Chapter 24:



    Cold surrounded the crew. Outside of the ship was a hallway of armed soldiers awaiting their departure of the craft. Standing right down the center of all of those guards was a man with strange hair who gave silken smiles towards the catch he just made. It was finally after all of his struggle to try to appeal humility towards his campaign that he had successfully captured his target unharmed and without casualties. This, he was pleased of. It was a new record for his campaign.
   He marched forward towards the craft that rested in his dock. Overhead, high amongst the catwalks Trisha lied low to do her best to conceal herself from the eyes of the sea of guards below. She looked over the marching man, following his projected path towards the craft.
   Trisha knew this craft was important. Not simply for the obvious reason that nearly every armed personnel came to greet the ship, but the fact that she knew only one boy could be aboard. And, wherever that one boy was, something big followed with him. No matter how powerful, the cold metal tool she held did not give her the least bit of comfort as she looked at those armed men that stared down the ship.
   Inside the craft, the starlet fidgeted with strands of hair, mixing and crossing blue strand over the frayed and damaged silver hairs. She fidgeted from the uncomfortability of the tight, choking grip that sealed her airways. The harsh painful, unforgiving grip of bitterness. A cold atmosphere strangled her. The cold felt like it was trying to invade her body. The cold felt like it was trying to unravel the loose and low hanging ribbon in her hair. There was no warmth aboard the craft, and there was even less warmth to be found outside of her craft. To her, the only comfort that remained was the loosely tied ribbon.
   Since fidgeting with her hair was not bringing her any warmth, it was that comfort she found in the ribbon that, though it hung loose, still held tight to her hair. She grabbed at one of the frayed and dirty tails - tails stained with the oil she had been drowned in. She felt the soft material in her hair. She wanted to pull the tail. She wanted to unravel the tail. She wanted that bow to collapse, but it was the only comfort - albeit only a small amount - that stayed with her.
   Upon departure of the craft, a silence overtook the entirety of the dock. The man with the wicked hair narrowed his eyes with a bright smile. Trisha shifted the weight of the metal tool around in her hand before taking aim. Quil stood defensive as he took a stubborn stance against the massive crowd of soldiers before him and Lilli.
   The soft steps echoed in gentle silk ribbons as Rommel stepped forward. His bright smile awkwardly stitched the cold atmosphere into place as he took control of the moment. He gave no verbal instruction to his guards. He only gave a simple wave to initiate the guards to disarm the crew, stripping them of all their weapons. Amongst the rabble of disarmament, Rommel attempted to take Lilli from the crew. He tried tying his hands around her fingers, he attempted to sew his presence into hers, threading her amongst his control. But she fought back. She cut through his stitching to stay with the crew. The shake of her head from her resistance tossed the loose tails of the ribbon about.
   The silk of Rommel's presence remained tight as he looked over Lilli. He stopped his assault, realizing that Lilli was not cooperative with him. He gave a quick and simple shrug before waving towards his guards again.
   Without a single instant of hesitation, one guard slammed the butt of his gun into the side of Quil's head, knocking him to the ground.
   Rommel folded his hands behind his back. "Please know you are my only concern. While I would prefer to keep casualties as low as possible, I will not hesitate to expend the lives of your friends for your cooperation."
   Lilli clutched a clump of her hair, as she stood frozen. The atmosphere of the ship pressed her, more and more. Her breathing stopped. The cold weight pressed too heavily against her.
   She looked across the crew she had traveled with. Every single one had submitted to the threat of the force. Though Quil perhaps wasn't happy with the results, even he stood with his hands raised.
   Lilli released her grip on the clump of hair as she lowered her head. She stepped further into the cold. As she approached closer and closer to the powerful man before her, her hands and legs began to tremble. The cold brought heavy shivers. "I don't want to." She spoke solemnly to herself as she dragged herself through the frigid atmosphere.
   Rommel didn't speak. He took those gentle smooth steps to close the gap between him and her. He sewed his fingers through hers once again so that he could lead her forward.
   They were guided through corridors and halls, always with a precession of guards in a perfectly synced tempo following just behind the group. They held Quil, Silje, and Filth a short distance behind Lilli, allowing Rommel to lead the entirety of the pack with his newly reclaimed prize in hand.
   The guards gave a firm salute to Rommel as he stepped into the coldest part of the entire ship. A grand command room that remained dimly lit. A mixture whipped the atmosphere around in the room. The cold still gripped Lilli tightly in a suffocating grasp, but she felt a humid warmth that emanated from the far edge of the room. There, center stage stood tall a massive pillar that was shrouded by metal clasps that concealed the source of that strange warmth from Lilli.
