"Andy!" Freya clutched her friend's face and shouted at her. "No Andy! Look at me!" Andy's eyes were fluttering closed, barely responding to each stimulus.
Freya turned her trained eye toward the wound and yanked at the fabric, trying to find something to repair. "F-Fre...." the words seemed to gurgle out of Andy's mouth and died there as her eye began to close once again.
"Andy! Stay with me! I will fix this!" Freya felt tears flooding her eyes and brushed them aside with her bloody hand. She stared at the blood for a fraction of a second in surprise.
"Doctor..." Captain Hunt hissed from behind her. In the distance they could hear the heavy footfalls of people approaching. "Doctor Ryan!" he repeated when she didn't respond. "You need to leave....now!"
"What?!" Freya whirled her head around to look at him in horror. "I can't leave her now!"
"Dr. Hapsberg is already on her way with a team." Hunt said just as the nearest crossover airlock hissed indicating someone would be crossing into this section momentarily. "As is Commander Bonwick no doubt..."
"I don't care about getting arrested Captain." Freya said stubbornly. She looked down at Andy again and shuddered as her beautiful eyes stared back at her, devoid of life.
"I know, but you need to go." Captain Hunt repeated, pulling her away from Andy's body. She could see Ash motioning anxiously from his darkened hiding spot and her body betrayed her, allowing her to be shoved in his direction.
She broke into a run just as Hapsberg and a team of medics converged on Hunt and Andy.
Once out of the light, Freya turned back despite Ash's protests and watched as the medical team started working frantically on Andy. Within moments Bonwick and a security team rushed onto the scene and surrounded them. "We have to go Doc." Ash said, one hand on her shoulder and one holding his personal weapon.
Captain Hunt was point off in the opposite direction and talking quickly, recounting what happened no doubt but they were too far away to hear anything he was saying. Hands still covered with the blood of her best friend, Freya brushed the tears from her eyes once more before letting Ash pull her away, deeper into the bowels of the ship.
He cursed under his breath as he watched Captain Hunt and Freya descend on the body so quickly. He had to be sure she was dead! They wouldn't leave her side long enough for him to search her for the blasted strip of paper!
The approached of the medical staff was his cue to leave though as security would descend soon no doubt. He disappeared into the same shadows he'd fired from and took a circuitous route through the sleepy corridors until he reemerged on the main deck. He'd replaced his scowl with a look of concern before he approached the small crowd. Andy was gone now, no doubt in the medical ward. All that remained of her presence was a pool of blood and a lot of confusion.
Hunt patiently answered all the questions Bonwick asked with mostly truths. He had no choice but to lie about why he was there but Bonwick didn't question him further no matter how much she might have wanted to. "If you'll excuse me Commander, I need to go check on Lt. Kowalski." Hunt said after it seemed like she was about to launch into another round of questions.
Bonwick nodded, though reluctantly and turned her attention to the scene as Julian Ice approached looking confused and concerned. "Captain? What happened?" he asked, his eyes locked on the pool of blood winding it's way through the grooves of the deck.
Though Julian's voice sounded genuinely concerned, his eyes betrayed him to Hunt. The captain tilted his head for a moment before answering. "Lt. Kowalski was shot..." he said carefully. He was disappointed to find Julian appropriately shocked and horrified. "If you'll excuse me..." the captain said quickly.
When he arrived in the medical ward, he saw Dexter's wife - also an engineer - anxiously waiting for news. Normally she would have jumped up when he entered but he waved her off and paced the small waiting room for a few minutes. He'd seen the Andy's lifeless eyes looking back at him on that deck. His pacing was stopped as Dr. Hapsberg walked out from the surgery area, her face nearly unreadable.
She shook her head and Jordan Dexter started crying silently. Dr. Hapsberg looked down at the ground while the news was absorbed. Captain Hunt shouldn't have been surprised but he felt like he'd been gutted. The door flew open as Dex flew into the bay. He looked from his crying wife to the doctor and his eyes finally rested on Hunt.
