Chapter 15: Entering Isolation

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Twilight was gone. The skies were pitch black, the stars hidden behind a thick layer of storm clouds. The rain had followed them from the wastelands. Greg watched Jackson from the ship. The storm seemed to have taken some of the heat from the flames that consumed portions of the city. He watched ships rise and land from all across the area, hundreds of men and women working feverishly to save a dying city.

Lethargy laced Greg's veins now. They'd spent another two hours at the fusion plant, securing the area, making sure the technology was stable and waiting around for the second crew to show up. When they finally did, Greg and the others hurried onto their ship and took off. After a brief talk via radio, Billings assured them they'd all get a break.

Despite the promise of a bit of R and R, Greg still felt jittery with excitement. Some of it was leftover adrenaline from fighting the creatures, but part of it was the knowledge that something seemed like it was going to happen between him and Kyra when they got back. He tried to keep his gaze steady, watching Jackson grow.

They set down inside Fort Jackson and found the hangar in much the same state it had been when they'd left. Chaos boiled everywhere, men and women scurrying to load and unload ships, flying out into the screaming maw of hell that was Jackson. Greg tried to comprehend the very probable notion that the entire planet was consumed in a similar anarchy and found it nigh incomprehensible. It just didn't seem possible.

"You should still have your same quarters. Can you find your way back?" Billings asked as they hurried across the hangar.

"Yeah," Greg replied.

"Good. I managed to snag us four hours. Make the most of them. Keep your radios tuned to my frequency. I'll call you if anything happens."

Greg and Kyra were left alone as they hit the edge of the hangar, Billings and the others dispersed into the base.

"I need a shower," Greg announced as they walked along the corridors.

They navigated the crowded corridors in silence. A silent tension built between them. After a little while, they managed to track down their quarters and slipped inside. Greg moved deeper into the room while Kyra shut the door behind them. He considered what would be more prudent, a shower or a meal?

He turned to ask Kyra her opinion and found her leaning against the door, staring at him.

"Is it time for that talk?" he asked after a moment.

She smirked. "I think so. You kissed me."

"Yes, I did."

"Why?"

Greg took a moment to think about it. After considering and rejecting several different responses, he finally settled for the truth. "Because I've got something of a crush on you and I thought I was going to die."

Kyra laughed. "A crush? What is this, middle school? That's one thing I'm really liking about you so far...you're honest. At least as far as I can tell. Now, we could go grab a bite to eat or try to catch a nap, but I think maybe we should take this opportunity to do something else."

"Um...okay...um..." Greg swallowed. There was something in Kyra's gaze, something almost predatory. She advanced on him.

"Don't be so nervous." She put her hands on his shoulders. The adrenaline flushed through Greg's veins in anticipation as he stared at sharp, focused blue eyes. "It's not like it's your first time." She paused. "Well...shit, would it be? I mean...do you...remember...I mean, you must've..."

"I honestly don't know." This was too damned awkward.

Kyra's smile returned. "Well, just do what feels natural." She leaned in and...froze as their radios crackled to life.

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