Chapter 17: John

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595th sol- 09:34

Matt and I were on a ridge overlooking the airstrip. There were Exos in the flight control tower but there were only two repair crews with the ships on the runway. There were four ST-33's sitting on the runway. Two were in various states of disarray while the others looked in perfect condition. Those would be our first choice for getaway fighters.

Each fighter carried three people. A pilot who was also the nose gunner, a communications and radar expert, and a rear gunner. They came equipped with twin Valhalla laser cannons on each end of the wings and two smaller Silver-edge cannons. There were also two Silver-edge cannons on a turret that had a 180 degree rotation for the back cannon and gunner.  

I nudged Matt and pointed. "I think those ST's are our best bet getting off this rock." I told him. He nodded his agreement but also pointed.

"There's also those Stormfliers that we could use if the ST's don't work." He said. Stormfliers were smaller, single person fighters. They came with a single Valhalla laser centered on the nose and a single Fury blaster on each wing.

"I think the ST's are our best shot though." I told him.

"I agree but Rachel said to remember everything. That includes those dozen Stormfliers along with the ST's." He told me in a matter-of-fact voice that was somehow not snobbish or commanding either.

"You're right." I told him.

We waited for awhile to see and memorize any rotation shifts. The only one that came was at 12:00 to the tower to relieve them. The Exos who had been working on the ships had left at the same time, 12:00, when their sift change had come in.

"C'mon Matt, we should get back." I told him. He nodded in agreement and we started towards camp.

595th sol- 12:53

As we showed up at the campsite, Rachel was sitting next to the fire.

"Hey!! Look who's out of bed!" I looked at her with a grin. She just looked at me with daggers shooting from her eyes. "Alright well, if you don't mind, shall I give you a layout of the airstrip?" I asked her after she looked away.

"Sure." She said. "Let's just go to the Med. tent, it's the biggest." I nodded and followed her.

"Hold up," Matt said, "Give me the bags, I'll put our stuff away and help Lily with whatever she's doing." He said. I nodded my thanks to him and shrugged the bag off my shoulder. He took it and started to walk away.

"Let's go!" Rachel called from the entrance to the tent. For some reason, I felt weird following her but I did.

The tent had a table in the canter with a hologram of the airstrip,  hangar, and surrounding area. "So, what've ya got?" Rachel asked. It took a second for the question to register before I realized that I was staring.

"Uh, yeah, sorry. Well, there are four ST-33's and about a dozen Stormfliers." I moved around the table to get a better angle of where the ships would be. The hologram entered what I had said and the ships popped up on the map. As I moved them to where I remembered they were, Rachel moved around the table closer to me to see easier.

"Ok," I said to start talking once everything was in place. "Two of the ST's were dismantled and looked like they were being worked on but the other two looked like they were in perfect condition." I told her but for some reason my voice seemed shaky and I was really nervous. Then it hit me, I was falling in love with the girl standing next to me and I hadn't even realized it!

"--Earth to John!" Rachel was waving a hand in front of my face, I had missed her whole question.

"Uh, sorry, what'd you say?" I asked again, feeling like an idiot.

"I asked if you knew for certain if the ST's were useable, I think those are our best bet but I don't want to get down there and find out they aren't working." She re-explained.

"Umm, no, we don't know if any of them work for certain." I told her.

"Are you ok?" She asked me. "You seem a little off."

"I don't know." I told her, I've been feeling off ever since you were injured and if--" She cut me off.

"John, that's not your fault and it was my choice not to tell anyone." She told me firmly.

"I know but still--" Again, she cut me off.

"No John! No 'but's, I made a decision and--" This time I decided to cut her off. I gently grabbed both her cheeks and brought my face to hers, and kissed her. She didn't know what happened and looked stunned as I pulled away.

"I think I'm in love with you Rachel..." I said and walked out of the tent without a backward glance.

I saw Matt and walked towards him. He was unpacking our backpack and doing an inventory check. "Need any help?" I asked him.

"Sure, you wanna do weapons or food?" He asked.

"Which is quickest?" I asked.

"Probably weapons." He responded.

"Then I'll do food." I told him. He nodded, handed me a sheet, and we got to work in a comfortable silence. The only sounds were our pencils on paper and an occasional rustle as we moved stuff.

After a few minutes, Matt asked me, "How'd it go with Rachel?" I was too shocked to answer for a moment.

"What do you mean?" I asked, not meeting his gaze. 

"Well, did we have all the right intel?" He asked.

I sighed with relief and answered, "I think we had it all." 

Then he asked, "Did ya kiss her?" I looked at him dumbfounded.

"How did you....."

"Hey, I'm observant and pay attention." He said with a smirk and went back to sorting.

"But..... does everyone know?" I asked, a little panicked.

"So what if they do?" He asked in a curious sort of way.

"Ummm, a lot!!" I told him.

"Why?" He asked.

"Just......" I realized then that I didn't have a good answer for him. "I don't know."

He smirked. "I don't think so, you guys aren't always as observant and if you don't want me to, I promise I won't tell." He said. He looked at me with a friendly smile

"Thank you." I told him and turned back to inventorying the food. We worked for another tenish minutes before we heard Rachel call everyone to the Med. tent. "Guess Seth and Tom are back." I said as we set down our paper and headed out.

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Hey guys!! Wow!!! Another month gone and I didn't update once!!!!! So, proof that I suck as writer?? Or do all writers have writers block for a month? Anyways, getting a little off topic here, if you liked this chapter, PLEASE VOTE!!!! and evern if you didn't, don't be a silent reader!!! Comment, leave constructive criticism, or for you haters, leave destructive criticism!!!! I also love any recommendations!!! Until next time my friends, see ya!!!!!!!

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