Chapter 15: Forever Lost

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Hey guys! (Gordon) :D This will be my first submission from a full-format word processor. I won't be constrained by the parameters and limitations of typing it all out on a cellular phone. That one took a dive out the window. Inoperable. Haden convinced me that I could disassemble another identical phone from another carrier and Dawnhammer it back together. He was wrong and now I have two identically wrecked phones! The reason for the disclaimer is that I can truly get into the story, now. If you like it, let me know and I'll keep going from a computer. This is going to get a bit more involved and is much closer to my natural style in writing. Communicate with me in the comments! Don't know why it combined every 25th and 26th word, but it's edited to fix it. Hmph.

-=Forever Lost=-

Terris marveled at the sight of Earth rotating slowly to his left. It was home, even though he never visited. The origin of the entire race of Man. How many trillions of lives began and ended there? What memories did the surface hold? There was love there. And hatred. Monuments to both were built on every continent. He imagined, for a moment, what he would feel to see mother Terra annihilated by the very ship he stood on. The horror of the devastation would be too much, he decided.

"How's the shoulder?" Dawn spoke quietly. He savored the sound and echo of her voice. How could one person be so perfect? He shook his head at the thought. He decided hours earlier to find a flaw in her. There had to be something to put him off his infatuation.

"It's fine,thank you." He turned to smile at her. When their eyes locked he felt that familiar ache in his chest, an emptiness suddenly open,demanding to be filled.

"The uniform looks good on you." Her assessment was of tactical appraisal. Haden believed they were necessary when making contact with Captain Valeri in order to project the right image. The young man didn't disagree. He looked down at the white outfit. It nearly matched One's. A black strip ran up the outside of his legs and torso. A matching stripe stretched from wrist to neck. The uniform was entirely monochrome, complete with three inverted white chevrons on each arm, small and set cleanly into the black swath. Only the insignia of the Guardians held color, and the brilliance stood out starkly against the white because of it. Two flaming swords, crossed over a blue shield with a white cross. It was quite elegant and begged for closer scrutiny, but he couldn't stay focused on it long.

His mind was filled by the attack the Dawnhammer suffered after jumping to Sol. The odds of encountering a lone fighter in Deep Sol immediately after jumping were one step from impossible. Factor in a weapon that could obliterate a ship that was next to indestructible when not even rumors existed of such a thing, and the odds went from nearly impossible to completely. No, the attack was an ambush. The rest of the Dawnhammer's extended compliment seemed content that it might have been a random encounter, but any person or AI with experience in human affairs knew better.

He thought about the design of the attacking ship. Terris might be new at command,but vessel designs were a passion of his. He was a salvage man. Such passions were commonplace among their breed. His eyes slitted as he recalled every design he could think of. Terran, OnyxCorp, and Pandoran, Wildcard, Raptor and Black Angel. There was nothing in Terran space that bore even a remote resemblance. His attention in the Proximus system was pretty well devoted to one emergency after the other, but he took stock of the Proximan fleets when he had the chance. No match there either.

Which left only one frightening conclusion: The ship was Arian.

Hundreds of questions fought for dominance in his mind. Why was an Arian ship in Terran space? How did it get there? How did it know where Earth was? What was the weapon on it?

"Anyone ever tell you that you're kind of intense?" Terris' blue eyes met the green of hers. He had been staring absently as his brain churned.

"Quite often,actually. Survival trait." He gave a half-grin when she adopted her signature stance. She leaned against the wall and crossed her arms, locking one foot behind the opposing ankle. If ever there were a statue made of this woman and it were not in that pose, then the creator knew nothing of her. "I was a salvage operator. Out there." He pointed in the general area of Octet 7. From the distance, an observer couldn't make out the thousands of homesteads and businesses, but he knew where home was. "We tend to devote focus to details. If we don't, missing something simple could easily kill us."

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