“CAPTAIN BARNET,” A DISTANT VOICE ASKED, “ARE YOU AWAKE?”
Tru opened his eyes, seeing Q’al moving away. His head felt heavy, but his body felt like it was floating. He tried to speak and found his mouth was dry. He licked his lips and tried again.
“Doc,” Tru whispered.
Q’al came back and smiled. He moved close to the bed.
“You know I don’t like being called Doc, Captain.”
Q’al patted his arm. “All in good humor.”
Tru slowly glued fractured memories back together in his mind.
“The alien that bit me… She didn’t mean it. She thought I killed her father.”
Q’al was surprised, but only briefly. He smiled. “A premonition I take it.”
Tru barely nodded. “Her name is Navta, isn’t it? I heard it in the premonition, I think.”
“It is. Her father’s name is Zintar. Amanda has arranged quarters for them and offered Zintar work as a cargo grunt. I’ll get you something for the pain.”
Tru barely nod. With a soft sigh, he slipped back into a dreamless sleep.
Amanda watched Tru sleep, feeling Q’al’s eyes on her. She looked up.
“What?” Amanda asked.
“I’ve never seen you so concerned about someone.”
“This ship and crew needs their captain. How long before he’s out of here and back on duty?”
Amanda gaped and cried, “Two weeks! I can’t command a ship for two weeks. I—”
Q’al slid his arm around her shoulders and guided her out of the intensive care room, and into Sickbay.
“You will be fine, Amanda.”
She pulled back, looking at Tru. He was deathly pale and it struck her that over the last five months she’d envisioned him as an immortal, but he wasn’t. He was as frail as she was. Amanda looked back at Q’al when he gave her arms a gentle squeeze.
“Q’al, what if I do something stupid? With the attacks behind us, the crew could start—”
“Didn’t Captain Barnet tell you to do something when you started stressing?”
Amanda looked down.
“Tell me again. What was it he told you?”
Amanda reached in her hip pocket and pulled out the stone. She pressed her finger into the groove.
“To hold this rock and recite a phrase until things got better.”
“Then do it and stop worrying.”
A faint smile came to her lips. Q’al walked her to the Sickbay doors.
“Our captain is the first good friend you’ve had in a while,” Q’al said.
Amanda laid her head on his shoulder. “Beside you, yes.”
“Besides me? I get the pleasure of being called your friend?”
“Yes,” Amanda laughed.
“Then, as your appointed friend, I suggest we go order ourselves some hot tea and you can vent about what Jackie did earlier that had you riled up.”
Amanda laughed, nodding. “I’ll have lots of Jackie complaints when he comes to, you know?”
“I’m sure, but be sure to tell him first how his First Executive Officer stood up to a horrid captain and saved his ship from the Terallians. And how she convinced his crew to save their lives and when we pulled into spaceport, even managed to get the cargo grunts to work with little argument. I’m sure he’d like to hear about it from the horse’s mouth, as you humans put it.”