“Can we trust them?”
“This is becoming a pattern.”
Nora struggled slightly to towel dry her hair one-handed. Olivia moved to help her but backed off with a shake of Nora’s head. “Not like we’ve got much of a choice, Will.”
Will’s frown deepened. “Doesn’t mean we’ve got to like it.”
He was busying himself pulling the thin mattresses from the cots, which they’d found were bolted to either wall and quite unmovable on their own. Olivia’s arms were piled with blankets and pillows, standing against one wall while Will arranged the mattresses in the center of the small room they’d been offered.
Nora supposed it was kind of them—the people who’d taken them away from that blood-soaked planet and courteously blown the facility to bits—to lend them the last remaining room on the ship. They’d offered to give them two rooms, insisting that they would be fine doubling up themselves. All it took was a brief exchange of glances between the three battered clones and their metal friend to agree that, respectfully, splitting up was not in the cards.
Nora hung her towel off of a hook on the back of the door. “I don’t love it either. The last time we trusted someone, it was an evil version of GeoFFRy.”
“And the time before that, it was one of us screwing us over.” Will kicked absentmindedly at one of the mattresses. “What do you think these people are going to do to us?”
Olivia shifted her weight from side to side. “They said they’re taking us somewhere safe. I’d like to believe them—” She saw Will start to protest and soldiered on. “—but I know that doesn’t mean much. Richard—their Richard—mentioned a war.”
“Barely a war,” GeoFFRy spoke suddenly. He’d been standing stark still in a corner, streams of data running over the visor that made up his face. “It’s a rebellion. And to be honest, I don’t think they’ve been making much headway.”
Nora squinted at him. “How would you know?”
“When I—Well, when I fought the other GeoFFRy, I was able to pick up a bit of a history lesson.”
Will snorted. “So much for being as clueless as the rest of us.”
GeoFFRy pointedly ignored him. “Here’s a fun fact for you: That woman we met, Diana, is one of those little revolutionaries.”
“We figured as much,” Nora said.
“Yes, but the other GeoFFRy knew her. She’s been to that planet before,” GeoFFRy said. If a robot could look uncomfortable, he did. “It didn’t end very well.”
Olivia unceremoniously dumped the blankets and pillows on the mattresses and plopped down next to them. “But she made it out.”
“And so did we,” Nora said.
Some of us, said none of them. But they all thought it.
“I will keep watch tonight,” GeoFFRy intoned. Without waiting for a response, he lowered himself to a sitting position, his metal legs awkwardly crossed, facing the door.
Nora thought about protesting, insisting that he needed to rest as well, but he held up a hand before she could say anything. “Most of my major functions will shut down to conserve energy, save for my environmental inputs and my alarm systems. Basically, if anyone comes through that door I’m going to scream really loud.”
“Thank you,” Nora said softly. She stuck out her hand without really knowing why. After a moment, GeoFFRy took it and gave it a small squeeze. “For everything.”
“Yeah, well.” His voice was barely audible. “If they kill all of you meatbags, they’ll be coming for me next.”
Nora gave his hand one last squeeze, then turned back to Will and Olivia. Their medic was methodically folding her jacket, bloodstained and ruined as it was, and placed it on top of Will’s and Nora’s already folded. Will was already lying down, and although they had pushed the two smaller mattresses together it wasn’t going to be a roomy fit. None of them said a word about it, though.
Without further fanfare, Nora took up a place next to Will, realizing with a start that it had been the first time she sat down in… she couldn’t remember. It was only then that she allowed herself to feel the dull pain from soles to hips, the ache in her ribs, and the occasional throb from what remained of her right arm. If it was possible, even her scalp hurt. She could tell from Olivia’s stiff, precise movements and Will’s tightly controlled breathing that they weren’t much better off.
Olivia turned the lights off, but there was still a faint light coming from dim strips of light built on the wall near the ceiling. Probably for the purposes of making sure sleeping passengers weren’t trapped in total darkness, as the door was an effective seal. Nora was grateful. She didn’t want the room to feel any more like a coffin than it already did.
There was a slight dip in the mattress as Olivia sat on her other side, and then it was the three of them, lying on their backs in the semi-darkness, with no sound but the inescapable hum of the ship’s engine, the slight buzz of GeoFFRy’s processors, and their own breathing. It felt like all they could stand to do now.
“What do you think of them?” Olivia murmured, although there was no real need for discretion. “Aside from trust.”
“I think they’re nice enough,” Will said. “Nicest we’ve met so far.”
“That’s not saying much,” Nora said.
“True. But it wouldn’t be so bad if they stayed nice.”
They all thought so, but it was as though agreeing would curse it. The odds were already stacked enough.
“I don’t think they’re telling us everything,” Olivia said.
Nora almost laughed. “Definitely not.”
“He—Richard looked at Olivia in a strange way,” Will added. “Not creepy. But like he recognized her.”
“Well, apparently we’re clones or something, Will,” Nora said. “So he probably knew another Olivia or something.”
“It’s… It’s just odd,” Olivia shuddered. “And we knew another Richard too.”
Another Richard who, Nora noted, was dying in her lap hours ago. They knew now that their Richard, who was now bloodied and probably in pieces or buried under rubble and was also very dead, was not the only one with his face. And there was another woman—women—with Valerie’s hands and strong arms and wide smile. And other Bazes, with the same deep brown eyes and curls and laugh. And they would recognize their fallen family in others, who would recognize them too, without knowing them at all.
“Did you see the way she looked at me?”
Nora heard Will shift towards her, but she kept staring at the ceiling. “Diana?”
“She wanted me to be someone else. Another me. But she was disappointed.”
“The one you mentioned from our ship’s log, do you think?” Will asked.
“I don’t know. But I’m not the Nora she wanted.”
Olivia’s curls brushed against Nora’s neck as Olivia put her head on her shoulder. “Lucky for us. Because she can’t have you.”
There was a lot that Nora could have said. There was a lot that she wanted to say. But at the same moment, without knowing—how could they have known—both Olivia and Will turned inward on her. Will’s hand found Nora’s where it was resting on her stomach, and their fingers entwined naturally, automatically. She ended up draping her left leg over his bent knees. Olivia, with no hand to hold, wrapped her arm tightly around Nora’s stomach, her forehead pressing into Nora’s shoulder.
There was a difference, Nora noticed, between their coffin and their weight. A difference, even, in kinds of weight. They all felt weight, a weight that trapped them in place and held their throats from the inside. And there was a different kind of weight in holding each other, in keeping each other still when they needed to be still and dragging each other forward when they had no other choice. The first was a kind of weight they would always carry. Nora hoped she could carry the second kind forever, too.