   Rommel led Lilli up the stairs to the command stage before the crew. Upon reaching the top of the stage, the clasps of the massive pillar released, revealing the drowned and sunken tube. A chilling tube filled with thick oily liquid. In that oil were wires to support the apparatus that choked and locked a woman to the bottom of the tube.
   The woman seemed alien in many respects. She did not have hair that flowed, her skin neared translucency, and across the whole of her skeletal body were dense, thick scars. Only one eye could be seen. It opened slowly through pain and anguish to reveal a grey eye that only showed the mildest hints of blue.
   The other side of her face was sealed tight behind a grotesque, metal mask. Two numbers stood boldly and proudly, graffiti'ed across the mask in blue and white, "01".
   "I don't want any disruptions on our jump to the Lotus," Rommel gave soft command as his eyebrows sank low while he looked across the woman of the pillar. "Zero-One, please restrain the young boy."
   The woman of the pillar's eye was the best response she could give, as it weakly gave a sorrowful blink of affirmation to the command given.
   Lilli looked from her stage, down across the crew below. None of them seemed prepared for what they faced. Amongst them, Quil stood poised against the command. He braced himself with his fist reeled back. He already felt the pressure rise. He felt the heat rise within him. But, before he could even throw his fist and release that energy, snaking tendrils raced from the ceiling. They punctured through Quil's arm, injecting itself through his wound. They separated his lips and his teeth, entering his mouth. The wrapped tight around his neck and his legs and arms, lifting him from the ground.
   Lilli tried to rush towards Quil; however, Rommel gripped her arm tightly, stopping her in her tracks.
   Silje and Filth attempted to rescue Quil from the assault; however, a similar fate arose with their attempt. The tendrils snaked around their arms and legs pulling them away from Quil.
   Rommel pushed Lilli to the ground, forcing her to collapse to her knees in defeat. The stage was lit bright for him, as he stepped towards his audience. "Gone are our days of diplomacy. When reason has failed, action must take place.
   "Tell me this; why has humanity been relegated to the vastness of space with nary a single place to call home besides this drifting flower of apathy? When has our almighty 'savior' of Unity united humanity alongside it's commonwealth of sovereignty?"
   Rommel's eyes narrowed. He took one-step down the stage. "The Federation has left humanity to rot, and the allies applaud their blatant neglect. The time for negotiations is over. With Unit Number Zero-One's awareness of the Everstream and Unit Number Zero-Two's unmatched connection to the Everstream the G.I.E. can arm humanity. Humanity will be able to push back against this oppressor, and finally we can lay claim to our own domain. A domain free of neglectful control that dominates by assuming first-and-foremost for their leading races."
   "No wonder INTAL dropped that contract with you." Filth commented amongst the web of tendrils that held him tight. "You're a bit of a psychopath, aren't you?
   "What good will it do to arm people with this 'Ever'-thing? Humanity will decide for itself what it wishes to do; and there are those - armed - that will push back against the G.I.E."
   Rommel took a few quick steps down to the auditorium floor. "You are certainly right. Humanity will decide for itself. Tell me, through your Terran news outlets, how much have you heard about the destruction of Federation Unity since the event?
   "Press is simply a business in the end, and if the story is not meeting their margins, the story will simply fade. The apathy of humanity was the vote to sever these decrepit tendons and depart from this over-reaching hand.
   "And if every man, woman, and child of Terran blood was gifted the limitlessness of the Everstream, our people will cast their vote with action; with revolt. Just like that fool, Rheiser: immortals we'd all become. But unlike the fool, we could operate with the boundlessness of the Everstream rather than cowering behind shadows and corporate boards." To punctuate the reverberation of Rommel's cry, a black cloud of smoke rolled down from atop the stairs of the stage. From there the menace made his presence known as he peered silent across the crowd below his smoky entry.
   Rommel held out a hand of introduction towards the shadowy menace that rose above the steps. He gave a grand smile. "This is the true power of the Everstream. An immortal fused with a fragment of a Hallowed Daughter's presence. Roule has been my guiding hand through the Galactic Imperial Empire's campaign."
