|Chapter Nine: All Alone in the Night|
|Paige woke to Cien’s gentle hands stroking her hair. “Come on love…we’ve arrived at the space station.” She stirred from her warm spot and rose, holding gently to his arm. He patted her hands gently; his sad eyes pools of pain, both remembered and new. Paige wondered what had hurt him so in the past that he remembered it at such a time as this. Jerund was standing at the door as the walked into the low gravity environment of the station. Jerund gave her a half smile, his dark eyes clouded with fatigue. “Hey little one…you and Cien are quartered on the blue hall, room 13.” He handed them each a card and pointed off to his left. Cien nodded and lead Paige gently away from the people who had congregated at the space station entrance and to their rooms. He slid the card quickly through the lock system and entered their room. Paige was trembling at his side and as soon as the door closed she burst into tears, deep gut wrenching sobs, letting the depth of her pain out. Cien lead her to a chair and sat, holding her and stroking her hair, his own tears mingling with hers as he wept with her and for her. Finally, her frantic sobbing ceased and she lay limply in his arms, spent by the release of her intense emotions. He kissed her lips softly and carried her over to their bed, kicking off his boots and gently removing hers as he sat, still holding her, on the edge of the bed. He lay down, still holding her limp for close against him and kissed her cheek. Her sad golden eyes gazed up at him from the tousled frame of her dark hair. “If I didn’t still have you…” She began softly and Cien put a gentle finger to her lips. “But you do…and you will okay?” Paige nodded, nestling her head against his chest. Cien put his arm around her and help her close until she fell into a deep sleep. Exhausted in both mind and body he allowed her steady breathing to finally lull him into an uneasy sleep.
Paige woke slowly, becoming aware of her surroundings with the reluctance of one who wishes that everything they knew was real was just a bad dream. She stirred slightly finally and glanced up at Cien, who had been quietly watching her. She sighed and stroked his arm gently. “Life goes on doesn’t it…” She stated rhetorically. Cien gave a half smile. “Yea…it does…and sometime today well have to get up and eat and carry on living and doing.” He said gently. Paige snuggled close and glanced at her watch, seeing the early hour, she kisses his lips gently. “But not yet love…” Cien shook his head, quiet willing to hold her close for as long as she wanted, knowing that he drew as much comfort as he gave. “No, not yet…” He just held her close as they both fell back to sleep.
Paige woke to a soft but incessant knocking on their door. She rose, trying to leave Cien undisturbed but the gentle persistent knock had already woken him as well. They rose together, stomping back on their boots and straightening their flight suits as best they could before opening the door. A haggard Crix stood there. “Jester needs to see you two in the hanger as soon as possible. It’s straight across from this hall, Red hall; the door on the right will take you to the one he’s in.” Cien nodded his thanks and the other man turned and walked off, his steps slightly bouncy in the lighter gravity. Cien turned to Paige. “We’ll go get some breakfast love, then we’ll head down there.” Paige sighed. “I’m not really hungry today, love of mine.” Cien nodded. “Me either really…but either of us wasting away to nothing serves any purpose. We’ll eat light, but we still need to eat.” Paige nodded him and followed him to the mess hall. Several other pilots were eating but the conversations were subdued, everyone still feeling the sting off loss from the day before. They got some of the basic goop that made up the emergency rations on the station. It was as tasteless as it looked but it sat gently on a stomach upset by the high emotions of the last two days. Cien looked over at Paige as she reluctantly ate the last of her food, then silently took both of their bowls and spoons back to the computer. When he returned Paige stood, automatically coming to his side. He put his arm around her gently and they turned, walking across to the red hall. Jester was waiting outside the door Crix has told them to go to and nodded silently as they approached, motioning them inside. Jerund stood inside, talking quietly to Crix. Tris was sting with Blake and a few other pilots, talking quietly. Jester walked in and closed the door, looking around at the room. His gaze paused on Jerund and the man nodded to him. Jester turned to the room and looked over the pilots again. “This is our new main squadron for this base. We have full fighter wings here but they are all new space capable fighters. You have leave today to take them out for a bit and practice maneuvering and dog fighting. The weapons are all set in the training setting now. I’ll be out there waiting.” He walked off through a door at the back on the room. Paige sighed and pulled away from Cien, following Jester. Cien trailed along just behind her. The next room as full of lockers with stickers stuck on there with everyone’s name written on them. Paige opened hers and looked at the awkward jumble of equipment that lay there. She shook her head, donning the vacuum suit and a life support system. Cien was waiting on her when she turned and she gave him a half smile. She knew he worried about her. She walked over and squeezed his hand. “I’m alright love, really. Just still a bit down, that’s all.” Cien nodded. “I know…but