Mahad starts getting suspicious about the shape the Hyperion is in. Meanwhile, the pirates go back out to look for him.
Lena opened her eyes. Sunlight was streaming in through her blinds, it must've been getting a little late in the morning. She couldn't remember when she'd finally fallen asleep the night before, but she did remember it had taken her awhile.
She got up and went over to the window, opening the blinds. "Mahad, where are you?" She searched again with her mind, but she couldn't feel anything of her brother. He was either too far away, unconscious, or worse. Lena preferred not to think about that.
If she couldn't find him like this, however, perhaps there was some way she could convince Cortes to go get Mahad a little sooner. She'd been thinking about the whole scenario for hours the night before, trying to get to sleep. Lying awake in bed, unable to do anything, she had started to understand that Cortes had had a reason to leave Mahad. He couldn't let the Saint Nazaire be captured. The ship was Puerto Angel's, as well as the rebellion's, lifeline. If he'd let them get it, they could have even found the location of Puerto Angel from one of the ship's computers. It had been all the lives of those on Puerto Angel against Mahad's.
But Mahad was still in danger and she just couldn't sit around and do nothing. She could at least try to get things moving. But she wasn't sure whether she wanted to go talk to Cortes, or how she would. He'd yelled at her on the bridge, and then she'd run off on him yesterday. He'd been mad at her. And Cortes could get pretty angry. He was probably still mad at her.
She thought about Mahad again. Every minute they waited to go get him the Sphere could be getting closer to where he was. Assuming they hadn't already. In the Hyperion he had been almost invincible - he certainly thought he was. But his ship was out of the equation. He was by himself. He needed her to at least try and do something, anything. Even if it was just facing Cortes in a foul mood.
She took a deep breath and went back to her bed, sat down, and started pulling her boots on. She'd go find Cortes. And at least see when they'd be able to go and get Mahad. That is, if she could work up the courage to talk to him.
Cortes was sitting at the bar in the tavern. Repairs on the Saint Nazaire had begun early in the morning and would probably be finished some time in the afternoon. He'd probably still be able to see the scorch marks on her hull however, even if no one else could.
After that, they'd have to start thinking about going back for Mahad. It would still be risky if the Sphere had thought to wait for them to come back. But if they went carefully, they'd most likely see the Sphere before they saw them. They needed to find Mahad as soon as possible. He could look after himself, sort of; it was possible he'd do something stupid. That aside, he'd still left him in a dangerous situation. If he hadn't gotten away from the Sphere fast enough it wouldn't really matter whether he did something stupid or not.
A part of him had wondered whether he could've held the Saint Nazaire's speed for just a moment longer. Mahad might have been able to dock the Hyperion and the Saint Nazaire could have possibly taken a few more blasts without much more damage. Just scorch marks. Perhaps he'd been too worried about scorch marks on the Saint Nazaire to risk a few seconds for Mahad.
Cortes blinked and shut down that thought as soon as it surfaced. That was not the reason and it would do no good thinking about it. He just wished he could have gotten Mahad safely back on board. But he hadn't and he couldn't change it now.
He was vaguely aware of the doors to the tavern opening and then closing again. He glanced across. Lena had just come in, looking a little nervous it seemed. Cortes turned his attention back to the bar. His previous attempt to talk to her hadn't worked, if she wanted to talk to him, it was best she decided to do it herself.
Sure enough, Lena eventually made her way over to him. "Cortes..."
Cortes tried to keep his response neutral. "What is it, Lena?"
Lena jumped slightly anyway. "Um... I think I need to talk to you, if you want. I mean... can we go outside? It's a little noisy in here."
Lena went out ahead of him, almost too quickly to follow. Cortes got up more slowly and followed her out the doors. She was a little way up the dock, out of everyone's way. He came and stood beside her, looking out over the docking bay.
"I know you're mad at me..." Lena said eventually.
"And you probably should be, I mean, I was being distracting on the bridge..."
"And I know you had to keep the Saint Nazaire safe and you didn't leave Mahad behind on purpose, but he's my brother! I can't lose him! That's why I got so upset, I just..."
"Lena! Would you just listen?!"
Lena was quiet and looked down at the ground.
Cortes sighed. That wasn't the tack to take. "I'm not mad at you. And I wasn't mad at you yesterday either."
"But... you yelled at me on the bridge..."
"Because you were being distracting and I needed you to be quiet."
"And getting off the ship?"
"It might surprise you, but I actually wanted to make sure you were alright."
"Oh..." Lena kept starting at the ground.
It was making Cortes uncomfortable. "Anything else you wanted to talk to me about?"
