Hawk Squadron: From Gue'la to Warrior Pt. 15

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Rook Hawkins

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The rank-smelling mixture of mold and fuel was almost enough to knock a fully grown man out cold. It might have done exactly that to Rook, had he not been through this hanger many times before during his training. The slightly cool conditioning of the Hanger led it to seem more like the human-built barracks and less like the overly clean and ghostly-white appearance of most of the Tau facilities.
In fact, had it not been for the drop ships and ammunition, storage containers and lift-craft, Rook might have even considered it an upgrade from his previous living conditions. However even with that in mind, Rook knew he would only have to deal with the stench for a few more minutes. Just long enough to brief the troops and get briefed by the Shas'O. He paused in thought.  And take care of one important matter before all of that.
The smell aside, there were more to Rook's problems then being just uncomfortable. His eye lids were growing heavy due to lack of sleep, and on top of that the mission weighed on him more then his eyes. Questions had been tumbling around aimlessly, and he would have thought them to be some musings of a far off Psyker, but for the fact that there was no real objective to them - other then keeping him annoyed. Had this been something intelligent it would have been out of my mind long ago, with whatever information it needed.
He took the few moments of silence he had to peruse around the Hanger, checking over equipment, and ensuring that at least he would be well enough stocked for the fight to come. If I can't control what I am to know, I can at least control what I am to have. He had called the squadron to formation early - one member in particular - wanting to go over a few new ideas he had been kicking around during his walk a few hours previous. And as he waited for his Hawk's to stream into the Hanger Bay, he would enjoy the last few moments of serenity he could muster, as he knew that in the moments to come he would have seldom to none of anything resembling serenity.

Rook took a seat on one of the storage crates, the exotic metal was stable enough to support three times his weight, so he wasn't too concerned.  Pulling a pulse rifle off the rack, he looked over the weapon in silent awe.  He'd trained with them, he could take one apart if he wanted to, and operate it in pitch blackness with lethal effectiveness.  But for the first time, he'd be able to just study it, and appreciate it for what it was.  In fact, so little was Rook able to appreciate much of anything, and the dawn of that idea swept away several other illusions he had been throwing around in his head.

Things he knew were not accurately reflecting himself, things like Kaerin.  He could see where a relationship would lead.  The way he'd never be able to fully appreciate the intricate nature of Tau technology, the fact that now he'd really never have the time to fully appreciate it, would be the same with Kaerin.  That thought sent a shiver down his spine.

He was a member of the Tau military, a commanding officer of a group of subordinates which would be his responsibility.  He'd always have work to do, always be watched by them, looked up to, and the way they always got into things, he'd always have reports to file. Always.  And as he considered that, the further away he felt from them.  The further away I am from Kaerin.  And as if on cue, even more questions poured in on him.

Where would he be in several years, if he were even still alive?  Would he be in a higher position?  Would he have time for a family?  Questions he had no specific answers for, save one.  Regardless of where I'll be, right now I don't have the time to be with anybody.  The fact was that if he couldn't even find the time to sleep, how would he find the time to give to somebody he cared about?  For that he knew he wouldn't.  He would never be the man somebody like Kaerin needed, and worse yet, he didn't even know what that was. 

The echoing patter of footsteps behind him snapped him up from his seated position.  He could see her face even from here, her smile especially.  He had to check his chrono to make sure that the timing was accurate, and that they could discuss things before the rest of the Hawk's would arrive.

In the moments it took her to reach him from the hangar bay door, he would have to come up with a quick response to his new feelings on the matter.  His original intentions were to ask her to move the relationship further, to expand on what happened at the bar.  But now that's all changed.

"You had sent for me?"  She approached slowly, found a crate near Rook, and sat down. 

Rook sat back down on his own crate, rubbing the back of his neck.  He pulled his hand away when he discovered them moist with sweat.  "Yes I did," He looked at her, putting on his best professional face, "We need to discuss something that has been on my mind since we last talked."

She brushed a lock of her hair away from her face, "Okay.  What's been troubling you?"

Rook opened his arms, "The fact is, that from the moment we first talked, I found you interesting, attractive, and intelligent.  The little intimacy we shared brought that feeling to life even more."

He watched a smile bloom from cheek to cheek, and he wanted to take back all he had planned to tell her.  But he knew he couldn't.  All he could do was continue.  "The problem with that is," He took a breath.  "I now have to reject all of those feelings." 

She stood up faster then he'd ever seen a person do, hurt steamed off of her thicker then the inquisition on a heretic.  "What are you talking about?"

Rook held up his hands, "Before you get all offended - "

"A little late for that!"

Rook shot to attention, gave a stern look.  "Gue'vesa'ui Reese!  Atten-tion!"

Instinctively she snapped into a crisp pose.  Rook's use of formalities was something he had hoped to avoid.  "You are a soldier in my squadron, and that is something you should never, ever forget."  Tears could be seen forming at the crevice of her mouth, they streaked down, ever so slightly from glazed, hurt-filled eyes.  Rook could feel his insides churn, his empathy - his urge - to snatch her up and hold her tight was something he had to repetitively conquer.  "Do I make myself clear, Gue'vesa'ui?"

"Yes, sir."

"I didn't catch that?"

"Yes, sir!"

