Xyla stared at the screen, watching the unidentified vessels. “Who are they?”
Aavat and Dejar were busy at the comms, talking with whoever they were.
“I wish I knew, but I’m sure that the captain is dealing with it,” I answered.
“You can be sure, but I’m not,” she waved me off. “Where are they going to board?”
Well, if that wasn’t rude, I don’t know the definition of the word.
“Most likely going to be in the primary cargo hold. I’m assuming that their captain will come over and speak with our captain.” Before I could thank her for her help, again, and ask her if there was anything I might be able to help her with, she looked at me with narrowed, appraising eyes.
“I’m gonna go. You coming?”
I reached out for her but stopped short of touching her as she glared at me. “I don’t think that would be the greatest of ideas. This is a meeting between ship leaders.”
Over her shoulder, I could see the ship come up next to us. Within moments, the docking tubes had extended and we were connected to one another.
“I’m not going to interrupt the meeting, I just want to see who we’re dealing with,” she said as she watched our two ships connect. “I’m going.”
“I wouldn’t recommend that,” I tried again.
She stopped, and snapped around, pointing at me. “I’m sick and tired of being held back on this ship,” she snarled. She stomped towards me and stuck that finger into my chest. “I know I can do things to help but I never get the chance.” Her glare seemed to soften from pure anger and hatred to sheer determination. “I’m done being forgotten. I’m done being left behind. I’m doing what I want, and right now, I want to see who the hell just saved us from those Dominion bastards.”
With that, she spun around and stalked away.
I knew my job was to stop her and to take her somewhere safe, just in case, but, if I had to be honest, that fire?
Sexy as all hell.
I shook my head in wonder as I started to follow her. The problem was she wasn’t just filled with passion, she was angry as well.
That kind of anger, if not dealt with, would lead to something not smart, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be around when that ‘not smart’ thing happened.
Then again, I wasn’t sure I that I didn’t want to be around to stop her from doing something stupid.
Maybe the fumes were mildly toxic to Shein as well. Or maybe it was just her presence that scrambled my brain.
When it came down to it, she did have a point.
I was just a little curious myself as to who saved us, so I followed her to the cargo bay.
She was standing in the open, in one of the doorways, watching as our new friends—at least, I hoped they were friends—made their way down the docking tunnel.
I tapped her on the shoulder. “Hi,” I whispered.
She rolled her eyes slightly. “Guess you’re interested too, huh?” she whispered back.
I nodded, not a bit ashamed. “We should probably get out of sight, though,” I said quietly, motioning towards some nearby crates.
She huffed. “Really? Are you going to tell me that I ‘need to be safe,’ too?” It was apparent that she wasn’t happy with my suggestion.
So, I decided to try a different tactic. “No,” I said with a shake of my head. “I’m just being cautious. If this turns into a fight, we’ll already be behind cover. But, if you want to be out in the open where they can see you and shoot you, be my guest.” I turned and took a few steps away. I stopped and looked back. “Then again, what if these guys are looking for you ladies and they do worse to humans than the Dominion does?” I walked behind a stack of crates and leaned myself against them, grateful that they were heavy and didn’t move when I did.
As the door to the cargo bay opened, I could see Xyla struggling with her indecision, then in what I assumed to be angry resignation, she blew out a large breath of air and joined me behind the crates.
Our new friends were something I had never seen before. They were slim, athletic looking people with green-black skin that looked to be absurdly smooth.
They walked with effortless grace, looking as though they simply floated across the floor. I had to look at their legs to make sure they were moving, that’s how smooth they flowed.
Captain Dejar, Aavat, and Kovor were waiting. As our new friends approached, Dejar stepped forward and extended a hand in the universal greeting. The apparent leader, I assumed it was male, stepped forward and returned the greeting, reaching forward and grasping Dejar’s forearm as Dejar grasped his.
“Welcome aboard the Rogue Star,” Dejar said. “I thank you for your assistance against the Dominion. It is highly appreciated.”
“We are happy to have been of assistance, Captain,” the beautiful man answered, his voice almost musical. “My name is Phezn. We,” he started, waiving his arm to include his small entourage, which consisted of two males and two females, both of which were difficult to keep my eyes off of. “We are the Gaed. We are not of the Dominion, nor are we friends of the Dominion.”
“Well, as you could see, neither are we,” Dejar said.
“Yes. However, you must understand, while we are not friends of the Dominion, we are also not enemies. We have a polite agreement to leave one another alone,” Phezn explained.
“I see. Then, if you don’t mind my asking, why did you come to our rescue?”
Phezn tilted his head a bit, as if he was a bit amused by the question. “As I said, we are not friends with the Dominion. You had folded to the edge of our system, then drifted in. They were in our system without permission, so we escorted them away.”
It didn’t make sense to me, though. There had to be more reason behind it. If they weren’t friends, but also weren’t enemies, then wouldn’t the smart thing for the Gaed to do be simply turn us over in order to keep their relationship ambivalent?
“Well, I thank you again,” Dejar said. “Now, you said something about wanting to speak.”
“Okay, what about?”
Phezn looked back at his people, and at their nod, he turned back to Dejar. “We wish to offer you, your crew, and your ship a safe haven in which to stay away from the Dominion.”
I was blown away, and I guessed that Xyla was as well, she had let out a small gasp. One of the Gaed looked in our direction, a small smile on her face, before turning her attention back to Dejar and Phezn.
“Well, I am obviously very grateful for your offer,” Dejar said as he turned to Aavat and Kovor. They looked almost as surprised as I was. “But, and I don’t mean to be rude in any manner, I must ask why you would offer this to us.”
Phezn nodded in understanding. “I understand your hesitation. After your infiltration of the Dominion facility and the subsequent broadcast of their secret actions, our leaders felt that you and your people were worth helping if you ever needed it.”
“Thank you,” Dejar said, flabbergasted. “But, won’t this put you in bad graces in your somewhat neutral relationship?”
“It is possible,” Phezn said flatly. “But it is a decision we agreed was worth the risk. Currently, the Dominion cannot risk attacking us, not with their newfound troubles from all around and within, all thanks to what you and your crew have done.”
Before Dejar could say anything, Aavat stepped forward. “This is a tremendous offer; can we speak about it for just a moment?”
“Why would you hesitate?” Phezn asked, turning his attention away from Dejar.
Aavat shrugged. “Think about it. We thought the Dominion could be trusted and we were betrayed. We thought a few others could be trusted, and they were involved in this, as well. I think we’ve earned the right to hesitate a moment.”
“You make a compelling argument. Very well,” Phezn said with a graceful nod. He then turned around and went back to his group as Dejar, Aavat, and Kovor talked.
It wasn’t that long of a conversation, and I could imagine it consisted mostly of the captains just trying to weigh the risks of staying versus trying to run.
Dejar turned back to Phezn, meeting him once again in the middle of the cargo bay. “We accept your gracious offer,” Dejar said, his hand extended.
Phezn accepted the extended hand with a smile. “It is an honor to begin a friendship with all of you.”
Xyla looked up at me, her eyes wide, but not in wonder.
That was more anger.