By AuroraBorealis

Rating: PG-13

Genres: au

Keywords: terra prime

This story has been read by 906 people.
This story has been read 1968 times.

Chapter 3



Hoshi couldn’t sleep. 

This was becoming a trend.  It used to be that the cell was too cold, unfamiliar; sometimes her dreams would keep her from getting any restful sleep.  But it was none of those tonight.

Because it was Wednesday. 

Every Wednesday, the woman three cells down from her wouldn’t go to sleep. Instead she would stay up all night reciting an obscure epic.  Hoshi had never heard it before she had lived here, and at first she had thought it beautiful.  The hero’s rise to glory, the subsequent losses of his family, lover, and home, then finally his revenge and honorable death touched her.  The pain in the woman’s voice was clear whenever she got to the parts about loss.  The first time she’d heard it Hoshi had silently cried along with the woman. 

Now she couldn’t help but hate it. 

She felt the tragedy in the story as she mouthed the words silently along with the woman.  Hoshi couldn’t help but wonder what the woman had lost, what she had done, and why she was here.

 Were they the same? 

That was the truest fear of them all.  She had spent the first couple of weeks here seeing herself as different from the rest of them.  But she wasn’t. In fact, the majority of the people here were classified as political terrorists, i.e. they had worked for Terra Prime in one capacity or another. 

Hoshi heard Kira move around beneath her.  “Is the story keeping you awake, little bird?” 

“No,” Hoshi said softly.  She couldn’t understand why the woman had almost immediately given her the odd nickname.  Somehow it seemed like Kira had always known her.  This feeling, however, never quite overpowered the feeling that the woman could, on a whim, kill her in her sleep. 

“Something else, then?” 

Hoshi was silent for a while.  “This part is so sad.” 

“Yes, it is,” Kira agreed.  “…Upon his knees Jarush did fall; Anguish tearing from his lips; His city once all towers tall; Now only burning crypts…” she recited softly along with the woman, and for the first time Hoshi could hear emotion in Kira’s voice, a grief so strong it seemed to fill the room.   

“Kira, why are you here?” 

“Really, it depends on who you ask.” 

“If I ask you?” 

“I’m here because I choose to be.  Very much like you, little bird.” 

Anger welled inside of Hoshi at the woman’s audacity. “I didn’t choose to be here. I had to leave my entire life behind: my home, my friends, the man I loved…”  The realization hit her that those weren’t even things that existed anymore.  He didn’t love her.  They weren’t her friends.  And her home was a place where she was no longer welcome. 

Try as she might, she couldn’t help the sobs that welled up in her chest.  An overwhelming sense of loneliness filled her. For a while her tears were the only thing she was aware of, until she felt someone’s arm around her.  Kira pulled her to her chest as a mother does a child, stroking her back soothingly. 

“I am sorry.  I should not have said that.” 

For the first time in weeks, Hoshi felt a degree of comfort. 

“I simply meant that you have the skills to hide what you did. The fact that you didn’t says something.” 

Hoshi pulled away from the woman. “I never told you why I was here.” 

Hoshi could see Kira smile in the almost dark room. “I hate to be terribly cliché, but I have my resources.” 

And just like that, the knot of unease Hoshi had become so used to returned, sitting heavily in her stomach.  She wrapped her arms around her knees, “I think I’m tired now,”  she mumbled.  Kira silently slid off Hoshi’s bunk and returned to her own. 

Hoshi couldn’t sleep.



Malcolm was smoothing the corners of his sheets to tight squares when he heard his door open.  He turned around, not surprised to see Harris standing in front of him. 

“I see the concept of knocking still escapes you,” Malcolm muttered as he smoothed the wrinkles out of the sheet. Once satisfied that it was perfectly smooth, he turned to give Harris his full attention.

 “So how do you like the new facility?” Harris asked.  A proud smile pulled at the corners of his mouth.   

“From what I’ve seen, it’s not unlike the old one.” 

