Chapter 16 - Convergence

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His dreams were vivid and violent and, as always, his sleep suffered for it. She was there, standing close, fierce blue eyes bright and observant, always calculating, preparing for any eventuality. It was odd that he felt so strongly for a woman he'd known such a short time. On waking, his first thought was of her, as he lay down to rest, she was also the last, and an ever present spirit at all other times.

This dream was like the others. There was war. His friends and clanmates were falling by the score. His fear translated into ferocity and he gave himself over to the need for battle. He hated that person. He hated the the bloodlust. He hated feeling drained and tainted afterwards. But she was there with him, her eyes judging him as men fell before his brutality. She hated him, too. But he wasn't going to let her die. Not like everyone else. He would protect her from it all, and damn her judgement. At the end, he would stand alone, surrounded by the bodies of the men he had taken. When he turned, she was walking away, the vision of her form fading in golden light with an echoing whisper drifting through the dreamscape.

"Goodbye, Andrew."

Andrew John woke with a start, an ache of self loathing piercing his chest. He fought down the need to be sick and lay there, panting, as sweat beaded and trickled down his face. Above him was space, black velvet and speckled with uncountable points of light. His heart rate slowed. With his right hand, he flicked the switch that would return the transformed bed back into a cockpit command seat. Servos hissed and hydraulic actuators engaged, pushing him from a sleeping position to sitting.

The fighter was a prototype, capable of carrying an impressive array of weaponry. The interior was cramped, even after having been enlarged to accomodate his massive frame. Controls and switches, readouts and viewscreens were perfectly aligned in an arc below the canopy seal and brightened considerably as he was raised.

He heaved a deep sigh, ran a large hand through his thick black hair, and put the dream to the back of his mind. Moving more out of habit than intent, he checked the navigation system and verified that he had slept for his alotted six hours. The position of the two ships showed less than ten hours out from Eagle Station, exactly where they should be. He scanned the view of space from the cockpit, from left to right and back. Space. More space. The canopy was open on his wingman's ship. He wondered where Silas had gotten off to. He kept scanning. When the waking fog of his mind cleared enough to register that the ship's cockpit was exposed to space and the pilot wasn't present, his head whipped back around, and his level of alertness went from zero to full, instantly.

"Silas!" The giant pirate's breath caught in his chest as he awaited the response. A chasm of dread cracked open inside him.

"Good Morning, John." Came the silky smooth reply.

Andrew's eyes closed in relief. The dream crept forward and he saw Silas as one of the men that had fallen. Of all the friends he had, Silas was the one he refused to lose. The two had been close for so long it was difficult for Andrew to accept that they werent brothers. He calmed his breath and cloaked himself in the iron armor of false bravado.

"I couldn't help but notice yourship." He growled.

"Yes, it's quite lovely, isn't it?" How the man managed to convey that much sass over the comm band was a mystery.

"I was more referring to the fact that the top's popped and you aren't in it."

"Check your vertical three."

Andrew craned his neck and back to look up at his three o'clock position and found his friend sitting on the deck that connected the fighter's twin stabilizers at the rear of the ship. His environment suit was a riot of color, a liquid pattern that traversed the entire spectrum in waves from his boots to his helmet. His hands were clasped on the leading edge of the wing deck. His booted feet dangled and swayed as if caressed by the slow waters of a lazy river.

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