20. Crashed (Page 3)

Hataru’s eyes shot open to the blinding sun, “Ohhh… what happened?” She blinked, trying to sit up. All around her there was nothing but sand and blue sky, save for a pillar of smoke about a mile away and the mountain range that seemed to be holding the stormclouds back the same way the royal guards handled a paparazzi mob whenever her family went on outings together. Sand coated the princess like powdered sugar on a pastry, clinging to her still damp skin and invading every nook and cranny of her dress ─ inside and out ─ scratching her in places she really didn’t want to be scratched. “I hate the desert,” she spat.

“Hataru! Where are you?”

“Over here!”

Levi trudged over the dunes towards her, equally covered in desert dust. “Blue blazes! Are you alright?” he asked, collapsing to his knees beside her, attempting to place his hands on her shoulders, but then hesitating when he remembered the last time he tried to touch her. “I'm so sorry! I didn't mean ─ I mean, I didn't think my hand would come off like that. You must have turned it at just the right angle─”

Oh, so it's my fault now?”

“What? No... that's not what I'm saying. It was just an accident. It wasn't anybody's fault.”

“Whatever.”

“Ah... you wouldn’t still happen to have it, would you? My hand, that is.”

“I told you I wouldn't let go of it, didn't I?” She tossed the prosthetic to him broodingly.

The captain stared at her, “Are you okay?”

A load of guilt weighed on her heart. What’s your problem? It's not like he's done anything wrong! She sighed, “I'm sorry. I guess I'm just… cranky. I haven't gotten a whole lot of sleep, you know. There was the whole trying not to drown thing, and then the Seer thing when I met your grandmother in The Null, but that got interrupted by the Kresreb thing, and then there was the storm, and now we're stranded in the desert. It's just a little much for me handle, but I shouldn't be taking it out on you. None of that was your fault… well except for the Kresreb, that sort of was your fault…”

Levi grimaced.

“But I don't hold it against you! I mean, it could've happened to anyone, really, and I'm glad I was there to help…”

He gave her a half smile, “What was this… something about my grandmother? You─”

“First Mate to Captain! Captain, do you read me?” a gruff voice crackled from the ground.

Hataru looked around, bewildered, “What was tha─?”

Levi swiftly clicked his hand back in place, and twisting the pinky finger to the right, he held it up against his face, “Captain to First Mate, I read you. Is everyone alright?” He glanced at the princess and mouthed the word radio.

“Oh, sure! We’re doing just dandy sitting in the middle of this solar-sizzled desert with a broken ship and no captain!”

“But everyone is alive? No severe injuries?”

“Of course! Don’t you think I would’ve told you if it was otherwise?”

The pirate rolled his eyes, “Yes, yes. Hand the radio over to Talus. I want to speak with him.”

The End

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