you’ve been so quiet…” Paige nodded. “Yea, I do that when there’s a lot on my mind. Don’t worry though. I just need a bit of time is all.” Cien nodded and kissed her cheek. “Alright love.” Paige held tight to his hand as they turned and walked out into the hanger area. The fighters were arranged in neat rows, their call signs painted under the cockpits. Paige found hers a spot down from usual. With Jerund in the wing she flew on Cien’s wing instead. Cien gave her a gentlemanly hand as she stepped down into her cockpit, then stepped over to his own plane and dropped agilely into the seat. Paige pulled her cockpit closed over her, carefully starting up the jet, knowing its engines had probably not had a lot of hard use. She initiated the launching procedure and the tines her fighter was mounted on turned towards space, the hatch opening as soon as the one behind her had closed fully. She booted up the engines and moved quickly away from the space station. Jester, Jerund and Tris were already circling outside. Jerund pounced on her as she was just getting her bearings and she sent her fighter spinning off to the side, avoiding him shots neatly. As the other fighters flew from the station they were drawn into the swirling fight neatly dividing up to six on six. Cien flew at her wing through the fight as they twisted and dove and turned. It was all a blur to her. A random shot here, the buzz of a lock and a dive next, turning and turning, the dives and calls blurring together. Finally it stopped, her fighter hanging motionless in space, Cien off to her right. Tris was behind her, Jerund and Jester above. Jerund spoke, his voice coming right into her ear. “I’m pleased that you guys did so well in the fight. The three top pilots for the fight were in third, Major Ranier.” Paige smiled, pleased for her lovers success. “In second, Lieutenant Commander Brogue.” Paige nodded. Tris had always been a good pilot so it didn’t surprise her at all to see her high in the rankings. “And the best pilot for the fight, Captain Fardreamer-Ranier. Congratulations Captain.” Paige blushed furiously, even though she knew no one could see her. She acknowledged her wing mates congratulations with a simple thank you. Jerund voice came back over the radio. “Repot back to station and go about your business. We’ll do this tomorrow at the same time.” Paige turned obediently and carefully flew her fighter into its proper spot in the hanger bay. Cien was waiting on her as she climbed out. She smiled up and him and he gave her a hand up to the walkway. “Come on honey, it’s well past lunch. Let’s go get something to eat. I think Jerund got the computers reprogrammed for real food while we were out.” Paige nodded “Alright love.” She put her arm around his waist and they walked back into the locker room to shed their flying gear then headed off towards the mess hall for lunch.
As Paige and Cien walked into the mess hall she gave a gentle tug on her husbands arm, nodding off to the corner. Peter sat alone at a corner table with a bottle of whiskey and a shot glass. Paige left her love’s side and walked over to Peter, touching his arm gently. “Pete…?” She said softly. He whirled on her, his eyes blazing. “Don’t ever call me that! Never again! You hear me?” His expression fell as she took an involuntary step backward. He clenched his jaw and shook his head. “I…I’m sorry Paige. I should not have acted that way…it’s just that…Angela…she…she always called me Pete…always.” Paige nodded and sat down beside Peter, pulling him into a gentle hug, tears flowing openly down her cheeks. “I understand and it’s okay…I miss her too. “ Her voice cracked at the mention of her sister and she swallowed against the lump in her throat. Peter hugged her back tightly; tears flowing openly down his face. They stayed like that for several long minutes before Peter finally pulled away. “Thank you…” He told her softly, stroking her hair with a sad half smile and rising from the table. “I’m going to go get some rest. I’ll see you around.” He walked off, leaving the bottle and shot glass on the table. Cien came and took them back to the kitchen area and put them away. When he returned to the table he had two plates of vegetables, silverware and two waters. He sat all of it down and gave his wife a gentle loving hug. She sighed and smiles at him. “Thanks honey. I needed that.” Gold eyes looked up at him, still tear filled and he wiped a gentle thumb across her cheeks. “I know. You also need to eat.” He pushed her plate in front of her and kissed her forehead, sitting down beside her and pulling his own plate in front of him. He ate at a steady pace, watching his wife pick at her food, eating little. “Paige…” He spoke softly and she looked up at him. “Please eat…for me?” Her gold eyes stared up into his then she nodded and reluctantly started eating. He reached over and squeezed her hand gently and watched as she slowly finished off her food. He gave her a loving smile and too their plates and silverware over to the cleaning unit and left them. When he returned to her side she was standing and watching him, a slight smile playing about her lips as some secret thoughts flowed through her mind. He put his arms around her shoulder. “What brings a smile to your eyes, gentle woman of mine?” He spoke softly, relieved to see her smile. “You do Cien. I was just thinking of how much I love you.” Cien gave her a gentle kiss. “Well if I make you smile it’s all the better. Come on, you’re tired, I can tell, lets go and get a bit of rest.” Paige nodded and they walked off to their room together.
