Some things aren’t done for logical reasons; in fact most things are done for illogical reasons. But I guess their reasons none the less. The Rebellion is the only ones who sees the Capitals for what they are; killers. The rest of the world probably sees it too, but they live in fear that they will die for illogical reasons. We do not.
Maybe if the Capital didn’t kill innocents, and destroy entire cities because of their insatiable greed for power the Rebellion wouldn’t exist. And if they didn’t kill my parents, my brother and my twin sister I wouldn’t be part of it. Up until my seventeenth birthday, up until my family was killed for no reason –and I know they were – I was pretty indifferent towards the Capital, what they did hadn’t mattered to me. Now, it’s personal.
“Parker!” a gravelly voice shouted from the under-deck.
“Captain!” I called back.
“Enemy vesicle approaching from the port side! Alert the Guns!” The Captain turned towards the light spilling through the deep red smoke filling the under-deck and the left side of his face was thrown into sharp relief. A deep cut ran from the crown of his deep blue haired head to halfway down his throat. A murder gone wrong. Clark Griswold, the engine behind the Rebellion, is the reason why the 5,000 Rebels around the Novum Universe have a reason to live, because he offered them something that they wanted more than they wanted to live: retribution. Swearing the oath got you three things; a place to crash, a family(ish) and the chance to destroy the people that took everything from you.
“Parker! I gave you an order!” hollered the Captain up at me.
“On my way, Cap’n.”
Being one of the smallest, and therefore quickest, on the aptly named Avenger it usually fell to me to climb through the steaming pipes and screaming mechanics of the ship to the Gun’s control station and program them to the needs of the Captain.
I paused to pull my hair up into a half-assed pony tail before I scurried up the rickety ladder to the main bridge. My arms throbbed and my legs were screaming but after two years of being a part of the crew, I’ve grown used to it. I never used to wear the dresses my mother bought for me, and after a few failed attempts to get me to act like a proper young lady she finally gave up and focused on my twin, Grace. I prefer to work on ships with my father and brother, to take things apart and put them back together. Grease stains and scratches didn’t bother me then and they don’t bother me now, which is probably why I didn’t stop when a sharp bolt sticking out from one of the beams cut into my shoulder as I balanced my way across the lower beams, to get to the hatch that the Gun’s control was in.
As I opened the hatch I could feel the blood sliding down my arm and pooling in the crease of my bent elbow but I continued to program the Guns. I trained them on the enemy vesicles to the left of our ship I hit the large green button to let the Gunners know they were loaded and ready to go. Now that my mission was completed my mind finally registered the blistering pain on my shoulder. Looking down, I peeled the thin grey t-shirt away from my arm to check the damage.
“Been playing with sharp things again, Park?” said an amused voice from above me.
Looking up I caught the sight of vibrant yellow eyes and a cocky smile before a figure dropped down in front of me. Torin Bentley: solider, general smart-ass and my partner in crime.
“It started it, “I claimed.
“Is there any point in me telling you to go see Doc?” he inquired, taking my arm gently in his big calloused hands to inspect the damage the bolt had done.
“Nope,” I smiled up into his angular face, half hidden in the shadows of the closely packed space.
“It’ll scar pretty nice,” he observed, securing the ripped t-shirt above the wound. “Come on back to the mess hall and we’ll see if we can at least stop the bleeding.”
I followed Torin through the interwoven pipes and various bits of metal that held our ship together and I found myself thinking back to the first day on the crew. The first day I met Torin.
December 23rd, 2546; it wasn’t dark or stormy as you’d think it would be, in fact it was the brightest day of the winter season. The suns were both out, shining to their fullest, not a cloud in sight. A pleasantly warm breeze had the blood sticking to me, plastering my shorts and t-shirt closer to my chilled body. There were voices, so many voices, and hands, so many hands, all touching me, comforting me, trying to get me to tell them what happened…where my family was. I couldn’t think, could barely breathe, how did they expect me to remember that my family was slaughtered in front of me, to remember the way that my mother screamed and my father and brother fought to get to us, and my sister had cried. How they bled. How they died.
