I returned to the ship panting and sweating buckets. I had lost my control over the delicate protection against the oppressive heat provided by the force some minutes before arrival and was certainly feeling it.
Only Kari was present on the ship, she didn’t say much other than ‘channel 6’ as she pushed a small communicator into my hand as I passed.
“Where are the others?” I asked
She meekly shook her head indicating she didn’t know, or more likely that she didn’t intend to speak to me about it. I decided to go in search of them myself. I didn’t take long for me to track Valin to a seedy bar just off the main market causeway. The sinking horror feeling I had a few minutes earlier was still gripping my stomach and I rushed up to his table, wide eyed and short of breath. I glanced around, Kaz was nowhere to be seen.
“Kaz” I breathed “Where?”
The unsavoury types gambling with my companions didn’t take too kindly to my bursting in and interrupting their game. Valin ordered me a drink while disarming the tension with one of his winning miles and gestured towards a bar stool next to him.
“He just needs a drink” Valin said to the group “don’t mind him”
“Sit” he said to me simply, passing me a glass of off-colour liquor then whispering under his breath “what’s wrong?”
“It’s-” I started to reply but the feeling of horror was starting to subside. The shock trauma of its sudden appearance fading to the dull throb of an injury remembered. I drank the liquor in one gulp and gestured to the barkeep for another.
“I don’t know, I.. er… nothing I’m ok” I lied. Glancing up at the table, everyone seemed to have already forgotten about my interruption and were back to swapping cards and insults and breakneck pace.
“Where is the boy?” I asked, the desperate need to find safety subsiding, I was able to think straighter.
“Just gone out to get some fresh air” Valin replied around a smoking deathstick “you buying in?”
“No, thanks” I just sat and watched as Valin played a few more rounds before a message from Kari over the new communicators alerted us that Kaz had returned. We made our excuses and headed back through the oppressive heat to the Kaladon Ghost.