Paige woke slowly, rolling over to smile at her love. She snuggled down by his side and he put am arm gently around her. “Hey love.” Cien smiled lovingly down at his wife, studying her face with a lovers gentle scrutiny. She grinned back at him happily and kissed his cheek as she rolled out of the bed. “Leaving so soon?” Cien called to her as she walked to their small bathroom unit. She laughed and turn back to smile at him for a moment before turning and continuing in to the bathroom for her shower. Cien smiled to himself. Despite everything he had been through in the past week, she was still a source of light in his life. He got up and dressed, calling to her as he headed out into the hall. “I’ve some things to do today love before our training mission. I’ll just meet you there.” Paige stuck her head out as she was toweling her hair dry to give him another of her amazing smiles. “Alright love. I’ll see you later then.” Cien smiles back at her then walked out into the hall, saluting Jester as he walked down the hall toward him. His CO yawned and Cien chuckled. “Not awake yet?” Jester nodded, running a hand blearily over his face. “I’ve always had problems waking up when it’s dark outside.” Cien furrowed his brow. “But…it’s always dark outside in space.” Jester nodded. “I know…I know…” And continued down the hall. Cien chuckled and shook his head, continuing toward the hanger. The door opened to his code and he entered, startling Peter who was standing in front of the window, staring out at Earth, orbiting below. Cien stopped short. “Sorry I disturbed you…” Peter shrugged. “It’s okay, I was just thinking, that’s all.” The younger man sighed and turned back toward Cien. “We have another training mission today?” Cien nodded. “Yes…I came to tinker with my fighter. You want to help?” Peter shook his head. “No thanks, I think I’m going to get some breakfast.” Cien nodded. “Alright. See you later then.” Cien turned and walked out into the fighter bay. Peter sighed again, giving one last long look at earth before turning and heading back into the base.
Paige woke early, rising gently from the bed and leaving her husband still dreaming. The past month had gone quickly for her. Training missions had kept her busy and kept her mind off things. Moral had improved a little bit but Peter was still having a hard time. She sighed a bit. She wished she could help him but it was something he had to deal with. She couldn’t do it for him. She stretched and walked into a small bathroom unit that was connected to their room; grabbing up one of her few fresh flight suits left on the way. She turned on the water and stepped inside, knowing she had to be quick. A quick lather of her hair and a rinse and she stepped out, grabbing a towel and drying her hair. As she walked back into their tiny bedroom Cien was still asleep and she kissed his lips gently. “Morning, love of mine time to get up.” She spoke softly. He opened his eyes and smiled up at his wife, kissing her lips back. “Morning…already had your shower?” Paige nodded and he rose from the bed stretching and turned back to her. “How long until we’ve that training mission today love?” “We have about two hours to get ready, plenty of time for breakfast before we go.” Cien nodded and took the damp towel from her and taking a fresh flight suit of his own went into the bathroom for his shower. Paige waited on him, brushing out her long dark hair and plaiting it into a braid to keep it out of the way during the day. She heard the shower cut off and listened as Cien came back out into the main room after a moment, zipping up his flight suit as he approached her. He kissed her neck gently. “So breakfast now?” He asked and she smiled a bit. “We’ve two hours still love of mine…plenty of time before we need to go eat.” She turned then and kissed him, pulling him back toward the bed with a wide happy smile as he followed her most willingly.
