Chasing Stars - Chapter Four
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The Ivory Sentinel shone like a beacon in the expanse of space. Amanda was glad to see it, feeling a sense of relief and home. She didn’t like being away from her crew and her tasks, but bringing Benjamin in was something she knew she had to do herself.
Once their ship docked, she walked down the ramp into the bay, Benjamin trailing behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to see him looking around, his eyes wide.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” Amanda asked.
Benjamin nodded mutely.
“She’s state-of-the-art, with the most advanced medical wing in the galaxy,” a voice suddenly called across the bay.
Amanda smiled as she watched a woman push a man in a wheelchair toward them. They both were smiling. “Glad to see you’re up and about, Master Sergeant,” she said.
“Yeah, I would have spent a few more days in bed, but this one here wouldn’t have it,” he jerked his thumb at the woman behind him, who frowned. He laughed in an infectious way. “She said the hospital food would make me fat.”
“It’s true, Aubrey,” the woman snapped. “All that jello can’t be good for you.”
Aubrey laughed again. “Sir, yes, sir,” he said in an irreverent way. He turned his eyes back to Amanda, noticing Benjamin for the first time. His grin widened. “So this must be him, the famous Benjamin Steele.”
Benjamin stole a glance at Amanda, who simply smiled at him. “Pleasure to meet you, Master Sergeant,” Benjamin said, nodding his head.
Aubrey waved his hand. “It’s just Aubrey,” he said flippantly. “I don’t like those titles and such.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Me and Lizette haven’t been under anyone’s command in a long time.”
Benjamin looked at Lizette, seeing that her blue eyes were focused on him. He felt something strange pass between them as they stared at each other. Her eyes reminded him of his mother’s.
“Ben, this is who I was telling you about,” Amanda said, sensing the tension between them. “Lizette is the one who has agreed to help us.”
Benjamin crossed his arms. “You’re like my mother, aren’t you?” he asked softly.
Aubrey looked up at Lizette, as if worried about her reaction, but she simply nodded. “Come,” Amanda said, motioning for Benjamin to follow her. “I’ll show you to your room. We’ll discuss this later.” She glanced around at the people milling around them, unloading the ship and preparing it for another voyage out. “Somewhere more private.”
**** Benjamin sank onto his bunk, his limbs feeling like lead. He was dog-tired and being in the jumper’s jail cells hadn’t been a vacation. He leaned back on the thin mattress, at least glad that there was something between his back and the hard metal of the bunk. Amanda had told him to get some rest. She’d said that Elda was being screened and fitted with a tracker (and no doubt some kind of disable switch, which he would pry off later), and she would meet them this evening, when they would discuss their plan for the mission.
At the thought, Benjamin’s stomach roiled, and he turned on his side in his bunk. He was both excited and terrified to hear what Lizette and Aubrey knew. There were so many questions he had about his mother, and he knew this was just one step in the right direction to getting the answers. But even that thought was terrifying, in a way.
What if he learned things he didn’t want to know?
He drew a slow breath as he closed his eyes. He tried to picture his mother’s face, but it was a distant memory now. He’d been so young when she died. He had one clear memory, though, of her smiling at him, her dark blue hair waving in the breeze. He could still smell her scent if he concentrated, and he could hear her laughter as she hugged him. It was such a banal memory, but it was the best one he had left.
A stab of sadness made him turn over again, and he sat up. He’d thought he would rest before the meeting, but he couldn’t. Not with the thoughts that were trying to set into his brain and make him sad all over again.
He pulled his boots on and grabbed his jacket, pulling it on as he exited his pod. The door slid shut behind him with a soft hiss. He looked slowly up and down the empty hall, trying to decide where the mess hall might be. He could definitely go for some GLOW-standard slop and a cup of coffee. He turned to his left and started around the bend in the corridor, but he suddenly drew up short and his heart caught in his chest. He thought he might have time to get away before he was seen, but that proved impossible.
“Benny?” a confused voice called.
Benjamin tried not to scowl at the sound of his name on her lips, instead forcing a smile. “Hey, Lydia,” he said slowly. “Long time, no see.”
Lydia, a short brunette with piercing eyes, offered him a sardonic smirk. “If I never saw your face again, it would be too soon.”