Who's on First?Mature

The spark bit his finger, and left a pink blotch in his vision as Hector shook the pain from his hand.

"Fuck," he murmured, and once again surveyed the wreckage before his eyes; a miniature Armageddon on the circuit board of what remained from the mobiglas in his flight suit. He brought the device to eye level and peered down the runs and integrated circuits that looked, at this angle, like the streets and buildings of a war torn cityscape. The power source was still active, and with some luck and ingenuity, Hector thought he could somehow store data in the lone undamaged memory chip that stood like a triumphant obelisk near the center of the card. The components were extremely small however, and he had no tools with which to work. Footsteps echoed through the hall, and Hector quickly disconnected the power source of the mobiglas and replaced the cracked screen. He sat, waiting as shadows crept along the slit of luminescence below the door.

With a hiss, daylight bellowed into the square concrete room; almost giving it some life. Claire stood at the door, her heterochromia iridum still a shocking sight; one eye purple, the other green, both brilliant in color. “Come with me,” she said, disappearing beyond the entrance to return the way she came.

Hector got up and followed, unsure of what to expect in the coming hours; hoping they weren't his last.

On the Scipio's flight deck, Captain Anderson reluctantly waited for the arrival of the Marine contingent, undoubtedly headed by the lone civilian listed aboard. The weapons detachment had already transferred earlier in the morning from the cruiser Vivid, and were waiting nearby; resting against one of the massive transverse frames that ribbed the interior of the flight deck bulkheads.

The aft blast doors had been opened for some time, and Anderson was growing impatient as he stared at the stars beyond the opening; framed by the blue hue of the engines whose wash was just out of sight. Finally, a small object caught his attention. It veered in from the left, looking like just another star that simply didn't want to stay still. Soon it grew in size, until small details could be discerned; a fact that reminded Anderson of his training that dictated the ship was within three hundred meters when details could be discerned. The shuttle listed to adjust to the ground guides instructions; his orange batons glowing in the dim light of the flight deck, unchallenged in luminosity but for the engines of the shuttle. Soon, the roaring of those engines was all Anderson could hear as the craft came sliding into the bay he stood nearest. He barely heard the marines behind him rustling as they got up and moved closer.

Finally, the shuttle doors popped open with a hiss, and the ramp lowered, revealing behind it a mass of silhouettes; one of which Anderson could undeniably recognize. The broad shoulders and hips accentuated a tiny waist. The strangers sauntered off, hauling bags of kit and weapons crates. They were met by crewmen who directed them toward the control office to find their temporary bunks. Amongst the flowing bodies, she moved much more slowly, her face still hidden as she made her way out of the darkened hold of the shuttle, bootstraps flaring as they came out of the shadows along the ramp.

“Commander,” she said; the synthetic purple of her prosthetic eyes finally glistening in the pale light of the flight deck.

“It's Captain now actually.” Anderson retorted.

“Oh is it? How wonderful for you.”

“And you? Still a Major I presume?” Anderson said, squinting at her chest to find rank before realizing there was none to be found.

“Nothing,” she said, extending a hand, “You can stop staring at my chest and shake my hand though.”

Anderson sighed. “You know I was looking for insignia Alera. You're all plastic anyway,” he said; referring to the cybernetic prosthesis that made up the vast majority of her body.

Alera raised an eyebrow. “Are you saying they're fake?”

“Well …” Anderson was taken aback by the accusation. “Yes, I believe I am.”

Alera smiled, “I'm giving you a hard time, lighten up.”

Anderson was uneasy. He pulled his tunic taught and straightened himself. “So bring me up to speed, what's the situation?”

“Really?” Alera said, a furrow in her brow. “I was going to ask you the same thing, I was just on a completely different Op when orders came down to pull out and meet up with our weapons detachment here.” Kusanagi's purple hair rolled off her shoulders and danced in the wind for a few moments as the shuttle behind her began lifting off the deck. She yelled over the engines, “If you don't know what's going on, who does?”

“I think I have an inkling as to who does; follow me.”

The End

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