Sitting in the dining hall, Rett absentmindedly tugged at his collar. It was the first time he’d put on a uniform in the five months since his capture, and he was beginning to wonder if the regen therapy had perhaps restored a little too much weight.
“And since you aren’t listening to a word I’m saying, I figure now would be the best time to tell you that I’ve decided to run away and join the Sisters of the Radiant Bubbleslug. I’ll be leaving for their nunnery in Trimbolen next week.”
Rett took a sip of his rapidly-cooling tea and nodded. “Sounds like a good idea.” He blinked as something struck his forehead and stuck there. Reaching up, he plucked a bit of buttered roll from his face and looked to the young woman sitting across the table from him. “Lieutenant Harris, did you just assault a superior officer?”
Partially-hidden behind an extra large cup of stimjuice, Evangeline Harris fairly sparkled thanks to the metallic green tips she’d added to her dark, pixie-cut hair and her color-coordinated piercings. “Of course not, sir!” She chirped, the picture of sweetness and innocence as she nudged a half-eaten roll behind her drink. She smiled brightly and offered Rett a napkin. “Besides, since you haven’t officially returned to duty and Research and Tech won’t let me back into my office, that whole ‘superior officer’ thing is a bit fuzzy at the moment, don’t you think?”
Rett chuckled at her reasoning but noted that her grin didn’t banish the duskiness under her eyes. The situation with R&T troubled her more than she cared to admit. “I’m sorry, Evy. My morning tea hasn’t kicked in yet and my mind is wandering, I guess.”
She moved aside her breakfast to lay her hand palm up on the table — an invitation. After a slight hesitation, Rett placed his hand in hers and she gave it a gentle squeeze. “We’ve all been through a lot. Especially you. But this is a good day. Enjoy it for what it is and worry about tomorrow tomorrow.” She let his hand go before he started getting anxious. “So when are you heading out?”
“Soon as Thomas gets here.” Rett checked his watch and frowned. “Which should have been ten minutes ago.”
“It’s not like him to be late for anything,” Evy agreed. “I’m heading that way to set up Theis’ apartment. I could stop in and check.”
Rett rose from his seat. “I don’t really want to sit here alone.” He gestured towards the lifts. “Let’s go.”
The lift doors opened on Thomas’ floor and they were halfway to his apartment when a door on the other side of the hall opened. Rett’s steps faltered as Ken stepped out of his apartment. Evy explained that Thomas was late meeting Rett, and Ken frowned with concern. “Not like Laconians to be late for anything, especially Thomas.”
The trio approached Thomas’ apartment and heard muffled crying through the door. Ken reached for the controls to enter an emergency access code, but Evy was already there and tapped in the entry code.
“You know his door code,” Rett observed as the door slid open.
“Thomas?” Evy called as they entered the apartment. “Katey?”
“Evy!” A woman dashed towards them, tears streaming down her cheeks. She grabbed Evy’s hand and dragged her back towards the hall. “I heard something in his room and he isn’t answering me.”
“Okay, Katey, we’ll take care of him,” Evy assured. Though the woman was nearly thirty, Evy spoke as if comforting a child. They stopped in front of a closed door and Evy tapped in another code.
“His bedroom code, too.” Rett arched a brow, but didn’t question further. He squeezed into the room before the door was even halfway open.
Ken blocked Katherine’s way. “Lieutenant Harris, why don’t you take Katherine over to my apartment while we check on Thomas?”
“Come on, Katey.” Evy put an arm around Katherine’s shoulders and gently steered her back down the hall. “They’ll take good care of him. Bet’s probably wondering why you aren’t there yet.”
Ken waited just long enough to be sure Katherine was clear before rushing in after Rett.