Chapter 10: Atonement Down

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"What have we got?" Allan asked as he came in through the doorway.

The room was small, dim, and cramped with equipment and machinery. A single technician, a thin man with a shaved head and olive skin, sat frowning in front of a large screen, his hands never quite seeming to sit still as he worked the keyboard in front of him. Hawkins stood beside him, hands clasped behind his back, ramrod straight, ever inch the military man.

"Not enough," he replied.

"I'm working on it," the technician murmured, not really paying attention to them.

After getting back to the Atonement with Callie and Parker, he'd passed off the data to Hawkins, who had, in turn, passed it off to their resident genius. The Spec Ops tech before them had spearheaded the group that had cracked the Rogue Ops code previously. He was a twenty-year vet who went by the name of Vetra. Whether it was his first or last name, no one was quite sure, and he was rarely seen out of this room, one of the few techs to have his own, personal office. In the background, soft, ambient, spacey music was playing.

"How are you?" Hawkins asked, turning away from Vetra and his work, fixing his intense gaze on Allan. The man looked very tired, looked his hundred twenty plus age.

"I'm fine," Allan replied. "Feel better now, after all the...the unpleasantness aboard the derelict. Still upset about Donovan and Malone."

Truth be told, he was more than upset. Losing those two men had opened up a slowly-healing wound once more, his own failure to do better on Lindholm, the necessary sacrifice of two million people, of families and cities and lives.

Don't go there...

"I know. I'm sorry. They were good men, both of them. But they knew the risks. And there'll be more dead before this whole thing is over, if Rogue Ops has anything to say about it," Hawkins replied unhappily.

Vetra sighed quietly and shifted in his chair.

Hawkins took the hint and led Allan out of the room, closing the door behind him. They began walking down the brilliantly lit corridors of the Atonement, side by side.

"How are the others doing?" Allan asked.

After passing off the data, Allan and Callie had decided to take the opportunity to get some training and working out in, as their lifestyle required a near constant regiment of both and they heard that Drake and the others were still out. After several hours of this, they'd grabbed a meal, a shower, and a bit of fun in bed before having a nap. Unfortunately, sleep hadn't found Allan for very long. He'd gotten up, had another quick shower and then had gone off in search of Hawkins.

"Not good," Hawkins replied, his tone darkening. "Enzo escaped and Eve was badly wounded. I'm beginning to suspect that we're going to have to give up on Enzo for the moment...though I imagine we'll cross paths again one way or the other before this whole thing is over. They managed to get onboard a military transport a few hours ago. We're linking up right now and it shouldn't be long before they're here. Once we have the data deciphered, we'll go full force with this whole thing, select a pair of sites and double-up, hit them where it hurts."

"What about your Spec Ops teams that were sent ahead?" Allan asked.

Hawkins sighed. "One is still in transit, the other two have...gone dark. They both reported arriving, then...nothing. I can only hope they're still out there, causing trouble for Rogue Ops. We might catch a lucky break and one of them throws a wrench in the gears long enough for us to destroy a site ourselves but..." he shook his head. "I haven't felt particularly lucky lately. We're going to have to do this ourselves, the hard way."

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