After the night I talked to Akiko in the sky deck, I began seeing her around more often. Most of the time she trained in the training room with Rei and sometimes I would go and watch.
She was even better than I expected. There were hundreds of different weapons in the weapons room and she was an expert with each one. She did however, have a favorite weapon. It was the simple knife that she always kept at her side. She would practice with it every day holding the blade down and out, slashing invisible advisories. That seemed to be her style.
Rei was an excellent sharp shooter, maybe not as good as Akiko but it was very close. She didn’t really practice any hand-to-hand combat but she knew enough to get away pretty well but never enough to win against Akiko. It was fun to watch. The only thing I could participate in was meditating which Akiko did a lot.
If I wasn’t in the training room I was talking with Tammy.
“When can I take off the sync ring?” I asked one day.
“We left it on, but not activated because your muscles need to heal completely before I can remove them or else any muscles that are not healed yet will die.”
“Why does Rei and Akiko’s food look the same but taste different?”
“Rei and Kiko come from the same planet. They taste different because Rei really sucks at cooking and Kiko is very good at it.”
“Where are you from?”
“A distant planet called Thereon.”
“Why does your hair glow?”
“I’m not human. My hair contains electric impulses that allow me to interact with mainly nonorganic objects.”
“Oh…you’re not human?”
“No. In fact, you are the only human on this ship, besides Vaughan. ”
I guess I ask a lot of questions but I didn’t think Tammy really minded. I had a feeling the others weren’t human because we only ate dinner together every other night. Of course I always went to the kitchen when I was hungry so maybe they did too but I never saw them.
I also noticed none of them really liked talking about their past, nor did they bother asking me about mine. Sure I wondered about a few things but I never really got hung up over it. They would tell me what they wanted me to know and I was okay with that.
I had been aboard the Jago for about three weeks already. Time seemed to fly by. During that time I would wander around or play cards with Rei, which I always lost, or some days I would just lie in the sky deck. That’s where Kiko always was when she wasn’t busy. Yep, that’s right I just called her Kiko. It happened just a few days ago in the sky deck.
“Hey Akiko, would you mind if I made dinner tonight? I don’t know too many dishes but I’ve been practicing and I’d like to pull my weight somehow.”
She chuckled, “I don’t think you’d last very long cooking enough food for all of us.”
I frowned. She couldn’t see it but I’m sure she knew I did.
“Go for it, but only if I help you out. Tammy would kill me if you ended up hurting yourself even more.”
That was a better answer than yes.
I smiled, “Thanks.”
“Yeah, and call me Kiko. No one calls me Akiko here.”
I smiled again, “Thanks Kiko.”
My dinner turned out great thanks to Kiko. I don’t think she’d ever made any dishes from Sola but somehow it turned out better than mine even though I told her what to do. I think she was secretly adding ingredients but when I asked her she denied it of course. Everyone enjoyed it and it brought back memories of when I used to cook for others a long time ago.
Before I realized it, Crux was only a few days away. Tammy told me they chose to do a job on the outskirts of the galaxy for the money. Vaughan’s head was worth a pretty good price because none of the other intergalactic bounty hunters could, or wanted to spend the effort to get there, or they simply did not have the skill to complete the task. Therefore Vaughan’s bounty kept increasing as time passed.
“We happened to be around the area.” This time Tammy was in her workroom talking to me and fiddling with something small, “Our ship was damaged in an earlier conflict so we decided to make a pit stop on Sola and to grab some extra cash.”
So they decided to challenge the planet’s greatest fighter on a whim… that’s great.
“Oh. I see.” I said as I watched her put a strand of her hair inside the small thing she was working on. “What are you doing?”
“Working on a vocal transmitter. It allows its user to speak the language of the person they are talking to. I added my hair to have a direct connection with it.” She put the thing back together, “I don’t have all the pieces yet, once we get to Crux I will be able to purchase the necessary items to have it fully functioning.”
Was there anything Tammy couldn’t do?
She was about to open another small transmitter when she suddenly stopped and looked straight ahead at the wall. I was about to ask her what’s wrong but she answered that for me.
A loud alarm rang. I looked at her and her voice echoed throughout the ship, “Warning, hostile ships approaching quickly from the rear. Estimated approach time… 30 seconds.”
Screens projected in front of her and she began examining the ship as she quickly walked toward the flight deck.
I followed her and heard footsteps running from behind.
“Who is it?” Cashel asked catching his breath and taking his seat at command.
Tammy responded, “Unknown. They are demanding the return of Vaughan however.”
Cashel projected one of the ships on his dash board, “I see we made a lot more friends on Sola than I thought.”
Through the flight deck’s sun shield, large battleships started appearing one by one just as Kiko and Rei arrived on the flight deck to witness it as well.
Kiko took a look outside. “He’s persistent” she whispered.
Rei asked, “So… how do we get out of this?” as we all watched hundreds of ships surround us.