“What’s happening, Hector?” Abia whispers to her husband as they both look up to the stars.
Overhead, something entirely unnatural was causing the most dazzling meteor shower that either of them had ever seen. Just outside of the planet’s atmosphere a war was being fought. One that would decide the future of everyone below. If the Coalition fleet broke through the blockade, Abia knew, they would all perish.
“We’ll be fine,” Hector promises his wife, somehow picking up on the hidden question within her words. This was something that Hector had always been good at doing and Abia always felt safer at this knowledge.
Overhead, yet another streak of light marks the fiery demise of another fighter, another warship, another crew. The pain being inflicted overhead seems so far away, so foreign.
Pursing her lips, Alia tries her best to not admire the beauty of the colorful streaks of light.
Those lights represented death. No one should ever marvel at the show of anothers’ death.
“Will we still make it home?” Alia asks her husband.
Hector’s face remains nondescript.
Frowning, Alia pushes down her frustration until it passes. She had never liked how her husband could hide every emotion and every thought. It made her feel like he was hiding things while she, like it or not, was an open book to him.
“I don’t know,” Hector answers after a long pause.
Finally some truth, Alia thinks before she can stop herself. As sweet and emboldening as his numerous assurances had been, Alia knew that things were not going well for the defending fleet overhead.
Alia had watched the foray through a telescope for the first few days of the battle. She had marveled at the rigid formations that the Coalition fleet brought against the comparably disorganized Fulcrum one. Despite their organization though, Alia remembered how well the Fulcrum fleet seemed to be faring. For nearly a week they appeared to be winning.
And then they weren’t.
Alia knew that the tide of the battle had shifted when Hector requested that she put the telescope away. Since that day, the fiery streaks across the sky had increased almost exponentially as the fighting came closer and closer.
Alia could feel that the end was near.
“We need to leave now,” Hector finally announces. The faintest quiver in his voice told Alia everything that she needed to know.
Despite the strong front that he was putting up, Hector was scared.
“Where?” Alia asks worriedly.
She had requested that they flee several days ago when one of the massive warships had crashed two days prior. Alia had run from the house she and her husband were staying in when she saw it coming their direction. She hid herself near the pond and told herself that the waters would protect her if she had to dive in. Hector meanwhile had remained on the porch where they had been watching their fate be played out from a distance. He had assured her that they would be safe even then.
Much to her surprise, Hector had been correct. The wreck crashed short of their home by a few kilometers. The tremoring that had followed its impact was terrifying, but far less dangerous than the brunt of the impact would have been.
“I have some friends that I fought beside years ago,” Hector answers slowly, his struggle for composure only evident to Alia who had spent her entire married life trying to read the man.
“Are these the ones you said you never wanted to speak to again?” Alia asks when Hector doesn’t say anything additional.
Hector doesn’t say anything and he simply nods instead.
Knowing that his response meant that he didn’t want to say any more on the subject, Alia bites her tongue. She knew that Hector had been a soldier before they wed, but that always seemed like such a distant fact. She always thought of it like ripples on the water. She was a long ways off from where the stone struck the water, but the ripples were still evident from the shore.
Today, those ripples were not simply a nuisance to the beach but a threat. One that Alia knew would blow up in both her and Hector’s face if they didn’t prepare themselves.
“I’m scared,” Alia finally whimpers.
“I am too,” Hector admits.
Her husband’s words rock Alia to her core. Hector had never admitted fear before. He never allowed it a place before. She knew that this time was different.
She knew that this was the day she would die.
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