“I can’t do this,” I said pulling back on the controls of the pod.
“It’s okay,” Attalla soothed. “They’ll get out of your way. Just make a slow descent so they have time.”
The iiadtsu filled the sky. Even though Gathus hadn’t been a fully fledged iiadtsu the sight of all these winged beings brought on horrible memories. Klaid, Gathus, Cracker, and everything that road on their contrail dumped into my brain. My hands were literally trembling.
I thought I could handle this. I thought there would be such a difference between Gathus and his base species that I hadn’t even told Attalla about my issues with the iiadtsu when he announced we were headed there next. I had no idea when I took the job that the iiadtsu were from this system.
I rose up above the atmosphere to clear space free of my nightmare winged creatures. I popped the release on my shoulder harness and belt. I sprang to me feet and paced the tiny bridge of the pod. Four steps took me from one side to the other. If there had been a place to run, I would have. I forced myself to breathe deeply and calm my shaking hands. The only thing worse than seeing the iiadtsu would have been another close encounter with a Xyron.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized. “I really thought I could do this.” I ran my shaking hands through me hair. I had broken out in a cold sweat upon seeing the iiadtsu. My hair was damp around my face and on the back of my neck.
Attalla got up from his own chair. He moved toward me, I think to comfort me like he had after my nightmare onboard ship, but I couldn’t stand still and I certainly didn’t want to be confined in someone’s arms. I stepped away from him.
“Talk to me,” Attalla prompted. “It has to do with the nightmares, right?”
He was pretty observant putting the two together.
I took another deep breath and plunged in before I changed my mind. “About two months ago I was taken prisoner by three reject hybrids from something called the OmniCron Project. One was an iiadtsu mix. He couldn’t fly, but he was partially fledged. I had no idea their planet would be one of our stops. I thought I could handle it. I’m so sorry.” I hated failing a mission.
He brushed my apology aside. “What did they do to you 3su?” he asked in a sympathetic tone, as he stepped up to me and touched my arm.
I didn’t want to pull away this time. I was past the shakes. The adrenalin was crashing. I wanted to be comforted. I wanted to be held until the memories faded again.
I was shaking so hard he sat down and pulled me into his lap. He held me close gently rocking.
“Are the scars on your back from them?” he asked.
I thought he caught a glimpse of them when I was working out, but I hadn’t been sure until now. He was polite enough not to mention them at the time. Even though Jake was religious about applying the scar cream, I would carry the worse bits to my grave. The ones on my back would never truly fade away.
I couldn’t meet Attalla’s gaze. I spoke into his shoulder. “Their leader was a hybrid Xyron. He decided he liked how I tasted. He carved on me for a few days before help arrived.”
I heard Attalla catch his breath. He gently smoothed my hair and when I looked up his beautiful phenotypic eyes had a mixture of pain and sympathy in them.
“I am so sorry,” he said. “You should have told me. I never would have made you come down here. I can fly a pod, you know.”
“Yes, but it is my job to get your to and from your meetings during this mission. That is what I hired on for.”