“Caidon,” Ar says as I kick her out of my chair. “She’s close.”
“I know that,” I say through clenched teeth. “We can’t get away, either. No sense in using up all of our ammo. We might as well let her come and get us. We’ll be ready.”
“Shouldn’t we have everyone up here--”
“No,” I sigh. “They don’t have any part in this. They don’t need to die.”
“And we do?” Her cerulean eyes reflect in the one-way window. She stares right at me, and as she waits, I throw the ship into auto-pilot and walk to the wall, picking up my sickles and putting on my war helmet. I’ve only used it a few times, but that’s because I’ve never needed it. It’s black and grey, covering my whole head and neck. The visor covering my eyes is one-way, black, shiny, with two red lights where my eyes are. It’s got a built-in ventilator and communicator so that I can talk to others of my squad-- in this case, Ariise.
I’ve already got the ammo-proof vest on, and the suit, which supposedly protects me from radioactive chemicals or whatever they use. It’s supposedly indestructible. I’ve seen them break, though. They’re strong, but everything has a breaking point.
Ar’s dressed similar to me, except her helmet is all silver with a dark blue visor. Her guns are hanging on her hip, each one specially designed for. Just like mine are specially for me.
“They’re here,” Ar says, and I glance at the monitor. There it is, the Armada ship that She leads. Right on top of us. They’re gonna get in soon enough.
“Let’s go meet them at the door, then,” I say, and open the metal door, enter the darkness of the ship. All the lights went out, it looks like. The cockpit has it’s own special generator so that if something like this should happen, the ship wouldn’t lose all power and crash.
We’re a long ways away from the common room but I can still hear the near ear-shattering alarm system going off. Hopefully no one broke in yet. It could be because of the loss of power. However I’m not so sure. There’s a lot of different smells coming from the common room. Blood and sweat and Taiyo’s and Levi’s and Ar’s and Nerret’s scents all mixed together into one big unidentifiable slurry.
“Someone’s in here,” Ar breaths. “Non-threatening so far, I think. A young male, maybe two Earth years old.”
“Might be a recruit She sent just to scope things out,” I tell her, and she shrugs.
“It could be anything.” She walks in front, completely tuned in to everything around us. She’s almost soundless, traveling close to the wall, taking small steps, almost gliding across the floor like some kind of apparition.
We’re in the kitchen when I see him-- two small blue-green lights that flit back and forth nervously. He’s small, only about half my height. He’s carrying a massive rifle that’s almost as big as him. He looks awkward and scared, and I feel bad for him for a few minutes.
“Do you have the darts?” I whisper into the headset inside my helmet, Ar nods but doesn’t say anything back. She takes a small pistol from her belt and aims it at the recruit’s shoulder. She fires, and the gun goes off with an eerie hiss. The kid goes down as soon as he’s hit. Ar goes over to him while I watch for any other recruits. For now it seems like this one’s it. When Ar plucks the dart from his chest he makes a pitiful whimper and starts to curl in on himself.
“Can you stand?” Ar asks him. He doesn’t move, or respond, so Ar loops an arm under him and lifts him up. He leans against her, but he looks like he doesn’t want to be. “We won’t hurt you,” she says. “We’re just going to put you in a different room.”
“Why aren’t you going to kill me? Mom said…”
“She’s not your mother,” Ar says. “She’s a manipulative, power-hungry monster that finds joy in others’ pain. We aren’t the bad ones, she is. You get a choice. You can join us and we’ll just lock you in the room until this is over.” He nods. “Or you can choose to stay with Her, in which case we’ll have to kill you.” He goes pale, and his eyes widen. I notice that he’s got no battle gear on. He’s just wearing some fatigues and nothing else. His hair sticks up and hangs in his face, and it looks feathery and soft. He must be really young, if he’s still got baby fluff.
“I’ll be good,” he stammers. He speaks in a strange accent, one that’s hard to understand. His voice is almost squeaky it’s so high-pitched. “I won’t hurt you, don’t kill me, I don’t want to die.”
