Chapter 05: Hard Drop

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Allan found his way onto the bridge as they neared the system.

He'd killed the time leading up to now in many familiar ways, then, as the countdown neared its end, he'd pulled on his suit of armor and grabbed his guns with Callie and the others. It was becoming a ritual to him. No, scratch that, it already was a ritual at this point. Pulling on the suit of power armor, checking it over, getting the guns and the ammo and the grenades...it had all become deeply ingrained in him by now.

That realization, which hit him exactly as he stepped onto the bridge, made him come up short. He managed to get out of the way of the door, since Hollis was behind him, and fell into a brief but deep contemplation.

It made him wonder again about what he might do if he left. He wasn't sure why the hell he was hung up on the idea, but it was stuck in the gears of his mind, gumming up the works. Allan had the uncomfortable notion that his brain was trying to tell him something, or maybe his intuition, his instincts, and he had always listened to them. Instinct was a weird thing. Some of it, maybe even most of it, he could pass off as well-honed senses. Knowing that there was someone at your three o'clock, maybe five meters out, usually happened because you heard something. Maybe it was so slight that you didn't even realized that you'd heard it.

But then there were other things.

Like...when someone entered a room but he had not heard, seen, or smelled them. Their presence alone, even if they were perfectly silent, was enough to give them away. He saw the strangeness of intuition written in the way he could sense when a mission was coming up, in the way he sometimes sensed that someone was going to call him up on the intercom about three seconds before it actually happened.

It freaked him out a little if he thought about it too much.

So what was it trying to tell him now? That he should be thinking about a career change? Why? Why would that happen?

He thought about what Callie had said, about the precedent it would set if Greg left. Because she was right, it had never been done before, not in this way. Was that what his brain was telling him? Did he want to leave Anomalous Ops but just didn't have any real excuse to, so he'd just shoved it back into the shadowy depths of his brain?

But he didn't want to leave Anomalous Ops. He was doing good work here. Seriously good work. And although he was no longer borderline suicidal and mentally unstable, he did still feel like he owed the people of Lindholm a debt for sacrificing them all.

"Um...uh-oh."

That snapped Allan right back to the here and now without a problem.

"What the fuck do you mean 'uh-oh'?" he asked, moving forward. It was the pilot.

"Something's gone wrong with the engines. We're gonna overshoot-" He'd been working the controls furiously but then he froze and the ship jumped slightly. The pilot let out a relieved sigh. Allan shared an uneasy glance with Hollis. "We're good," he said, and the shutters covering the windows began to slide back, revealing a brilliant blue-green light. "We just came out of FTL flight closer to the planet than we were planning...oh shit," he whispered. "Contacts!"

He managed to get that word out before a tremendous explosion shook the whole ship and threw Allan to the deckplates.

"We've got hostile contacts! Taking evasive action!" the pilot yelled.

The ship jerked to one side, which caused Allan, who was struggling to his feet, to fall over again. His helmet radio crackled to life.

"What the fuck is going on up there?!" Callie demanded.

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