The soft Hawaiian night was still dark, and no one stirred as Lieutenant Hook slipped out of his office and into the mens shower room during Nanoforges watch. Soaking in the steam and hot water, Hook leaned against the old tiled wall. A deep sigh and a short gaze heavenward, Hook closed his eyes, and sorted through the memories that flooded his mind.
Childhood memories were inviting, but he dared not allow himself the comfort. Ever since the loss of the Hellions .Hook swore that he would never again be complacent about his position. He was an officer in the Federal Service. He swore an oath to protect the men and women and aliens under his supervision.
His one failure should have removed him from duty. But the Mobile Infantry was fast losing numbers, and Hook had the misfortune to command again.
He laughed bitterly. He had never asked to lead. It was not his ambition to lead. It just .happened.
Always in the right place at the right time, Andrew Hooks potential constantly caught the eye of those in charge. Hooks rise to officer candidate school was almost meteoric, but the man never let it go to his head. And that was why his squad loved him.
He corrected himself: that was why his squad followed him.
Hook didnt gain an ego, Hook didnt forget the big picture, Hook looked at the future consequence and not the present scene.
The memories rushed faster and louder. Not one memory but dozens.
Laughter, cries for backup, the sound of explosions, the dialect of the TPhetti, the whine of Marauder servos, the horrible screeches of the arachnids it was almost overwhelming.
Hook clenched his fists, grit his jaw, and tried to control himself. Everything about himself.
Where did he go wrong? What happened that he didnt see the loss of the Hellions? And most of all, why the hell hadnt he died with them?
For the first time in weeks, a tear escaped his eye. Hook clenched his jaw harder, yet he could feel himself breaking. And the memories rushed faster and louder.
Mothers compassion, Villareals jokes, Leungs analyzing
.the other Hellions. The best thing that ever happened to him.
It was almost dizzying how much he was remembering conversations and operations, the patience of Mother as she enhanced his knack for picking up TPhetti.
Although a few sobs escaped his throat, it was still a struggle.
He was Andrew Hook. He didnt have time for emotion.
Through the steam, he thought he could see Mothers dark eyes sadly staring at him.
The man broke down. Sliding down the wet tile to the floor, Hook wept, his ribs aching from the convulsing sobs.
With weary footsteps, Spitz walked the solitary path to the lonely old barracks. The trooper on duty gave her an odd look, but said nothing as she walked up the steps. The sky was beginning to lighten, and birds were already exchanging salutations when Spitz put her bag down at her feet.
Im here to see Lieutenant Hook.
Cyber met her gaze. She was the one theyd rescued only days earlier. She looked tired but definitely not as gaunt as when he first saw her. He didnt say anything but quietly opened the door to the barracks.
The others were still sleeping but, as usual, light seeped out from the crack of Hooks office door.
Cyber softly tapped on the door. Hook opened it so suddenly that Cyber jumped.
Spitz, the lieutenant said hoarsely, come in.
Cyber moved out of her way and watched the door close on him. He returned to his watch outside.
Spitz took one look around the tiny office before standing at attention before Hooks desk. He hadnt bothered to clean up the mess that was on the floor. A broken antique lamp, a few vid-notes, and several books. Like her, he stood at attention, staring out the window at the brightening sky.
Neither said anything.
Spitz felt uncomfortable, but she resisted the urge to graze his mind with her own. Besides, the circles under his eyes and the loose fittings of his uniform already told her of his struggle.
Im glad youre fit for duty. He continued to gaze out the window. I have the unfortunate feeling that we are out of the fire and into the pan. In a few moments, Ill introduce you to your new squad mates. You have a dress uniform, I hope.
Yes, sir, she replied quietly.
He nodded. How long were you in their lair?
She tensed, trying to forget that nightmare.
Sir, we were there for twelve days.
I meant you, Spitz. How long were you alone, after the rest of your squad fell?
I was alone for four days.
I hope that you were useful. That, whatever information you were sent to gather, has been helpful.
Spitz didnt know why a cold feeling settled in her stomach.
