Chapter 40 - Eden

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He walked away.

Dawns laughter stopped when the door at the base of the catwalk leading from the command deck hissed closed. 

She considered the scene and realized her laughter had been misinterpreted.  Her mirth was born of Silas' observation of Terris' words and was more a snapping point in the tension within her.

She heard a soft impact from the hangar deck and her heart froze.

"Haden?"

The AI stood facing her, his expression one of fury.  "Terris has departed the ship."  He said simply.  Dawn closed her eyes.  The drone.  They could be piloted as escape craft in an emergency and Terris had taken it.  "It would seem your plan worked out, after all."  The AI's tone could have frozen a sun.

Silas looked around.  "I took that too far." He said with obvious concern.  John gave a nod of agreement.  Valeri cast her eyes to the floor.

-

Terris felt lost.  The encounter with Dawn had not gone as he expected.  With a grim chuckle he realized it had gone about as well as Dawn had expected the kiss to.

He didn't have a destination.  There wasn't anywhere to go.  Archangel was an option, but the only occupant was in the infirmary, still recovering from the psychological wounds Ghost had inflicted.  He wasn't going to risk taking the drone atmospheric, either.  He wasn't suicidal, just needed some alone time.

Everything had been a blur from the moment Dawnhammer saved him after his desperate leap off of the Lazarus.  From one outrageous scenario to the next, the young man hadn't the time to process it all, in depth.  The drone was an escape route, if only for awhile.  How long had it been?  Days? Weeks?

Dawn's laughter in the face of his bourne heart shut him down, emotionally, overwhelmed him to the point that nothing made sense.  It hurt.  Horribly.  He knew, now, that she thought his feelings were infantile.  And he felt childish upon examining the memory further.  He felt like a fool.

He looked around to occupy his mind on more mundane issues.  The fighter was cramped, even for him.  John would never have fit in it.  The thing wasn't designed on Dawnhammer's scale and certainly could not contain the beast's technology, but he was a little surprised at how average the vessel was.  A flight yoke rose from the floor between twin trim pedals.  Red-tinted digital readouts lined the lower canopy seal to his left and right, but the entire forward section from heel to head was composite glass.  His field of view was magnificent.

Curiously, he touched an image of the drone just to the right of the forward canopy.  The screen flashed from red to blue and brought with it a series of hisses and clicks.  Taking his cue from the changes on the image he looked to his right.  The ship was, roughly, a scale version of Dawnhammer and possessed the same quad-wing construction. The pilot's seat was situated just forward of the middle distance between tail and nose. He could only see the upper wing surfaces, but they were now decorated with three long cannons, barrels extending well past the front line of the nose cone.

He slid his finger on the screen image and the drone rolled, showing him three weapons per wing.

"Even the damned drone is a gunship." He whispered to himself.  After examining the flight yoke, he found the trigger, hidden below a plastic guard. 

Terris looked up.  Dawnhammer's mass dwarfed the little ship.  He knew he was gaining distance, but the beast didn't dwindle in size.  It was easy to forget how large she was.

He toyed with the yoke.  Pitch and roll.  The response was impressive.  He pushed his right foot down on the corresponding pedal and the drone angled right, responding to yaw.  Straightforward and simple.  He smiled, refreshed.  He could use a little simplicity. 

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