“Okay.” I nod once to Ar, who ties the little one’s hands behind his back and picks him up. His eyes are duller now, because the dart Ar used was a sedative that takes a while to affect whoever it hits.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs as his eyes start to droop. “She killed my kin… she was going to kill Enitee... I had to.”
“It’s alright now,” Ar says, cradling him as he goes limp and sags in her arms.
“Where are we taking him?” I ask. Ar nods towards the ground. “Are you sure about that?”
“Nerret and the others can handle him if he wakes. But we should get there quickly. They’ll be getting in soon.”
“You take him down. I’ll be fine.”
“This is my fight. Go, Ar.” She doesn’t argue anymore, just nods once and heads back the way we came. The entrance to the basement is near the cockpit, hidden in a small, nearly undetectable space, which is good. That way maybe the others won’t be found out and killed. Maybe I’ll be the only one to die tonight.
“What do you mean he has to do this alone?” I shout at Ar, who’s still holding the little kid. She doesn’t say much, just deposits him next to Nerret and turns to leave. “Ar! Answer me! Caidon needs us!”
“You can’t come with, Levi,” Ar snaps. “I’ve told you that, so drop the subject and forget about it!”
“He’s my mate!” I scream at the top of my lungs. “He’s my mate and he’s probably going to die! And I don’t even get to see him? I don’t get to fight beside him and die with him like every other mateship? I have to sit in here and cry and wait for you to fucking tell me that he’s dead, and then I have to spend the rest of my life alone and sad? No, I won’t do it! If he dies, I’m dying with him!”
“And what if you get killed?” Ar snarls back, taking her helmet off and throwing it across the room. Zetuna almost doesn’t get to it in time, she has to slide to grab it before it crashes to the floor and shatters. “Hm? What if you die, Levi, because we couldn’t protect you, or just because you’re too stupid and scared to defend yourself? Do you really want Caidon to be thrown back into that spiraling abyss that is his mind? Do you want to be added to the list of friends he sees in his dreams? Do you want him to take his own life? Think about it!”
Zetuna gies her back he helmet, and she puts it back on, still growling, before stomping back up the stairs.
“No!” I scream before she can shut the door and lock us back in. “No, fuck you, I’m coming with! I’m fighting with you, because I’m not a coward and I’m not letting my mate die alone!” I shoulder her in the ribs and squeeze past. Zetuna is right behind me, tears running down her face, holding onto Ar tightly.
“I’m not leaving you,” she says over and over. “I’m coming with, I’m fighting alongside you.”
Everything is eerily silent. Ar finally lets out an exhausted growl and throws her hands up.
“Fine!” she yells. “Anyone else want to join his death mission?”
“I’ve got to work on this,” Cyllen says as he fiddles with the wires behind the paneling of the wall. “Nerret?”
“I must watch over this one,” Nerret says as she positions the kid so that his head is laying on her thigh. I see the almost-smile she gives him, and the way her eyes aren’t so cold when she looks down at the little guy. He looks like a five year-old, and when he’s curled up against Nerret, he looks even younger. It’s pretty adorable.
“Levi,” Ar says, and I turn to look at her. “Come on,” she says. “I suppose we’re getting you and Zetuna proper battle armor. We have to hurry, though. They’re going to be inside soon.”
I jump at every small sound, whether it’s the ship creaking or it’s the occasional bang on the ceiling from the soldiers trying to get in. I wonder briefly what’s taking Ar so long, and if she’s alright. What if they already got in? What if they’re hiding in the ventilation system like Taiyo was? It would be nearly impossible to find all of them.
It must be getting early. It was two o’clock in the morning when we started to head out.
“Caidon,” comes Ar’s voice through the headset. “Where are you?”
“Back hallway, headed towards the electronics room. Where are you?”
“Coming towards you. We’re going to the weapon’s room.”
“Who’s ‘we’?” There’s a crackling, and then Ar curses quietly.
“Wh-Levi,” I growl. “What are you doing with Ar? Why aren’t you in the basement?”
