There was an inkling in Ian’s mind as he followed Cygnus down into the unmonitored decks of the Transient Void. They’d made the trek a few times over the past week or so, to both ensure the Skipper wouldn’t overhear them as they discussed in detail their plans to find a way off the starship. It was like something he wanted to talk about but just wasn’t forcing itself to the surface.

On impulse, once they were off the ladder, he grabbed her arm and pulled her too him. She smiled and he kissed her. Cygnus responded enthusiastically and they were occupied for a while. Iain had gotten more used to how her body worked and responded to his. It was getting less strange. And was still certainly just as hot, perhaps even hotter. And she was pretty warm,

“Where now?” he asked after they’d finished and had been cuddling for a while.

“We’ve mapped out most of these levels,” she told him gathering her clothes back up and tossed him his to get dressed again. “One of these main access corridors has to lead us to where we need to go.”

“Are you certain this ship even has a shuttle?” Iain asked. “It’s not like the passenger decks have any lifeboats.”

That was true enough. The Transient Void’s lifeboat pods that he had come across were all conspicuously empty. He’d thought about what might happen if the ship hit a big ass comet, asteroid or something similar, but then there might have been some damage and he’d never found any sign of an impact during his own previous walkabouts.

“There’s only one way to find out,” she told him. “Keep exploring.”

So again, the worked their way back through the chilly and creepy halls filled with the frozen bodies of the ships many alien passengers/abductees.

“Do you think we should defrost any more of these?” he wondered aloud as they passed some more humanoid looking corpsicles. “To help out, or…”

Cygnus made an unenthusiastic noise.

“No,” she replied. “Who knows what kind of menagerie Skipper has collected over the millennia. They might be dangerous, antagonistic, or just plain stupid. You know, like Orwon.”

“They might be like you,” Iain offered more enthusiastically.

That made her laugh.

“Getting tired of me already?” she wanted to know.

“No, no!” he protested. “Not in the slightest.”

“Good. That would be embarrassing. Besides, I don’t’ need any competition,” she replied with a smirk. “I have enough already, believe me. Come on, it looks like the in craft bay might be there up ahead.”

At the far end of the freezer compartment, they discovered a long moving slidewalk. Another reminder to Iain that the ship felt like an airport… in space.

“These things always lead somewhere,” she told him and stepped onto the slidewalk. He followed. Time passed.

They’d been walking along the sliding floor for a while, maybe for an hour. How big was this ship? Iain wondered. They’d seem to have been going on for a good kilometer. It must be huge.

“Where exactly are we heading, do you think?” he asked

“If we’re in luck, a fully stocked shuttle bay,” she told him.

“And if we aren’t?” Iain asked, feeling hope rise ever so slightly.

She offered a noncommittal shrug.

“A completely empty shuttle bay, or maybe the engines, depending on how this ship is constructed.” she replied, then smiled as she looked ahead. “Hey, we’re almost here.”

She was right. There did seem to be a wall slowly coming their way. And it featured large hatch, which appeared to be closed and gave the impression of being sealed.

“Gonna need some help here,” Cygnus suggested, then pointed to the side of the circular hatch. “I think there’s some sort of manual override in the floor. There usually is.

“That wheel you mean?” Iain pointed out the device through one of several gaps in the deck.

“Yeah,” she replied, let out a breath. “Sorry, my brain only registers technology that’s only so primitive, you know?”

Together they pulled on the wheel until there was a click and the large door opened with a hiss of air and an audible metallic creaking noise. Momentarily he found it strange such a mechanical device would exist on such an advanced space ship, but clearly the builders weren’t so advanced as Cygnus’ civilization must be even if they were light-years ahead of 21st century Earth.

Iain forgot about that quickly enough as he and Cygnus were greeted with what existed beyond the hatch. Beyond them was a large wide chamber, glittering with lights that shone down on what looked like maybe shuttle sized space ships if all the sci-fi TV and movies were any authority. There were exactly two parked in the bay.

Cygnus dragged him back as he moved to step forwards.

“Uh-uh,” she told him. “That section is under Skipper’s surveillance.”

“How do you know?” he asked.

She raised a pair of braided eyebrows.

“I asked,” she said.

“What now?” Iain wanted to know. “Wait. You knew there was a shuttle bay. I thought you said-”

She placed a finger on his lips.

“Of course. It told me there was a shuttle bay,” she said. “It just didn’t tell me where it was or how to find it or how to get into it. Our next problem to work out will be based on the likelihood neither of those shuttles will have much range, probably only a few light years at best. We have to wait until we get close to an interstellar civilization or some spaceship convoy.”

“How long could that take?” Iain wanted to know.

She shrugged, then turned her speculative gaze on him again, narrowing those alluring orange eyes at him.

“What’s your lifespan again?”

Go to Chapter Twenty Four

Go to Chapter Twenty Six

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