[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 80
Vic woke screaming and sweating and sat bolt upright. The waves of pain sent his body crashing back down. The doctor had given him a heavy sedative, but his dreams forced his mind to waken. In his mind he had to watch as Argmon was ripped from the Acid Rat and into the vacuum of space and Mike tore June and Joey to shreds just as he’d done to Joop-Nop. Then, over and over, Mike pounded his fangs into his shoulders, reopening the barely-healing wounds.
Vic grabbed his nightshirt as if pulling it off would help him catch his breath. He took a gulp of water from the glass on the night stand and spilt some on himself. He even poured a small amount into his hand and washed his face with it.
“Why? Why am I having these dreams?” He looked over at Argmon sleeping on the bed on the opposite side of the dim room. The Shathar hadn’t moved all night as best as Vic could tell. He envied his friend.
Vic caught his breath and got out of bed. He didn’t need any more sleep. He relieved himself and strode out onto the balcony. Fresh air. That’s what he need. A good lungful of fresh air.
The balcony overlooked the heart of Contaminar. Though the air still had the sting of pollution in it, Vic still wanted to be in the open air; something he had never needed before. Strange that he needed it now. Not just strange, but highly out of character.
He liked the cramped confines of the Acid Rat. He’d spent more time on that ship than anywhere else in his life. Why should he suddenly long for the open spaces? Could it be guilt? The guilt of losing crew members and systems weighed on him, but not to the point he’d want to give up his life of roaming the galaxy.
Could it have been the guilt of putting the sole survivors of Earth into jeopardy? He’d put himself at risk when he was alone and it never bothered him before. So why should it bother him now?
No, it wasn’t that. Something else clung to the back of his mind. Something he’d forgotten about. Something he needed to take care of. He’d taken care of securing the remains of Joop-Nop and Tootsie (Tootsie hadn’t survived the crash and couldn’t be fixed). He’d eluded the over-zealous sheriff. He’d made his delivery for Almo. He gave an initial statement to the authorities about Mike.
Mike! Damn! The boss. That’s what he had forgotten about. He turned and went back inside, closing the balcony door behind him. He’d gotten everything off the ship. Everything that is save the box Mike used to talk with ‘the boss’. He must’ve hidden it, but where? They’d taken everything off the ship except the Iron Butterfly.
That had to be it. Mike had stowed away on the Iron Butterfly. He must’ve hidden it there. Could he have been in contact with ‘the boss’ just before he attacked June and Joey? It had to be there.
“Argmon. Argmon! Wake up.” Vic tossed his bedclothes on the bed and dressed in the new clothes Chancellor Verbiddi made available. “Argmon!”
Argmon growled and rolled over to face Vic.
“We need to get to the ship. We need to check out the Iron Butterfly.”
The growl from Argmon said “Do it tomorrow.”And Vic new better than to argue.
“Fine, you stay there and sleep. We need to check out the Iron Butterfly. Mike had something on that little cruiser that he communicated with the person who hired him. It’s still got to be there. We need to get it and put this whole thing to rest.”
Argmon needed no further prompting. He sprang to life. A quick shake of his head and fur and he looked ready to go. Vic finished dressing and headed for the door. He reached for the knob and stopped. Something pulled him back into the room. He cocked his head and tried to listen. He couldn’t hear anything, but he felt something. Something that wasn’t right. It felt different than the nagging sensation he’d forgotten something, almost like someone inside his head…
Vic rushed to the door between his room and June’s. Locked! He hit the door with his shoulder then wished he hadn’t.
Argmon pulled him out of the way and bashed the door down with a solid hit. The darkness of the other room felt heavy, almost panic filled. Argmon started to go in first, but Vic pulled him back and listened into the room. There should have been some reaction from June and Joey. They couldn’t be sleeping that heavily. Not to sleep through the breaking down of a door.
Not only wasn’t there any noise of them getting up, but he couldn’t hear any noise of them breathing in their sleep. The room felt wrong. It felt evil. Just as he had been drawn to the room, he now wanted to rush out of the room, to get away from it.
“Come and join us,” an aged voice said softly.
A tingle of recognition ran down Vic’s spine. He knew that voice, but from where? Why should a voice he knows be hidden inside this room?
“What have you done with June and Joey?”
“Don’t worry. They’re safe, for the time being. Take a seat.”
A chair slide across the floor and stopped just in front of him. Argmon growled a deep growl. Vic put his hand up. “Let’s see what he has to say first.”
Vic sat the chair aside and didn’t sit down.
“Suit yourself. Either way, you’ll be dead soon.”
The flatness, the almost businesslike way the man said this froze Vic’s blood. It hadn’t been said maliciously, or evilly. Just factually. Vic looked at the chair, but remained standing.
“Where are June and Joey?”
“They are still here and they are with me. I assure you that they will not be harmed until I have dealt with you.”
“Who are you?” The familiarity of the aged voice begged to be identified. Vic knew this person. He had to. There couldn’t be any other explanation to how he could hear the voice and feel comfortable and nervous at the same time.
The lights came on. June and Joey sat in chairs facing Vic. They’d been tied up and gagged. Vic felt June’s thoughts and fear immediately, her eyes wide with fear. Joey looked as if he wanted to struggle, but a hand on his shoulder caused the kid to wince in pain with pressure applied.
The hand, that of an old man, was attached to someone Vic knew well. Very, very well. A man that shouldn’t be here. A man that Vic had seen die. A man that he knew to be dead for seven years now. A man that couldn’t possible be here in this room now. It just couldn’t be. It couldn’t.
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