Smoke sat on his bunk, alone. The open-bay barracks were eerily quiet, shutting out the busy activities of the base outside the walls. Lost in his thoughts, he sat in the same position for an hour. Hook had ordered him to the infirmary earlier that morning while the rest of the squad went on a routine dawn patrol. They would be back home later in the afternoon.
Smoke was the most easy-going of them all, they all knew that. There was a simplistic yet quiet dignity about the man they all envied. He smiled a little, realizing this would be the last squad hed be assigned to. Did that make it easier or harder to live with?
Hed given his all, hed survived them all both his old squad, and his family.
He was the last.
Huh, he hadnt worried about that before. Too late now. There was too much at stake. Better that civilization survives than himself. Besides, wasnt that what friends were for? To keep his memory alive?
Another shot of pain coursed through him, and he gasped sharply. It was going to be sooner rather than later. He looked at each of the bunks, his gaze falling on Docs empty bunk. Smoke sighed, then leaned back against the frame of his bunk. He closed his eyes and dozed.
Lieutenant Hook grit his teeth. This was a sick feeling. Bugimus saw him in, and while Hooks squad uneasily waited outside, Hook reported on Allerkas death. It was only a few moments that Hook was gone, but to the squad, it felt like an eternity.
The door opened, and Hook walked out.
That was the look theyd come to know.
The hatred in his eyes, the way he set his jaw with rugged determination no one was going to say a word. No jokes, no coughs, not even loud breathing, for one look from Hook and that trooper would wither away. As in the first day that he had taken them under his command, the man walked fast. If they werent so tense, one could easily joke that he was a drill instructor and they were just boots trying to keep up. But no one thought it was funny.
As they neared their barracks, they all felt a sense of welcoming relief. Get out of the armor, and into those hot showers. That was until Hook slammed the old front door. Guess those showers were going to wait.
He growled at them to stand at attention, startling the sleeping Smoke. One look at the lieutenants face, and Smoke was immediately on his feet and standing alongside the others. No one whispered anything to anyone.
Instinctively, Hook looked at his desk he wasnt disappointed. A red blinking light told him Command wanted to see him. Oh
that wasnt surprising. Another trooper fell under his command. Lets not keep the General waiting.
Smoke, tell me what the doctor said when I get back.
Thats all he said as he walked back out the door. They all waited a few seconds before they relaxed. Just a little. One peek out the window told them he was officially gone. Nanoforge was the first to let out an audible sigh of relief.
I thought we were never going to get out of uniform, he said, sitting down on his bunk.
Cyber quietly removed his helmet, and put it in his locker. Kai smacked his arm in a gesture of sympathy.
What makes you think we are? She asked Forge. That man scares me.
I want a shower, Kai.
You need a shower, Spitz teased.
Nanoforge threw his pillow at her, but she ducked, and it hit Doc, who threw it back.
No, seriously. Kai checked the window one more time. What if he comes back, and were all relaxed and lying in bed? That guy makes hell look like a resort.
Chiquita looked over at Hooks office. Go ahead, Forge. Take your shower. If he says anything she paused, Ill take responsibility.
Cyber raised an eyebrow. Are you sure you want to get in that much trouble?
Im in the Mobile Infantry, Cyber, whats he going to do? Take away my birthday?
Forge, you can either stay in that foul-smelling armor of yours, or you can get out of it, and let me take the blame. Whats it going to be?
You are serious.
Deal, and he grabbed a fresh suit before heading into the locker room
Spitz shuddered. Somehow, I dont think shell be in too much trouble.
Cyber looked over at her. What are you sensing?
Spitz shuddered again, and then put her game-face on.
She grabbed a pillow and launched it at Cyber.