Karolyn carefully traced her claw along the scaly length of her hazel arm until she felt a slight irregularity. Her eyes focused on it with a quiet ferocity.
"This must be it," she muttered to Ridley who sat on the opposite end of the spacious cabin in his ship.
He gave a slight nod back to her. "Pull it out."
Two claws pinched down on either side of the bump. Quickly, she pressed her talons together, piercing her hide and making a small trickle of blood drip onto the cold steel floor. With an ever so slight wince of pain, she pulled out the homing device.
She examined the small cylindrical device and snapped it abruptly and, with a slight flick of her wrist, threw it to the ground in disgust. Her eyes glanced back to the self-inflicted wound, which was already starting to heal over.
"So, they can't follow us now?"
"No, I've pulled my tracker out and disabled the ship's transmission frequency. We're more or less safe for now," he explained.
Karolyn made a small acknowledgment and leaned back against the wall and wrapped her wings around herself. The warm embrace being the only one she's ever known for a long time.
There was only the faintest hum of the ship's engines in the room. Both Space-Dragons were in deep contemplation, wondering what exactly to do next. Ridley simply sat hunched over on the strong metal bench and ran his claw over the deep scratches on his metal faceplate. Deep quiet breaths escaped from his nostrils as his orange eyes focused on the absolute nothingness on the floor.
Karolyn glanced upon Ridley with a half-casualness. She couldn't tell what he was thinking; he turned off his com-link, as did she. Her thoughts were far too intimate at the moment to let him unwittingly catch every little detail that flittered through her mind. She softly blinked a heavy eyelid that was gaining more weight with every passing moment.
What are we doing?
She didn't know. Quickly she shook her head. The world was becoming too bright for her.
She blinked again.
"Are we going to be okay?" she asked to the Space-Dragon sitting on the other side of the room.
But it wasn't Ridley that looked back at her and replied, "Of course we are."
Karolyn fidgeted in the dark, grimy cargo hold of the smuggler ship. "How much longer until we get there?"
Her older brother looked back at her and answered "It should take a few more hours. You should get some sleep, you'll need to be alert once we land."
Oh no, not again.
"I always need to be alert, that's exactly what mommy is always telling us," she retorted. "Mommy and Daddy will be there once we land, won't they?"
Her brother quickly smothered a painful twinge that threatened to surface. With all the concentration he could muster, he muttered, "Of course they will." He turned his head away from her glance.
Why did you lie to me? Why did you make me learn the way I did?
"Good, I can't wait to see them," the little Space-Dragon piped. "How come we have to be down here?"
"It was the best Mom and Dad could do. You really should get some sleep." Her brother nervously looked around the room and muttered something unintelligible to himself.
The whole ship rocked slightly to its left, causing the lights to flicker momentarily.
No, no, no! Not this, don't let it happen again.
Karolyn's head picked up. "What was that?"
Please Castor, don't get up.
"I don't know." He stood up, his brown wings as spread out as much as his cramped quarters would allow. His clawed finger lifted up at her, "Go hide in the corner, don't make any noise."
"Why?" she asked, fear slowly crawling into her voice.
"Just do it," he ordered. Loud stomping reverberated through the steel walls.
Under the authority of her brother, she scampered behind a heavy cargo crate that reeked of something unpleasant. Her eyes peeked out from behind the crate, and she saw her brother take refuge on top of a stack of steel drums that extended out into the shadows of the room.
Please, wake up.
Loud shouting was heard on the outside of the cargo hold's doors. The shouts turned into screams. Then the screams were drowned out in laser fire. Then it all just cultivated into eerie silence.
Karolyn could only hear her soft breaths that pierced the stagnation in the cargo-hold. The seconds passed as though they were hours. Lights blinked on and off in the cargo hold.
Don't do it.
Her head cautiously moved outwards as she tried to get a better view of the cargo door.
Her brother didn't catch himself as a loud "Don't" slipped passed his teeth. At that moment a blinding flash erupted from the door, and deafening screeches raced across the room
Screams from her brother found their way to her ears. She scrambled across the white field calling for her brother. A rough arm gripped hers and she emptied her lungs as fire erupted from her mouth.
"Karolyn, what the hell are you doing?" Ridley yelled out.
Her eyes flashed open. She quickly looked up and saw a black stain across the wall and ceiling of the cabin. Ridley held her arm tightly with a wild look of confusion and concern across his face.
She stood up straight and asked, "What happened?" Her tail coiled nervously around her feet. Smoke came out of her mouth as she breathed.
Ridley placed a reassuring hand on her back and said calmly, "You fell asleep, and then you started screaming. I tried to wake you, but apparently that was a bad move." He looked at her in the eyes. "What kind of nightmare was that?"
She turned away from him and said in a strained voice: "God, if only it was a nightmare." She placed her head into her hands and started shook her head.
Why did I do that? Why did I do that?
Ridley approached her and placed a hand on the Space-Dragon's shoulder. "Well calm down, its going to be alright."
That was it. She turned around and stared at him fiercely with sharp red eyes. "What do you mean? Ridley, we don't even know what the hell we're doing. You and I both know there's hardly a rock in this galaxy that hasn't been rotted by Pirate hands." Her eyes glazed over and her voice began to shaken. "What are we doing?"
He found himself unable to say anything. He didn't know. His mind raced for a reason to go on.
"I hate them so much," she cried.
They killed you. All these years and I didn't know. Why did I do it?
She steadied herself against the wall and shook as she breathed erratically. "I don't know anymore." She started to cry against her will. "What are we doing?"
Ridley stood next to her as she was breaking down in front of him. He needed to do something. She did the exact same thing for him a few hours ago. He could barely stand to see her like this. As quickly as the thought winked in his mind, he embraced her.
Karolyn was surprised by the move, but did not show opposition to it. Her breathing steadied as she was slowly rocked in his arms. She quickly turned towards him and wrapped her arms around his neck and placed her head over his shoulder. Her eyes closed in the comfort of his metal caress.
He could feel her hand moving across his back through his steel plating, but it wasn't the same as touching his skin. He didn't care though.
"Why did you come?" Ridley asked quietly.
"I've been alone for too long," she said softly. "I couldn't have let you go and leave me behind with them."
Ridley was unable to imagine leaving her behind anymore. How did she ever manage to stay this way under the Pirate's corrupting grip? He looked at his metal-plated arm, the ever-present reminder of his years of being the Pirate's dog. He felt disgusted with himself.
A few tears still fell from Karolyn's eyes. She pulled her head back and looked at him. "What are we doing Ridley?"
"Whatever we have to," he answered.
She placed her head back over his shoulder and closed her eyes once more.