ABOARD XANDER'S VESSEL
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," said Quaver abruptly, raising both his hands in sudden surrender. He looked at Tandra pointedly. "I'm your kid?!" He absolutely could not believe what he'd gotten himself into. First, he'd been abducted by this armed thug that he couldn't help but secretly admire, and now this? It was almost as if fate were conspiring against him--or for him, now...
"It appears that way," Tandra said slowly. "Son, welcome aboard on a one-way trip to Crazytown." She backpedaled. "Uh, I mean crazier than the very circumstances from which we've been so unexpectedly liberated."
"Gotcha." Quaver gave her a thumbs-up sign. "Seriously, though. I wish you could have been my mom. Not only are you hot--I mean, for a forty-year-old and all that--but you're also nice. You're the only one who dared to look me in the eye on my first day in the looney bin. 'Medical facility', I mean. The others just turned and made like they were trying to run away, in which case I can't blame 'em. Scaredy-cats is what they were, and you're not. Thanks, Mom." He tousled Tandra's hair, just as any normal ten-year-old child might.
"Thanks...son," replied Tandra with an uneasy smile, trying to get used to the image that had just been projected full-blast on her mind's holoscreen. "I must say you're disturbing, but I don't mean that in a bad way. Now, let's do as this man says and get some shut-eye. There are bedrolls in the main hull."
This time Quaver groaned. "Yes, Mother." This set them both to laughing. As they retreated toward the main hull, he felt Tandra give his hand a squeeze.
He didn't mind that. The only things his real parents gave him were beatings.