Chapter 24: Safe for Now
They jumped out of hyperspeed just above a brown planet, as it possessed no water on its surface, its sandstorms visible from space; and a golden glow on its horizon as it turned on its tilted axis. It was a desert planet, similar to the one that they had gotten the fake crystal from, but more desolate. Rynah scanned it and pulled up a few charts. No signs of intelligent life. She directed Solaris to a small ravine (which provided shelter from the raging winds that stripped the surface of its top layer of silt) she had spotted from the sky and landed the ship.
“We’re safe, for the moment,” she said to her companions.
“Just wanted to make certain you all were okay. I’ll be landing shortly.”
“Understood.” Rynah shut off the radio.
Once landed, repair work began. The whir! whir! of machines permeated the air, bouncing off the walls of the small canyon they had nestled in as they removed damaged bolts and added new ones. The pirates had managed to strip entire portions of the outer paneling (much to Rynah’s disgust, since she started to view Solaris as more than an artificial intelligence) for resale to space outposts. Solaris was infuriated at having her extremities altered by those vagabonds, though she had far worse adjectives for them. The landing gear needed to be replaced (Tom spent many hours arguing with Solaris—who won, by the way—on how it should be done) after the pirates had ripped out all of its mechanisms.
Everyone chipped in, including Obiah, his knowledge of ships systems proving very useful. Sparks from welding equipment filled the sky (whether daylight hours or nighttime) as they restored the connecting seams and filled in cracks and holes that the pirates had created in their zeal to tear Solaris apart. Brie used her artistic talents to repaint Solaris’ name on the side in bold, gold lettering, to which the ship thanked her. And so the days passed—uneventful, with hard labor.
As the repairs neared completion, Obiah became restless. His jittery antics unnerved Rynah. She knew he did not like it there, nor had he ever stayed in one place for so long.
“What bothers you?” she asked him.
“It’s time for me to leave.”
“But you’ve only just arrived.”
Obiah smiled at Rynah. “I see a lot of Marlow in you. Stubborn and pigheaded to a fault. Though your determination may well save all of you.”
“I hate it when you speak in riddles,” spat Rynah. “Don’t you abandon us like you did my grandfather.”
“I’m not abandoning you,” said Obiah, “but you do not need me to find the crystals.”
“So that’s it then? You’re just going to go back to your home on Ikor.”
“I never said that,” Obiah looked at the dusk sky. For a fleeting moment, he thought he was back on Lynar, but the moment escaped him before he had time to capture it. “Actually, Rynah, I was thinking about after you manage to acquire the crystals.”
“After?” Rynah hadn’t thought about that, her focus being on Klanor.
“Yes, after. Once you have them, what then? Klanor will not let you keep them.”
“I suppose I will destroy them.”
“When a millennia couldn’t?” Obiah chuckled. “You are not the only one versed in the ancient myths. There is a device, hidden as well, for which the crystals were made. It can draw its power from them and be used as a weapon against entire star systems, or it can destroy them. And, besides, you might need some help.”
“But if you leave us, how will you be helping us?” Bitterness filled her voice.
“Leave, no. I’ll return, but my place is not by your side. There are others out there, like you, and I intend to find them.”
Rynah’s brow furrowed as she maintained control over her anger and disappointment. “If that is what you feel you must do.”
“Rynah,” Obiah lifted her chin, forcing her to look at him, “you know it is. Marlow left you Solaris. Probably the greatest gift he could have ever given you. You have little use for me, an old man.”
“But you’re wrong,” she protested.
“You know I’m not.”
“Then leave,” spat Rynah. “It seems to be what you’re good at.” She stormed away, leaving Obiah alone, not wanting to look at him anymore.
Obiah watched her go. He knew she was angry, but it would subside. Besides, Rynah was not the only one whom Marlow had left a parting gift to. “One day, you’ll understand.”
The next morning, Obiah left the group of odd friends. Rynah never even uttered a farewell, such was her resentment.