Paige and Cien walked into the ready room, looking about at the other pilots. Paul rose and handed Paige a note. “Peter gave me this earlier, then went on out in his fighter. He said to give it to you for him, that it was important.” Paige nodded her thanks and looked up at Cien. Her husband shrugged and she opened the note, reading it slowly. “Paige, You won’t be happy with me, I know, but, I have to go back to Earth, I can’t shake the feeling that Angela didn’t die in the missile attack and I have to go back and see to be sure. I’m sorry, I know you’ll worry, but it’s just something that I have to do to be able to live with myself. Until we meet again…Peter” Paige looked up at Cien, who had been reading over her shoulder. His eyes were hard as stone and he gently took the note from her and walked over to Jerund and showed him silently. After a moment he spoke. “I’m going after him.” He said simply and turned to go. Paige tried to grab him. “Cien…please…” He shook off her arm and simply keep walking. Paige tried to follow him but Crix rose in her way and she tripped, falling sideways. She put out her arm to catch herself, but felt a sickening pop as she hit the floor and her arm gave way beneath her. Her head hit the floor then all she knew was blackness.
Paige woke in the medical ward, feeling groggy and known she was medicated. She groaned, feeling her arm throbbing despite the medication. Jester came to her side and looked down at her worriedly. “How are you feeling? The arm’s not hurting to bad is it?” Paige closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. When she opened her eyes again she spoke. “It’s throbbing. How bad did I break it?” Jester grimaced. “Broke your ulna and radius clean through about three inches above your wrist. Didn’t break the skin though, so we set it while you were out and put a cast on it. We gave you some morphine for the pain…but if you’re still hurting we can give you a little more?” Paige shook her head. “Cien left…” She stated and Jester simply nodded. Crix stuck his head in the room and grimaced at her. “I’m really sorry Paige…I didn’t mean to trip you, honest!” Paige gave him a smile. “I know Crix, accidents happen…” The man gave her a grateful smile and continued down the hall. Paige looked back up at Jester. “So what now?” “Well I’d like for you to rest here for the next few days, to make sure that you actually do rest. Plus we can keep you medicated, so you’ll miss the worst of the pain.” Paige nodded. “Alright…” She yawned. The morphine was getting to her. Jester nodded. “Just go back to sleep, it’s the best thing for you anyway.” Paige nodded and reluctantly closed her eyes and fell back asleep.
Paige woke to the smell of food, which made her stomach turn in protest. She groaned and felt someone stroke her hair gently. She opened her eyes quickly, hoping it was Cien. Jerund gave her a rueful grin. “Sorry little one…I know I’m not who you were hoping for, but I brought you some dinner.” Paige shook her head. “I’m not feeling up to eating. Even the smell of food is making me queasy.” Jerund rubbed the back of his neck. “Well…Little one it doesn’t surprise me…You’re pregnant.” Paige started to sit up quickly, her hand going to her stomach, but Jerund held her gently down. She closed her eyes. “Oh Cien…why did you have to leave me now?” Jerund stroked her hair again. “He’ll be back little one, I’m sure of it. You should rest though, and try to eat.” Paige nodded, staring at the food and Jerund left her alone. She stared, at the wall, giving a hard sigh and closing her eyes, a single tear slipping down her cheek. There was a knock at the door and she looked up quickly as Paul peeked in. “I’m sorry…” He said, seeing her tears. “I’ll go, I didn’t mean….” He stuttered and turned to go. “It’s okay Paul…I’ll be okay…” She gave a slight sigh and stared back down at her food. “Are you sure?” Paige nodded and Paul walked in and sat on the edge of her bed. “I came to check on you…Cien…he told me to take care of you while he was gone…” Paige nodded with a slight smile. “He…he always did try to take care of me…” She broke down, unable to hide her tears anymore. Paul pulled her awkwardly into a hug. “Hey…It’ll be alright. Cien’s one tough bastard…He can take care of himself, and he’ll be back to take care of you too, okay?” Paige nodded, sniffing back her tears. “You’re right of course…He can take care of himself…” She pulled back and gave Paul a thankful smile. He smiled back. “You be okay now?” Paige nodded. “I think so…I’m going to try to eat something and then get some more rest…I still feel tired.” Paul nodded and rose from the bed. “Alright then. If you need me, I’ll be around okay?” Paige nodded. “Thanks Paul.” The man gave a shy smile and blushed just a bit and hurried out.
Jester stood looking over the medical charts he had to take care of that day. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Paige standing and looking out the window. She spent most of her time there now because she could see the approach to the docking bays from there. He had thought, at first, that he would be the one keeping her spirits up as they waited on Cien to return, but now he found it the other way around. As he watched her patient vigil was interrupted by Paul’s approach. Jester was glad that the man took Cien’s request of him so seriously. Paige really did need the moral support and Paul was there for her. He watched as Paul lead Paige out and glanced at his watch. It was lunchtime already. He sighed and shuffled the charts into order, sliding them back into the storage unit he had taken them from. He had to help Jerund with the training mission in just a few minutes. He turned and walked out of the medical ward, heading toward the ready room to get prepared.