   Rommel took precise steps to close the space between him and his captured audience. "It's with his centuries of clairvoyance that he will aid in seeing that the dream of my empire and the domain of the Terrans achieves true independence. It is the dream of this empire, the strength of the Hallowed Daughters, and our ever-flowing, ever-expanding plane of creation that shall bring forth our true renaissance of freedo-" Blood splashed across Filth's face as the tail of the harrowing blast rung into a deafening silence of confusion. The grand forte of Rommel was swiftly ended by that of an even more impressive forte.
   Rommel's body collapsed at the audience's bound feet. The blood drained across the floor, rolling gently away from the stage.
   Both Filth and Silje's eyes rose from the body to a sinister man who stood, well dressed, atop the stairs. A man who leaned his tired weight onto his cane. "Drivel. All of it." The rasp of a burdened voice echoed to the audience below the stage.

   The blackness of nothing was ripped away from Quil's eyes as he collapsed, writhing in pain. He gripped his arm in hopes of ending the burning. The dancing prismatic spray that swirled across the vast plane of bright whites and glowing golds flowed ever onward over Quil's disparate face.
   Ever-echoing footsteps approached Quil. A woman with black hair that stretched for eternity behind her kneeled next to Quil. Her hand moved with a gentle grace as it swept across Quil's damaged arm. With each passing centimeter as she swept across his arm, a cooling sensation chilled the ever-burning pain of his arm. As his arm cooled, it slowly began to fade into a translucent state. His arm was only outlined by the glowing of the solid, crystalline structure within the veins of his very arm. Beyond that structure, the floor could be seen straight through his arm.
   Quil loosened his grip on his damaged arm. He took a few moments to catch his breath before looking at the woman before him.
   Only a single eye looked back at Quil. The large, beautiful eye reflected Quil's desperation and confusion in its innocent blue lens. The other eye was hidden by the thick, black hair, much like half of the woman's face.
   Forlorn breaths: breaths of pain and sorrow escaped her parted lips. Her skin was the pale ghost of this strange golden realm.
   She gently rose, lifting herself away from Quil. Her rising presence drew Quil in, drawing him to his feet so that he could look upon the half-faced woman.
   She drew her hand flat, sweeping across the space around her: lifting away a curtain of the golden view for a window of galaxies and planets. A view of colliding stars and jets of expelled particles of the vastly dense holes of space. Her single longing eye looked through the window she had drawn with her hand. She looked at green and blue planets and rocky moons. She looked at culture filled colonies and homes.
   She trotted through the heavy weight of her regret before that single blue eye met Quil's eyes. "Everyone's purpose is defined by their dreams." horse and hollow her voice choked Quil. "Dreams may change, but purpose does not." Her hand swept through the air again, creating a small, elegant looking telescope. She unfolded the scope, bringing it to her single eye. She peered through, looking through the window she had drawn in the golden field. "What of a dream that can no longer be achieved?"
   Quil's cowlicks lowered as he took a soft step towards the woman. "Who are you?"
   She folded the telescope as she turned to face Quil. "In a prior life I long to forget, I was known as Kanna. Now, my identity has been relegated to the designation of Unit Number Zero-One. I have utilized your limited connection to the Everstream in your arm to speak with you."
   Her ever-flowing hair draped black shadows across her. With a star-struck somberness, she turned away from Quil. "How I envy my sister-in-creation. She has no memories prior to awakening. I will always remember the pain of each passing day of experimentation. The dreams I once held as a little girl will forever remain as dreams. Those dreams of visiting distances great and small. Now I've been imprisoned by this apparatus." Her eye drifted through the space before taking in the vastness that could be seen through the opened window she had created. "How delicate one's perception of existence can be. There is but a single thread that stitches our perception together. For most, once that thread breaks, so do they; purposeless and lost, their ever-bright colours will dim and fade as they wilt without a path to sew. And as those who wilt around us, we remain blind to their fading existence."
   Her head sank low. A wave of sorrow rippled through her, as the current turned her away from Quil. "Selfishness. I've seen the desires of some push others to their knees. And even as these people did their best to fight for their purpose even as the ground smothered their existence, eventually they were taken by the pain of defeat. That thread of perception had been severed and so had their will. Then those above speak of weakness. The selfish claim those who had lost their will were the selfish ones. Had we not stayed blind to their sorrow, perhaps they would never have felt alone. Perhaps we could have helped them hold onto their perception so that they could keep fighting ever-more for their dreams."

   Trisha peered through the door. She kept a firm hand wrapped tight around the cold handle of her tool. She looked across the room: from the subdued audience to the sinister man who stood atop the stage looking down on the crowd of three. There in the middle lied a limp body as a red glint spread slowly across the floor.
