The quiet hum of idle engines around him was practically a lullaby anymore. Maybe that was why he found himself wandering to the hanger when he was supposed to be sleeping. Beyond the protective shield between the room and the void, swirling beneath them, was a beautiful blue marble among the black. One of the more stunning ones he had ever seen, he’d admit, but even that made the weight on his digit heavy as he sat down on the edge of the bay. As the escaping heat nipped at his fingertips and toes through his boots, part of him grew warmer still almost to a boil from his ribcage. Part of him fought the urge to just drop away and slip into the eternal void, while another quivered for something intoxicating to silence the rest. Only natural reason made him lie back against the floor and stare into the wild yonder.
“Trouble sleeping, mate?” Asked a familiar voice from behind him, making him smile slightly. “Guess that makes two of us, eh Rowan?”
“Me? Nah, sleep is overrated anyway” he chuckled as he sat by his friend. Which was all that was said for a few moments. Rowan knew his friend well enough to know why he was here, just as he knew even that while they both stared out into the universe, his friend was still twirling the ring on his finger unconsciously. “Have you heard from her lately, Verick?”
“No. Least not since she left” he admitted. “Far as I know, everything is still legally-binding so…”
“So what? You wear that trinket and hope she’ll come skipping back? Mate, you’d have better luck jumping out this forcefield and singing ‘Smooth Criminal’”, his friend so easily pointed out, making the wounded flyer snort.
“You weren’t any better off when you two were together, remember?” the cheerful one continued, patting his hand on his dour brother’s shoulder. “Look mate, I’m not sayin’ you need to be a pimp like me, but you gotta let her go man. Last thing we need is you moping around like this”, Rowan retorted, nudging his brother-in-arms with a shoulder.
“You? A pimp? Better not tell Millie that, she’d rip ya a new one.” Verick smirked, still not looking his comrade in the eye. While his friends’ words had heavy logic in them, Verick knew Rowan was right.
Time suddenly slowed to a crawl as everything that was wrong in his world no longer mattered. The space between them and the planet was swiftly occupied by the brute and fangs of a warship that dwarfed them, guns glowing with energy and missile racks focused. Already, the enemy fighters were dropping away from their berth to carve their own piece of the prey. All around alarms rang out throughout the cruiser to wake the sleeping crew as the two pilots jumped from their perch and raced to their fighters. There was no time to stew in melancholy now, Verick pushed that away. It was time to fight.
Their protector shuddered under the initial barrage as Rowan and Verick dove out of the cruiser’s protective screens with a dozen of their brothers and sisters, spreading out and away and into the fray.
It didn’t take long for a quartet of enemy bombers to lumber into view, though they took notice of their pursuers and split away. “Rowan, high or low?”
“Low for the favor!” came the reply, and the two broke away from each other, Verick chasing down the two that went vertical. Try as they might to run, the twin bruisers were no match for him and were obliterated by two quick bursts from his guns.
A universe away, she suddenly snapped awake. Groaning aloud, she rolled to check just how early she was verses the alarm. Dark blonde curls brushed against her eyes as she stood from her slumber and headed for the kitchen. She had to make her way quietly as to not disturb the other occupant in the chamber. It wasn’t far, as the apartment was a bit cozy, but in the darkness she brushed against an empty space that made her stop and sigh. There used to be something there, she remembered it well. Something that would make her smile every morning when she saw it, one of many scattered around her life.
The pictures she once had of him were long gone by now, are it to shredder, fire, or simple trashcan. Her walls were laid as bare as her heart, yet for that brief moment in time, she had wanted to feel that small decoration under her palm again. And somewhere deep down, that desire translated itself to a single streak of water pacing down her cheek. A tear that was quickly erased and buried along with the rest of the memory. Silently, she cursed herself for letting down her guard long enough to let it fall, and a little longer still spiting the name of him whom brought down that guard to let it fall at all. Swiftly, she turned her back to the hollow space and returned to her covers, looking to tomorrow to take those feelings away once more.
