I watch as the Cassids all skitter around, gathering everyone up, applying medical aid where needed, overall just being little busy bodies. The Rethans around here are much calmer, but still rushing around and getting things done.
There’s been nothing but bad news.
Most of us are critically injured. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, stab wounds. Our injuries will heal. It will take a long time. Especially for Retvik and I. Emotional injuries are rampant. No one has been able to sleep without sedatives.
Six beings are dead. One of the Sangens died from internal bleeding. None of the Raptai made it, all of them dying from asphyxiation, unable to breathe in the carbon dioxide-free atmosphere of Kryada. We couldn’t save them.
Arkay is gone.
I try and repeat that sentence. I can’t. It hurts. The fact that he’s no longer here with us is too horrible to comprehend.
I have to think about something else. The staples holding my stomach shut are itchy. I feel no pain otherwise, Cassid painkillers are very good. I glance over to where Elksia is, she’s fast asleep. Retvik is too, heavily sedated. My mind drifts back to Arkay, and I wonder if he is also sleeping. I hope so.
“Are you okay, Tenuk?”
It’s Steve, the leader of the Thropes. He seems upset.
“No, I am not okay…” I sigh. “I… I still can’t believe it…”
“I am sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s how Arkay would have wanted to go. As a hero. He saved us all, really. You though, what is wrong?” I quickly turn the conversation around. I don’t want to talk about this right now.
Steve sighs, turning away. “It turns out that we will be unable to return home. Stasis destroyed the ship we were travelling on, and the next closest human colony, one at our level, would take over fifty years to reach. We are stuck here, among your kind.”
I sniff, unsure what I can say to comfort him. Steve understands and decides to sit down next to me.
“Louise is fine. So is Catherine. Dean is knocked out but he’ll be alright too. I have no idea what we can do now. Do you have human-friendly locations or anything here?”
“You could always settle on Portalia or Kolasi. Both planets are neutral territories, they let anyone settle there. I have a friend who runs a… I think you call it a gladiator arena? You could speak to her. Steady income, cheap land. Simple really…”
Steve sighs again. “That doesn’t sound too bad… I’ll discuss it with the others when they feel better. Seems though that everyone will be going home apart from us.”
“Neither will the Sangen leader, the Raptai and Arkay. And it’s going to be a long, long journey for the Anarkex and the Sangens. Poor things…” I tut. Their time, their lives will be wasted.
Steve shakes his head. He has other things on his mind. I suggest that he goes and lies down for a bit and he agrees and wanders off. I’m tired of sitting around and decide to go and speak to Galazin. Turns out, the Tavrans live not too far away from our collection of solar systems. It will be a short trip for them, and their leaders have already gotten in touch with the Maza.
Galazin though doesn’t seem too happy.
“Are you well?”
“No. I am so-”
Galazin pauses. He feels guilty about what happened, but I tell him otherwise. None of this was anyone’s fault. This was all caused by Stasis, in his insane bid to reshape the universe in his image of nothingness. If he and I hadn’t gone down our paths, Stasis would have found other beings to take our place. And probably would have succeeded.
“We made it. For that, I am thankful. I’m still… broken about losing Arkay, but he’s in good hands now. Probably already running around Kinigi enjoying himself.”
The Tavran smirks. “I guess. I am glad you can see it that way. And I am also glad that everything will be fine for us. My tail has been reattached and Kitrin’s arm is fine.”
“Are you leaving soon?”
“In a few hours. Our leader though wishes to establish a line of communication. Perhaps the Tavrans and the Rethans will become friends. That shall be interesting.”
I smile, finally feeling a little better. “Indeed. Very interesting…”