   "Why?" Through her tears of confusion, Lilli stood up to attack the sinister man. "Why would you -" She choked, unable to speak the words. "Why," a weak pause, "to one of your own people?"
   The sinister man holstered his weapon before wrapping that rugged and withered hand around the jaw of Lilli, "That's enough out of you." He punctuated his sentence as he shoved her to the ground. "Rommel was nothing but a short-sighted fool.
   "He preaches this misguided drivel about utilizing the Everstream to arm humanity. What a farce of his blind ambition and broken perception."
   Silje shifted uncomfortably in the snake-like arms that bound her. Her eyes glistened with fear on the encroaching pool of blood below her feet.
   "The Everstream is not a tool to arm people. It's a curse.
   "To tie one's self to a Hallowed Daughter is to reap endless sorrow and pain. Regret from a century and a century more and ever-more. A regret that will last and never end. To entwine oneself with a Hallowed Daughter is the beginning of this sorrow. There is not a single brother-in-eternity that wished for this -" a solemn moment hung around the sinister man as he watched ripples of dense black smoke fall from the tips of his fingers. "This is not power. This is the persistent reminder of unobtainable dreams. It's nothing but a bitter scowl from a former reflection of those unachievable ambitions."
   Lilli clutched her stomach tightly; shielding herself from him as her eyebrows sank, looking across the sinister man who towered above her.
   "Ambition. Ideals. Dreams." The sinister man scoffed. "Immortality is where these petty philosophies wither. Immortality is a curse. I was there when crusades of righteous disillusioned lead by ideals of faith fell to the empires of ambitious conquest. I was there when the filth of the streets tasted the bitter resin of polished shoes from those entrepreneurs above that lowly garbage of wasteful dreams. I was there when the bright-eyed innocence that looked towards space stepped from their home and took up suit and briefcase, their ambitions and ideals left behind with each melted candlestick. I was there when the dreamers sought dreams and found pain. I was there when the idealists preached upon deaf ears. I was there when the ambitious machines burned under their very own unoiled heat. I was there for each death and departure, each and every broken thread and purposeless man. Immortality. An existence that I asked 'when will it end' and it answers with 'Ever until a universal silence'."
   The sinister man's eyes looked down upon the defeated innocent girl on the stage. "Life is not about dreams. Dreams are a means to an end. Dreams are what guide the disillusioned and the unachieved. Your life is the existence you have been given. Life is your designation."
   Trisha silently took her aim across the stadium towards the stage. Her eyes trained first from the sinister preacher to the strange and silent subject locked inside the massive apparatus.

   The one-eyed woman kept her single eye trained on Quil as the hair trailed and snaked behind her. She paced circles around Quil, her hair tangling him. Amidst the warmth of the golden realm they stood in, her presence was cold. An echo of her forlorn nature. Her breaths were heavy sighs, like the weep of a sullen widow.
   After completing a lap around Quil, she turned her head to look out the window she had opened. She swept her hand across that window, changing the view from the dark reaches of celestial bodies to a grassy plane. A grassy plane that overlooked a restricted area. There amongst the restricted area rose a colossal white and orange tower. A tower supported by a crane. A tower with wide, vast cones just below the base of it. A massive craft prepared for voyage.
   She turned away from the view of the craft and faced Quil yet again. "Save those who need help."
   She reached towards Quil, taking a small cold hand to grab his hand. There she placed a small toy rabbit inside his palm. "Everyone meets an end. Save those who need help."
   Quil looked at the small brown rabbit. It was made of a soft rubber, perhaps an appropriate toy to float in a soothing bath. His eyes danced across the details (or lack thereof) on the toy. Before long, he closed tight his palm, pushing out the air inside the rubber rabbit.
   The woman gave a disparate smile as she stepped away from Quil. His eyes focused on her, letting the warmth of the golden realm fill the space between them.
   She closed her eye. There was a moment, as if all of the golden swirling hushed just as the audience before the play. The one eyed woman stood center stage as a pain swelled inside her. She gagged as blood spilled from her mouth. She recoiled as a dense hole appeared on her shoulder. As the red liquid drained from that hole, she recoiled again as another hole appeared in her stomach. Her hair draped across her bloodied body. The two holes drained the red fluid faster and faster. As she attempted to stand up, she recoiled yet again; a third hole, and a fourth hole. Moments before she finally collapsed, a single, final, powerful recoil struck her head, sending her falling backwards towards the ever-glowing, golden plane below her.