I hope that, as well, sir.
Hook finally turned around. His blue eyes caught hers and she allowed herself a small sense of relief; whatever tortured his soul, there was also fierce pride and honesty in this man, and she knew she could trust him.
Lets go meet the others.
She followed him out into the open-bay barracks. The troopers, with the exception of Cyber, were fighting their buzzing alarms. It was Doc who first saw Hook and Spitz
Officer on deck!
And as one, four troopers leaped out of their bunks and stood at attention. Cyber stepped into the room and stood rigidly.
Hook sighed and clasped his hands behind his back.
We are a complete squad now. You remember Spitz, from the rescue mission. I can assure you that, soon, we will be receiving combat orders. They know what to do with us now.
Hook spoke quietly, and it both confused and unnerved his squad. They were used to barking orders and a vicious tone from the man. He was
Uniform of the day is dress blues. We will be attending a memorial. His voice faltered, and for a brief moment, he bit the inside of his mouth to steady his quivering lip. You may or may not be aware, but you were all rescued by the same squad. You are all sole survivors of your previous teams.
He gazed at each of them, forcing his old nature to return. His blue eyes steeled over and his jaw set, he pulled the sleeve of his dress-blues jacket.
That is all.
And with that, he disappeared into his office.
For a few seconds, no one moved.
Then Doc stepped forward, his hand held out to Spitz.
to the squad. It looks like you got some rest.
Yeah, a few days in that green slime can do wonders to the skin.
Walking with a cane, Smoke met them as they were in a single line, following Lieutenant Hook into the old chapel. Soft light filtered in through the stained glass. Up near the portraits and the ancient wood rails, and wall of candles, General Redwing sat alone.
Stoically, she watched as squad after squad entered the chapel and filled quickly.
A few seats away were the Roughnecks. Razaks Roughnecks.
Each trooper had a look that Hook knew so well: despair and loss. And confusion. Were they going to be separated, or was a green second lieutenant going to fill Razaks position?
Hook slipped his squad into one of the front pews. He looked over and caught the gaze of another officer. For the first time in a long time, Hook allowed himself a smile. As his squad quietly watched, he crossed the aisle, his hand extended.
Under the observant gaze of Redwing, Darmok smiled just as wide as Hook. The two shook hands before embracing.
Son of a gun, Hook grinned in disbelief. The legend lives.
Darmok dismissed him with a wave of his hand.
Maybe a legend in my own mind.
I heard you were still out, running Saturn patrol.
Darmok shook his head. Nah. They called us back. Sounds like something deeps being planned.
Hook didnt know why, but he looked over his shoulder at Spitz. She blushed at his scrutiny and turned to stare at the portrait of the last supper.
Darmok smacked Hook on the shoulder.
Drew, catch me after the service. We need to catch up.
Hook nodded, that grin still on his lips, although it felt odd.
Sure thing, Dar.
As Hook moved to sit down, an old woman in a chair lift was ushered in.
Her white hair was pinned up in a bun, and her gnarled fingers were shaking. A few wrinkles on her face couldnt disguise the sharp intellect in her eyes, or the sadness that her shoulders bore. Her countenance was proud and aloof, as if she was a descendant of a royal line.
As the woman was wheeled to the front, Hook happened to look up at Redwing as the general faltered.
Something passed between the old woman and General Redwing.
Spitz, at Hooks side, leaned over to whisper, Razaks aunt.
Hook started, then looked sharply at Spitz. Spitz continued to stare forward.
His only living relative. Other than a son.
Hooks eyes widened. This time Spitz met his gaze.
That parts truly confidential.
Hook nodded dumbly.
The chapel swelled to standing room only, with mostly Mobile Infantry wearing dress blues. But quite a few Fleet personnel also were in attendance. Hook nodded to himself: it was a testament to Razaks character.
Miriam Redwing got to her feet and slowly traversed the floor to the podium. Tears clouded her eyes, but when she opened the memorial service in Jean Razaks honor, her voice was clear and concise and steady.