Harris nodded, then walked over and sat on the neatly made bed.  Harris smirked as Malcolm’s jaw clenched. He held out a PADD.  “That should get you up to date on current operations.”

Malcolm snatched the PADD from the man; Harris could be such a child.  He quickly scanned the first couple of documents.  “You’re only running three squads now?” 

Harris nodded. “We don’t have quite the budget we did in the past.” 

Malcolm put the PADD in front of him as he settled into his desk chair.  He thought idly that the arrangement of the room was incredibly similar to his quarters on the ship.  He would move his desk to the other wall the first chance he got.  He turned to face Harris again.  “Who’s left?” 

“Griswald, obviously.  Jackson, and then you.” 

Malcolm couldn’t help but show his surprise.  “That’s all?” 

“We had a couple of bad missions.”  

“That took out ten of your people?” 

“It’s been almost five years, Malcolm.  What did you expect?” 

Malcolm had to concede that Harris was right; the life expectancy for this particular job wasn’t great. Malcolm scanned some of the mission files.  “Jesus, Harris, when was the last time you ran a legitimate operation?   This is all mercenary shit.” 

“Like I said, things have changed. Since the space program is up and running, our budget has been cut.  We had to make ends meet somehow.” 

Malcolm wanted to argue, but he had known this was part of it.  Even before, they had been forced to run some jobs “on the side.”  Just never in this volume. 

“You can get caught up on this later.  I have your team in the combat hall.” 

Malcolm tossed the PADD on his now rumpled bed and waited for Harris to lead the way.  For the first time since being here, Malcolm saw the outside of the facility. 

From what he could tell it was set up similarly to the old one.  The most easterly building was the one they had just left, housing the mess, quarters and medbay.  The building to the south looked to be the weapons and gear storage unit; it was also presumably where Harris’s quarters were. Then finally, across the training field before them lay the combat hall.  The only real difference Malcolm could see was the climate.  The fences didn’t have vines growing up them.  Instead of tall tropical trees the area was surrounded by old forest, and the air had a chill to it. 

“Where are we?” 

“It doesn’t really matter, does it?”

 Malcolm didn’t feel like arguing with the man, so they finished the walk in silence. 

Once they reached the large combat room Malcolm could see that four other people were already there.  The only one Malcolm recognized was Jackson, who was currently sparring with someone else.  As they entered the room, the other man paused to see who had entered. Malcolm watched as Jackson took the opportunity to deliver a right hook to the man’s face.  The man went down, stunned for a moment. Then he became viciously angry when he saw Jackson’s smug grin.  He jumped back up ready to attack, but was stopped as Harris raised a hand. 

“You can finish that later.” Harris addressed the rest of the group: “This is Malcolm. I would say he’s a new recruit, but that’s not quite true.  He’ll be your fourth now.” He turned to Malcolm, then gestured to each man. “This is Austin Thomas.” Malcolm frowned as a boy no older than 19 stood up to shake his hand.  Harris pointed to the man sitting on the floor holding a rag to his now bleeding nose. “Mark Levine.  And then, of course, you know Jackson.” 

Malcolm nodded to him. “Jax.”

The man returned the gesture. “Mal.” 

“I’ll let you all get acquainted,” Harris said mockingly. “But meet me in the debriefing room at 1900.  Jax, I have an op for your squad.  Malcolm’s running second.”  With that Harris turned and left the room.   

Jax crossed his arms and faced Malcolm. “I can’t believe you came back,” he smirked then grabbed Mark’s hand and pulled him up to fighting position.  “Things have changed.”  He said coldly, “Don’t forget where you’re running, Mal.”

Malcolm’s face hardened, but he nodded and sat down next to Austin as he watched the two men finish their sparring match.





This is setting up to be interesting, although I confess to feeling a little dissatisfied with what I have t go on just from this chapter.

I like the way you pile on the isolation and distrust of Hoshi's situation.  And she appears to be right -- Malcolm didn't even think of her once.  Kinda busy, though, I'll grant you.  Harris is his usual obnoxious self.

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