   A black bed of hair drew a space around her collapsed body in that sea of gold. Even with her collapse upon her stage, the golden realm still swirled. It swirled ever-on.
   The golden realm began to drain away from Quil. Disappearing into the black void of the bed of hair. As the blackness swelled from the draining gold, a voice, faint at first, began to penetrate the emptiness that took the place of the swirls. The voice called out to Quil.
   Reality snapped back around Quil as he collapsed from the wires that had immobilized him inside the G.I.E. ship.
   Across the room, thick oily liquid had been draining slowly from the massive pillar atop the stage. The oil drained from the newly formed bullet holes. As the pressure of the leaving fluid grew, the container finally gave way, sending broken glass and raging rapids of oil cascading down the steps of the stage and across the floor. Caught amongst the current, the woman inside was ripped from the cables and ties that supported her. She collapsed at the foot of the stage as the fresh bullet wounds drained a thick red to mix with the oil.
   "Quil!" Trisha holstered the gun into her belt as she ran up to him. She collapsed next to him, grabbing his shoulders. Her eyebrows narrowed with an anger. She forced a hand across her dry eyes. "Quil." She spoke behind her hands. As she continued to sweep clean her eyes, she reeled an arm back. She gave one solid swipe, pushing her fist right across his face, knocking him back to the floor. "Dickhead." She hid her eyes from Quil.
   (After recovering from her punch) Quil looked at his right arm. Numb. Yet, he still could feel that connection he had with the woman inside the golden realm. He moved his eyes to Trisha's. "Thank you." He spoke soft.
   A heavy hand gave a pat on Trisha's shoulders. Filth looked down on her.
   Quil stood up to stare down the sinister man atop the stairs.
   Roule smiled. His eyes were lit with excitement. He found delight in the view atop the stage at the fallen body of Unit Number Zero-One. The body that continued to ooze swirling wisps of red into the lake of clear, thick oil around it.
   Lilli stood, her eyes fixated tightly on the downed body of her sister.
   "Lilli," Quil called from the foot of the stage. He began rushing towards the stage with his right arm prepared. He let the power surge within him as he dashed at full force towards the sinister man.
   The man smiled. Within only moments, the man disappeared in a dense black cloud atop the stage and reappeared just before Quil with his cane outstretched. The cane jabbed right into Quil's stomach, causing him to double over. In his recoil, the sinister man lifted the cane, smashing it into the bottom of Quil's jaw, sending him recoiling backwards only to be caught again by the cane, tripping him to the ground. It was there Roule gave one final kick into Quil's side.
   "Foolish boy," the sinister man spoke as he kneeled down next to Quil. He pulled out a knife, twirling it between his fingers before ramming the knife right into his own heart. "Were it that simple. My thread of perception severed long ago. All that is left is this cursed thread that ties me to the Everstream."
   Lilli's eyes widened as she jumped to her feet. She rushed to care for her rabbit; however, she was swiftly cut off.
   The vicious man appeared before her, cloaked in his dense black cloud. He swung his cane low. The moments between Lilli standing and lying on the floor disappeared in the wash of pain that swept through her from the collision of the cane direct into her knees.
   She wept as the immobilization of her legs bound her to the floor. No matter her struggle, she couldn't move.
   "And where do you plan on flying away to, my little songbird?" Roule rested against his cane next to the body of Lilli and the shoreline of red-cast oil.
   Roule leaned down, smearing a hand through the oil, collecting both the thick clear liquid and the swirling mixture of red into his hand. As he stood back up to look at the liquid in his hand, he watched it drizzle in one long string to the floor.
   He flicked his fingers towards Lilli's collapsed body, splashing speckles of red across her face.
   "It's time for you to wake up, Zero-Two." The excitement lit his tired eyes. He could feel the heat around Lilli begin to rise. Her single blue eye lit brightly just as the wires extended from her back. Those wires snaked around her legs, aiding her against the pain and damage so that she could stand on her own feet once more.
   "Your sister calls to you." Roule whispered. He turned to look towards Filth and Silje; both stood poised for the vicious man's next action.
   "Rheiser is nothing but a fool. A man ignorant of the Everstream's true capabilities." He motioned towards Lilli's slow moving body. "There is no Daughter who has even been able to contain Lilli's initial six-percent. Yet, here she stands, merged with several fragments and even partially amplified by Lotus-o'-One. At an unimaginable eight-percent and still stable, a merging of Unit Zero-One's four-percent and the amplification from Lotus-o'-Two is more than enough to merge these two planes of existence. The sorrow and suffering of broken dreams and life's prescribed purpose will be gone. Every dream of every man, woman, and beast will be our reality. And finally my thread can be severed from the Everstream."
