Zedd looked up from a work table as the shop door opened. Lena entered, her face miserable with exhaustion.
She shot him a sidelong glance and dropped her bag and coffee down on the opposite table.
“I think your little accident gave me PTSD.”
“What?” he asked, laughing. He kept his eyes on the paperwork in front of him.
Nico, the shop’s pest control, hopped up on the table near Lena and sauntered over. Lena ran her fingertips through the cat’s black fur.
“Hey sweetie,” Lena whispered. Nico purred heavily.
Lena looked up and spoke to Zedd,
“I relived it all last night in a nightmare.”
“Oh? Do I owe you an apology?” he asked, smiling from his paperwork.
“No,” she replied. “just three hours of sleep.”
Zedd, a hair over forty, had been the operator of his magnacycle team for the past twenty years. He signed his contract the same year the Duskrider departed from Earth. As a synth, he retained a lean, athletic build. He chose to keep some of the natural age lines of his face. His hair implants were subject to change on occasion, but he normally wore it in a lengthy, bright orange mohawk.
“I’m fine,” he said, dismissing her concern. “Doc fixed me. Plus, look at the fancy new addition.” While flashing a smug grin, he stood up and flexed his left bicep. His upper arm now featured a pale blue light that cut into the creases of his muscles. The thin path of light ran from a small dot in his palm to a polygonal panel just below his shoulder before continuing into the base of his neck. “Jealous much? I got the integration option for my celltab. I don’t have to carry it around like the rest of you louts.”
Lena rolled her eyes.
“If you weren’t in a cell, you’d be dead right now.”
“I know, isn’t it great?” he said cheerfully. “You’re gonna have to adapt,” he added, still eyeing his work. “Once we land, you’ll see a lot more of that.”
She took a deep breath, then exhaled.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Hey, I have my meeting today at 3. Is there anything you need help with?” Zedd asked.
Lena thought for a moment.
“No, I’m just gonna clean up and make sure everything’s in order for the move.”
She grabbed her coffee, and walked over to the next table. Nico followed. She began grabbing tools from the worktables and putting them into the nearby cabinet. Zedd continued reading.
“What are you working on?” she asked him.
“Registration contract. We’re supposed to have it read and signed before the meeting.”
“What do I need to sign?” she asked, fidgeting with the wrench in her hand.
He looked up. “No.” He broke off. “No, this is just managerial stuff. They’ll have a separate meeting for you.”
“Because I’m human?” she asked, annoyed.
He raised an eyebrow and gave her a smile. “No. I’m done trying to convince you.”
“Ok, just let me know,” she said, pleasantly surprised at his answer.