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“We should go Jake, leave this place immediately,” she said and then turned to look at him, her eyes filled with concern. Otto raised an eyebrow. Cantor bristled and looked over at his maul that lay against the rail.
“Are you out of your mind!” Jehnna spat and rounded on Starla, her face a mask of anger. She jabbed her finger toward the derelict ship again.
“Members of my family could be over there. We have to help them!”
Jake empathized with Jehnna. He too wondered on the fate of his parents.
“Of course we’ll help,” he said and the tension drained from Jehnna a bit. “Why are you so concerned Starla?” he asked.
“I don’t detect any life over there,” she said in a solemn tone, “but there is…,” she paused to search for the right words, “…something.” The way she said it sent a shiver up Jake’s spine this time. Cantor made a low growl and picked up his maul.
“Are you blind?” Jehnna asked. “Someone just put a signal lamp in the window.”
“Nobody is signaling now and there is not a single soul on the deck,” Otto pointed out.
“Maybe they’re trapped below,” Jehnna said frustrated. “The ship looks like it’s been in a fight.”
Jake was not sure how she could tell in the ship’s dilapidated condition, but Jehnna had lived on such ships in the past. Still, if Starla said there was no life over there then it was foolish not to believe her. While Jake studied the Kestrel, a pale woman with blond-hair appeared with the lamp in the stern windows and beckon for them to come before she pulled away again.
Something settled in the pit of Jake’s stomach, something bad. They were close enough now that he could make out the ship’s name below the windows at the stern – Kestrel.
“Did you see that?” Jehnna asked. “Someone is over there and she needs our help. Maybe that strange thing you sense is blocking you from detecting her.”
“I don’t think–” Starla started to speak, but Jehnna pushed past her and ran back down the side of the ship. She jostled through a couple of Durian sailors engaged in their own discussion.
Jake let the Ruby Lion coast up until the two ships were abeam of one another, but kept far enough away that their air bubbles did not quite touch. The deck of the Kestrel was still clear, and the weak-blue energy from its bubble gave it an eerie glow. There was a crash as Jehnna pulled the Ruby Lion’s dinghy off the moors and it slid down into the deck. Then she began to pull it by the bow toward the side rail. The sailors looked up at Jake who nodded and they began to help Jehnna take the boat to the side. Jake brought the ship to a full stop and let the energy sails dissipate.
“Mind the wheel, Cantor,” he said as he left and made his way down to Jehnna. Otto and Starla did not follow.
“Don’t try to stop me Jake,” Jehnna warned as he approached. “You can just drop me off here if that’s your plan.”
Jake did not respond. Instead, he helped Jehnna and the Durians pull the boat over to the side. Jake powered up the dinghy and the oars began to glow. With a few thoughts he moved the boat over the rail and into position next to the Ruby Lion.
“I cannot go with you Jehn,” he said, “I have to stay here to move the ship in case an asteroid comes.” They made eye contact and Jehnna pressed her lips tight and gave one distinct nod.
“Thank you for being my friend Jake,” she said and then climbed up and over into the boat. “I’ll be right back, I promise.”
The words of his parents struck a chord in Jake and the tightness in his stomach got worse.
“Wait!” Jake cried, and his hands flew up to stop her. She hesitated, but then paused. He ran down the deck to gather a coil of rope and then came back. Quickly he tied one end to the stern of the dinghy. The other end he tied to the ship. “Just in case,” he said. Then he and the Durians gave the boat a push and it moved off toward the Kestrel.
Jake nudged the Ruby Lion sideways a little in his mind until the air bubbles touched right where Jehnna would cross. In an instant the bubbles joined into one large sphere and took on a green hue. Jake looked back at the quarterdeck. Otto watched Jehnna’s boat with interest, but Starla’s face looked as if she was fighting back tears. When her eyes met Jake’s, she shook her head. This made the feeling in the pit of Jake’s stomach turn to sickening fear. He looked back toward Jehnna. The dinghy had just reached the other ship and his friend stood up to climb the side to the rail.