“If it goes down like it did on the Donerail,” said Vince, “then we’ve got a little time. It started off slow at first, just a couple here and there, and then it got worse at increasing intervals.”
“A day. Maybe.”
“Oh that’s just great,” said Flynn. “There’s no way I can get this done that fast. The recalibration will take most of a day all by itself.”
Jeth closed his eyes. The pressure around his chest strengthened again, cutting off his ability to breathe. Avalon had been wounded. She was in danger. All of them were.
Lizzie stepped forward, biting her lip. “We’ve been in the Belgrave almost a week and nothing like this happened until we got to this area of space. So if we jump out of this area, we should be safe again, right?”
Jeth looked at her, hoping that some brilliant idea was sprouting in her genius brain.
“Well, obviously,” said Flynn, sneering. “That’s why we’ve got to fix the nav computer.”
Making a mental note to strangle Flynn later, Jeth kept his gaze locked on Lizzie. “What are you thinking?”
“If we can hardwire the portable maintenance computer into the metadrive control unit, I might be able jump us manually.”
“That’s insane,” said Celeste. “Without navigation we’ll be jumping blind. We could end up too close to a star or crash into the Belgrave’s energy field or a hundred other things.”
“That’s just it,” said Lizzie. “It won’t be a blind jump. I think I can plot one.”
“How?” said Jeth.
Lizzie began to fidget, twirling a finger through her hair and shifting her weight from foot to foot. “I’ve got some detailed charts on the Belgrave. They’re not complete, but I think it’s enough that I can calculate a safe course.”
“Where did you get these charts?” said Milton, voicing the question before Jeth could.
Lizzie glanced at him. “On a data crystal I found a couple of days ago.” She shifted her gaze back to Jeth. “That’s what I was going to tell you about this morning. I think it was Mom’s. At least it’s got a lot of her video journals and stuff on it, too. She must’ve hidden it in this little compartment inside the air vent in my room. Viggo got up there the first night we were in the Belgrave, and when I went to get him out, I found it.”
A weakness struck Jeth’s knees, and he wished he could sit down. Lizzie had found a lost relic from their parents’ past? She might as well have found a ghost. The ITA had confiscated all their personal items when they’d been arrested “Why didn’t you tell me when you found it?”
She shook her head.
After a moment Jeth nodded, intuitively understanding that she hadn’t wanted to tell him. She wanted to explore the data alone for the same reasons he would’ve wanted to—the desire to experience this hidden piece of their parents’ forgotten lives without having to share. No wonder she’d been spending those long hours in her cabin.
But what else was on the crystal? Why had their mother hidden it? With an effort, Jeth forced the questions away. There would be time for that later—he prayed.
He turned his attention to Sierra and Vince, once again hoping their experience on the Donerail might help. “Our mother was an ITA surveyor in the Belgrave. If she put these charts on this crystal, they’re accurate. What do you think? Should we risk staying here or should we jump?”
Vince answered at once with no hesitation. “If you can’t repair the nav by tonight, then jump.”
“And I can help her set the coordinates,” added Sierra. “I’m familiar with meta technology.”
Jeth eyebrows shot up. Someone familiar with metatech? A teenager no less? But he didn’t question her. No time to waste. Plus, he trusted Lizzie not to let anyone else trip her up. “All right. Let’s do it then.”
“Okay,” said Lizzie. “I’ll go get the data crystal. Be right back.” She turned and left the bridge.
“And I guess I’ll get the maintenance computer and start hooking it up to the metadrive system,” Flynn said. He cast Sierra a somewhat dubious glance. “Do you want to help me?”
“Yes.” She looked down at Cora. “I need you to stay with Vince for now. Okay?”
“Okay,” Cora said.
“I still need to examine her,” Milton said. “Just a routine check to make sure everything’s all right. Besides, it’ll give us something to do while we stay out of the way.”
Sierra looked ready to argue, but Vince said, “She’ll be fine. I’ll make sure.” Vince turned his gaze to Jeth. “But somebody should check the rest of the ship. It’s possible there’s more damage than what’s up here.”
Jeth swallowed. “Yeah, okay. Celeste and Shady and I can do that.”
Vince nodded as he scooped up Cora. Then the two of them followed Milton off the bridge.
Sierra took a step toward Jeth, drawing his attention. “You might want to use one of the shuttles to check Avalon’s exterior, just in case. There could be damage to some of the shielding that’s too minor to trigger any warnings. It couldn’t hurt to check.”
Jeth exhaled then turned to Celeste and Shady. “I’ll do a sweep of the ship with Flash and then check the engineering deck. Shady, you take the cargo deck, and Celeste, you check the commons deck and Sparky. Once you two finish, tackle the passenger deck together. All right?”