grabbed her mechanical arm off the chest and whirled around, ready to use it to knock the boy out and make her escape.