“Looking forward to Damara?” He asked with a slight smirk.
Kevin jerked with surprise but shrugged. “I always like seeing her.”
“I don’t know why you don’t just bring her aboard.” Nick leaned against the railing, watching AJ’s knife throwing absentmindedly. “You know there’s nothing really keeping her there.”
“Because we don’t have that kind of relationship.”
Nick simply snorted.
“We don’t. And she’s not cut out for this sort of life.” A pause followed. “Few people are.”
“Have you ever asked her if she wanted to try?” He asked, rubbing his shoulder and fighting not to wince.
The other man sighed deeply. “How’s your arm?” Kevin nodded at Nick’s heavily bandaged arm that was now in a sling over the grungy once white shirt he typically wore. It had been hurt worse than he’d wanted to admit the other day.
“Hurts like a bitch.” He replied dryly. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Because I don’t have to.”
No, you don’t. Nick agreed silently. Kevin would never ask Damara to come join them. She lived a semi-respectable life on Nuada. One where the Dominion left her alone and she didn’t need to struggle as they did. Or do the things they had to so that they could keep going. Their life wasn’t a safe one. And that very fact is what would keep Kevin from doing what would make him happy. Because apart, she was safe and she was sound. On their ship that would never be the case.
It was why none of them had any real attachments off-board.
The captain shrugged, “Don’t be.”
Nick nodded at AJ who was getting up finally to go tug the knives back out of the makeshift dart board. “Sometimes I think he’s the smartest of all of us.”
Kevin snorted, rolling his eyes. “Don’t ever tell him that. We’d never hear the end of it.”
“I’m serious though.” He glanced over. “Howie cares too much. That’s why he saves anyone and everyone he can.” It made their friend a liability on jobs, matter of fact. “Brian had that girl, Julianna…”
“Before she got herself killed.” He rubbed the bottom of his goatee.
His friend nodded. “You have Damara…”
Nick turned away and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “No one, you know that.”
“Because you refuse to let yourself. The difference between you and knife-boy is that you want to. You tease yourself by being social with anyone we take on, but you keep it shallow. Meaningless.” Kevin placed his hand on Nick’s uninjured shoulder. “Anyway, I’m going to go get some rest while it’s still quiet. Don’t cause too much trouble.” He smiled before turning and heading back up towards his room.
“Alright.” His gaze shifted out towards the stars. Pulling out the small notepad and pencil he kept in his back pocket when he wasn’t out committing one crime or another, he began to sketch against the railing. He wasn’t sure what he was going for but he figured he’d know once he was done. Kevin wasn’t wrong in his assessment of him. How many times had he lost people? His parents, Kevin’s parents, everyone he’d known on Earth, at the station…maybe he was sick of making connections he knew wouldn’t last. Kevin and Brian had been the two constants he’d ever had in his entire life. And each day he prepared himself to lose them somehow. So while he craved having people around, to be social, he kept everything light.
Some days it was simpler to meet a girl when they took a day on some random moon or planet and take her to bed. No strings attached, with no connections beyond the physical. He’d feel good knowing he was wanted and all the pleasures that followed throughout the night. She’d get what she wanted out of it too. It was easy. In the life he lived, Nick liked easy. He glanced down then to see his sketch. As the picture became clearer, it resembled the home he’d had back in Florida. He could make out the beginnings of ocean in the background and a peaceful scene surrounding a young figure that resembled himself. The image was a recreation of a distant memory that was pretty fuzzy anytime he tried to recall it but always accompanied a warm feeling.
“What are you doing?” A gentle voice asked.
Harmless though it was, Nick was still startled enough to almost drop the pad. He flipped it closed in a hurry before turning around to see Cybelle watching him curiously. “Wasting time really. Fuck, you almost gave me a heart attack.”
She laughed, tucking a curl behind her ear. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
He smiled back at her. “It’s alright. I’m liking the adrenaline rush anyway.”
