Thea: Maps to the StarsMature

Captain Amalia Vega had everyone searching for the reason for the pirates' attack. Malik had been taken to the medical bay, having collapsed. To think, if it weren't for his self imposed starvation, he might have won. Thea was sure that he would punish himself for that too. She shook her head; that man was insane. 

She had watched as he battled. Battled the man she had met before this voyage. The pirate. 

Thea felt like a fool. He had probably only helped that night to get a proper look at the ship. She cursed herself for being so stupid. Now, she was searching through the main cabin with Amalia; who was sure that Grave must have come for one of her precious artefacts. Not that Thea felt she was much help; she didn't know what Amalia possessed. 

"When I get my hands on him..." She heard Amalia muttering as she dug through some boxes. "I swear on every planet, every star, I'll run him through."

"Captain?" Thea hesitated as an irate Amalia swung around to face her. "Are we sure that he took something?"

"Why on earth would he have done that for no gain Penna?" She growled, and Thea shut up. The Captain was intimidating, and during the battle she had gotten a little cut up, which did not make her less scary. There was a cut on her cheek, and her knuckles were bloody. Not all her blood, she had assured the med bay crew, when asked. 

"You're bleeding," Thea muttered, noticing the cut on the Captain's cheek begin to bleed again. Amalia touched it, and rolled her eyes. 

"It's just a scratch."

"If it's not cleaned it could get infected." Thea frowned. She was used to arguing with her stepmother, but somehow the Captain held so much more power. She struggled to bring up her usual attitude. She'd been struggling with that ever since she'd stepped on this ship. Amalia was staring at her curiously. Thea straightened her spine and stared right back, raising an eyebrow. It was the best she could summon in the circumstances. 

"Very well." Amalia allowed, which shocked Thea a little. "If it will make you any more helpful." Ah, there was that cutting response she'd been expecting. Although, not quite as icy as she had thought it would be. 

Thea gathered a cloth and some of the antiseptic liquid that Amalia pointed out to her. She dipped the cloth in and turned towards the Captain, who was still looking through that box. Thea rolled her eyes and marched over. 

"Sit," she said, and Amalia raised an eyebrow at her. "Please... Captain?" Amalia sat begrudgingly; Thea leaned down and began to clean the wound. She could feel the Captain studying her. 

"I could have done it myself."

"Given how flippant you were about it in the first place, I doubt you'd have done it properly... Captain," Thea added at the end, realising she'd just spoken out of turn. She focused on cleaning the cut, trying to ignore the dark, inquisitive and slightly surprised eyes of Amalia, which were studying her closely. "There, all done. We should cover it with some tape later, but best to let the air get to it now."

Amalia studied her reflection in a glass, and nodded. Thea accepted that this was all the thanks that she would get. She glanced down at the desk, clearing away the cloth and the antiseptic... something was different. 

"Erm... Captain?"

"Yes?" Amalia's voice was dark. 

"I think I know what's missing..."

***

Amalia was furious. Thea could see it seething underneath her cool attitude as she announced the theft to the crew. The pirate Captain Grave did not seem like a man easily scared, but Thea thought that if he could see Amalia now, he'd be at least sensible enough to put as much distance between them as possible. She radiated with power and strength. No wonder her crew were said to be the most loyal. 

"There is only one explanation for this theft; he knows where we're going and he wants to get there first. That, I will not stand for. His ship may be larger than ours, but that only means we're faster. We can move in and out of the dangerous areas in space with more ease than him. And that is how we will get ahead of him again. We begin as soon as our navigator," she glanced at Thea and looked away just as quickly, "and I have plotted a new course. And found some maps." She glared again. "In the meantime, follow your last instruction. We will not be slowed for long!"

She marched away again, and Thea took a breath, looking around at the crew. They were moving to their stations, but they seemed to feel the after effects of the attack keenly, if only in their anger. She spotted Xura, looking very shell-shocked, and headed over to check on her. 

"Hey, are you alright?"

"I... I had to run. They were everywhere... I was scared-"

"Hey," Thea interrupted, more sharply than she'd meant to. She softened her tone. "Hey, don't focus on that. They're gone. Focus on space. Focus on what we're going to see. It's going to be incredible."

"But she wants to track them down-" Xura's voice had become a little stronger, and Thea smiled gently. There was hope for her yet. 

"And by that point, we'll be ready. No longer the hunted. The hunter. So I'd get someone to teach you to fight if I were you. I'm certainly going to." 

Xura opened her mouth, but paused, her eyes fixed on something behind Thea. The red head turned, and found herself face to face with Amalia, and a bandaged Malik, who looked a little worse for wear. 

"I think that can be arranged," the Captain said, "but after you have done your job. Quick march, Penna."

Thea glanced back at Xura with a smile, and followed Amalia away. Malik followed slowly. 

"I have spare maps of course, but none as detailed. It's not as though replacing a map as detailed as that is easy, either." She glared at her desk, where the less detailed maps sat. Thea fidgeted, thinking of her bag and what lay inside. 

"I... erm..." Amalia's head shot up.

"What?"

"I have a map."

"A detailed one? Like mine?" Amalia's eyes narrowed. 

"Y-yes." Why was she telling them? It was one of her father's maps, the one he had used during his discovery of the Nebula. It was detailed. It was also obviously his; his name was written boldly across the top. It could blow her cover. 

"Then why are you standing there? Go fetch it." 

Thea went. She'd done it now. She'd have to come up with a story. Something believable. When she returned with the maps, Malik was sitting in a chair. He looked pale, but determined. He kept wincing; his head must hurt. 

"Show me." Amalia ordered, moving to allow Thea the room to spread it on the desk. When she did, Amalia stared at it for a long time. Thea's nerves rose. Then Amalia spoke. "Where did you get this?"

"My father... it was a present for all he had done..."

"On the journey to discover the Nebula? The Alatheia Nebula?" She was studying Thea again. She should have changed her first name; stupid, stupid... "He was on that voyage?"

"Yes."

"Penna? His last name was Penna?"

"...Yes?" Amalia studied her. Thea felt like she was going to be sick. She had to go on the defensive. "Why are you asking? Nathaniel Elin was a good man, my dad says, and he gave this to him. Now can we use it or not?"

Amalia's eyes flashed, although her lip had quirked a little, as though to smile. 

"Very well. Yes, we may use it. Can you remember the course?"

"Mostly, I think." Thea breathed a sigh of relief and moved closer, tracing a finger over the map to chart the route. Her father's marks lay along it. "This is the route that Elin took, I believe."

"Yes... I used it when I was planning the journey. There is a map in the Royal Library."

"Yes. So, if we keep to this route, we shouldn't be too far behind them."

"I don't want to be behind them. I want to be in front." Amalia's voice had sharpened, a stark contrast to the contemplative tone she had adopted while studying Thea, and the map. 

"I can see if there's a clear way through..." Thea's finger scurried across the map, looking for any diversion that would give them an advantage. 

A light snore broke through her concentration, and both Amalia and Thea looked up, to find Malik asleep in the chair. Amalia sighed. 

"I knew he shouldn't have left the med bay," she murmured. 

"He's a soldier," Thea said, looking at Amalia. "Just like you. No regard for your own lives."

Amalia fixed her with a look that sent Thea's eyes back down to the map, her cheeks slightly pinker than usual. 

"You're finding your feet," the Captain muttered as she headed to the door, in search of someone to help take Malik back to the med bay. "Be careful, little Penna."

The End

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