Probably because they understood that it was all I could think about, all I could see every time I closed my eyes. Their screams still echoing in my ears.
Then a warm arm wrapped around my waist, scooping me up and holding me against an even warmer body. He was a solid rock, not only literally but figuratively as well – I clung to him as he walked me away from the crowd, from the voices. He brought me into the doctor station and sat with me still clutching him. I didn’t cry, not yet. He didn’t say anything, didn’t offer me words of comfort, and didn’t tell me things were going to be okay. He didn’t pat my shoulder or my head, or try to soothe my pain. He just held me, and it was exactly what I needed.
After the doctor tended to my wounds as best as he could with me still wrapped in Torin’s arms, the then stranger set me on the bed beside him and showed me the inky black tattoo on his left forearm. It said was an inscription in his language, not words, but symbols. All interconnecting, telling a story of violence and pain and sorrow. My eyes slid closed, my lips stayed pressed together for fear that if I opened them id scream and never stop. I felt him shift an my eyes opened to meet his unwavering yellow gaze, the next thing I knew tears were sliding down my face, part of the agony that I was holding in escaped and the big dark haired stranger leaned forward proceeded to catch the proof of my salt water misery with his calloused fingers. When there was too many for him to catch he pulled me back into his embrace and just held me until the exhaustion took me and I fell asleep. He’d been my friend ever since.
“Still alive back there?” Torin’s voice pulled me from my musings; he was looking over his shoulder with a smirk on his face.
I tossed him a dark look and sauntered passed him, “It’ll take more than a busted bolt to send me to the Maker.”
His chuckle followed me as I climbed down the rickety ladder and jumped the last few steps, my shoulder protested the jolt that rushed through me but I just shrugged the pain away. I’d taken laser shots to the stomach, this was nothing compared to the pain of your flesh being sizzled off. Torin jumped down beside me and we made our way to the mess hall. There were a few stragglers, those who hadn’t been ordered to do something, and those just finishing up lunch. Torin and I made our way to the table closest to the back corner on a silent agreement to not have our backs to anybody- it’s not that we don’t trust the crew, but after years of having training against enemies you tend to put that into your daily life.
“There you two are!” a female voice yelled from the table we were headed to. A tall woman stood up and shimmied over to us. “Nice work, Parks, looks like you’re going to beat Malcolm with the scar this beaut will leave you.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be helping load the relief ships for the 3’o clock leave, Taryn?” Torin asked, taking the seat in the corner and kicking out the chair on his right side and pulling up the sleeve of the t-shirt that had fallen down over the wound again.
“The ships can keep,” Taryn Saunders, known as Terror to the crew, scoffed and ran a hand through her jet black hair. “I have other things that I need to do, like watch you clean Parker’s nasty wound. You never know when you’ll need an extra pair of hands.”
“Tar, you’re a Loader. You’re expertise is in organizing and hand-to-hand combat. Not wounds.” I laughed at Tar’s put down expression, “You know I’m right.” I said.
“Fine, I’ll just go see what Emery and Camden are doing.” She stood up and made a show of dusting off her skin tight black jumpsuit, the suit showed off her long, tall figure- and she knew it, “I’ll catch you two later.”
Torin and I watched her leave with identical smiles on both our faces. “Maybe somebody should send a warning to the boys…” I hedged, starting to stand up only to have Torin wrap a hand around my wrist and tug me back down.
“Don’t even think about it, this needs tending now.”
“Yes, daddy.” I grumbled, but settled down against the back of the chair.
Torin took out a first-aid kit from one of the many pockets on his left pant leg and placed some thread, a needle, anti-bacterial soap and scrub and some gauze on the table. I winced.
“Don’t be a baby, Parks, you play with nails then you gotta get over the clean up.” He cleaned the area around the cut with some soap and then shot me a look before using the scrub. Laughing at my curses, he quickly sewed me up and wrapped the gauze around my upper arm. “There, all better.”
