Chapter 11: Into the Howling Darkness

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"I've got to get to the bridge," Callie said as they finished stepping through the airlock. "Come on, I'll get you caught up."

Greg nodded and followed her out and into the ship. They moved along the central corridor and passed by an open door leading into the squalid medical bay. He spied Mertz inside, going over a lot of medical gear. As they passed by the armory, he saw Keron, the massive man facing away from him, performing a similar job to Mertz's as he went over the arsenal they were taking with them. Too many thoughts were tumbling through his head right then and he tried to shut them off. He followed Callie onto the bridge.

She settled into the pilot's seat and began warming up the engines. He listened as she recounted everything that had happened to her and Allan and their squadmates. The jungle world, the crash landing, the meat puppets and the death and the horror. She ended it with her conversation with Erebus and watching Allan disappear.

"We'll get him back," he said as she fell silent.

"I hope so," Callie replied quietly as she finished the warmup procedures for the speedship. All around them, the vessel hummed with energy. She brought the ship up off hangar floor and maneuvered it forward into the airlock bay. Accessing it remotely, she shut the inner doors and began the process of cycling the airlock.

"I promise that we'll get him back," Greg said, trying to sound more sure than he felt. Too many things had gone wrong recently, too much of his life was a fucking mess. He didn't understand a lot of what he was feeling, not in any deep kind of way, and it was probably because his memories only went back a little over a year. He was still figuring a lot of shit out and although generally he felt like he had a handle on things, sometimes a situation would arise and it would throw him completely off his game. Sometimes for days.

This mess he found himself in now was easily the worst he'd come across. Even worse than the origin of his memories, waking up on Dis.

"I wanted to thank you again for coming back," Callie said, sound uncertain as the outer airlock doors opened and she pushed the ship out into space. "I knew it couldn't have been easy. Having you here means a lot."

"You don't need to thank me," he muttered, falling down into the co-pilot's seat and rubbing his eyes. "I shouldn't have left in the first place. I was a fucking idiot."

"Why?" she asked. "What makes you say that?"

He heaved a sigh. "I went to see Kyra."

"I...oh."

"Yeah. Oh. I thought...Kyra was the only aspect of my life that ever felt right apart from my life here, aboard the Dauntless with you and Eve and everyone else. Since it wasn't working anymore, I thought that maybe that would work. I didn't know what else to do. I was panicking. But she's engaged. And she didn't want to see me. And she made a lot of good points about how stupid it was to come out there expecting anything at all. So...I don't know, I guess one of my points was that I was probably going to come back anyway. This happening just sped up the timetable."

"Are you going to be all right?" Callie asked. She was orienting the speedship in the direction they needed to go now after having moved it a safe distance from the Dauntless. Out the window, Greg could see the other speedship moving off.

"I don't know," he replied. "Everything's all fucked up right now and I'd really like to just focus on something I actually know how to do. Which is this."

Callie laughed grimly. "Yeah. We seem to have gotten pretty good at throwing ourselves into crazy situations and coming out on top. Well...usually, anyway." She sighed and finished punching in the coordinates. The specially reinforced metal sheaths slid down over the windows and, a moment later, the ship punched out into FTL flight.

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