Saturday, May 26, 2012

Aurora - Part 22

… Mayday-mayday-mayday. Taku Skan-Taku Skan-Taku Skan. 4 flights from the top of HI. 2 CR …

Garran stared at the message that had appeared and disappeared on the screen in front of him. The emergency frequency was always being received and any text contained was continuously scrolling along the bottom of the main monitor. There it was again:

… Mayday-mayday-mayday. Taku Skan-Taku Skan-Taku Skan. 4 flights from the top of HI. 2 CR …

Garran took the phone from his pocket and pressed Docs speed-dial. Doc answered so quickly it gave Garran the impression he had been waiting for the call. “Look who’s finally come out of his hole. What can I do for you?”

“Come to the cockpit. I want to show you something.”

“On my way.”

Less than two minutes later Doc walked in and took the copilot’s seat across from Garran. Garran steeled himself for Doc’s reproach or a question as to how he was feeling, but to his surprise the other man remained silent. So he picked up the conversation. “Look at this.” He pointed to the message he had singled out and positioned in the middle of the main screen.

Doc’s lips moved as he quietly read the emergency call. “What about it?”

“What do you think Aurra would say if I asked her to turn around and go back to Horlus I?”

“I suppose she would justifiably ask you if you’ve lost your mind.”

“I guess so and she might even have a point.”

“I assume you have a better reason than putting an end to your miserable existence to justify returning to the lion’s den. I would have thought you’d want to put as much distance between you and that place as possible.”

“Let’s say I have learned a few things in the last couple of hours. One of which is that my existence is not quite as miserable as I first thought and that running away is not the right solution. But no—this is not about me. This is about my men. It looks like two of them are still alive.”

Doc’s face betrayed his surprise, but then it turned into a frown. “Is it possible? Or could it be a ruse to get you to come back?”

Garran shrugged his shoulders. “I never had a chance to confirm their fate. I guess it could be a trap, but I will never find peace again if there is even the slightest chance that this message is real.” Garran waved a hand at his legs. “And they are in real danger. After what they did to me I don’t even want to consider what they might have done to them.

“Soul—Captain Whitefeather is not just my number two, he is also my best friend. We grew up together.”

“Hmm. So what makes you so convinced that this message is real?”

“The name. Taku Skan is one of Soul’s aliases. But it’s one he used to use when we were teenagers. He hasn’t used it in years. I don’t think anyone other than me knows it. How would they?”

“Maybe they tortured him?”

“Maybe they did, but why give up that piece of information? I don’t think he would have done that. Soul has this uncanny ability to draw into himself. He has the highest pain threshold of my entire team.”

“So let’s say this is real and two of your men are alive and in need of extraction. Then what? Provided we can find them are you just going to roll in there and say thank you for looking after my men and stroll out again?”

Garran grimaced and shot an annoyed look at Doc. “You know this game as well as I, Doc. What we need is a solid approach. Get your famous strategic thinking cap. I’m trying to enlist your help here.”

“Fair enough, but first things first. We need more intel, but before we draw on any resources or decide on any course changes, Aurra needs to give her approval.” He got up off the chair and turned into the passage.

Garran reached out his hand and grabbed Doc’s arm. “Aurra is sleeping—for the first time in days I think.”

“Yes and whose bull-headedness do we have to thank for that?” Doc turned toward Garran with a stern expression on his face.

Garran released Doc’s arm and lifted his hands in defense. “Guilty, but just cut me some slack here. It’s not every day that you learn that you’ll never walk again.”

“Well, you’ve had enough slack to last a lifetime. I think the situation justifies waking her.” He turned away again to make his way out of the cockpit.

“No. Wait. I’ll go.” Garran lifted the wheelchair over his lap and unfolded it, then transferred across. Doc stepped back to let Garran pass.

“I’ll be right back. Put your thinking cap on so long.”

Garran entered his cabin and found Aurra still asleep. He watched her for a moment, reaching for her with his hand. Then he thought better of it and transferred onto the bed. He rolled onto his side and kissed her temple. “Aurra?”

Aurra scooted closer, but didn’t open her eyes. “Hmm?”

“Aurra, I need you to come to the cockpit. Something has come up.”

Aurra’s eyes flipped open, immediately alert. “What’s up?”

“There was a message on the emergency channel. I think it is from one of my team.”

Aurra was already out of the bed and gathering up her clothes while Garran was still busy pushing himself back to the edge of the bed to get back into his wheelchair.

“Before you thought your team was all dead. Now you think someone is alive?” She stated matter-of-factly. “What if it’s a trap?” She pulled on her pants and shirt then sat back down and pulled on her socks and boots.

“That possibility has crossed my mind, but I think the message is real and considering what they did to me I think my men are in considerable danger.”

“You think it’s more than one?”

“The message implies two.”

“So what do you want to do?”

“First I want to sit down with you and Doc and think about the situation with a clear head—come up with options.”

“Okay. Let’s go.” Aurra strode to the door, but before she got there she stopped and turned. She looked at Garran for a moment, but then lowered her gaze, fidgeting with her sleeves for a bit then she took a deep breath. “I know this is the wrong time, but I have a question that has been going around my mind for some time and it has an impact on the decisions I will have to make.” She still wouldn’t look at him. “I don’t know where I stand with you—so even though it may be an uncomfortable question, please don’t lie to me.” She took another deep breath. “Do we have a future?”

As Aurra got to the point Garran psyched himself up to control the wave of panic he expected the question to provoke. Yet, it didn’t come. Instead he felt an unexpected sense of tenderness towards her, nonetheless combined with a solid dose of doubt and fear. How could he be what Aurra deserved? It was the doubt that stopped him from answering.

Seconds ticked by and Garran saw vulnerability, hope and pain in her face, before she shut down and turned away. Reaching for the door, Garran heard her whisper, “Okay.”

Garran’s heart nearly stopped. He didn’t know what to say, but if he didn’t say something he would lose her. He forced the first word across his lips.

“Aurra.” He’d stopped her before she had pulled open the door.

She held absolutely still, but didn’t turn to face him again.

“I would very much like for us to have a future, but I have nothing to offer.”

Finally she turned and a shy smile burst through her stoic façade that made Garran’s heart skip yet another beat. “You are enough.”

Aurora - Part 23


  1. Replies
    1. It CAN'T be the end!!! They have to rescue Soul!

      But, yes, siiiiigggghhhh....

  2. Love it. Few things give me more tummy flutters than a good "I have nothing to offer" line and the way you did that one was fantastic!

  3. Tension...suspense......then tummy squishie.

    Good chapter!

  4. Powerful and insightful. Well done!