'HK, follow set orders one, two and four. Use tactic 1A revised, 5A and 9C.'
'Understood, master.' HK stands straighter if that's possible and stalks onto the ship, the cargo ramp closing behind him. I let out a breath I seem to always hold around the droid but it isn't because I'm scared of him. I don't want to think about why, I just know I feel more human when I'm not around him.
I don't look at Gault as I walk off but he follows at my side. I've always liked hanger bays: the high walls, the empty space and the general silence of a private hanger. My ship either seems to full and small or too large and empty. I don't think of it as 'home' anymore. There are too many things on there that stop it from having the comfort of a home and the memories aren't at the top of the list.
'So what's 'tactic 1A revised'?' So much for the silence.
I leer at Gault for a moment before looking ahead. 'Oh, just that HK should shoot anything that moves excluding me. At least, that was 1A. The revised part was made to include you.'
I wait for a sarcastic response that never comes and laugh airily in that way I hate. 'Don't worry, it's the tactic I use 90% of the time.'
'And the other 10%?'
I smirk and wink at Gault as we stop in front of the elevator. He only forces a shiver and frowns. My smirk vanishes and I know Gault is thinking about what my other orders were. I hope for his sake his mind hasn't also wandered to the engine room.
The elevator arrives and Gault and I lean against the far wall, watching the elevator door. I jump up onto a slight out crop of metal and let my feet dangle. We must both have had too many experiences in an elevator because our hands hover over our blasters. I doubt they were the same experiences though. I learnt the hard way to never enter an elevator without a blaster.
'You know, I did try to make it exclude hanger workers originally but HK had some confusion over that so now I just pretend I don't see the sniped bodies behind cargo crates in the hanger when I get back.'
'My dear, sometimes I really can't tell the difference between you and that psychopathic droid.'
We each push off our walls and stand at the door as it nears floor level. I consider telling Gault in explicit detail the differences between us. But I don't feel like teasing Gault.
'Yeah, same here.'
We walk out and don't meet any trouble. It's a nice city. But my eyes stray away from the light parts of the buildings and it's crowded streets with bustling and mostly smiling people. They turn to the dark streets between the tall buildings and they see the dirt in those alleys and more than a few paupers.
I glance at Gault and see his eyes are on any armed men. I smirk at that and weave through the crowd towards my contact. I look up to the sky and see the four moons. I stop when I see Dxun right above us, green and glowing. Gault is lost ahead but I don't notice. The other three are at quarters and halves, paler than Dxun and Dagri is nothing but a silver crescent on the edge of the horizon.
Why didn't I believe it would be so beautiful, Torian?
From orbit is was as impressive as other moons. After seeing more than your fair share of them, the edge of their magnificence is dulled. But I don't know why but Dxun... is different. I feel something tug in me and know I need to be there.
I shake my head and step back, knocking a small kid over. I hear his cries and think someone is shouting at me for it. My blades extend and my turrets try to come out through my jacket.
There's nothing waiting for you there
, I remind myself. I know that. I know it. But my breath catches anyway and for a moment I feel like I'm on the edge of crying. Gault pushes his way to me through the crowd and pulls me into somewhere. His hand is at my cheek and the other is gripping my shoulder. He's standing close like always and his mouth is moving but I don't hear a sound. He's bending down to try and catch my eye but my visions blurred. His hand moves from my shoulder to my neck.
I didn't know it would be so hard to be near there. Why can't this get easier?
The exit wound only seems to get larger and larger, no matter how many bandages I tie around it. It isn't enough. It just isn't enough anymore.
I take a deep and shaky breath. But it doesn't work. I dig my nails into my palms and don't stop until I'm gasping in pain and my hands are orange with blood.
'Gault, I'm fine.' I shake free of his hands and turn my back to him. I find myself staring at a creamy white wall. 'It's just a little hot, that's all.'
'You don't have a fever, sweat or pulse, babe, and it's actually quite cool.' There's too much stern concern in his voice and not enough satire. Why can't he just say 'you're always hot, babe, when I need him to most?
'Well, that would be part of the problem then, wouldn't it?' I ask testily.
'No, I don't think it is.' Gault steps closer and I feel his hands on my shoulders. I curse him in my mind. I hate it when he's like this. Why can't he just not care?
My fists clench again, my nails slipping into their holes. I feel my blades extending. I shake free of his hands again.
'Come one, we've got to get to our contact.'
I walk out into the main street again. I don't look up. I keep my eyes directly ahead and I wonder what will happen when Gault isn't there to follow me. What will happen when the bandage clasp breaks like the lock on a door and Gault slips away?
I clear my throat uncomfortably and link my arm through Gault's. He leans down to me and whispers estimations of the wealth and perversions of different women in the street as if my hands weren't bleeding, as if I wasn't lying to him or keeping secrets, and like I wasn't breaking a apart a little bit further with every step. Isn't that what you want?
Who would ever think that Gault would save someone's life for no credits?
'I thought you had never been to Iziz?' I ask teasingly.
'I haven't my dear. I've only been around the sectors a few times.'
'Don't you know women are the same everywhere, my dear?'
I chuckle and take his arm that's linked with mine with my other hand and twist it behind his back, still walking. A few civilians stop for a few moments and watch us but no one approaches us.
'Excluding you, babe.' Gault gasps out. 'There's no one else like you.'
I look at Gault sharply. That f***ing sincerity and concern are back in his eyes and his tight frown. I don't know why I hate it, only that I don't trust it or like it. I shove him away and stalk ahead. He follows, rubbing his arm and I can feel his satisfied smirk.
F*** you, Gault. I shouldn't of revised 1A.