Dex didn't have to be told.
"This has to end Cap" he said quietly. His notorious temper was only held back by the shock and grief. "This has to stop." he repeated, mostly to himself.
"I know." Captain Hunt replied. There was really nothing else he could say in response.
"Do you? Do you really?" Dex's voice was raising and he was now rippling inside. The smallest disturbance might send him into full boil. "Andy....A-Andy..." his voice caught and he was unable to finish his thoughts.
"I do know Dex." Captain Hunt said quietly. "I do know..." he repeated to himself.
Dr. Hapsberg and Jordan Dexter had been waiting quietly to the side as the men argued but once Dex's temper was calmed, Jordan stepped in and put her arm around him. They were both friends of Andy's and both would need time to grieve her loss.
Time, however, wasn't a luxury they often had in these times.
"I'll let you know if I find anything helpful." the Doctor said quietly when Captain Hunt turned his attention toward her. What, if anything, could be found really? Would something point them toward Andy's killer or was she another casualty of the rebellion?
Captain Hunt nodded, he paused a moment by the Dexter's but said nothing. With a heavy sigh, he left the medical ward. Would they ever come back from this?
The pair entered the small, hidden cafeteria with a series of scrapes and the sound of struggle so Meng was on his feet when Ash came in, practically dragging Freya. He was about to question Ash when Freya's eyes locked on his and filled with fire and rage.
"How could you!?" she launched herself at him. Ash, who still had a hold on her, struggled to keep her from clawing Meng's eyes out. "How could you order them to shoot her? What did she EVER do?!"
Meng motioned Ash to let her go and Freya stumbled forward as she was granted her freedom but she quickly righted herself. "What are you talking about? What happened?" he asked, looking from Freya to Ash.
"They shot her! Your goons you sent after me - th-they shot her!" Freya shouted, her voice catching. Tears began to pool in her eyes and soon fell, slowly at first.
"Who?!" Meng asked, looking at Ash. "Why?"
"Andy Kowalski - the engineer." Ash said quietly, not looking up to meet Freya's eyes. "But it wasn't our guys." he added quickly.
An involuntary sound - maybe a gasp, maybe an intake of breath - escaped from Freya and Meng turned his attention back to her. "You sure?" he asked. Though he was looking at Freya, desperately wanting to reach out to her, he was still talking to Ash.
"Yes. The shot came from the other side of the deck. I didn't see who it was though. Wasn't us though." he said. He started to reach out to Doctor Ryan but she pulled away. "I promise Doc, it wasn't one of ours..."
She didn't respond. After several minutes of silence, Meng sent Ash away under the guise of checking on Andy's condition. Ash tried to protest - they all knew - but when Freya shuddered again, he left quickly.
Though there was a chance she'd reject him, Meng stepped forward and slowly put his arms around Freya. She collapsed into them, her body heaving several times as the crying worsened.
"She was my best friend." Freya whispered into his jacket. "What do I do without my best friend?"
"There will be no more arrests or detainments made unless you have tangible proof to justify it!" Hunt shouted. He'd already tried being calm but Commander Bonwick had argued back with him - was STILL arguing with him about this. "That's an order Commander!"
"I have proof for every detainment I make Captain!"
"Being born an embryiotic or Quuvarii does not equate to proof! I expect to see evidence and reasonable suspicion in every report or you are not to take them in for questioning! Do you understand me?" Hunt argued. "I don't want to hear any more reports of random citizens being dragged in and interrogated for weeks on end simply because of an accident of birth!"
At some point Commander Katou had come in but neither of them had stopped yelling long enough to pay her any mind.
The silence in the room became thick after that as they stared at each other - each willing the other to begin the argument anew. But neither Bonwick nor Hunt were the first to break the silence, it was Katou. "I came regarding Lt. Kowalski's death."
Hunt and Bonwick both swirled toward her. "What is it?" Hunt demanded at the same time Bonwick scoffed, "There's no need for that, it's obvious she was killed by the rebels." she said, gaining a glare from Captain Hunt.