   Two of the wires from Lilli's back snaked into the bullet holes on Unit Number Zero-One's body. As those wires rummaged deeper and deeper into the veins of the collapsed body, the heat began to rise higher. Lilli's hair began to glow bright with warping waves of the exhausting heat.
   Filth armed himself, pulling his gun out and taking aim direct at Lilli. He had a clear shot. His finger was tight around the trigger. But, there lied Quil. Quil watched on desperately at Lilli. He watched her other half take control of her.
   Filth shook his head, shifting his aim to the wires that were attached to the corpse of Lilli's sister. He squeezed the trigger tight, pulling it down to let the hammer descend on the casing, only moments before the disruptive, powerful waves of heat began to sweep across the room.
   The waves from Lilli rippled across the entire room, knocking Filth's aim out of the way. And with each pass, the proceeding wave's amplitude exceeded the last.
   The waves pushed Filth and Silje backwards. Even Roule himself held an arm in front of himself to guard from the expelled heat and the debris those waves picked up.
   Lilli's eyes and hair only grew brighter as the heat increased. Within moments, she had already reached the point of her hair dripping, sending sizzling drops to the floor around her. The waves of energy knocked Quil across the floor. Even more powerful waves pushed Silje to the floor. And, as that heat grew hotter and more intense, it finally knocked Filth down.
   At the epicenter of all this heat, not even the cascade of oil could stand. Leaving behind dried stains of evaporated liquid.
   The waves came quicker, faster, and more powerful than ever. The waves rattled the entire capitol ship. Wave after wave came until a silence swept over everyone inside the auditorium.
   Through the pain, Quil looked from the floor to where Lilli stood. Though her hair still glowed bright with ripples of heat, her eyes were dim.
   Roule stepped towards the soft and quiet star and without hesitation; he lifted her over his shoulder. He gave a swift turn, looking towards Quil. With confident strides, he moved towards Quil. There the he looked upon the pitiful struggle of the collapsed boy.
   A tired yet sinister smile crossed Roule. He took one more step forward, stamping his heel into the reaching hand of Quil. Those tired sinister eyes met Quil's defeated gaze as Roule kneeled down. "I'll see you on the Lotus." He smiled as he stood back up. He gave two taps of his cane on the floor, allowing the dense black cloud to consume him along with his newly obtained prize.
   The cloud disappeared leaving just the silence of the scarred room; scarred with blackened marks of soot, broken glass, and the remains of two silent bodies.
   "Quil!" Trisha rushed over to Quil's side helping him to his feet. "Why do you have to be so stupid sometimes?" She spoke in soft weeps.
   Quil's cowlicks lowered as he looked over Trisha. "I'm sor-"
   Trisha shook her head, barking back at him to cut him off. "Shut up."
   Filth stepped forward. "It appears a combat frame has been released with a flight destination of the Zeta port on the Nymphae petal of the Lotus."
   "Does this ship even have a heading anymore?" Silje looked towards Filth.
   Filth shook his head. "It seems Rommel gave command to Unit Number Zero-One. Without them, and this Roule guy's big escape, the Zveihand is without direction at the moment."
   Quil stepped away from Trisha. "I have to save Lilli. I need her."
   Filth shook his head. "I know I can't stop you. I don't think any of us can."
   "Quil," Trisha stopped him before he ran off. "You can't leave again. I mean," she pawed at her own arm as she looked away from Quil. "I can't program our rockets without you. So, you know, make sure you make it back in one-piece."
   Quil nodded before bolting out of the room, ignoring any pain that pushed back against him.
   Filth looked at Trisha with a cocked eyebrow. "You know he's going to do something stupid, right? I haven't even known him that long and I know that's just what he's going to do."
   Trisha stared at the door Quil had left through. "I know."
   Filth smiled with a shrug. "You're too good of a friend."
   Trisha gave a slow nod. "I know."
   Filth stared at the speck of dust just to his right. "Think you can take command of the ship?"
   Silje raised an eyebrow as she checked around Filth for who or what he was talking to.
   He gave an affirming nod. "Then I'll leave it up to you to save the kid's universe." He smiled through gritted teeth as he plucked his eye from it's socket.