Paul watched Paige eat. He knew it was hard on her, not having Cien around and being pregnant with his child. That part worried him. In the middle of a war zone they had no equipment to check on the baby or keep up with it’s growth. He hoped for her sake that the baby was growing like it was supposed to. If Cien didn’t come back, and something was wrong with the baby… Paul cut off his thought. There was no reason to even go there. Cien would come back and until Cien did, he would take care of Paige, and even the baby if it took that long. Paige spoke, startling him out of his thoughts. “Paul…it’s time for the training flight today, you better hurry, I’ll take your plate okay?” Paul nodded his thanks and Paige smiled, causing him to blush and hurry out, heading toward the ready room.
Paige looked out the window. She had been watching every day for a week for her husbands return. It was getting late. Jerund came to her side and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “You should get some rest. You’re tired, I can tell.” Paige looked up at the General. “I’ll be alright sir for a little longer. I have trouble sleeping anyway…” Jerund sighed softly. “Alright, but do try to get some rest Major…” The general turned to walk away and Paige glanced back out the window. “A fighter!” Paige said, jumping up. Jerund turned and ran back to the window as he watched a fighter slowly approach the station. He turned to Paige. “You stay here alright?” Paige nodded reluctantly and Jerund hurried down the hall. He grabbed Crix by the arm as he passed him and stopped to pound on Jester’s door. Jester opened it, zipping his flight suit as he did so. “What’s wrong?” “Cien’s back, but the way his fighter was flying, it had to be on auto pilot, so I don’t know what sort of condition he’s in…” Jester nodded, motioning Tris back to bed as he walked out the door. “Alright, lets go.” The four men walked down to the ready room quickly, then straight through to the hanger. Cien was half out of his fighter, his body dirty and bruised and his flight suit worn and ripped in many places. Jerund sighed. “We’ll take him in the back way to the medical ward, I don’t want Paige to see him until we get him at least cleaned up.” The three men lifted the unconscious Cien between them and headed back to the medical ward.
Paige stood beside Cien, looking down at his gaunt face, starvation and suffering printed clearly on it. A tear ran down her cheek, of both sadness and happiness at the same time. She reached out a hand and stroked his cheek lightly. His eyes snapped open and he jumped back from her gentle touch as if her hand was on fire. He growled then, a low animal sound, low in his throat. Paige backed away, confused. Jerund stepped quickly into the room and moved around to stand in front of Paige. Cien’s eyes caught hers then and they chilled her to the bone. His blue eyes had the color and warmth of glacier ice. “Jester, Crix, Paul?” Jerund called out as Cien sat up and backed against the wall, still growling low in his throat. The three men entered the room and Jerund spoke softly. “Paul, take Paige out of here and keep her safe…we’re going to have to restrain him…” Paige glanced up at Jerund, her gold eyes large and tear filled and the general looked down at her, his own dark eyes full of apology. “It’s the only way little one.” Paul took her gently by the arm and pulled her back out of the way as the three men converged on Cien, Jester and Crix holding him down as Jerund strapped him arms, legs and torso to the bed. Paul hustled her out of the room and then turned, taking her in his arms and just holding her as she sobbed helplessly against his shoulder. The other three men emerged from the room and Jerund pulled the door shut against the angry, animalistic roars coming from within. Jerund looked down at Paige. “I…I’m sorry little one…Do not go in there with out someone accompanying you…” Paige nodded, her eyes red. Jerund motioned discreetly to Paul and the man pulled her gently away, speaking softly as he lead her off to keep her mind off of Cien.
Jester watched Paige closely. She was sitting at a window, just staring out at the stars. They were all worried about her. Cien had been back for three weeks now and there had been no change in his behavior. They had to keep him pretty deeply sedated most of the time, so that he wasn’t a danger to himself, or anyone else on the station. Paige was sinking deep into depression though. Paul was doing his best to fulfill his promise to Cien, but Paige was retreating from everyone. Jerund walked up and spoke with her softly, and she glanced up at him and replied, then just turned away to look back out at the stars. Jerund cast a look at Jester and motioned the man discreetly out into the hall. When they reached it’s privacy Jerund sighed and rubbed his eyes. “She’s not been sleeping hardly at all, you can see it in her eyes.” Jester nodded. “She’s not been eating like she should. I know this is hard for her…Cien was a good man, it’s not easy for any of us to see him like that.” Jerund nodded and glanced back at Paige. “I’m going to give Paul some more free time. Hopefully just caring human contact will help her through this.” Jester nodded. “I hope so too. I still have charts to do though…” He said with a sot sigh, glancing at his watch. Jerund nodded. “Alright. We’ll talk more later then.” Jester watched as Jerund turned and walked off, and then headed back into the medical ward.