"I'm not debating that possibility." Katou said quietly.
"It's only that...I was in the lab at the time and I saw Julian Ice lingering nearby. I didn't see the shooting, but perhaps he did and can shed some light on it. He may have even seen the shooter." Katou said steadily.
"Julian?" Captain Hunt asked, practicing to keep his voice level. "You saw him?"
"Yes Captain. He was just in the area...perhaps he saw nothing. But he was there..." Katou replied.
"I think you ought to question Mr. Ice then." Captain Hunt said to Bonwick. "You understand my orders?" Bonwick grudgingly nodded, a snarl firmly fixed on her face. "Good." Hunt said with a crisp nod as he left the security office.
For the second time that day, Ash made his way toward the main deck using the intricate weave of tunnels and old maintenance hallways. How he wished he could just walk right across the deck as he once had but Meng wanted everyone to stay out of sight as much as possible even if they weren't a known rebel. Though Ash had been with the Sons of Liberty almost as long as there had been a Sons of Liberty, he had never officially been tagged as one. That suited him just fine because it allowed him to get closer than Meng or Freya could for example.
Once he reached the medical ward, he didn't even have to pass through the doors to know the truth. There were a couple engineers talking sadly just outside the ward about a memorial of some sort.
Andy Kowalski was dead.
Before anyone noticed him, he slipped back into the shadows and began the journey back to the core of the SoL hideout. He checked frequently for any followers but there were none. During one such check, his eye fell on a discarded piece of paper and he picked it up. Paper was an odd enough sight but scrawled across the paper was a dire warning. "aliens, attack, 7...???"
He shoved the paper into his pocket and picked up the pace. Seven what? hours? days? And when had this note been written?
Time was running out, for everyone.
Before Ash could return with what was sure to send Freya into another round of hysterics, Meng scooped her up into his arms and carried her toward his own bedroom.
For once, she didn't fight him. She didn't even whimper as he laid her down on the blanket. She instantly curled up into a trembling ball. Meng stretched out beside her, letting his fingers graze hers.
"Freya..." Meng started, though he wasn't sure what he would say to her. Though he was close to Brandon and Lana, he'd never really had the comfort of a best friend and he'd never had a family really.
Of course all his worry didn't matter as she didn't respond to him. If it weren't for the occasional shudder and sob, he would have thought she'd fallen asleep.
"I'm sorry." he whispered finally, stroking his thumb along her fingers.
"Of all the people that have died in this...I don't think I ever cried for them." Freya's voice was tiny, barely even a whisper. "I feel each one but...but not like this..." She didn't move from her position at first, she didn't even open her eyes as she spoke. "She was one of the good guys Meng - and the good guys aren't suppose to die..." Without warning, she rolled over so her back was to him and slid between his arms, pressing herself against him.
He wrapped his arms around her tightly. "I don't think it works that way in real life..."
"No, no it doesn't..." Freya said. After that she finally did fall asleep, comforted by his arms and his presence.
"You wanted to see me Captain?" Rob Jamison asked, stepping into the office. He was surprised at the darkness for a moment but didn't say anything.
Captain Hunt nodded. "Bonwick works fast...Lady Ice has handed down a new edict - in the name of the Council."
"I wasn't aware that the new Council had been seated yet." Jamison said.
"It hasn't." Hunt said. He punched a few keys on his computer and seemed to be glaring at the bright screen with all the fire of a thousand suns. "'In order to bring a swift and complete end to the criminal rebellion, all persons of embryiotic or Quuvarii birth will present themselves for questioning as requested by Council or the Security department. Failure to do so will result in arrest on sight regardless of circumstances.' etcetera etcetera...."
The two men fell silent and a million unvoiced thoughts lingered in the air.
"This may be our darkest hour Mr. Jamison." Captain Hunt said as he flicked the computer off. The office was submerged in near total darkness once again.