“Good, now I don’t feel bad.” She teased, glancing down to see AJ and raising a brow. “Is he always like that?”
“AJ?” He smirked. “More or less. There’s more to him than that but he doesn’t really like people to know that. So he acts like a hard ass and then goes to read Shakespeare in his room. Go figure right?”
She brushed off lint or dust Nick himself couldn’t see from her pale green dress. “I wouldn’t have expected that from…someone like him. No offense intended.”
“He wouldn’t be offended.” Nick snickered. “I think he’d be glad he puts up such a good front. But it makes sense, right? Everyone has secrets. Sides they like to keep to themselves, or those they trust most I’d think.”
She shifted her eyes away. He was more right than he knew. Cybelle often wondered why no one really put the pieces together. But then again it wasn’t like she had the public life. That fact is what protected her so well now. Though sooner or later secrets would come out. It was an inevitable fate she wanted to put off for as long as humanly possible. She wondered what secrets Zane held, what ones Nick held. Even though it would be something she’d never ask. It wouldn’t be right.
“You’re right about that. I think it’s a human thing.” She said after a few moments.
“Probably. Lyciandans put their love for violence and domineering out there and are blunt as hell just in general.” His voice had grown hard and bitter.
“They’re cold and callous.” She agreed. She hated the union that now controlled several galaxies just as much as he did. The so called peace, and new order did nothing more than change life as they all knew it. For the second time if you didn’t grow up in the colonies as she had.
“Sounds like you know from experience.”
Cybelle shook her head. “No. Not really. More from what I’ve seen since traveling through the Verse recently, before Halcyon.”
“I can’t believe you’ve never been around before that.” He replied lightly, his grin a teasing one. “I feel like my life was nothing but hopping from planet to planet. Is, I mean.”
“I suppose it takes all kinds.” Jasyn said as he ran a hand though his thick head of tentacle-like blue hair. He was coming from the other end of the corridor where most of the dorms were. “Like…” he seemed to be searching for a word. “Scavengers for example.”
Nick’s eyes narrowed. “Well in a Verse like this, there’s not as many options for some as there are for others.”
The Breasal simply hummed. “Maybe.”
She glanced between the two uncomfortably. “Speaking of hopping around, where’s our next destination going to be?”
“Nuada.” Jasyn told her. “A place of whores and debauchery. One of the most influential planets towards the Outer Rim systems.”
The other man rolled his eyes. “It’s also one of the best planets to reload on without any questions about official transport. The Dominion isn’t too fond of…car pooling, for lack of a better word. We’ll be there in a few more days.” He smirked cockily. “We’re taking the scenic route.”
“Where to after? The main reason I came to find you was that the Captain was busy and I wished to know how long till we got to Airmid without more unscheduled stops.” He asked pointedly.
Before he could answer, Brian’s voice came out over the intercoms. “Attention passengers and crew. I need everyone to get to their quarters and strap themselves down right away. I repeat, get yourselves back to your room and strapped onto something. This is an order. Thank you.”
“Shit.” Nick muttered, knowing that couldn’t be anything good.
“What is it?” Cybelle asked worriedly as Jasyn followed the orders almost immediately.
“It means we have some unwelcome company.”
Her face paled. “As in…”
Nick nodded at the unsaid question. “Go on. We’ll be alright.” He said, more to reassure her. She hurried off, looking like she’d seen a ghost. However he had no time to think about that as he rushed upstairs to the cockpit. Waiting expectedly were Brian, AJ, and Kevin. All with faces filled with grim determination. Did they get caught that fast for what happened back on Brid? They’d had a clean getaway. Nick knew they’d all be sure of that. But if it wasn’t that, what was it?
“What is it?”
The voice over the intercom answered before anything else.
“Captain Richardson and crew of the Firefly…We request you stop immediately to be boarded for questioning. We have a warrant for a search of your ship. We will use force if necessary. I repeat, you must stop immediately to be boarded for questioning…”