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Tane looked up at the slack sails, then out on the expanse of light orange. Below, somewhere in the distance lay the Great Dune Sea and home port.

“What shall we do, Captain?” Meandre asked, “All the furniture is gone.” Shorter than Tane, her dark, almond eyes looked up at his.

“You left the bed, surely?”


“Begin with the doors, then the rails, then, if we have to, top deck, – but leave enough to walk on. Make sure there’s enough remaining to support the girds of the engines.”

She sighed, “Aye, Captain.”

Making his way aft, Tane put his hand on the shoulders of several men and women who busied cleaning up saying, “Well done” or “Brave.”

“Thanks, Capt’n,” came the grateful replies.

How bad is he?

Opening the door to his cabin, Tane entered. “How is he?” The spacious room, his own quarters, was a makeshift ward, where their healer tended to their wounded. Five men, three women in all, injured, three seriously, one near death. Coming near to Apera, their healer, Tane asked quietly, “How bad is he?”

Standing, Apera shook his head. “He’s not good, Tane. He was tied in when he fell off the ship. The fall broke his back, there are internal injuries, too. He won’t last long. The others will heal eventually, I’ve sewn up what I could, but there will be scars, of course. I’ve done all I can,” Apera said, glancing down at the pouch at the side of Tane’s thigh.

Tane knelt, placing his hand on his crewman’s wet forehead, feeling his agony. Ni struggled to open his eyes, looking at his captain. Bravely he spoke, with effort, “Looks like I’ll beat you to heaven after all.” He spasmed violently, head tilting back, jaw clenched until the attack of pain subsided.

Heart pounding, Tane said, “Can’t let that happen, I hate to lose a bet.” Tane’s hand was already at his side loosening the clasp on the pouch, taking the vial of nectar into his fingers.

Uncorking it with his teeth, he put it to Ni’s lips, as the man protested with his hand, managing to say, barely, “It’s meant for th–Hader’s…can’t.”

Tane thought back to all the times Ni saved his life, all the memories of them fishing on the open oceans of their home world, the sacrifices he’d made for those around him in the war. Emotions flooded him. “No, my friend, it’s for everyone.” Then, eyebrows raising slightly, he spoke sternely, “Ni, this is gonna hurt.” The dying man gave a nod as his lips touched the nectar, its golden liquid running out of the vial, almost as if it was attracted to him.


“Come! Hold him!” Tane shouted. Ni began to tremble, crying out in blinding pain as his bones began to fuse together, his smashed organs regenerating from the mass of bloody mush they’d become. Those around held his arms and legs as great spasms flopped him like a stranded fish as he gasped for air.

“It’s killing him! You gave him too much!” one of the women shouted.

“Shut up, it’s working.”

Eyes rolling back in his head, the nectar let go, Ni’s body relaxed, as the healer felt his neck. “He’s alive Tane…barely.”

Having seen the healing throes many times before, Tane got up and went to the other wounded, each protested just like Ni. “Look, the mission’s over even if do we make port,” he said. “I’ll not treat Haders better than I treat my own crew. Alethea will just have to understand.” He paused, then continued softly, “And even if she doesn’t, I’ll take responsibility.”

What have we become?

Later, Meandre approached him as he stood behind the ship’s wheel, staring at the magnitron compass as the last sun set over the orange horizon.

“You know that won’t work, the suns aren’t in conjunction,” she reminded him.

“Yeah, I was just thinking.”

“What about?” She came and stood by him, resting her hand on his as he steered.

“It was just. . . Ni. He would have died if I hadn’t insisted, and he was too weak to refuse. What have we become? He was dying, for God’s sake! Something just doesn’t feel right. I’m just thinking we’ve lost our way.”

Coming closer, she put her arm around his waist, looking at the compass with him. “I know, it seems like everything is out of alignment, Tane. I feel it, too. But you did right, no matter what the others think or Alethea says. She knows you have your own mind and thoughts, that’s why she chose you. She trusts you, Tane. And seraphs don’t give their trust easily. Trust her, too.”

“I know what she said, Meandre, but I can’t believe that helping my crew is wrong.”

“You did what you thought was right, I understand. The crew will, too. I am sure.”

It’s as good as direction as any

Looking down at her upturned face, lips full, eyes wide and soft, Tane thought, God, you’re beautiful. She’d protected him earlier, with a warrior’s fierce heart of love. Not that he’d want to ever be on the receiving end of her sword, but, what a woman. Briefly, he imagined lifting her up, taking her sweetness right there on the wheel of the ship, his loins throbbing.

Tying the big wheel in place, he said, “That’s as good as we’ll get until tomorrow, barely moving anyway. If we keep to the mountain range, will be okay.” He turned and bent down close to her earlobe, nibbling it slightly, sure that his warm breath was making her tingle all over in special places. “Let’s go see that bed you saved.”

Good Love by Irie Love