The hold of the ship stunk of rotten food. Nash pulled a ragged sleeve-end over her mouth and tried to breathe shallowly. She lay her head against the metal wall and let its icy cold surface cool her. She remembered the exhausting battle and finally a fireball hitting Shah, her dragon stead.
‘Hello! Is anybody there?’ She croaked through parched lips.
When she woke she felt slick walls beside her and thirstily licked the metallic condensation.
Hours later, she feebly thumped her bare feet against the wall, immediately regretting the sharp pain the booming sound generated in her head.
Try again, Nash.
The words insinuated themselves into her consciousness, but it was a long time before she was able to gather the strength to obey the one she loved.
After three feeble attempts she slumped, shivering, against the wall.
Nash, please. I don’t have much time left.
A vertical line of light sent her scuttling painfully back against the wall. She scrunched her body into a ball, trying to make herself invisible.
‘Definitely came from in here, captain.’
Rough hands pulled at her hair. She squeezed her eyes shut against the bright flashlight
‘Stow away, sir.’
‘Impossible, Morgan.’ Captain Harper sniffed deeply. ‘We’ve been in space for three months. The hold would be putrid with the stink of human excrement by now.’
‘Yeah, well, if it didn’t stow away, how did it get here?’
Why did you send me away, Shah?
Take it to the surgery.
Nash woke to the sound of regular beeping.
‘It’s a human girl, sir.’ The woman’s voice was low and soothing. ‘Clothes torn and badly burnt. Odd, though, her skin’s unblemished, like a new born. Apart from shock and exhaustion, she seems remarkably healthy.’
Nash tried to extend her senses beyond her body but they would not obey her. She tensed every muscle but, beyond the five, her senses were dead.
The beeping became erratic.
I am here, Nash. Rest. You must rest.
Nash hung on to the tiny thread of consciousness that Shah directed at her and relaxed as sleep enveloped her.
‘How did you get on board, girl?’
Nash shook her head at the captain, ‘I told you, I don’t know. I woke up in your, what did you call it, hold? What year is this?’
‘Year?’ Harper stared down at Nash. ‘2319.’
Shah, how, why, did send me so far into the future?
To protect you, my beloved. Soon I will….
‘Easy, easy.’ The Captain was surprised at the girl’s strength as she beat her hands against his chest.’
‘You have to get me out of here. I have to get back. I have to find… I have to find.’ She stopped struggling and slumped into his arms.
You won’t let me say your name?
Soon, it will all be gone, not even a memory. You will be as you were before we met. I will be gone. It is the only way to preserve your life. My part is over. You have a destiny to fulfill. But I will still be with you, although you won’t recognize it as me. With my last ounce of strength I promise to leave you that residue as a legacy of our magnificent alliance.
Nash wanted to scream with the agony of separation. She longed to kick at the slim legs of the captain and smash her forehead into his face. Instead she forced herself to remember; to see Shah. She would make him stay.
There he was, flying effortlessly, the summer clouds a fitting backdrop to his beauty.
Landing, graceful as a butterfly on a blade of grass.
Sending showers of dust high into the air as he rolled in the dirt, ungainly legs flailing.
Rough hands shook her trembling shoulders.
‘Please, leave me. I must stay with him.’
‘I think she might be having a fit or something. Slap her face!’
‘That’s better. Her eyes are focused, now.’
‘I’m going to ask you once more, and only once, what is your name and how did you get onto my ship?’
Intelligent eyes met Captains Harper’s steady gaze. In a calm voice the girl said. ‘I don’t know my name. I don’t know who I am, where I come from or how I got here. I tell you the truth.’
The captain lowered the girl into a chair.
‘But I know in my heart, captain, everything is going to be alright.’
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