1. In answer, another huge sheet of metal fell away, landing with a loud thud and a cloud of dust. Coughing, Kyber tried lifting his legs, when pain jabbed him in the hip. Reaching down, he discovered he’d been pierced with a piece of the metal. From the pattern on it, it appeared to be from the life pod. Jiggling it slightly, he hoped it hadn’t penetrated too far. He took the chance and slowly pulled it out. Four inches. It had gone in four inches. And now it’s bleeding like a gakking rammit. Worse, because of the wound’s location, he couldn’t tie anything around it to stop the slow but steady stream of blood streaking down his leg. Kyber peered closer at the slit, pressing one talon against the cut. The pain wasn’t intense, which was good. It meant the damage was minimal. And because it was running down his leg instead of spurting proved he didn’t have a ruptured blood vessel.
2. There was a sudden jerk on her head. Blue-black ichor sprayed across her face, and she gasped. Another jerk, and she could feel the thing’s pincers being drawn out of her skin. Kelen rolled her eyes upward, to find the big Seneecian standing less than a meter away from her. He tossed away the piece of the creature he’d dragged off her face as his arms and talons dripped dark colored gore.
3. The planet ended at the temple. Literally. As if some cosmic knife had sliced the world in two, right where the building was located. Except, in this case, she wondered what came first—the building, or the catastrophe which carved open this world. To the right and left, the world disappeared. A ragged edge of land stretched as far as she could see on both sides, leading away from the structure. Space lay beneath their feet, with only the thin haze of an atmosphere separating them.
4. The female was beginning to bother him in ways that were pleasant, yet uncomfortably not. While her intelligence and bravery spoke to his military soul, her beauty and compassion whispered to his heart. He knew he shouldn’t feel this way about her but he no longer had any control over his emotions at this point. Too much had happened. Their uncertain future promised more uncertainty to come—most of which wouldn’t be good.
5. Kelen remained sitting there, watching him. Observing him. Taking advantage of this rare moment to study him. If not for the fine covering of short fur enveloping his body, he appeared human. Give or take the claws on his hands and feet. She’d seen his sharp, pointed teeth. She’d witnessed first-hand his strength and bravery. And, without question, his endurance was beyond what any human man could withstand.
6. “Do you honestly believe that’s what it was? A moment of weakness?” She frowned. “Kyber, in the short time I’ve come to know you, I’ve never met anyone with your strength of character, Terran or otherwise. You’ve never hesitated to do what you feel you must do, even if it goes against your training. I’ll even wager when you protected me against those eye worms, you broke a few of your own laws. Trust me, I know what weakness is. I’ve had to deal too many times with crew members who refused to break rank to do the right thing. But you, what you did to me, what we shared, that was not weakness. It was compassion. It was caring in its purest form. Regardless of the fact that we’re two different species, deep inside we’re still two people who’ve been through hell, and we’re still caught in the middle of it. You offered solace, and I accepted it. Plain and simple. And, Kyber? I would accept it again. This shit isn’t over. There’s no telling what all we’ll encounter. We could die today for all we know.”