Rook narrowed his eyes, knowing that could she see them fully, they would show her the full hurt he felt inside.  "Now, you may hate me.  And if you want to transfer out of this squadron, I will not hold you back save that I will not put in the transfer until when we return from our current assignment.  But whatever you thought there was between us ends now.  I am effectively cutting it off.  Is that clear?"

"Permission to speak freely sir?"


She gave a little gasp, looked away, "Am I dismissed now, sir?"

"Yes.  Dismissed."

With that, she did an about-face maneuver, and departed as though nothing had happened, leaving him alone again, alone with his thoughts.  He checked his watch. In thirty minutes we have a mission, and the only true Tau vet in my unit hates me.  What a great start.


Ralus was already half-way down the hall before he knew who was running towards him.  She was crying, and definitely showed signs of improvidence as she seemed to push past other Gue'vesa's, making her way to her temporary bunk assignment towards the rear of the facility.  When she passed him, she snarled, although hurt filled her eyes.

Ralus watched her graze by him, but before she could gather a few more paces, he pulled her tunic and she jerked back around to face him.  Her hand came up to slap him, and it would have made contact - and probably hurt more then Ralus wanted to think about - but he gently pushed it away.  She growled at him, "Let go of me!"

"I can't, something's wrong and we have a mission in a few minutes."  Ralus held her hands firm, although she was trying to dig her finger-nails into his hand to release herself. 

"Why won't you let me go!  Please, just let me go!"  She pleaded, the pain she must have been feeling bled out into her words.

"Something is wrong, and I need to make sure that you're ready for what's to come.  If you're not, better we know now and try to correct it rather then get into combat and you break down."

"I'll be fine, I'm fine, just let me go."

"No."  He injected as much concern in his voice as he could.

She strained and tears seemed to flow more willingly, "I've heard that word too much today."  She lifted her knee hard into Ralus' stomach, got around under him and threw him over her shoulder.  He didn't feel himself hit the wall, but the way his head stung, and the fact that he was now looking up at the ceiling, he was pretty sure he'd made contact with something.

He lifted himself up, using the walls around him as support.  He darted after her as best he could, weaving around corners through people.  Ralus didn't want to make her feel cluttered, but they would be embarking on a mission that would make or break their reputations, and could possibly destroy them in more ways then one.  It was his responsibility to make sure that every one of the Hawk's around him were capable and able to do the things required of them in the field.

Kaerin had made it into her room, but as much as he didn't understand it, she hadn't closed the door, instead she had fell onto her bed, resting her elbows on her knees, crying into her palms.  At first, Ralus didn't know if his will was strong enough to enter her room and disturb her.  She was just so adamant about being alone, that as he looked in at her, his heart sank. 

But he still had his duty to preform, and in the military, these duties come before personal feelings and emotions.  He stood in the doorway, knocked once, then entered.  Although he had sat with many other women in his life, this was the first time he had been in the room of a female soldier of his pay grade.  To say the least, it was something that made him a little uncomfortable.

"Look, I don't exactly know the routine here."

She looked up at him with a tear-stained face, "Wh-what?"

Ralus shifted his feet, "I mean, am I supposed to pat you on the shoulder and say that it's going to be okay while you cry out your story?  Or do you want to yell and scream at me, vent all your problems at once while I sit back and listen?"

She cracked a smile, if only a little, "I'm sorry about your head."

"Well," Ralus rubbed the spot where his head hit the wall, "better my head then the other dangly bits of my body."  He gave her a wink, then moved to sit down beside her.  "Don't worry about a report, no blood was spilled, and nobody else in the Hawk's saw what happened.  I can keep a secret if you can."

"I don't know why you're being so kind to me..." Her thoughts trailed off, then she narrowed her eyes at him, "If you think I'm going to just jump into your arms you got a wake-up call coming." 

Ralus leaned back, defensively, "Hey look here, sister, you're definitely beautiful and all, but you're not my type.  A little too much baggage in there that I'm not looking for." 

She sneered, "You're making fun of me now."

"Was it that obvious?"  Ralus lifted her chin and made sure they had eye contact, "I don't know what happened, and it's none of my business what happened.  I am not here to jump into bed with you, that's not my cup of rysh'tea.  I am here because you are a member of the squadron, and we are going into combat very soon.  And I want to make sure that whatever is effecting you now doesn't get us all killed.  You, as a veteran of war, should be able to respect that."

Her eyes searched him steadily, "You are telling the truth."  She looked down, "And you're right.  You'd probably make a better commander then Gue'vesa'vre Darksky."

Ralus flashed a grin, "Ah so that's what this is about, and here I thought this was about Galeo."

Kaerin's eyes got big, then she snorted, "That beast?  No, he could never get to me like this."  She wiped her cheeks with the edge of her hand, sniffing here and there, then looked back at him, "I'm not comfortable talking about this.  But you have my word that I'll be ready for combat."

Ralus nodded, "Okay, I believe you."  He stood up, "We really need to head to the Hanger Bay, we have a mission to attend to."

Kaerin shook her head, "You go on ahead, I'll be there as soon as I clean up a bit."

Ralus gave her shoulder a little squeeze, "You may not think this very important right now, Kaerin, but you have at least one friend in this squadron who isn't trying to get you into bed.  My door is always open if you need to talk.  And that can't be said for everyone in this squadron."

She smiled, this time a bit wider, more real, "Thank you."

Ralus turned to walk out the door, "You're welcome."  And with that, he made his way back toward the Hanger Bay.

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