Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Skies Above (05 MAR 2016)

The barracks bay hummed with the low sound of a couple dozen people going about their business. What "business" meant differed from person to person, group to group. Over here, four heads were bent over a folding table, an intricate pattern of dominoes forming between them. Over there, one woman was reclining on her bunk, reading a technical manual. Oskar scanned the room until he finally saw someone he recognized. PFC Monica de Matos was sitting cross-legged on the floor by her bunk, her carbine pulled apart in front of her, running a brush through the barrel.

"I thought you would be done with that. It's been hours since we finished our debrief," Oskar said as he neared her. De Matos looked up and smiled, shaking her head.

"I went to visit Faber in medbay," she replied. "Mo├ža says she's had enough of close-range combat."

"How is she?" Lindemann asked, his brow knitting with worry. She'd been pretty badly injured, though she'd waited until reaching the Skyranger before collapsing.

"Docs say she'll be fine, though she'll be out of action for a month or so. I'm kind of surprised she's going to be coming back at all." De Matos' expression went still for a moment, considering. "It's really good she had that medkit. I didn't even know she'd been hit until the firefight was over."

"Don't worry about it. You did good work on Daiwa, he's already limping around on crutches." De Matos smiled at that, before bending her head back down to her weapon. "Have you seen Mak?" Oskar asked.

"Vi, I saw her," she nodded, glancing up. "She said she was going to the hangar. Something about bay door maintenance." 

Oskar lifted an eyebrow, but nodded. "Danke," he said as he turned to go.

Oskar made his way out of the barracks, cutting across Mission Control. He glanced up at the Hologlobe, seeing the Skyranger icon tracking across the short distance to the UFO in Texas. That would have been a sight to see, but he was just as happy that the mission this morning was what it was. Who knew what sort of monsters would come out of an UFO?
He found her in the hangar, sitting back out of the way on a crate, and staring upward. The hangar bay doors were open, and Oskar could see small figures moving around up there. PFC Makhandule smiled at him briefly as she noted his approach, but then turned her eyes back upward.

"What are you doing?" Lindemann craned his neck upward, trying to see what she was looking at. Other than the technicians above, there was only empty sky.

"Looking at the sky," she said. Before this morning in France, it has been days since we saw it last. I think it will be even longer before we see it again." Oskar looked at her, then looked up again. He could see a few stars above. He'd never really thought about the sky much, but it did seem odd to contemplate that he wouldn't be seeing much of it.

"Did you know PVT Jensen?" Makhandule asked quietly. Oskar had to think a moment as to why that name was familiar before it came to him.

"The man who died on the first mission?" he said. "Nein, I did not know him. That mission was already underway when I arrived on the bus. Did you know him?"

"No, not really," she said after a long silence. "We talked on the plane from Cape Town, though." She smiled faintly, her eyes still focused above. "He recognized me as a fellow recruit when he saw the folder I was holding." Oskar didn't answer. He didn't really know what to say. When the silence stretched on, he finally cleared his throat and broke it.

"You were countrymen, then." It wasn't a question. He wasn't really sure what it was.

"Yes, though we came from two separate worlds." Mak sighed as the bay doors above began to slowly close. "Did you need something from me?"

"Ja, I wanted to go over a few incidents during the mission, make sure I get the report right."

Makhandule slid off the edge of the crate and stretched. "They're done for today. We can go over the mission back in the barracks."

Oskar nodded, but as they left the hangar, he paused for a brief moment and tossed a glance back up at the sealed bay doors. He smiled briefly, and moved on.