I see the surprise on the faces of everyone around me. Save for those who look… bored. I don’t really get how you could be bored in the middle of the excursion. I’m not bored.
Lanky guy looks a little disbelieving.
“What?” Lanky guy says.
“You heard me. I’ll send the-”
“No need. Any details?”
I shake my head, a little annoyed.
“All I can tell is that there is something the size of a scout ship tunneling underneath us, going,” I point in the direction opposite to the mountains. “That way.”
Lanky guy frowns.
“I have a suspicion about what it might be…” He says.
“Spill,” High-pitched-voice says.
“We can do with any information.”
“I remember finding special drones that were deployed from space… their purpose is pretty unclear, but I know they can tunnel. And they’re roughly the size of scout ships. They seek out energy sources when they’re running low on fuel and they have a lot of weapons packed into them. I’m guessing they’re used to sabotage cities.”
“So, is it a threat?” Can’t-speak-properly says.
He shakes his head.
“So…” High-pitched-voice says.
“We split,” Evert says. “But first, we need to know specializations and quantity.”
“We send the data to best Tactician here.” I look around. “So, all Tacticians… come forward.”
Six individuals move past the crowd, some hesitant. Lizandra not one of them, though she glares at me. Annoying.
Four of them are guys, and two of them are girls. Lizandra, a green-haired tall guy, and a plump boy seem pretty confident.
“How do we know who’s the best?” Lanky guy says.
I turn and look at him.
“We don’t. They do,” I nod at the group.
Heads turn to Lizandra. She looks a little smug.
“And what if they’re wrong?” Lanky guy says again.
“Low chance,” Evert says. “Besides, I know her. ” He smiles lopsidedly. “Hey, Lizandra.”
“Hi,” she says.
“What are we waiting for? Ping her with your specialties, people!” Lanky guy says.
I ping her with my qualifications.
Her eyes glaze over, as I assume other people give her their qualifications.
Eventually, she comes to and snaps at everyone.
“Signa, Hector, Garrett! Stand there! Deiza, Niklo, stand with them! Frao, Joy…”
She splits us into three groups. One stays at the base, one goes to the crack, and one simply wanders to other places some Builders pointed out. I’m in the group that stays. Backup.
Everyone in the same group is misfits. She put me here on purpose. I tried protesting but…
She said that somebody competent had to stay behind, to lead the group. And not only that—my qualifications were perfect for the job, as I could figure out exactly how to use the abilities of the people involved. That shut down any further argument from my side.
And so, I’m stuck here. The others are awkwardly chatting, some not awkwardly chatting as they might know each other, and others just hang around depressingly.
A few tried to approach me on occasion, but I replied with monosyllabic conversation, driving them away.
I sit under the shade of the drone. As do the others, but there is a noticeably large gap between me and any students. That’s fine—I can use the space to think.
Not that I have a lot of think about. I’m tempted to drift off… but that would mean I’m not alert, and that means incompetence. No way in hell am I going to be incompetent.
My skin is slowly heating up. The atmosphere is not very… comfortable, to say the least. And there’s another problem—water.
We didn’t bring any. I’m betting most here have implants that let them go without for three days… or heck, even a week, so that’s not much of a problem, really. What I’m worried about is if the excursion takes longer than that. Dehydration would certainly influence morale, and I have to watch out for that.
I feel a rumble in the ground. The first thing my mind goes to is the tunneller but then I see the heads of the students turn. I look back and see the ship we came in lift off.
Funny. Didn’t they say the ship would take off immediately after we left? I forgot about that, but now that I remember, I wonder why. Maybe a maintenance issue? Or something else?
Either way, it doesn’t matter.
I think about the tunneller. Lanky guy said that he assumed that the drone was meant for sabotaging cities, which leads me to wonder about why it was on an exploratory ship.
Did they pick it up somewhere? Or maybe the drone is from a ship that shot them down? If a ship shot them down, that is. The reason for the crash could be a number of things, best wait to find out.
“How long do we have to sit here?” A guy asks, miserable. He doesn’t have a lot of heat protection. I pity him.
“Until we hear from the others.”
He frowns but doesn’t ask anything. He slouches.
The was bad. I might have troble if an actual emergency arose.
Then I get a ping. I open the data packet.
We found the ship—or at least, a part of it. A Builder here, says that it’s more than half of it, and the rest is broken up into two pieces. There are signs of a fight inside the ship, seems to have happened a long time ago. Ferra.
I raise my eyebrows.
Signs of a fight? Seems like there must have been some crew problems. That must have been nasty.
I look up at the hologram and see the three dots indicating our positions. Ferra’s team, the wanderer, is four kilometers away. I didn’t think they would be the first one to report. The other team—led by Lizandra is still moving around.
I send a pingback.
Good job. Since the majority of the ship is there, and we have to rebuild it, that’s where we set up base. Our group will arrive at your position shortly, and then you will join Lizandra’s group. And about the sign of fight—don’t disturb it. I’ll take records for the school’s or Sentinels’ benefit, before working on the ship. Affirmative?
I get up, dusting my butt.
“We’re replacing Ferra’s position. Walk with me,” I say. I gesture at the drone, and it begins moving forward at a snail pace.
The group members get up, dusting their asses as well. Some grunt, some look uncomfortable. One guy just plain refuses to get up—another guy throws dirt on his face and a fight breaks out between them.
I walk in between them and order them to walk at opposite sides of the drone. I tell a few members to make sure they don’t move towards each other.
I sigh and wipe the sweat off my forehead.
Edit: Author Note: I usually don’t do these… at least on this site, considering that I don’t get much traffic but well, that’s changed. To put it in WordPress’s words, “Your stats are booming! The Zone is getting lots of traffic.”
So, right, sorry about the infrequent updates. Oh, and check out the fanart page.
Thanks for reading!