She walked up to us with a serious battle-worn look on her face.
The knife was still in her hand, dripping silver blood from the black blade. She was holding something else in her other hand. It was a flat, emerald green stone, but that wasn’t what I drew my attention to. I saw only a glimpse at who she truly was and a spark of fear ignited from the pit of my stomach when I realized just how inhumane she could be.
Her eyes were what I focused on. They were no longer the light gray eyes I knew them to be, the eyes that had mesmerized me many times before. No, these were different eyes; they reflected the fearful power of the Eyes of Blue from most ruthless planet in the galaxy.
She avoided my gaze, but I was drawn to hers, her now light blue eyes shimmering in the sunlight.
Rei was just as stunned as we watched her walk right past us. She gave off a cold chill that froze the very breath in my lungs.
Was this her true power?
She spoke without turning back, “Let’s get off this planet.”
She went straight to the shuttle and started it up. Rei held on to my arm and nudged me forward. I got into the shuttle with them after Rei double-checked to make sure we had everything.
We left and I turned around to watch the flames that engulfed Tammy’s body get smaller and smaller as we headed back to the Jago with one less crewmember.
I didn’t leave my room. I couldn’t. Everything in the ship reminded me of Tammy. I just sat there in the corner of my room, crying most of the time, upset at myself for failing.
After a few days I headed to the training room but it was locked. I heard loud thrashing inside that could only come from Kiko. I let her be and went up to the sky deck.
I chose a bed I hadn’t used before, but it was pointless. I thought about the time when the four of us were laying together and Tammy fell asleep on my shoulder… that was before the first stone. My heart ached and I ignored the tears that were rolling down the side of my face.
The hatch opened and Rei came up to join me.
“How’re you doin’ Sarth?” she consoled me.
I didn’t answer.
“It’s hard for everyone… Aki hasn’t been out of the training room since.”
Again I didn’t answer.
“It wasn’t your fault Sarth…” she whispered.
That pushed me over the edge. I didn’t want to hear any more, so I got up and left.
On the way back to my room I saw Kiko head up to the kitchen and I decided to follow her, but following her meant that I had to walk past Tammy’s workroom.
I stopped in front of it, debating if I should go in. I wanted to walk in and see her working at her desk like usual, but I would never see that again.
I placed my hand on her door and it slide open. Her room looked exactly the way she left it. I took a step inside and instantly braced myself against the wall. It hurt too much knowing I would never get to see or talk to her again.
I was about to leave when Kiko suddenly appeared next to me. I quickly wiped away the tears on my cheeks. She stared at me with her blue eyes and I avoided making any eye contact with her. Not because of her eyes, but because I didn’t want her to see my pain. I knew she was in pain too.
“I’m sorry I’ve failed you,” she said in almost a robotic tone.
“No, it wasn’t your fault. It was my fault…” I started confessing my true feelings, “I should’ve died instead of Tammy.” I was getting angry and sadder, “Instead she died saving me! I’m always being saved! I’m useless! Worthless! Dead-weight!… trash…”
I slid down the wall and buried my face in my hands, crying from the bottom of my heart. Frustration, pain, and sorrow were the emotions that incapacitated me from continuing to live life like I had been. It consumed me.
Kiko didn’t say anything. Instead she sat on the floor in front of me and embraced me in her arms, allowing me to take all the pain off my chest to be shared with her.
“It wasn’t your fault,” she comforted me. “I have never seen her so happy before, with you around. I could tell she truly loved you, and that’s supposed to be impossible for Mechanites. I’m sure if she could, she would save you as many times as it took.”
What she was saying only made me cry harder. All I wanted was for our crew to be back to the way it was, but it would never be the same again, and coming to terms with that was the hardest thing to get over. She held me in her arms until I stopped crying and I wiped away my tears again.
I noticed I was still wearing Tammy’s hair on my pinky. I stared at it because it was glowing steadily like she was around and had activated it. Then I remembered what she gave me right before she died.
“Is that Tammy’s hair that’s glowing?” she asked me, noticing the glow as well.
“Yeah… She gave me-”
Rei’s apprehensive voice coming from the intercom cut me off, “Guys… we’re receiving a message… I think you should get up here.”
We glanced at each other with a curious look, wondering what it could be before quickly jumping up and running to the flight deck.
Rei was sitting in the pilot’s seat when Kiko asked, “Who’s it from?”
“You’re not gonna like it,” she said opening up some holograms to relay the message.
A voice none of us wanted to hear, gave us a taunting message, “It seems you were able to obtain the last and final stone after an amusing display of your… talents…” Ozias’, gruff, menacing voice echoed through the flight deck intercom. “Now we both have two of the four Vo stones, but there can only be one winner.” I hated his blood-curdling voice. “Let us finish this race once and for all. Bring your two stones to Dezner and we’ll see who gets to walk away with them…” he chuckled. “See you there…” click. The intercom turned off.
It was quiet. Rei and I gave a concerned look to Kiko because we knew Ozias was taunting her specifically. Her blue eyes were affixed to the table.
We waited for a response from her.
“Set our course for Dezner,” she finally concluded before striding away.
Rei and I glanced at each other as the clanking of Kiko’s footsteps through the hall faded away. Rei set the course and soon we would be back on Dezner to face Ozias for the last two stones.
Back in my room I found the item Tammy had pressed into my hand before she died. It was the data preserver I gave her back on Crux a long time ago. I examined it and remembered that I didn’t know how to open it.
I put it in my pocket and went to lie down on my bed. I could still smell Kiko’s sweet scent on me from when she held me close in Tammy’s workroom. I fell asleep laughing, thinking about what Tammy would say to me if I told her that I smelled Kiko.
I was writing in my room the next day when Kiko told me to meet her in the training room. I walked over and saw Rei there as well, but no Kiko.
“Did she call you here too?” she asked me.
“Yeah she did. Do you know what this is about?” I asked back.
The door slid open and Kiko walked in, then she locked the door behind her. That was strange.
She got straight to the point, “I’ve decided to go to Dezner by myself.”
Rei and I immediately retaliated at the same time, “No!”
“We’re going with you. We’re sticking together.” I said.
“We’re not leaving you. There’s no way you’re going without us.” Rei said.
Kiko expected this because her expression didn’t change. She simply waited for us to stop giving her reasons to stay together.
“Look, I’ve made up my mind. I’m dropping you both off at the nearest safe planet,” she said, dead serious.
Rei shook her head. “Aki, please don’t do this…” her voice strained as she held back tears.
Kiko’s face pained when she saw Rei’s eyes fill with tears. She approached her and held her in her arms. Rei held her close and I could hear her stifle a cry before going completely limp in her arms. Kiko set her down gently on the floor, and then set her sights on me.
I wasn’t going to go down that easily. I stepped back and went into the first defensive stance she ever taught me. It didn’t faze her at all.
“Please look after her,” she said to me. Her face showed how much it pained her to make such a request.
I didn’t say anything because there was no need to. She already knew I would protect her with my life.
“Don’t do this Kiko…” I urged.
“It’s the only way to keep you both safe.”
I clenched my jaw. She was acting like she was never coming back and that we would never see each other again.
I shook my head. “I’m not going down without a fight,” I warned her.
We stood there eyeing each other. I waited for her to make a move and as soon as I blinked she disappeared. The next thing I knew, I was losing consciousness and falling down. I expected to fall to the ground, but the last thing I felt were her embracing arms as she held me close to her beating heart.