Chapter 02: Out There, in the Darkness

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While they checked over their gear, Porter left them to it, deciding that she needed to look over the relevant intel.

Callie noted that Allan didn't have much to say as they stood at their workstations, looking over each piece of their armor before getting into it. They'd pretty much gotten used to wearing power armor most of the time, (not that there wasn't still a tremendous relief at the end of a mission when they could get out of the bulky gear), so they'd decided to just suit up now rather than later. She wondered if he was thinking about the same thing she was.

"Greg will be the first, won't he?" she asked.

Allan seemed startled. "What?" he replied.

"Greg. He'll be the first to walk away from Anomalous Ops. Trent died. Enzo betrayed us. Others died as well. Greg will be the first one, if he makes that decision, to willingly walk away from Anomalous Operations."

"If he decides to," Allan replied. He paused. "What about Kyra?"

Callie shook her head. "We weren't Anomalous Ops then and it wasn't exactly the same. She walked away because...well, because this shit is crazy. As far as I've heard from Greg, she left because everything that had happened before that point was something she had been forced to react to. Everything that happened on Dis and with Dark Ops and the Undead was a do or die situation. And when she agreed to hunt down Matheson, that was still a pretty reasonable reaction: either do this job or live in fear for the rest of your life. But after that? She had the chance to leave and she took it," she explained.

"Yeah," Allan murmured. "Do you have a problem with him leaving?"

"I...I'm not sure," Callie admitted. "I mean, I'll miss him. We've gotten kind of close and..." she hesitated.

"And?" Allan prompted.

She laughed. "It's still a little weird to talk about this with you. But, well, from what I've gathered, Eve is a little...she's not good at commitment. Greg told me once, and for fuck's sake don't repeat this to anyone, but he thought Eve was using the open relationship as a way to keep some distance between them. And they don't tell each other that they love each other. And one of those things that means such different things to different people. I mean, to Eve, it's probably no big deal, but to me, yeah, it'd be a big deal."

"It'd be a big deal for me, too. But I've met people who don't care one way or the other and some people who actively don't like it, or talking about it. And, obviously, you can say you love your partner all you want, but it doesn't matter if you don't show that."

"Yeah, exactly. If Greg does leave, I don't think Eve will leave with him. She loves this job too much. But I'm mainly worried about what he thinks is going to happen if he leaves. Does he think it will make him happy? Or does he think that it will make him safer? I mean, I guess technically it will, since we basically jump into meat grinders every two weeks or so with absolutely no idea what's going to happen to us..."

They both fell silent, thinking their own thoughts once more. They finished checking out their gear and got suited up, save for their helmets, which they left on their workbenches. Then the pair began to check over their weaponry.

"It sets a precedent, doesn't it?" Allan asked suddenly.

"...yes, I suppose that was my original point. It sets a precedent. None of us have willingly walked away from Anomalous Ops. And now one of us may be. Before, it almost seemed like it wasn't really an option. I guess because to a lot of us, when we signed up, we'd hit rock bottom and it really didn't seem like an option, because we had nothing to go back to, nothing better to aspire to. But I think that's changed for some of us. And because no one had done it before, I guess, in our own way, none of us wanted to be the first."

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