Clomping down the hall and watching all the rookies and people who didn’t know better jump out of his way never got old. Every stomp made Gregor feel like a behemoth, a wrecking ball. Unstoppable. Gregor eyed the panels on either side as he moved; static metal when nobody came by, but as soon as there was motion, the panels would flip on. Meet them with your eyes and they would show your current orders. The fastest route to your destination. Anything else that you could imagine. It’s why plenty of people lingered in the hallways when they were bored. You could see what else there was to do. Where you needed to be.
Which meant Gregor had plenty of targets. As he went, clad in his mottled green-gray suit, he pantomimed blasting away everyone he passed. Occasionally took a swipe, though never quite connecting. Everyone either screamed, ducked, or dove out of the way.
“Gregor, get your shit together,” Aurora’s voice came over the suit’s comm array. “I’m trying to get my suit on and my tablet’s blowing up with complaints. I don’t have time for this.”
“Got to keep my reputation,” Gregor replied.
“Your reputation gives me headaches.”
“Sorry, boss,” Gregor replied, though they both knew ‘sorry’, as a concept, had no place in Gregor’s life.
Because a man in Gregor’s fashion didn’t just arise, fully formed, from some sort of super-soldier muck. No, Gregor had honed his brutish self in the same way a master violinist learned to play the trickiest solos; with practice. Most bullies, Gregor had discovered as a child, when he found his entertainment by picking fights with the biggest, nastiest kids, tended to fold when pressed. Give’em a good kick to the stomach, or a solid stare down and they’d find some excuse to run away. Do that enough times, learn to walk with the unbending confidence of someone willing to wreck anyone’s day at any moment, and you’d grow the sort of reputation that let’s you run wild aboard a mercenary ship. Nobody, except Aurora, stood in Gregor’s way anymore, and he didn’t even have to punch anyone to keep it that way.
Yet, if Gregor wanted to be honest with himself, it had been more fun when the long stretches spent hurtling through space had been interrupted by mess hall brawls or fighting rings in the work-out rooms. Apparently, though, broken bones make it hard to be mission ready, so Gregor had found himself barred from such exploits for the greater good of the Nautilus’ crew.
Which is why, when the blinking flash stating a new mission had arrived, Gregor had leaped into his suit as though the metal casing held the key to his salvation. In this case, Gregor hoped as he continued clomping towards the transport, it actually would.
The passage through the Nautilus from the crew quarters that Sever had to their assigned docking bay was short. Five minutes or less transition time. Intentional. So when Gregor arrived, the sliding doors in the bay scanning, through a red eye at the top of the gate, Gregor’s suit, he paused for a moment, surprised he was first. Inside the bay sat their drop shuttle. Gregor saw the boarding ramp already down and realized he was wrong. There in the cockpit, relaxed and staring straight at nothing, sat Eponi in her rose-red suit. Figured she’d be here. Eponi practically lived in that thing.
Not that Gregor blamed her for it – given the opportunity, he’d probably live in to. They wouldn’t trust him with something like the shuttle though. Too many weapons. Too many temptations to pull a trigger and see what would happen. Not that guns were his favorite toys anyway; the things were cold, impersonal, and spoke to a lack of skill with more meaningful weapons.
Gregor reached up behind his back. Felt the cold metal handle of his namesake. The hammer topped a 1.5 meter long handle. More than capable, with its round head, of bashing in steel doors. And oh, if Gregor pushed the energy from his suit through the conductors in his hands, you’d better watch out. He’d knock you to the stratosphere.
Someone bumped him, squeezing by.
“You ever try being polite?” Gregor said. The new kid was in his ocean-blue suit. Small, quirky. The kind of thing that wouldn’t scare a fly.
“You ever learn to move?” The kid replied.
Rovo, that was the kid’s name. Sounded like one of those toys from back on Earth.
“Only for people that deserve it.” Gregor replied.
“Get in that shuttle, or you’ll deserve a lot worse,” Aurora’s voice came from behind them. Gregor turned and saw she wasn’t really looking his way. She had her eyes buried in her tablet, like always. Monitoring the squad’s progress. Her peppered black and white suit bled through that part of the wrist, allowed her to see what her tablet showed without exposing them to too much danger.
Seeing the kid and Aurora standing there, not even watching him, made Gregor twitch. It wasn’t like Gregor wanted to throttle his commander right there. It wasn’t like he wanted to squash Rovo. But at the same time, Gregor’s bones were ready. Once he got himself good and juiced, he needed to get to whacking, or else it would all be wasted.
“We dropping soon?” Gregor said.
Aurora looked up at him. “Like I said. You get on that shuttle, and we’ll go.”
Gregor shrugged. Fine. He turned and climbed over the shuttle, up the ramp that led to the interior. Crash netting and harnesses. Each one with a lever next to it that, if pulled down, would cut the netting’s connections so they could get out in a flash.
Gregor had pulled it three times. Two of those had been necessary. The third… there’d been too much talking, not enough action. Besides, nobody expected someone to eject into a fight from a fully healthy drop ship. That debrief explanation had earned Gregor some rolled eyes and a pay deduction to repair the netting, but getting to plummet into a hammer swing on the slimy, unsuspecting bulk of a rogue Graddle had been worth it.
He took a seat, clipped himself in. Stared at the countdown clock. Three minutes. A hundred and eighty seconds to grind his teeth and wait.