“Is that everything Pinky?” asked Rog, a bit more sullen than she had ever seen him. Pinky blinked her big eyes in the affirmative as if unable to speak and Rog wondered if he needed as much as wanted the mech to feel, to feel what he felt too numb or too angry or too confused to process. “That’s all. Tell Goldie I appreciate everything the two of you have done. Are you sure we’ve retrieved everyone’s personal effects?”

“Yes Mr. Rog. Everything is present and accounted for,” responded Pinky, her normal silly playfulness clearly absent.

Rog sighed at the irony of that thought coming from a mech. Everything, he mused. Everything indeed was not accounted for, not present. What had happened to Kyra, Em and Von was anyone’s guess but one thing was clear—they were not on Bravo. Nor were there any clues; no note, no sign, no transmission, no nothing to indicate what might have happened. For all intents and purposes, Kieran might just have well swooped down and scooped them up into the heavens. Wouldn’t be the first time; still, only one small problem with that theory–Where were the bodies?

“Will there be anything else Mr. Rog?” asked Pinky.

Rog shook his head.

Pinky hovered to the exit. Rog waited for her to leave before he opened the box in front of him, almost embarrassed to sift through someone else’s personal belongings. He was sure his father would not have approved. Not your place, he would have said in a solid tone that needed no further explanation.

Thoughts of packing this up and sending to next of kin flashed through Rog’s mind and he smiled, again at the irony, of how wonderful it would be if there were next of kin to notify. Everything is relative he thought as the smile faded as quickly as it had come. There were no next of kin, for any of them, which also meant their was no father to tell him what to do or not to do.

The first box he picked up was unmarked. Inside he found several sketches, which told him this belonged to Em and his thoughts flashed back to their mission together on Neraj and the time they spent waiting for the Tear to open again. It was the first time she had shared her art with him, the first time she had opened up, talking about her father and sailing the open sea. Em was as sweet and innocent and genuine as they came—and tough too, he learned later, which only made the nagging thought of what had happened all the more painful.

Picking up the first sketch, Rog sighed. Bravo. Unfinished. Everything always seemed to be unfinished. Always a loose end here, a regret there, be it word or action. And now Bravo. Rog walked to the port window. There she sat. Silent. Quiet. Dark. They would be leaving soon and Bravo would not. Rog felt his heart beat and he looked at her golden hull as if Bravo was looking back at him as a puppy does with eyes that say don’t leave me. And it was or so it seemed. Bravo was home, had been home for more than eighteen months and in a few hours, like Hyneria before, she would fade from sight, abandoned, rejected, useless.

Rog looked down. Em’s sketch was crushed in his leathery hands, the damage done. Where is home he thought, as images of Yul popped into his head.

“Rog,” commed John, “we’ve got an incoming message. You might want to see this.”

Categories: Story, Rog, Pinky, John Discovery, Bravo-Four-Zero