The door vibrated under her fist. Murray paused and then pounded on it again. It felt good, beating something. It gave the panic a place to go, but it would feel a lot better if her sister answered the bloody door.
“Zora!” She growled at the closed panel and rapped her fist in a fresh series of knocks. “Zor-aaaaaaaaaaa!”
She’d been banging on the damned thing for five minutes. Her fist hurt. She’d been forced to snarl at one confused passerby, but the late hour saved her from too much attention. Not that she cared. Not that a woman in a bathrobe pounding on a doorway in the middle of the night counted as anything unusual in the guest quarters. She hardly mattered. Nothing mattered except getting Zora to open the damned door. She kicked it. That felt even better.
“Zora! Zor--.” Kick, kick. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
The panel clicked softly. Murray heard movement on the other side and held off her latest assault mid-kick. She inhaled, gathering enough breath for another bout of wailing. When the panel moved, she let it out at once and leaned forward against the wall.
“Zora, I need…”
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
“I need…they took…”
“It’s not a good time, Mur.”
“What?” She gaped at Zora. “How—but…” Murray thought about kicking her. That would feel even better. Instead she burst into tears. Her shoulders dropped and sobs wrenched out of her in waves.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” Murray tried to kick her, but the sobs had taken too much energy. She fell forward, pushed a shocked Zora aside and stumbled into the room. The bed made a solid looking blur to her right and she staggered a few steps across the room and slumped down on the end of it.
“Murray?” Zora’s voice sounded softer than normal, not even a little angry at the intrusion. “Mur, what happened?”
Murray felt the bed shift as Zora sat down. A bare arm draped across her shoulders, and a second wave of weeping threatened to wash out. She bit it back and closed her eyes. “I think I’m in love with my android.”
“Gross.” A male voice, unfamiliar and raspy, weighed in from the head of the bed.
“Shhh,” Zora hissed.
Murray spun out of the embrace and stood up. The twin to Zora’s late fiancé sat against the wall, two of his scaly arms draped out across the headboard and the other two crossed in his lap. Murray snagged up the flapping front of her bathrobe and straightened into a more dignified stance.
“I’m just saying.” The alien shoulders shrugged and a disgusted expression crossed his disgusting features.
“Shut up,” Zora said. She wore even less than Murray did, though she certainly seemed more relaxed about it.
“She said android, right?”
“You should go now.”
Zora raised one hand, and Crantok’s brother sighed. He slid his legs over the side of the bed and wrapped the sheet around his waist. Murray averted her gaze while he made for the bathroom. She watched Zora gather the man’s clothes as if it were absolutely fascinating. Her world had ripped apart at the seams, but somehow, knowing that Zora was still Zora actually helped. A creepy sort of calm crept through her veins, and she sat back down on the bed to wait.
Zora returned to sit beside her after passing the garments through the bathroom panel. Neither of them said anything. Eventually the panel slid open, and Zora’s guest emerged. He looked a question at them, then shrugged at some invisible response from Zora and made a quick exit.
“The four-armed thing really does it for you?” Murray asked when they were alone.
“It’s not just the arms.”
“You’re in love with Rook?”
“No. Yes, I mean. Yes I am, but that’s not it.” The panic reared again. It whispered at her that too much time had already passed, that even Zora wouldn’t be able to fix this. “They took him away, Zor. Security. They came and took him away.”
“Security took Rook away?”
“Yes.” A tiny sob squeaked out behind the word. “They said he violated some kind of treaty.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“I know, but he said…” Murray’s throat went dry and threatened to prevent her from speaking. She took a slow breath and ignored her shoulders’ quivering. “He said he was guilty.”
“He knew,” Zora said. “He didn’t want to come here, Mur. Remember?”
“Damn it!” Zora stood up. She stamped one foot and threw her hands to her hips. “Why didn’t he tell us? Why didn’t he just stay on the ship?”
A knot of guilt sank into her stomach. She hung her head, stared at her hands and let the tears loose.
“It’s my fault,” she whispered. “He left the ship to—.”
“We need to see somebody in charge.” Zora’s tone shifted. She stamped her foot again. “We’ll sort this out, Mur. They can’t take him. We’ll take responsibility. He’s our property. There has to be some angle we can work.”
“How?” Murray sniffed, but raised her eyes to find Zora grinning. This was better. This was Zora defiant, determined, ready to kick ass. Zora like this got whatever she wanted, always. “What do we do now?”
“Whatever it takes.” That the grin bordered on lunacy only made Murray more certain of their success. “We do whatever it takes, Mur.”