I slid the t-shirt down over the gauze and stood up, “I’m gunna go change. Want to meet up with the twins and see if Tar has driven them crazy yet, after?”
After making plans to meet at the bottom of the boys’ wing (it was closer to the twins’ normal haunt, the Garage) we parted ways. I climbed up the stairs to the girls’ wing and pressed my wrist to the lock. The chips in my wrist opened my bedroom door and I stripped on the way to the bathroom. The hot water felt divine on my dirty, sweaty skin. I changed into a pair of black fatigues and a light brown long-sleeved shirt than laced up along the side. I was lacing up my boots when there was a knock on my door.
“I thought we were gunna meet at the-” Doc stood on the other side, his wiry frame bent slightly from years of working over patients. His ginger hair stood up at odd places, like he’d run his fingers through it repeatedly. As usual, he was wearing a long white medical jacket with a pair of bright red sneakers. Torin must have told him about my arm on the way to his room.
“Look, Doc, Torin already fixed me up and I don’t need –”
“No, no, Ms. Parker. I’m not here because of your arm, but next time I’d prefer you come to me. I am here because, well…because we…I…”
“What is it, Doc?” I leaned against the door jam and immediately regretted the position as my shoulder screamed in protest.
“Liberty didn’t make it.” He blurted his cobalt eyes swimming with tears looked everywhere but at me.
“I – what?” I stammered.
“Libby. Her ship just docked…she wasn’t on it. It was the Riterans, Ms. Parker, they attacked them on the way back from the Ignis system – “
I didn’t hear the rest of what he was saying. I tore off down the corridor, towards Torin’s room. I didn’t realize I was screaming his name until I collided with his body. “Adria! What’s the matter? Come on, talk to me, sweetheart.” His yellow eyes darted around the hallway, searching for possible threats.
I tried to speak but it just came out all jumbled. He leaned back and took my face between his large hands. “Adria Parker!” the shock of hearing my full name from Torin’s lips-or any lips for that matter- stunned me into silence, “Listening? Good. What the hell is going on?”
“Libby.” I gasped.
“Okay, good. What about Libby, darlin’?”
“She – “I couldn’t get the rest out. I pushed my face into his chest and tried to control my breathing. I felt Torin’s cheek press against my head as his hands rubbed my back.
“Come on, Parks, just tell me what’s the matter. I can’t help if you don’t tell me.”
“I believe she’s trying to tell you that Liberty Stonewall has died,” said a cold voice from behind me.
I spun around to see the smirk plastered on Sidney Wynter’s porcelain face.
“What?” whispered Torin.
“She. Died.” Sidney spoke as if she was talking to a small child. “It was terribly upsetting.” It would have been bad enough coming from the cold bitch’s lips, but when they split into a cold grin my temper boiled dangerously close to the surface.
I felt Torin’s hands tighten on my shoulder, but the pain shooting through my arm went unnoticed. All I could see was Sidney’s smiling face, her cold white eyes that glinted madness. Of course, she was from the Glaciem colony. The Ice Planet, as its better known. Normally, her pale cheeks would be flushed and red but with the warmer temperature of the Pulverem colony that we are currently in her cheeks were just as white as her eyes. She was wearing the traditional clothing of a Pulverem women; a piece of short white cloth that clung to her hips and stopped a couple inches down her thighs and a strapless tank-top that reached just above her navel. Most of the men on our ship couldn’t stop staring – and she wasn’t doing anything to discourage them.
Her eyes raked over Torin’s big body and it was then I realized that he was clad only in a dark gray towel and his silver-blond hair was dripping onto me. Sidney had tried to go for Torin when she’d joined the crew but he’d made it clear he wasn’t interested. Apparently, that didn’t stop her from trying to convince him otherwise…at least three times a day.
“Showering in pairs saves energy.” She claimed, licking her pink lips seductively.
“How did Libby die?” he asked, ignoring her comment.
“We stopped to fuel up and she was attacked by a group of Riterans. So, how about the shower?” attempt number two.