Interlude (4)

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"The scan was clean. There's still a little bit of bruising, but her personal nanobots are clearing that up nicely."

Shan Fung nodded. Doctor Alena Marsten leaned over the bed where Xandri lay, asleep under the influence of a mild sedative, and straightened again with a look of satisfaction. Before the scan she had expressed certainty that nothing was seriously wrong, since Xandri—with the help of her nanos—had managed to stay conscious and even fight. But like any doctor, she was clearly pleased to see that her patient would be fine.

"She should wake shortly," Doctor Marsten said. "I should go check on my other patients."

"Thank you, doctor," Shan Fung said. "Always good to know they're in your hands."

"I'm not sure they feel that way," Marsten responded with a laugh.

"Soldiers never do."

With another laugh, Doctor Marsten swept from the room, claiming her holo-slate on the way. Shan Fung turned her attention back to the fragile-looking figure in the bed. The fragile-looking figure who had, as Shan Fung had found out afterward, shot one of the Titans in the knee and dealt minor injuries to a few more. She had an instinct to protect, even if she had acted foolishly.

Which brought Shan Fung's mind to the quiet but warm breaths brushing the back of her neck.

"Go on, Magellan," Shan Fung said. "Say it."

"Do I even need to, Captain?" Magellan demanded. She didn't have to look to know his ears were back and his nostrils flaring. "What foolishness! Running off by herself like that! We're lucky she didn't get anyone killed. Herself included, though that might have saved us a good deal of trouble."

"Now, now, Magellan, no need for that. At the least, let us see what she has to say for herself when she wakes up."

"Yeah, Magellan," echoed a voice from the doorway. "Give the kid a break. And maybe back up a bit. Doubt the first thing she wants to see after a concussion is your mug."

Shan Fung gave the bridge of her nose a brief but firm pinch and then turned to face Diver. There was an oil-soaked rag tucked into his jeans, a tool belt around his waist, and a steaming smart-mug in his hands. She recognized the smell of coffee at once and suppressed a smile. It would be inappropriate, especially with Magellan just behind her, letting out the low rumble of a warning growl.

"Mr. Diver..."

"I know, Captain, I know." He paused to set the mug on the table beside Xandri's bed, then nodded at Magellan. "I get your concerns, Lieutenant, but Xan ain't a soldier, and she's new at this, too. None of us had a reason to expect this sorta conflict, did we? Maybe we should've. We didn't exactly prepare her for it."

"Growl all you wish, Magellan," Shan Fung said, "but he has a point. I didn't see the need to prepare her, thus I must take some responsibility for my lack of foresight."

"You're only human," Magellan said gruffly.

"On this ship, I am second only to God. Now, Mr. Diver, for the reason I brought you here."

Shan Fung picked up her holo-slate from where she had left it on the chair beside Xandri's bed. Xandri stirred briefly, let out a breathy murmur but didn't wake; the sedative hadn't let go quite yet, but it was wearing off now. Best get this done with, then. She turned on the holo-slate and in mere seconds—and a few flicks of her fingers—she brought up what she wanted them to see: An x-ray of the Titan Xandri had shot. More particularly, his knee.

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