Gnell is the diminutive secret weapon of the militancy station on Sellus, Motac's nearest, dinghy little grey moon, where to step outside is death by suffocation from the dust. Of course, one of the primary reasons Gnell is a secret is that she would never make such a mistake as to step outside into the thin, inadequate protection of the terraformed atmosphere. No, she stays holed up in her room, bent over her work with an enormous mug of chicory brew in one hand and a keenly intelligent gleam in her eye.
The room is small, to fit her, with no windows on the joyless view. The walls are dark blue panels, the furniture dark blue panels filled with array upon array of buttons and monitors and widgets and communication devices. One of the red lights is flashing now, a priority one signal from a priority one alert on a priority one planet about a situation she's already aware of.
But it's an Alliance signal, not Medean, so Gnell answers it, thinking it may be something new.
"This is Stephanie Forrester, pilot of the HAC Analik."
The signal is poor. Gnell adjusts a knob.
"We're going into Darkstation. Battle on the ground. Sensitive data in dispute." Pause. "I need to make a handoff."
Seara Marré leans both arms on the starship railing and stares into a magnificent starscape and swirling nebula where a ring of solar matter drifts slowly from Cercys, the resident sun, off into the face of deep darkness over the two significant planets: brilliant Talon Mede, all emerald and dark vaprous clouds, and Motac, red and gleaming with ice and gas on its sunlit half. The three moons and Talon Mede's dark belt of orbiting space stations are home to spacers, miners, and militancy.
She is dressed in militancy garb, as the man behind her, though she is not on a militancy ship. They are a smudge of darkness, fitted clothing, soundless boots in the transparent arc of the Anea, an Elysium spaceship bound as they are to follow orders. It is a large ship, Class C crew and cargo, a veritable shimmering city of glass in the weightlessness of space. Seara is a militant: she goes where she is ordered, even to stand with her right hand officer two gleaming but otherwise transparent decks above a planet-born controller cradled at the heart of the city.
Their mission is need to know. Their commander outfitted them with nanobot receivers at their belted hips and told them they didn't need to know.
She focuses on the window again, that bright, transparent curve shutting out the sweep of space. "What happens," she asks, "when the glass cracks?"
A pause, then the man behind her answers, a trifle puzzled, "It doesn't."
Ryen is her right hand, the officer who always watches her back. He is not a spacer.
In her mind she knows this, what they have taught the planet-born. The thick glass hull of Elysium glass is designed to withstand the speed, pressure, and debris of space, to give the controller the most forewarning. Still she studies a tiny bubble in the thick glass hull. She should call the nanobots to fix it.
She is interrupted.
It is a soft chirp that indicates the danger, so quiet as to be almost inaudible, so quiet that only militancy ears, trained to notice the merest breath of change notice it. Seara glances at her hip, brushes her fingers against the receiver woven into the clothing, nanotechnology whispering to her nerve endings, transmitting pulses of information her mind can parse and understand, delivering orders. She pushes off the railing.
"Out of the brightness..." she quips ruefully and begins her lope down the corridor, her officer behind her. Here, she finally betrays her spacer birth. It is in the over-brightness of her grey eyes, in the high cheekbones and fair skin that by genetics should be a darker gold, but it is only obvious in the way she moves, as if gravity should not quite be able to hold her.
She will need an I, more manned guided missile than spaceship, but sufficient to her needs. Ryen won't like that he can't watch her back. He is her right hand and all militancy. She glances back over shoulder at him and grins.
He murmurs back the rest of the phrase, the one he has gleaned from being her friend and companion for too many years in a world neither of them asked to be a part of. "...into the night."
Welter and darkness greet Stephanie on Darkstation. The Talons have instituted nightdark, and she can hear the hiss and clash of battle coming from the main bays. The militancy will be here, faces already identified, people already categorized as enemy, but not Stephanie. She's a d– Talon and any who see her here on Darkstation will rightly assume she is at home.
Her mission is simple: get the other half of the Medean nano-silver and get out. She wears the secured half as a wet, silver gleam against her palm. Its designer, Kayda, coded it as primary and Stephanie as its rightful wearer.
Avoid the battle (she's bleeding enough already from the misunderstanding and altercation with the Medes), find the silver, and hand it off to the contact arriving on an Elysium Class-I speeder with no militancy markings (and therefore, not a target). She can do this. There is no light to see, but she does not need it, and she has no light to bring. Memory flits through her fingertips, fingers which can find her way in the absolute blackness of nightdark on this station she calls home.
"Tyreke," she says softly into her communicator. She left her own backup, a Protections officer more trained for battle than she would ever be, on the scoutship, their tiny ride from the Analik into this sorry mess. "Don't track me."
She does not hear his reply. She feels the line go dead. Out of the brightness... That old spacer poem. She's on her own.
Then she slips into shadows.
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