Oret had other matters more important to him on his mind. “You can’t ask me to injure the woman. Elise is a sweet child and an innocent.”
Zemos was the Nobek’s clan leader. He was also his captain. It still didn’t mean Oret would automatically obey him, not when his conscience was at odds with what had to happen. While it would have made Zemos’ life easier if Oret simply followed orders, he felt better that his longtime companion challenged him on important matters.
The Dramok told him, “Of course you’re to do everything in your power to avoid harming her, my Nobek. But we have a duty. The Empire comes first, and if what’s going on threatens Kalquor—”
Zemos had to stop and swallow against the sudden thickness in his throat. He really didn’t want to be the reason Elisa found herself in terror or pain. His very soul cried out against it. Yet the threat hanging over his crew’s heads, a threat that might be big enough to encompass the Kalquorian Empire itself left him little choice.
He drew himself up and glared at Oret. “Do what it takes to get us out of here. That’s an order.”
Oret’s face purpled in his sudden rage. He threw his untouched tray of food, sending it crashing against the wall. Zemos had little doubt Oret had preferred to throw it at him.
The Nobek turned his back on Zemos. He still hadn’t quite gotten over how his leader had knocked him out when the Earthers had disabled and boarded the destroyer. When it had become obvious the Kalquorians would be overcome, Zemos had known Oret would fight to the death anyway in his attempt to save clan and crew.
For Zemos, losing his ship was calamity enough. Losing his Nobek as well was intolerable. He’d dealt Oret a brutal blow to the head when he wasn’t looking, injuring the man and yet ensuring his survival in an unwinnable battle.
Miragin looked from one to another of his clanmates, his concern plain. He kept quiet however, knowing the tempers of the men he was linked to for life. If Oret finally snapped and went after Zemos, Miragin would jump in between them, putting his own health in jeopardy to keep them from killing each other. Zemos thought it must be hard to be clanned to a ferocious Nobek and a Dramok with equally violent tendencies.
Oret didn’t move however, and little by little, the three let the quiet soak in and cool quick tempers. It was too bad the enforced time out left Zemos with nothing to do but contemplate what it would take to get them out of here. Elisa’s last glance at him as she’d left the cell block seemed burned into his retinas; it was everywhere he looked. Her smile wouldn’t leave his mind, its sweetness mocking him with a promise he might very well destroy.
Releasing in October