VII, 13, Early Evening
Grace sat slumped back in the chair, looking at her hands for some time. Callie and I exchanged nervous glances until I finally broke the uncomfortable silence. I went over to Grace, took one of her hands, and put it on the map.
"Grace," I began, moving her finger to the camp. "We..."-I gestured to all three of us-"are going..." I moved her finger along map across the ravine, past the point where I found her, along the edge of the plateau, and eventually off the map as she had done before, "There." At first I did not know if she would understand, but seeing her smile at me was all the indication I needed that she knew my intention. Callie leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder.
"You're inviting me along?" She sounded surprised.
"Well, I assumed that you would want to be a part of this," I replied. "Do you not want to go?" I ventured.
"No, no, I want to. You've stumbled onto something big, Arty, and I want to see what's out there too."
"Alright, we'll leave first thing in the morning," I proposed.
"How long do you think we'll be gone?" This had not occurred to me, I must admit. I thought a few moments before providing any kind of answer.
"A few days at least, I would guess," I said with a shrug of my shoulders. I noticed Callie's uneasiness, "I don't think anyone will notice our being gone. I mean, hell, Takehisha and Crow set out on a little expedition of their own and they were gone for over two weeks. Came back with enough crystals to pay their way back to earth. If someone asks, we'll tell them the same." Callie got up from her seat and made her way toward the door, her confidence in our little escapade now fully restored.
"Well, Arty, you've made my day. I'll see you in the morning. G'night, Grace, it was nice meeting you." Callie waved at Grace as she exited the room and Grace returned her wave. The door slid shut and I locked it. I then went over to Grace and told her, as best I could, that we would leave in the morning; it was better not to leave at night because the lizards are more active at that time. She nodded her understanding and I led her to the bed. She stood by it and slipped off her hide suit, revealing a conservative, brown under-suit made of a fabric resembling cotton. She folded the hide suit neatly and placed it on the table. I removed my own leather suit and went to a cabinet under the bed. I removed a spare pillow and sheet, making my bed on the floor next to Grace, who had slipped herself under the covers. Before turning in, I walked over to the door panel and flipped the light switch. I went back to my bed on the floor.
"Goodnight, Grace," I said.
"G'night...Arty," she replied.