The section of the ship I explored was where the records were kept. Records of who or what was onboard, maybe? In the army of file cabinets, I found the one labeled ‘Cargo’.
I yanked it open, pawing through the records. The most recent ones were hastily filled out forms mentioning guns, ammo, and lasers. There was nothing about any prisoners being held on the ship.
My heart sank. Had this all been a wild goose chase?
“Not again!” My breath caught in my throat. I barely even had time to turn before the two descended on me. “How many stowaways are we going to find on this ship? That’s three in the last month!” One of them grumbled, his gun aimed at me. “Alright, I think you know the drill. Who are you?”
My lips moved but I couldn’t force out a sentence. “I, um, I—” I stuttered incoherently.
“We’ll figure out to do later. Just take her to the brig.”
One of them jerked his gun toward the direction Talon had gone. “Walk this way.”
Unsure of what else to do, I forced myself to move. They even had a prison on this thing.
They brought me to a heavy steel door. One of them fumbled for their keys, and shoved the door open quickly. “Make yourself comfortable—you’ll be here for a while.”
Tears found their way to freedom, raining down my cheeks. I walked into the cell, where two other bodies were sitting. Two horribly and wonderfully familiar bodies.
“Marina?” Cotto bolted upright. Beside her sat Captain Halon, staring at me in disbelief.
I threw myself into Cotto’s arms. “Marina, sweetie, what are you doing here?” She wondered sadly. “We thought you’d gotten away.”
“I did, but I came looking for you, and they found me—”
“You should have gone home.” Halon interjected.
“What? Why would I go home?”
“You’re still a kid, Marina. You should enjoy that, not have to come on a rescue mission.” He said sternly.
I shook my head. “I had to come. I don’t want to go home. There’s nothing there for me.”
That was the only thing I had ever hated about the Radiance. They weren’t supposed to let anyone join the crew until eighteen, but since I’d been brought on at twelve, no one had ever quite thought of me as grown up. “My childhood is over. Everything that’s happened with Chase, not to mention that I’ll turn sixteen in a month.”
“What happened to Chase?” Something about the despair in his eyes hinted that he’d already guessed.
“They shot him.” I forced the words out. “I saw it.”
“Who? Who shot him?” Cotto demanded.
“The army.” My heart ached as I struggled to explain all I’d learned about the army.
“Then I guess there’s really only one thing we can do.” Halon gave me a faint, knowing smile. “Marina, fix it.”
I stared at him. “How am I supposed to fix this?”
“For starters, I know you can get that door open. The locking mechanism is on the inside.”
I prodded the lock warily. “I don’t know if I can.”
“Well I’d be willing to bet you can. After all, I was going to hire two ship mechanics until Cotto found you. What did you say, Cotto? About Marina?”
Cotto grinned reminiscently. “That she’s as good as an entire battalion of mechanics.”
“That was it. She talked me into just taking you. Give me some credit, because I don’t pick slackers. You can get the lock open.” Captain Halon could have run for president in any country and won. His skills as an orator were amazing. Halon could motivate me with just a few words to do anything.
I turned to inspect the lock again. “I might be able to. I’d need some time, though. When we get out, there’s someone I need to find.”
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