My touchpad glows red, skinning away the murkiness of night. I reach for it without thinking and get an unpleasant surprise when the skin – or rather what used to be skin – of my right palm touches the cold metallic device. The pain almost drops me to my knees again.
Damian snatches the touchpad out of my hands and turns the speaker on. It’s Dom. “Freya, Commander Eldritch wishes to speak with you.”
“The attack on Exodus has been suspended,” Commander Eldritch says. His voice comes through the speaker strained and rough. He hasn’t slept much lately, that much is obvious. “We have every reason to believe all the forces are moving your way, Freya.” He coughs and clears his throat. “After what Dom has told us, at least we know why.”
It’s hardly a surprise but it sends electrifying waves of dread down my spine anyway. “Use the respite to better barricade Exodus,” I say.
“What are you going to do?” the commander goes on. “Do you need me to find reinforcements?”
I look to Damian for advice. He shakes his head. We’re of the same mind.
“No,” I say. “It would be pointless. Just concentrate on keeping the station safe. You will need all your available resources.”
“You haven’t told us what you’re going to do.”
“There’s a good reason for that,” I say with a sigh. “We’re between plans right now.”
Damian steps in to put Eldritch’s mind at rest. “We’ll figure it out, Sir,” he says.
“We always do.”
“We will?” I ask him as soon as the feed is cut off.
“Let’s take care of your hands,” he says.
“Dodging the question. Very reassuring.”
“I’m not dodging the question. The answer could very well be in your hands.”
“He’s right,” Kroll says.
“Wow, you two agreeing on something. Now I’ve seen it all.”
Dom arrives with a pair of Dark Legion guards in tow. “Now that we’ve all been briefed,” he says, “what exactly is our plan?”
I turn and steal a glance at Ava. “Damian was right before,” I say.
“Thank you for acknowledging it,” Damian says. Then, after a moment of hesitation he adds, “I’m sorry, what are you referring to?”
“Ava. She can’t be like me. If she could breed, she wouldn’t be here. She can’t be a host. She’s… something else.”
“Don’t fool yourself,” Ava says looking long and hard into my eyes. “They will come for me.”
“And we will be ready for them,” I say.
Ava laughs. “Yeah, I heard all about your plans.”
I go to her and grab her by the arm. “Get up,” I say with clenched teeth. “You are going to heal me.”