Vila and Sester turned the corner to where Galena's guest cabin was situated and nearly bumped into Reya. She was escorting their guest to the flight deck for a debriefing session.
She immediately took a step in front of Galena, blocking their view. "What are the two of you doing here?" she asked in a not very impressed tone. After having already asserted her authority and chasing away almost a dozen soldiers who were either visiting or trying to hang around Galena's cabin, she was not in the mood for additional nonsense from anyone of the male persuasion.
Vila was too entranced by Galena's beauty to be able to give any coherent answer other than, "Oh…we…uh…Hello." This last bright greeting was accompanied by a big smile. "Fancy meeting you here." He craned his neck to catch a better glimpse of Galena around the impeding obstacle of Reya's body.
Sester elbowed Vila in the side. "Ow." Vila looked down at the source of pain and then gave his companion an irritated glare. "What was that for?"
Sester ignored the question and replied to Reya in a much more controlled and in what he hoped was a more dignified tone, "We were wondering if Galena would like a tour around the ship."
"You mean a tour of all the places you can go to?" asked Reya sarcastically.
Sester looked embarrassed. Vila decided that it was time for him to poke his companion in the ribs. Sester grimaced and took a quick step to the side, away from Vila's sharp elbow.
Vila said, "Well, you don't have to worry about that, wherever he can't go, I can."
"You have it all worked out, do you? Between the two of you?" asked Reya.
Sester looked even more embarrassed. Having both women here was producing conflicting feelings for him. He wasn't sure why but he felt as if Reya had just caught him cheating with another woman; which was odd since he had never had that deep a relationship before where he could have these kinds of feelings. For some reason, he felt a sudden need to explain himself. "I still…" He stopped himself as he realized what he was about to say. His eyes held Reya's for a moment and then he looked away. "We're only trying to help."
"Yes, help," repeated Vila in agreement. "We're very helpful."
"There are too many helpful people on this ship all of a sudden," said Reya. She was still staring at the psychostrategist; she had never seen him embarrassed before.
Galena looked on with a faintly amused expression on her face.
Reya suggested, "Since you two have so much time on your hands to help people, I know that Cally has wanted to do a detailed inventory of the ship's medical stores but she's been too busy. I'm sure that you wouldn't mind lending her a hand. Would you?"
"Inventory?" asked Vila, making it sound like the last thing on his mind; which it was.
"Yes, Cally will explain the concept to you. Tell her I sent you," said Reya. She took Galena by the elbow and steered her firmly past the two men.
Vila and Sester were still staring at the empty corridor after Reya and Galena were no longer in sight.
"What just happened?" asked Vila.
"Don't you remember? We were just volunteered to help Cally," said Sester.
"Not that. Weren't we here to see Galena? Why are we doing inventory now?" Vila was not happy. "I don't want to do inventory."
Sester looked at Vila and then he headed off.
"Where are you going?" asked Vila, following him.
"Going to do inventory," replied Sester as he continued walking.
"But I just said I don't want to do inventory," said Vila.
"I heard you," said Sester.
"Then why are you still going?" He was lagging behind but still following. "And when did you start following orders? Aren't you supposed to be the Federation liaison? What are you trying to prove?"
Sester slowed down and turned to look at Vila for a moment, and then he resumed his pace, "I’m not trying to prove anything."
"Then why are you doing inventory?" asked Vila, as if it was the last thing he would expect Sester to be willing to do. "The last time I did something like that willingly, I was trying to impress a girl."
"You don't have to worry, Vila. If I was trying to get Galena's attention, I would find a much more effective means," said Sester.
"I wasn't talking about Galena," said Vila as they arrived in the medical bay. To Vila's dismay, Cally was present and when she found out why they were there, she welcomed their help enthusiastically.
"Doesn't it bother you to have all those men staring at you? Or are you used to it?" Reya asked Galena as they took a less frequented but longer way to the flight deck. She had to admit that the other woman was very beautiful.
"I'm used to it," said Galena with a sigh. "I don't have much of a choice. I envy you."
"Yes. You have someone who loves you deeply."
Reya looked embarrassed. "You have a sharp eye. You only saw us together for a few minutes."
"It's very obvious."
"We try not to wear a sign," Reya said wryly.
"Most times, when I'm with a man, I know they're not really interested in me." There was a resigned sadness in Galena's voice.
"I never thought about it like that," said Reya.
"Most people don't."
"I'm sure my brother loves you," said Reya.
"I'd like to believe that."
"Well, if he doesn't, I'll give him a piece of my mind."
Galena smiled warmly. "You don't have to keep protecting me; I can take care of myself. But it is appreciated."
There was genuineness in this woman's manner that Reya found hard to dislike. Unlike some beautiful women she had come across, Galena didn't carry herself as one. She also seemed strong and independent; something which Reya respected.