“I’m fighting with you,” he says. “‘Wherever you go, I go. I will follow you to the ends of the universe. I will travel beside you, and I will love and support you at all costs. There is no bond stronger than the one you and I share, and no one thing will ever seperate us.’ That’s what I said to you that night. That’s what being your mate means. I’m not leaving you, not for anything or anyone. And if you don’t like it, to bad.”
“Levi,” I sigh. His determination and love is practically tangible over the headset. “Fine. Just be careful. I love you,” Levi must have handed the helmet back t Ar, because soon her voice is echoing in my ears again.
“Zetuna is with us too,” she tells me. “They aren’t letting us do this alone, Caidon.”
“I guess I knew this was going to happen, one way or another. Just get your asses over here as quickly as you can. I can hear them trying to get in.” There’s a bang behind me, on the wide of the ship. It’s loud, and I hear and see the meta cave in at the blow. “It won’t be long before they actually do get in. Then we’re screwed.”
“We’re hurrying,” Ar says. “Right now I’m trying to keep sight of Levi. He’s running so far ahead, I can barely keep track of him.”
“Tell him to get back!” I say. “Hell listen.”
“I don’t think he will,” Ar sighs. “Alright, I’ve lost him. He can sense where you are as well as you can him, correct?”
“Yeah. He’s in the common room, coming up fast.” Even as I say that, I can hear the pounding footsteps. They’re soft, so he’s still a ways away, but he won’t be for long.
“Caidon!” I hear him call, and I sigh, turning to watch as I see him appear fifty feet away. He shoots straight at me, slowing just before he grabs me and holds tightly to me, nuzzling against my chest. I hug him back, smiling as he tries his hardest to hold back tears. He has a helmet, but it fell out of his hands when he ran at me. It’s rolling along the floor, but it doesn’t stray far from us.
“I love you,” Levi says over and over again. “I thought I might never get to see you again, that you’d die, and I’d have to be alone forever. But then Ar came in, and I ran, because I just wanted to see you so badly. I love you so much. I’m never leaving you. Don’t ever lock me up away from you again.” He looks up, pulls my helmet off, lets it drop to the floor, and he kisses me, soft and sweet and slow. It sends shivers down my spine, and when his hands start curling around my neck, I can’t help it when I move us toward the wall, and lean against it, letting us slide down to the floor.
“I was worried, too,” I murmur. “I don’t want you getting hurt. I don’t know what I’d do.”
“You know how I feel, then.” He says, running his fingers across the tips of my ears. “I love you so much. I’d be so empty without you.”
“As sweet as you two are being currently…” Caidon jumps, pulling me tighter to him, but when he sees Ar he hisses begrudgingly. and gently disentangles my hands from his pants and nudges me off of his lap. I grab his helmet and mine, and we put them on together. I strap his into his body suit, and he straps mine to my neck, since I’m basically wearing glorified army fatigues with some weird vests underneath to protect me from various projectile weapons.
“They’re at the door now,” Zetuna says as she shoulders a massive hunting rifle with a laser on the end. The whole rifle glows a light red-orange, and the laser is lime green. Zetuna’s thumb rests on a switch placed on the side of the thing. It’s not very big, and I’m not sure what it does, but I’m sure it’s some kind of safety switch.
“Let’s go,” Caidon says. “Levi, we’ll get you a gun and a sword, and maybe some extra armour for your neck and chest. Those are your weakest points right now.” I nod, and we immediately set off. In the distance I hear the metal screeching, and along with that, muffled, barely-heard war cries.
“Quickly,” Ar says, setting her hands on my shoulders and guiding me in the direction that Caidon’s going. She’s walking so fast she’s stepping on my heels, so I pick up the pace, and she and I rush to get to the weapon’s room.
“What is all of this stuff?” I ask Ar as she compares a large gun the size of her forearm with a tiny pistol that can b held loosely with one hand.
“Plasma guns, light blades, flame-throwers… Basically every weapon you could ever think up. I think there are some light-daggers somewhere, and throwing disks.”
“Didn’t Caidon say something about armour, too?”“We’ll get to that in a moment. Be patient, Levi.” She decides on the pistol, and crams it into a belt, along with lemon-shaped containers that she claims have poisonous gasses in them. I don’t know if I believe that yet.