A Shadow Amongst Men - Ch. 2Mature

Authors Note

Hey again guys! Sorry for the late edition of this second chapter, we've been rather busy with the workings of our lives (because hey, we have those! Hah, couldn't say that with a straight face) and have struggled to get the second chapter put together. In future we hope to be making a new chapter each week, if not two a week on a good week.

It's good to see that the story is getting a few views, and we're honoured that so many of you were willing to read through the entirety of the first chapter. We would strongly appreciate reviews so we know what kind of things you guys want to see from our stories. Suggestions and ideas are always welcome :).

Hope you enjoy the second chapter!

Regards,

~Durzo and Globey

Chapter 2 - New Beginnings

The first great mystery of the universe: Apparently you cannot stare at a wall of something that is impossible to understand, and then develop an understanding for it. This was no different. Six hours of staring at the wall of wires and mechanical things did not present an epiphany as to their function. She sighed.

Her young life had presented challenge after challenge. Never providing a point for her to relax. From a young age she had been raised as a hunter and a sniper. Training in their religious art of Wuchia. The art, paired with two mechanical devices implanted in the body, provided invisibility and turned a person from a simple hunter into her colonies most feared fighters. The Karifers. She was one. And she had not the faintest clue what to do with this bundle of wires and confusing nodes, unless burying a knife in it would help.

After a moment of consideration and fuelled by the intention to have accomplished at least something before she was scheduled to head back to her quarters, she grasps two bare wires by their insulation, glowing fibres sparking softly. She sighs, pressing them both together.

She had always been taught that with intuition, effort and intent anyone could accomplish their goals and would be rewarded for their effort. This was no exception. Natasha was rewarded with an explosion of sparks in her face. Instinctively her arms came up in a cross-block, dropping backwards onto her rear as a rather uncharacteristic squeal is pulled from her throat.

Blinking away the stars from her eyes, she could not help but feel the hackles on her neck rise. The faintest adjustment in the air and the sounds around her signalling that someone was nearby. Opening one eye against the excruciating headache that was rapidly developing, she spied a man down the hall from her. What had she read his name was? Vincent? Something like that. She watches him for a moment before scowling, rubbing her eyes, a blush climbing her cheeks at having just embarrassed herself spectacularly in front of this stranger.

Why do I care what he thinks of me?

Because he is good looking, idiot.

She scowls, mentally slapping herself. Idiot. She rubs a hand through her hair, turning her gaze to this new stranger. Her eyes flittering over his figure more out of habit than anything else, checking him over for the slightest bulge of hidden weaponry or the misshaping of clothing indicating hidden compartments. Finding none her gaze flitters up to his eyes, currently quirked with a sceptical expression.

"First day on the job, huh?"

A moment later his eyes scan her up and down before turning to inspect the wall of wires and blinking lights, "I…. What were you trying to fix?" He leaned closer to carefully inspect the wire as he spoke to her.

Shit. A million words charge to the forefront of her mind, almost none of which helpful and at least half of them complimenting him in one shape or form. She swallows, attempting to preview the words in her mind before speaking.

"The uhm… Wires to the uhm… Thing?" Great work. Absolutely amazing. Not only did you just prove you don't know what you're doing, you just made yourself look like an idiot in front of possibly the only good looking guy in the galaxy. I applaud you.

The man turned his gaze sharply, a strange expression on his face. Awe? Surely not.

"What the… you…" He straightened slightly, turning to her. His expression perplexed.

"Mabye I should be taking lessons from you – three years on this ship and even I didn't spot the fault in the e-36QR7 circuit in my initial inspection… how did you…?" He trails off, shaking his head. Looking annoyed with himself.

Natasha simply blinks, the words not registering properly in her mind. Her? Actually doing something right? She raises a hand, awkwardly rubbing the back of her head.

"I'm uh, Magic?" Great work Natasha. Making a joke when your cover is on the line.

She lowered her gaze to the ground, chastised. The man though, bulls ahead. "Shit, you could have just saved the ship. That was a cumulative fault – it's been building up for years, we could have been blown to smithereens any day now." The man turned his back to her once more, fiddling with a couple of connections before turning back to her once more. His gaze falls to her feet before gradually looking up to her face again. The corner of his mouth remaining fixed in a smile.

"Look, I don't normally ask this, but how about we get together in the mess some time to discuss a bit of your… magic?" He said before grinning again. "You could probably teach me a trick or two."

Natasha blinks. Did he just ask me on a date?

"Uhm… I think I uh… I have something…" You have what, Natasha? Work to do? Sure. Because that ended so well for you last time.

She swallows before looking up to meet his gaze, a half-hearted smile on her lips. "Sure…" Shit.

"Great!" He said without preamble, already moving down the hall and away from her. Natasha's sigh is reduced to a slight mist as she shakes her head, turning and moving back down the steam-filled corridors towards her quarters.

Long year? Fuck that, this was going to be a long night.

~~~ Orlando

Orlando stares up at the ceiling of his quarters, lying plastered with sweat against the mattress of his bed. He had just spent hours running around the ship performing odd tasks and covering stations as necessary; Leviathan had lost thousands of crewmen over the conflict, and even with the Alant Coalition pushing out reinforcements as fast as they can, she was still short a few hundred men and women of a full complement. That was the reason for him being run ragged today… And also the reason for an influx of unqualified, minimally trained recruits. Therein lies the core of the issue. Something about the new recruit didn't sit quite right with him, even looking past her striking physical appearance.

His gaze flashes over to the flickering red chronometer on the wall across from him, and he squints as he reads the time. I'd better fuck off and get ready… It's almost time for that date.

Grunting lightly, he pushes himself off the bed with his forearms, rolling off the bed and stumbling to his feet. Pausing briefly, he rummages inside his storage locker and grabs his towel and shampoo before setting off through the door and down the hallway towards the communal showers. The deck was abandoned; almost eerie. It wasn't that everyone else was on shift, but rather that everyone else in this entire section was dead. A hull breach in a battle not too long ago had exposed those manning this region of the ship to a lethal dose of gamma radiation, killing them within moments. Orlando himself was fortunate that he was in Engineering at the time, or else he would have joined the ranks of the half-remembered too.

Stepping around a sudden cascade of sparks from a temperamental console, he resumed his musings. In reality, there had been no fault in the E-36QR7 circuit. Orlando wouldn't have described himself as a manipulative man, but something about the air this woman had effected had made him lie on a whim. Of course it wasn't just to extenuate the invitation to the date, but rather to see more of her, and confirm or deny his suspicions. The just slightly panicked reaction to his presence; the way she had checked him over, as he had seen countless times in the slums and dive bars of the planet Norantak… It could have been purely circumstantial, but besides; it was his duty to investigate potential threats to the Leviathan, even if it meant braving social interaction with an attractive member of the opposite sex.

He steps into the empty shower room, choosing a stall at random before roughly palming the device on into a random temperature and going about the business of cleaning himself up. One way or another, it'd be a good thing to get to know that girl better.

The End

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