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I am a man of two faces, two lives but only one past.
"Frack, Zee! Watch where you put your.. Oh gods."
The tiny room was heating up; one port window was covered with steam. Assorted d-cases were beginning to lean precariously as the two bodies fought to complete a heated, and against regulation, tryst. Zepher snapped open the zip plate on Rio's armor, letting the piece fall noiselessly to the floor. Hands rough from long years serving in the corps shoved piece after piece of armor aside until skin met his hungry hands. Rio ripped Zepher's shirt open and then pushed his commanding officer back thus allowing him to turn and bark his needs.
The room was hardly more than a storage closet, usually stocked with excess drop-ship supplies. This part of the freighter was always dark and quiet at this time of rotation but on this evening a lone shape stood just out of sight and waited patiently. Drex shifted from foot to foot, a sense of dread settling in his stomach as the cacophony reached a climax down the hall. Drex has no idea who Commander Zepher was with and he didn't want to know. Technically there was no one on board of equal rank which meant whoever was involved was a subordinate and breaking about five regulations. It was knowledge the young man very wisely preferred to be obtuse to.
Several minutes past until at last the door opened. Drex stepped around the corner and waited, his ears trained hard on what he hoped was a brisk 'goodbye'. When he heard a hard step leading away from their location, the young man deemed it safe enough to emerge. He came around the corner, his face carefully schooled and found himself face to face with Major Rio.
"Sir!" He snapped sharply.
"What are you doing down here?" Rio inquired hauntingly.
"I have been looking for Commander Zepher." He sputtered.
"What makes you think the commander is down here?" Rio barked.
"I have checked everywhere else, sir!"
"Not everywhere.. Private?"
"Drex, sir! I haven't been able to find him anywhere." The young man sputtered, mentally kicking himself for the bad luck of now knowing who the Commander was taking his pleasure with.
Rio made a show of checking the time, "You must have just missed him in the gym. He should be in his quarters by now."
"Yes, sir." He stammered. "I will check there immediately."
"Drex!" Rio barked before the man could scurry away. "Why is it so important to find the Commander at this hour?"
"He has a personal message marked urgent, Sir. It is time sensitive."
"Then you better run along." Rio said, finally letting the nervous private take his leave. The major knew he and Zee had a problem on their hands now. They had been indiscreet in their heat and now something would need to be done about Drex or else one of them were going lose their commission: most likely Major Rio.
Drex scrambled through the maze of hallways until he finally arrived in the officers area. The young man was muttering under his breath and kicking himself for his bad luck. There was no way he was going to say a word about this; and he certainly wasn't going to bring it up to either of them! Enlisting into the Galactic Space Authority, which was a nice way of saying the military, had not been Drex's first choice as a job. Even on his little home planet there had been more options than just brek agriculturalist or enlistee. He could have followed in his uncle's footsteps and became an industrial buyer or maybe tole musician. It's not like he lived on Rak or Meer where you only had two choices: planetary cog or the military. He had chosen to see the galaxy and had planned on making a life at it. Now he would be lucky to finish this round before his services would no longer be needed.
He slammed into the corner of a hallway as he tried to navigate past a ground pounder that had no business being in this section. The hulk in full armor glared at him but kept on moving. Hopefully he was simply making his rounds; Drex really didn't want to find there was more bad news on the horizon.
Drex suddenly found himself in front of Commander Zepher's quarters. He reached for the buzzer before he could over think his first reaction to run the frack away. The chime sounded and Drex waited, shifting from foot to foot. When the door slid quietly open, he was staring at his commander with wide eyes.
"Private." Zepher said, nudging the young man into action.
"Sir, there is an urgent private message waiting for you. Its time sensitive."
"Thank you, Private. You're dismissed."
Commander Zepher gave no thought to the young soldier who had been at his door. He went right to his console and entered his personal code. The message was listed just as the private indicated but the content line gave the commander pause. It wasn't going to be good news. Treating it like anything else in his life, Zepher briskly opened it up and scanned the message. He was just reading it through a second time when the ship rocked violently.
The commander was on the bridge in less than a minute, "Report!" He barked.
"A jump portal has opened, sir. We have been fired upon."
"Put us on the defense." He ordered. "Identify!"
"Sir, the ship isn't in our database." Called out one of the grunts from tactical.
"Move us away at full impulse." He ordered while taking up his own seat. Zepher reviewed the data on his screen and came to the conclusion they may simply have been at the wrong place at the right time. He wanted to move his ship, the Flail, away from the unknown ship and see if they would break off.
"Keep us moving!" He ordered over the cacophony of another barrage of incoming fire. So far none of the strikes had been to a vital system.
Much to Zepher's consternation the other ship kept pressing the advantage. The Flail was forced to give ground over and over again. Commander Zepher held his fire while his crew assessed the other ship. He was never a man to tip his hand too quickly. Zepher watched the battle on the screen and saw the ship was being backed into an asteroid field.
"Sir, there are multiple jump portals opening."
"Determination." He called.
"Unknown, sir. All configurations seem to be of the same origin as this ship." Replied his tactical officer.
"What are your orders, sir?" Weapons control was primed to fire and wanted him to know.
Commander Zepher evaluated the situation and understood he had little choice. If the new jump portals contained more hostiles then they would find themselves out numbered very shortly.
"Have you found a weakness?" He wanted to know. Zepher wanted to take the ship as a prize. He needed a weakness to keep the ship intact.
"No sir. But data suggests they would not last very long against our weaponry."
The commander made a decision. "Weapons," He called out. Zepher was not sure which officer was at that post right now and he did not wish to spare a moment to check. "There is a large asteroid we are passing under right now. When the ship follows I want you to detonate a charge under their hull as close as possible. Is that understood?"
"Sir, the other jump-portals are open. Sixteen ships have come through. Fourteen of them are heading for deep space." There was a moment of silence. "The other two have taken up a defensive position, Sir."
"But they are not advancing?" Commander Zepher checked.
"No Sir. They are holding position."
"The ship is in range." Weapons called. "Firing."
"Keep an eye on those other ships!" Zepher called.
They watched as the explosion's concussive force pushed the ship upwards and into the asteroid. The impact caused asteroid debris to scatter in all directions. From their scans the crew could see the force had been hash enough to do serious damage. Zepher weighed his options. The commander order weapons to fire once more but to make sure it was a disabling hit.
"Have Major Rio and his team ready to board." Zepher ordered.
The fight seemed to go out of the other ship. While Commander Zepher's own team gathered to follow his orders the bridge crew watched as two life pods were ejected and picked up by one of the other ships. The other ships made haste and followed the rest of the group.
"Tell Major Rio I want a full report of the ship. If it is viable then he is to make repairs and take it back to Petra Base."
Commander Zepher left the bridge and went back to his quarters. Rio was going to be very angry with him.
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