Sleepy, blue eyes snapping open, Hataru looked around, finding herself back in the captain's quarters. After her sensationless time in the Null, the dim light of the moon glittering through the window seemed almost unreal. All seemed well ─ until an ear-splitting howl burst through the night, making the princess jump. What's going on? Still in her underclothes, which she had been using as a nightgown since she first woke up on the ship ten days ago, she leaped out of bed, ignoring the minor pain in her wounded foot, and raced down the hallway toward the noise.
The entire aircraft rumbled, shuddering violently ─ an occurrence that had become quite common over the past four or five days ─ and Hataru was tossed against the wall. Another crazed scream tore through the night, infuriated, but frightened, like a wild animal trapped in a cage, yowling for its freedom.
“I SAID NO, FIRIOUS!” the voice boomed, as Hataru slowly tiptoed toward a door, slightly cracked open. Warm yellow light showered onto her face as she peeked through the opening. The room was cluttered and messy, as if a rabid monkey had been set loose to wreak havoc on the poor objects that now made their homes on the floor.
“Just listen to me! Try to be reasonable; you usually are. I hate it when you get like this, you always turn into such a bruin-brained monster!” spoke another voice, sounding hurt.
“I DON’T NEED THIS! JUST LEAVE. ME. ALONE. I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANYONE RIGHT NOW!”
“Fine. I’ll just come back once you’ve calmed down. You'll come to your senses eventually.” Large boots stomped in her direction, and Hataru jumped away from the door as if it were on fire, afraid of being caught snooping. The hallway was temporarily lit up with soft light, and then the captain’s first mate stood before her. Eyes wide she feared he would scold her for peeping, but Firious, looking like a dejected dog, only gazed up at the ceiling and sighed.
With a strained smile and a pinched, gruff voice he told her, “The captain says he doesn’t want to see anyone at the moment. I suggest you return to your quarters, little lass,” and then he stepped around her and walked away, the sound of his heavy footsteps slowly fading.
Bewildered and confused, Hataru was a statue. She couldn’t decide whether to follow Firious’ advice and return to bed or if she should venture through the door. Captain Spry seemed so nice, so serene and unshakable. She wouldn’t have thought it possible for such insufferable sounds to escape that man’s gentle lips. He is more like Kosu than he would like to admit. You have to help him let go of his anger. Sibyl's voice echoed in her mind.
Cre-eak! The old hinges betrayed her attempt at stealth as she pushed the door open ever so slightly. Despite the warmth of the light, the room seemed cold. Levi, his back turned to her, stared out a dark, circular window. As soon as she saw the candle light glint off of his lengthy silver hair, she stopped as if a frightening winter wind had swept across her path, freezing her in place. This was not a good idea... Deaf to the girl’s entrance, though, he turned away from the window and began pacing back and forth. His voice, not nearly as loud as before, but still quite thunderous, resonated off the walls as he began speaking his abhorrent thoughts aloud to himself.
“Where was that damned cage? We traveled all the way up that sweltering mountain and returned empty-handed! That stupid cage was supposed to be there, but did we find it? NO! Instead, we get ambushed by a band of damn, thieving reprobates!” The princess stifled a gasp. It was as if someone, someone without a heart, someone who despised all things good, had flipped a switch deep inside of the captain, completely changing his mindset.