Thursday, April 23, 2015
May 16, part 2
I wasted no time in comming Oses and Betra when we couldn’t find Candy. I won’t pretend that I’m not happy my Nobek lover is on leave from his duties as weapons commander. Otherwise, he’d probably would have had to send an underling to deal with the matter. After all, on the surface Candy’s actions boiled down to nothing more than a really grouchy woman storming off on her friends and lovers.
Yet Katrina, Ama, Mihi, and I agreed there was more to it than that. Candy was acting completely unlike herself. Something was terribly wrong.
We discussed the matter with Oses and Betra, detailing the fight Candy had gotten into with Katrina a few days ago, her quiet demeanor since, avoiding her Nobek friends for no reason, and then her bizarre behavior minutes ago.
Oses listened carefully. He looked to Betra. “Have you ever observed Matara Candy acting in such a manner before?”
Betra shook his head, his brow creased in worry. “Never. The girl is always as sweet as she can be. Even when she’s mad, she’s more likely to pout than go on the attack.”
Katrina’s eyes spilled tears off and on as we talked. Her cheeks were red from her rubbing them dry. “It’s not just the attitude. She tossed these two brutes like they were dolls. How could she have done that?”
Ama straightened. “I wouldn’t say she tossed us. My feet never left the ground.”
I didn’t want to waste time on Nobek pride. “Okay, so she didn’t throw you, but that was a pretty powerful shove. She damned near knocked you both on your butts.”
“Psychotic breakdowns can allow people to demonstrate more strength than is typical,” Oses mused. “Plus, no man would ever expect someone that dainty to get physical. Catching you two unawares probably had a lot to do with it.”
I centered on the first part of Oses’ statement. “Psychotic breakdown! What makes you say that? Candy’s never shown any sign of psychological issues.”
“Some people fall apart with no warning. It could be her typical cheerful attitude was a mask for problems all along.”
Betra scratched his head, looking concerned. “That’s kind of hard for me to swallow when it comes to Candy, but you have a point. She survived Earth’s Armageddon, but her family didn’t. She’s been through plenty of danger and stress in the last few months, just like the rest of you women. It is a possibility she’s in some sort of emotional crisis.”
Katrina, of course, saw right to the heart of the matter. “The first thing we need to do is find Candy. We need to make sure she’s all right – that she won’t hurt herself. The rest can wait until then.”
Oses nodded. “Absolutely. I’ll contact my subcommander, who is running security while I’m off. I’ll let him know what’s happened, and he can institute a ship-wide search for Candy.”
Betra added, “I’ll com Dr. Feru and fill him in. As soon as she’s located, we’ll have him talk to her and run tests if he thinks they’re needed.” He turned away and got right on the matter.
Mihi looked at Ama unhappily. “I wish we could help look for her, but we’re due back on the destroyer. We’ll be on report if we don’t show up for duty.”
Ama’s expression darkened. The slight rumble of a growl sounded from him. “Duty be damned,” he snarled.
I appreciated how much they worried for Candy. I knew she would not want them in trouble over her. “Give me your frequencies, and I’ll com you as soon as we find her. I’ll let you know everything as I learn about it.”
Ama relaxed a little. Mihi managed a suggestion of a smile as he said, “Thank you, Shalia. We would appreciate that very much.”
A small crowd gathered near us in the corridor, their curiosity plain to see. Oses told us in a low tone, “I will contact my subcommander from my quarters so as to keep this matter private. There is no need for anything embarrassing to Candy to become common knowledge.”
We nodded, and he left. Betra was still talking on his com to Feru, keeping his voice quiet. Ama and Mihi also reluctantly departed, leaving me and Katrina to stare down the other women who were whispering amongst themselves.
“Party’s over,” I announced in a forbidding don’t-fuck-with-me tone. “Nothing to talk about here, so don’t ask.”
I got a lot of surprised looks, but the women drifted away.
“I’m going to lie down for a little while,” Katrina said. She rubbed her temples as if she suffered from the world’s worst headache. She probably did. “Let me know the moment you hear something?”
“I will,” I said and gave her a hug before watching her walk the few feet down the corridor to her room. She walked with her head down and shoulders hunched. For the first time since I’d met her, Katrina looked old.
Betra clicked off his com and gave me a wan look. “Feru said to bring her to him as soon as we find her. He says it sounds more like an emotional overload and probably not anything to really worry about. Still, with Candy’s demeanor changing so abruptly, he wants to see her right away.”
“Good,” I said. Feru gets on my nerves when he goes probing in my head, but the man is good at what he does. I owe most of the little bit of sanity I’ve got to him.
“I’m due for afternoon break if you’d like me to go back to your quarters with you,” Betra said.
I linked arms with him. “Of course I would. Fretting alone sucks.”
He chuckled, though his heart didn’t seem to be in it. “I always prefer fretting with friends.”