"You're a guest and I'm responsible for security on this ship. I will not let anyone bother you. It's my job," said Reya. They came across two soldiers walking along the corridor towards them. At a glance, or rather a glower from Reya, the two men walked briskly past them.
"You might be very busy," said Galena.
Argus and Avon were waiting nervously on the flight deck. Argus was seated in the conference area and Avon was fiddling with some of the controls at his station.
"Do you want to talk to her?" asked Argus.
"No," said Avon. With one hand he was holding a pair of metal bearings he had picked up absently from the workshop and had not set down.
"I knew you were going to say that," said Argus.
"Then why did you ask?" said Avon.
"You will try to stop me if I say something...silly, won't you?" asked Argus.
"I'm sure Reya will," remarked Avon.
Argus winced. "She's definitely going to say something afterwards. But I'm hoping that you'll stop me before that."
"You should have asked Cally then," said Avon.
"And explain what? That it's a medical emergency?"
"It's definitely an emergency of some kind. It might become medical," said Avon without a hint of sarcasm.
"That's very funny," said Argus. "You should take lessons from Vila."
"I wouldn't recommend volunteering for escort duties, unless Cally goes with you," said Avon.
"Are you quite finished?" asked Argus.
There was a partial smirk on Avon's face. He heard footsteps behind him. "You might be."
Argus glared at him for a brief second before he stood up and moved forward to receive their guest.
"Welcome, Galena. I hope you've had an opportunity to get enough rest?" Argus greeted her with professional but friendly neutrality. He could almost swear that he had heard Avon mumble behind him, "You're safe so far."
"Yes, you're very kind. In fact everyone has gone out of their way to make me feel welcome," said Galena. Her voice was still as melodic and gentle as he remembered.
"I'm glad." He gestured towards the couch. "Please, make yourself comfortable."
She sat down gracefully and Reya seated herself opposite her. Avon stayed at his station and watched the proceedings with faint amusement.
Galena said, "I want to thank you and all of your crew for rescuing me. I thought that I would never be able to get away."
"We were sent by Kameron," said Argus.
A beautiful smile lit up her face. "He never gave up."
"He never did," said Argus. Galena`s smile had a warming effect; Argus adjusted his collar. It was starting to get hot. He was glad that Reya was facing Galena at the moment and wasn`t paying attention to him.
Reya added, "He kept looking for you. He even refused to enter the war until you were found."
"Oh." There was a troubled look on her face.
"Did they mistreat you?" asked Argus. "Did Ellis do anything?"
Reya looked at him sharply. This was something no one had dared mention. It was a potentially sensitive subject.
Argus found that having Reya here made him nervous but also made it easier to remind himself to stop staring at Galena. His love for Reya was paramount, but he still found himself fascinated by this woman`s beauty and he was by no means immune to her considerable charms. He tried to concentrate on his task.
Galena replied, "No. He didn't. He was a gentleman. I think he wanted to avoid antagonizing Kam."
Argus nodded thoughtfully as Reya looked relieved. He was glad that nothing had happened. Something about Galena made him want to protect her.
"Can you tell us anything about what he plans? Did he talk to you? Did you overhear anything?" asked Argus.
"Not really. He didn't talk about the war or anything like that when he was with me. I'm sorry," replied Galena.
"Don't be. He seems to be a cautious man," said Argus with disappointment.
"Yes, he was very careful."
Avon said from his station, "How did you know that he kept sensitive information on the computers in the residence?" There was a note of curiosity and near suspicion in his voice. Beautiful woman or not, he needed to understand.
Galena twisted around to face him. "Sometimes, he would turn the computer off the moment I entered the room. I just assumed that it was something he didn’t want me to see. He was careful never to let me have access to one."
"You were right in your assumption," said Avon. Being able to study her while the others interacted with Galena, Avon saw how effortless she was in the impressions she gave. She wore her beauty like a second skin but that was not all that she was. Her manner made people comfortable. He found that he envied this quality; it was something he didn`t have.
"Did you find something?" asked Galena.
"We may have. But it will take time to decode the information."
"I'm sorry I can't help anymore than that," said Galena.
Argus said, "Don't worry about it. Avon will be able to crack it. Unfortunately we won't be able to bring you back to Athol until we find out if some action is required here."
"I understand," said Galena.
"I can arrange for you to talk to Kameron though," offered Argus. He got up.
"Have you told him yet?" asked Galena as she and Reya stood up as well.
"No. I was going to let you do that," said Argus.
"He will be so surprised. Thank you!" Galena came towards him and without warning, gave him a warm hug. Argus looked awkwardly at Reya. I'm not enjoying this. Really, I'm not.
Reya was not glaring at him; both she and Avon had the same amused looks on their faces. Argus frowned at them. I'm glad both of you find this so amusing.
After Galena let go of him, Argus coughed and said, "Zen, establish a communications link with General Borel Reve's flagship in quadrant six. I want to speak to Kameron Reve."