Paul walked into the medical ward and looked around for Paige. She was in her usual spot by the window but this time she was asleep. He left her be for the time being and walked over to Cien’s room. The man was awake, but deeply sedated, starring off into space at nothing. Paul sighed softly. It was horrible to see his friend like this. He had known Cien for years and had always been there for him during his rough spots, just as Cien had been for him. He turned away; he couldn’t stand there and stare at him with him like that. It felt too wrong. Paige stirred and Paul walked to her side, stroking her hair gently. She opened her eyes and looked up at him and the pain in their golden depths hurt him to his core. Someone so beautiful as her should not have so much pain in her life. “Hey there…” He spoke softly, torn apart inside but her pain and fatigue. “Hi…” She spoke back, her voice soft and broken. “You should still be sleeping.” Paul told her. Paige shook her head. “I can’t sleep…” She turned her head away and stared back out the window. Paul surprised himself then and scooped her up gently in this arms, carrying her into a side room and laying her down on the bed. “You will sleep…” He said, gently, but firmly. He put a finger to her lips and shushed her protest, blushing the whole time but still holding strong as he spoke to her. “You know he would not want to see you wasting away, endangering his child.” His shushing finger turned to stroke her cheek. “Now…rest…I’ll be here if you need me.” She just nodded up at him and he pulled the covers over her and turned out the lights, walking out of the room and leaving her to rest.
Paige woke with a start to the warning klaxon sounding. Jerund was in the room just as she sat up. “We have to evacuate. They’re bringing in the heavy guns and we can’t combat this sort of fire power…” Paul ran in and Jerund looked at him. “Get her to the shuttle.” Paul nodded and took her arm and starting pulling her gently out. “What about Cien!” Paige called back to Jerund. “We’ll get him little one…” Jerund said, stroking her hair softly, his dark eyes looking into her pain filled ones. Paige nodded and let Paul lead her toward the Red hall and past their usual hanger to the airlock where the shuttle was docked. As they boarded the ship the station rocked and Paige grabbed the wall for support. Paul helped her stay on her feet and together they made it safely to the seat. The crew filed onto the shuttle quickly, filling all the seats and bracing themselves against the walls where they could, to avoid falling when the ship shook. Tris came and sat in the floor at Paige’s side. “Where do we have to go?” Paige asked softly. “We’re falling back to the moon base, hopefully we can get a hold of a few ships from there…” “Where are the rest of the pilots?” Paige asked, looking about and missing several of her friends. Tris patted her hand. “They’re flying the fighters over to the moon base and covering us as we go… They should be alright. It’s hard to target a fighter with big guns like they’re using.” Paige nodded and sat back, leaning against Paul for comfort as the ship pulled quickly away from the space station. “You’re still so tired love…No sense in forcing yourself to stay awake. Get some rest okay? The stress isn’t good for you…” He continued to stroke her hair and Paige allowed him to lull her to sleep.
Paige woke to Paul gently rubbing her arm “Wake up Hun, we’re there.” Paige opened her eyes and looked around, seeing many of the other people had already gotten off the ship. She rose, stretching and headed toward the airlock. As she walked off the ship she nearly ran over Jerund, who was supporting Crix down the sloping landing ramp. Crix was cradling his arm and his sleeve was blood stained. He was limping badly. Jerund wasn’t in much better shape. His face was bruised and his lip bloodied. He looked down at Paige, his eyes tortured. “We tried to get Cien…But he broke free…We were barely able to make it off station ourselves…” Paige closed her eyes and spoke softly. “He did all that?” “Yes...” Paige sighed and felt an arm go around her waist. She turned to Paul and just let him hold her, feeling his own tear mingling with hers. He was strong for her though and scooped her up, holding her close against him and carrying her away from the throng of people in the hanger bay, to the relative quiet of a room. There he just held her and let her cry until she couldn’t cry anymore. She looked up at him, unable to speak, unable to even find words to express the pain that filled her heart and tore her soul apart. He said nothing, just stroked her hair, his eyes red rimmed from his own soft tears, tears for her loss, and the loss of his friend. He just sat at her side, stoking her hair and her tear stained cheeks until she drifted off into a troubled sleep.