“Echo Two, Echo Six, break right and climb!”
“Trying!…Can’t get a l…”
The hiss of static over in his ears confirmed the death of another of his flyers and friends as Verick kept his ship dancing between the massive lines of fire between the two giants. For the most part, the agility was paying off and his scrapes were light at best, but that luck demanded a price. One of the enemy warship’s bolts ripped right over his canopy, the force knocking his little can around like a toy and heating the outer skin of the craft to red hot levels.
A burn that conducted very nicely into his hand and the metal band he wore. Growling in surprised pain, Verick threw his protective glove aside and yanked the ring off as quickly as he could, tossing it to the floor. This also meant taking both hands off the controls for the necessary instant to let his craft to tumble without end. Moments drug out into lifetimes as he fought the forces of battle to right himself, the planet and stars becoming nauseating clouds of color to him.
“Three, LOOK OUT!” Rowan’s voice screamed over the channel, causing the distracted pilot to look up. And he found himself face to face with the glowing crimson fangs of his reaper.
Rowan had broken away from his target as soon as he saw his friend in peril and raced toward him at full blast. “Don’t worry bud, I gotcha!” The rest of the battle became grayed out and blurry as he focused on his friend’s tumbling fighter. So when he saw the interceptor pivot back and take aim, all he could think to do was call out for his friend in sheer panic. If he could just get one quick shot, make the bogey think twice about their own life, Verick would be okay.
Instead, the slivers and ashes of Verick’s ship washed over him like a sickening shower and the universe fell silent. The interceptor gracefully sailed away from its kill and onto the next, paying no mind to the victim’s kin. At least, until the enraged howl of man and machine stormed after in chase. Ruthlessly, Rowan pursued to vaporize his friend’s killer. Proving to be just as formidable as it was merciless, the interceptor ducked, juked, slid and wove through anything in its path, going so far as to somersault over a massive energy bolt that the two larger ships were using to tear into each other. A move designed to bring the bogey face-to-face with its next kill.
A move Rowan cautiously wagered on and won, braking at the last minute to bring the enemy around to face him at a longer distance. His angered cry drowned out the shudder of his guns as his opponent was incinerated under a continued stream of fire and rage, Rowan not releasing the trigger until there was not but ash and dust.
“Trinity, this is the Valhalla. Looks like you could use some help,” a commanding voice announced over the channel, casting a shadow over the chaos. The rising sun hid the newcomer’s approach from his eyes, but the bright emerald barrage tearing into the enemy warship was a welcome sight to Rowan , even though he couldn’t feel it. The shuddering, broken whimpers filled the cockpit and his hands trembled at the controls.
It wasn’t long before the enemy cruiser was broken and ripped apart under the combined firepower of Valhalla and Trinity. For all Rowan cared, it could have lasted a moment or a millennium, it didn’t matter to him anymore.
“Echo Four, you all right? Report your status” someone called over the channel.
“Four here. Systems green.” The reply was about as steady as he could manage, soft and grim though it was.
“Affirmative. Come on home.”
Silently, Rowan brought his craft around and coasted in for a landing. Though he touched down again with ease, his boots felt as if they weighted ten tons a piece. Dismounting from his craft, he almost fell to the hanger floor, a couple of sorrowful drops falling from his eyes. Others from the squadron rushed to his side, and noticed how few of them there were left. But it wasn’t until he began to pull himself up from the ground that it floored him. Using the wing of his fighter for leverage, Rowan was abruptly stunned when his fingers cut across something unusual, and when he looked, his breath stopped in his chest.
Embedded in his ship, shining with a gleam that outright slapped him in the face, was a small silver ring.
A little something I wrote out a long time ago. I post it now after digging it up from the depths and revising a few things. I’m honestly curious what others will think of it. If the pacing and scene changes seem a bit rough, it was once a songfic set to this, but I took out the lyrical background thanks to an idea that is more or less one part experiment, one part change.
I hope you all enjoy