Rog rubbed his temples, hard, with his weary thumbs, weapons holstered. Still the throbbing persisted. Damn this headache, he thought. Now is not the time.

“Rog. Rog!” shouted John. “What the frail are you doing? Get your head out of your arse numb-nuts.”

“Hang on damn it. I’m on my way.” Smoke filled Bravo’s bay. Las fire, blue, green, red, pretty as any fireworks show, rained down to the metal plating below sending sparks in all directions. Darkness reigned beyond the mesmerizing bolts of prejudice singing their singular song with high pitched velocity. Each a messenger of death, of energy caught between fear before and behind.

“Damnit Rog, get your head out of your arse and cover me. Now! Mother of Rubion, where did all these bastards come from?” John shouldered his weapon, took careful aim and squeezed off another round. For each report, three were rendered in return. “Rog!”

“Where is Kyra?” yelled Rog.

“What?”

“I said, where is Kyra?” shouted Rog.

Las fire intensified. Bolts seemed to come from all directions. John unhooked an illuminator from his belt and turned the dial as far to the right as it would go. “Cover your eyes!”

“What!?”

“Damnit, I said cover your eyes.”

Rog couldn’t hear him over the din of fire and shouted back. “I said where is Kyra?”

“I can’t hear you. Hang on!” John pulled his goggles down, clicked the switch and looped the round orb into the center of the bay.

Rog opened fire with both his las pistols taking aim left and right, completely unaware. The flash exploded, blinding everyone but John. “What the frail!” yelled Rog rubbing his burning eyes as he fell to his knees. “Janus be damned, what the frail did you do that for?”

John ignored him. Standing, he began picking off dark silhouettes with a surgeon’s precision. Round fired after round, each bolt finding its target, ending life with numb calculation. John felt the heat in his hands, the pulse of judgment, as if they belonged to someone else and he wondered how these same hands could hold Ariel with loving care. And the pistols fired on, as if they had a mind of their own. Each shot took what he was trained to save and he marveled at how easy it was to kill, to murder, to take from the universe what couldn’t be replaced. Each pistol hummed in harmony, a chorus of destruction as moving as it was frightening.

Hands shaking, John said, “Coast is clear. Get your useless arse up,” as he kicked Rog in the side. “And to answer your question, I don’t know.”

“You could have given me some warning,” said Rog still rubbing the blinding light from his eyes.

“I said she’s not here.”

“Turn that light off. You’re killing me.” Rog rubbed his head and tried again to focus his eyes.

______

John tossed a bucket of cold water into Rog’s face. “Wake up!”

“Shiott! What the frail!”

“Sorry,” said John. And then with a smile said, “Well, not really. You’ve been dreaming, again, and, I might add, twitching like a baby.”

“Damn my head hurts. What happened?”

John put one foot on the chair in front of Rog to rest his forearm on his leg as he leaned over. “You want the truth or do you want the version that protects your pride?”

Rog grimaced as he shook his head. “How bout you just tell me what happened?”

“Okay. Not two minutes after we entered Bravo you hit your head on a joist. Knocked you out cold.”

Rog looked at John like a deer caught in headlights. “No shiott?”

“Yeah, no shiott numb-nuts.”

“So?”

John pursed his lips. “Scan was correct.”

Rog stood up. “I want to see the bodies.”

John stood up. “No bodies.”

“What the frail no bodies?”

“They’re not here, which, numb-nuts, is why the scan indicated no life forms.”

“What do you mean, they’re not here? How could they not be here?”

John shrugged.

“The pod!”

“Checked it. It’s here.”

“Damn. So where are they?”

“You want my guess?”

“No, I want your first born. Janus, yes, I want your guess.”

“I’d say whoever attacked Bravo came back. Took themselves some hostages.”

Rog rubbed his head again. “Okay. Okay. So what do we do?”

“That, my friend, is a very good question.”

Categories: Story, Rog, John Discovery

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