Chapter 07: The Divide

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Sharpe kept trying to raise the others as they filed into the tram and began riding it over, across to the storage structure where Sergio and his group had gone. As Trent took a seat and began waiting, he found himself immensely grateful that the boss had not split Drake and him up. Because if they had been divided, he'd be way more worried.

Few things in life genuinely mattered to Trent. Money was one of them, but only because it was essential for a continued existence. People liked to say that you needed things like food and water and oxygen and shelter to keep your body going. And that was true. But a deeper truth, buried in the substratum of economics, politics, and corporate policy was that if you didn't have money, you didn't have a good chance of getting those things.

Women mattered to Trent. Not any specific one, but just the female population in general. He had learned in his teenage years that he had a voracious sexual appetite. He was big and he liked to work out, which was, apparently, enough to attract the kind of women he liked. Failing that, he had money. He knew that sex wasn't technically necessary to sustain life on a day-to-day basis, but some days that truth wore very thin.

Finally, above all else, Drake mattered to him.

They had grown up together on a shit colony where it always rained, as if the collective abuse and neglect of its population called to it a permanent storm. They were best friends, grew up next to each other in the slums. The place was a factory colony. It existed largely to produce the huge pieces of metal they fitted together to make starship hulls. That was it. A couple thousand families lived in poverty and misery to build glorified sheet metal.

That had always seemed funny to Drake, in a bleak kind of way.

What Trent liked the most about Drake, besides the fact that he shared a similar sense of humor, knew how to handle a gun, and wouldn't hesitate to have his back, was the fact that he never let anything bother him. Like his sexual orientation or others' reactions to it. There had never been what religious idiots back in the day had called 'confusion'. The fact that he knew who he was and never tried to hide it spoke of deep bravery.

Because blind ignorance and pointless hatred, despite what all the Utopian sci-fi writers had liked to think, had not died out completely. Racism and sexism and homophobia still existed in the more remote, isolated pockets of the galaxy. Their colony had been one such place. Growing up there had basically been a living hell.

The best day of their lives was the day they stole enough valuable materials and credit chips to buy their way off world when they were sixteen.

The tram came to a halt. Trent stopped thinking about darker days and stood up, readying his weapon. Anything could be waiting for them. He thought about the dark lizard things with a deep hunger for human gray matter, which was bad enough. But something was bothering him. The bones. The lizard men didn't explain the bleached bone.

"Everybody out!" Sharpe called, coming back from the tiny cockpit.

She led the way. Trent followed, rifle tucked into his shoulder. They moved through the small antechamber into the tram station. It was a wreck. Blood on the floor, bones, too, picked one hundred percent clean. The team spread out as they came into the area. Nothing moved. The emergency lights made the shadows deep.

They crossed the room, the only sound that of Sharpe's litany, trying to get in touch with Sergio or anyone else on the team. No luck. They stopped short as they reached one of the only two doors out of the room.

"Shit," Sharpe muttered. "It's welded shut, too."

"Let's head to the other," Trent replied, already turning and making for the opposite door.

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