"I, I don't know... I guess... when can we go get Mahad?"
"Repairs on the Saint Nazaire should finish sometime this afternoon. It's probably best to start off tomorrow morning."
She was still looking down at the ground. And it was still making him nervous. "That not good enough for you?" It came out sharper than he meant it to.
"I just want Mahad back!" she blurted, glaring up at him. Then she turned and ran across the dock.
Cortes bit back yelling after her. It'd only do more damage. Instead he just watched her leave, letting the rage build up until he finally couldn't hold it in and had to slam his fist down on the railing beside him.
Mahad slammed his fists on his control panel. "Why aren't you working?!" The radio was totally busted. Sure, he could wait until he got back to Puerto Angel, it wouldn't stop him. But he didn't want to leave Lena waiting any longer than he had to.
The strange thing was he could think of no reason why the radio should be busted. It was possible it had been shaken up when he'd crashed. But unlikely.
And that wasn't the only thing that was worrying him. The Hyperion wasn't flying right. He could feel it. And he didn't think it was because he'd just crashed. There was something about it that didn't feel like he was flying the Hyperion. He'd started noticing it as he'd begun to lose that dizzy feeling he'd had in his head. He'd started noticing that the ship wasn't as responsive as usual. One engine was damaged, of course, and that was probably why. He wouldn't have paid it anymore attention. But there was something familiar about how the damage was pulling the Hyperion ever so slightly off course. It reminded him of a simulation he'd had to do in pilot school. A boring simulation. But he remembered how the ship kept pulling away, and after having to do the simulation a few times he'd been able to predict when the program would decide to make the ship 'randomly' react to the damage. The Hyperion was doing that now.
Now the radio wouldn't work. And it should. Mahad slammed his fist on the panel again. Then stopped. "Something isn't right..." he finally admitted to himself out loud. He slowed the ship down and set it on autopilot, before trying to open the hatch again. It stayed stuck fast.
It took them most of the morning to get back to where they'd had to leave Mahad. That was mostly because they were going slowly and making sure there were no Sphere ships around.
There had been none.
That had made Cortes all the more cautious.
When they made it to the block Mahad had been supposed to land on, they still hadn't seen any.
"Alright, Dahlia, Wayan, set down the Saint Nazaire. But keep the engines running. The Sphere could still be around."
"I can't feel Mahad..." Lena said.
Perhaps that's why the Sphere's not here... Cortes thought. "We have to look anyway," he said instead. "Dahlia, come with me and we'll try find the Hyperion. Wayan, if any Sphere ships turn up get the Saint Nazaire out of here. Pick us up if you can."
"Lena... I want you to stay here and keep trying to find Mahad."
Lena nodded, but wouldn't quite make eye contact. "Okay... I'll try."
"Cheng, contact us if she finds him."
"Ready, captain," said Dahlia from his side.
Cortes nodded and they left the ship together.
Outside, they both paused, scanning the area with gun and laser bow. There was nothing of any threat, so they continued down the ramp.
"The block's longest this way," said Cortes, "if Mahad has any sense, he would've landed along here somewhere..." He started walking in the direction he had indicated.
Dahlia followed behind him. "Cortes... you really think he'll still be here?"
"We won't know unless we look..." he said, even though it was really a non-answer.
"I guess not."
They continued searching over the landscape, looking for any signs of the Hyperion or Mahad.
"We'll find him, sir," Dahlia finally said, unable to put up with the silence.
"You're sure of that?" Cortes snapped. "A minute ago you were asking if it was likely he's still here."
"Well... you didn't really answer me."
Cortes sighed. "I don't need you to tell me everything's going to be okay, Dahlia. In fact, I'd rather you didn't."
"I know. But I can't say anything else if I don't know exactly what's bothering you."
"Aside from not knowing if we're going to find Mahad or not?"
Dahlia just looked at him.
"Sometimes I just wish I could figure out how to talk to kids without biting their heads off..." he growled, almost under his breath.
"Are we talking about Mahad?"
Cortes blinked. He hadn't meant to say that so loud. "We don't have time for this." He moved ahead of Dahlia.
Dahlia picked up her pace to keep up with him - and then nearly walked into his back when he stopped suddenly on top of the slight ridge they'd been walking over.
"Something crash landed here..."
Dahlia followed his gaze. There was a gouge in the landscape ahead of them, stretching across the block. She immediately chose to forget their previous conversation, instead concentrating on the task at hand. "It's wide enough to be the Hyperion."
Cortes nodded. "Keep your eyes open."
They both moved down the ridge, weapons ready, following the trail of kicked up dirt and grass.