Chapter 04: The Calm Before

75 8 0

Drake looked up at Viper Three as he and the others filed into the hangar. It was a good sized ship, though slightly smaller than the original speedships that he and the crew had been whisked around across the galaxy on back when there was no Anomalous Operations and they were just a bunch of crazies who had survived some crazy-ass shit. He supposed, in a lot of ways, they were still that, it was just that they were a lot better at hiding it in routine and regulation. Speaking of regulation...he frowned as he crossed the hangar, making for the airlock, thinking about politics and bureaucracy. It often seemed like there were too many politicians and bureaucrats stuffing up the works and keeping the galaxy from actually running smoothly.

Of course, part of him knew that this might be about as good as it was going to get, politically speaking. The only real way to maintain a sure, smooth order to humanity was with an iron, and often bloody, fist. If you wanted at least the illusion of cooperation and everyone's voice being heard, you needed something like what they had now. Unfortunately it came with all its own problems. Drake sighed softly as he followed Greg up into the airlock. It was big enough to fit all of them without too much trouble.

His mind wandered to the mission as they cycled through. What could possibly be waiting for them on that planet? It was a desert planet...that made him think of the desert planet he and Trent had met Mosley on and started chasing after those Rogue Ops bastards. He turned away from that thought, back to the mission, focusing as hard as he could. Unfortunately for him, they just didn't have a lot of data to go off of, and what little information they did have meant it left the field basically wide open in terms of shit they could run into.

Plus, that name...Ash.

Sounded pretty ominous.

As the airlock finished cycling, he turned away from that thought, since speculation usually ended poorly for him. Instead, he focused on something he knew he liked: the Viper. He'd always been fond of the speedships and although this one was slightly smaller than the previous incarnation, it was actually roomier since they'd managed the space a bit better. It came with a galley, an armory, a cargo area, bridge (obviously), engine bay (even more obviously), an infirmary, a bathroom, a training area, and two bedrooms. It employed an absolutely top-tier, state-of-the-art FTL engine, meaning it could travel the galaxy in pretty record times.

The ultimate trade-off for such speed was that they were notoriously expensive to produce and to maintain, and they required constant maintenance, since traveling at these speeds tended to be tough on the ship. What was worse, they had to be replaced entirely after about a year. It was like building a ship that was, from its birth, slowly dying. The fact that they had three of these onboard spoke a lot about Hawkins's bargaining power.

Eric, Drake realized, was standing next to him. "Armory?" he asked.

"Sure," Drake replied.

He liked Eric. He thought he might even like him in that way, he knew the man was bisexual and currently single, but he also seemed kind of unstable. Plus, well, although Drake was feeling a bit better nowadays, it didn't take a whole lot to ruin his day. He'd been tossing the idea around of asking the guy to bed, but something was telling him no. Something even deeper was telling him: wait. Eric might be the real deal, relationship material.

Drake hadn't had a real romantic relationship in years. Lots of years.

He wasn't sure he remembered how.

Still...he'd be lying if he said he wasn't interested in at least trying.

So he followed Eric to the armory while the others headed off on their own destinations. The pair hooked a right through the appropriate door and came into the armory. It was, as Hawkins had promised, fully stocked. One of the things he'd had them do was to select their own personal gear so they could spend less time worrying over what to take when a mission cropped up. Eric's and Drake's work areas were next to each other.

DeathlessRead this story for FREE!