I just wanted to be useful. But does being useful mean I have to put my dignity on the line? A man's pride is something they hold sacred. I used to feel the same way, until I met him.
Until all of the things I came to know and understand got stripped away the moment I had been assigned to be his Navigator. His crude, cynical, brazen personality made my stomach churn. The air around him felt tense, almost like a wild animal being thrown in my direction without giving me much time to prepare.
Cain, as I came to learn, wasn't a man who allowed himself to be held back by rules and regulations. It simply added on to the thrill for him. So the minute I saw those red letters flashing an alert on the screen made me realize I had been assigned to a roller coaster ride of a lifetime. The battlefield is seen as a playground for him, while our ships just a play thing. He enjoys the adrenaline that pumps through his veins the moment our mission to defend our base starts. Our opponents are nothing to be reckoned with, but he takes their attacks lightly.
Even with a Fighter as brilliant as him, I can't ignore the call of a comrade in need of assistance. It has never really been in my nature to leave others behind. Through barks and protests, we managed to save Tiberius and cause the Colteron scouts that remained from the assault to retreat. Little did I know that my actions were nothing but an expanding ripple, making Cain the center of it all. It was then that I realized I had fallen in too deep with a man I hadn't known in the span of twenty four hours.
It was then that I came to terms that I ventured into a territory I couldn't easily leave. The moment our lips touched, our bodies brushed against each other.. something inside of me began to change and I didn't understand why or how. I used to see myself as someone who couldn't easily open up to others, couldn't speak my desires to those around me in fear of being judged or seen differently. I couldn't risk it, I shouldn't risk it, and yet he came and stripped it all away from me in the blink of an eye.
I started becoming a man my father never wanted me to be.
Nothing but a prodigy, that's what he wanted. To follow in his footsteps and be the next runner up in his big campaign back on Earth. I didn't want that. I wanted to be a part of something bigger, something that could change our lives forever. I wanted to be someone who could protect innocent lives that didn't have the means or the strength to change the fate our enemy decided to try and bestow upon us. I wasn't going to take that laying down, much less when this war that we are fighting is nothing more than a struggle of territory.
A territory that we were about to be drawn into with the way our plans were laid out with the briefing Commander Cook gave us the next morning. We were losing. That's how simple he placed the matters in front of us. We were losing ground and it was a matter of time till Earth and all of the colonies were placed in the line of fire, taking the lives of many people in the process. I don't want that. I don't ever want that to happen.. which is why I accepted the conditions to be sent into deep Colteron space to fight against them. To fend them off further from advancing into our bases.
I know he's not going to be happy about this. Not to mention, I keep getting warnings about him no matter where I go. Even the man we managed to save became short the minute he realized who my Fighter was. There are so many things I want to know about Cain, but I can't seem to figure out where to start. And all of those thoughts just wash away the minute I see him. I don't know exactly what he's done, yet I can't seem to pry away from him whenever he looks at me the way that he does.
It makes me forget where I am, my mission, the reason why I came here in the first place.
But the importance of the task we had at hand became much to great to go unnoticed. We were to be shipped out into enemy territory, infiltrating their lines of defense in an attempt to overrun their plans. They were creating a machine that could allow them to gain the upper hand in the war; something that we cannot allow no matter the cost. I wasn't going to let everything we have worked for go to waste. It's the reason why I volunteered myself as well as my reluctant Fighter to take place of this operation.
This is where I met a navigator of higher rank than me whose name is Keeler. He's kind, well respected, and knows what he's doing when it comes to piloting. I look up to him a lot, even if I may not say this much. Otherwise everyone could think that I'm doing nothing but kissing up to him. It also allowed me to get closer to Cain who seemed to be having a rough time getting used to things. He leaves early and comes home late. He's difficult to live with, difficult to be around sometimes, but I'd like to think that we're getting the hang of each others personalities a little better.
There are things he's not telling me, and I can't bring myself to ask. Whenever I do I seem to run short when it comes to words, so I let my body to the talking instead. It tries to show him that I care, that I want to know more about him. I just think that he can't read me all that well, or simply doesn't want to. I can't say that things are picture perfect. Nothing ever is.. yet he makes me want to believe it can be something pretty similar to perfection.
All of our time together began to filter into small segments the minute I'd been assigned to a special task by the commander. He wanted me to test out a new engine configuration that could give us the upper hand in battle. Hopefully we'll be able to come out of it victorious, because the more we face them it's becoming more and more difficult. Any little thing that can be added to change the tides, no matter how small, it can represent our victory in the end. So I will give it every single bit of dedication that I possibly can. I would've thought that we were all on the same wavelength,
until Ethos reached out to me.
Sure, we'd never really interacted all of that much, but he wasn't a bad person. I would've thought that he held a similar connection with his Fighter, but I guess that Cain and I have a completely different relationship than most of the people on the ship. Ethos expressed his concerns about his Fighter not opening up to him as much as he should, and I sympathized with him greatly. I completely understood where he was coming from, so I tried my best to reassure him.
Not all fighters are senseless dogs without any emotions, so I wanted him to see things from that perspective rather than giving up completely in trying to reach for his partner.
Fighters aren't really seen with kind eyes by most, and I kind of don't blame the other Navigators to feel that way when it all comes down to it. In contrast to that, they see us as nothing but weak, defenseless, without really any means of protecting ourselves other than with what we know. We are are the brains and they are the brawl, that is how it's always been since I arrived. But I don't want to think that way anymore. I want Ethos to learn that everyone has a different side to them, that we can learn from one another, and that we can grow from experiences we share.
I guess not everyone can share the same sentiment. At least not someone like Phobos who wants to prove to the world that it is nothing but a piece of dirt underneath his shoe. Sometimes I can't stand him. No, scratch that, I can't stand him. Period. The way he holds himself so high and mighty above everyone else, seeing people as low lives makes my stomach feel nothing but sick. I'm not entirely sure how on earth he managed to get this far with us, but there really isn't time for me to think about it for long. The sirens went off just as we were about to go into a deep discussion and it makes everything shake with adrenaline.
The ringing of the sirens reverberated throughout the corridors, letting all on-board to man their stations. I didn't waste any time in doing the same, preparing the Reliant for combat alongside Cain who was ready to tear the enemy apart. I could feel it in the way he spoke throughout the battle, backing up our comrades. But the one thing I didn't expect from this encounter is probably the sound that still haunts me to this day. The message that had been patched through when the enemy ship didn't have any other alternative. The crackles and gurgles that could be heard intertwined with words we understood.
Two words that will forever be engraved in my mind. I wasn't going to let them do what they wanted. I wasn't going to risk the lives that were fighting alongside me. I wasn't going to risk Cain's safety. So I did what I had to do in order to survive. I wanted to rid this animal from the face of the universe no matter the cost. I wanted to protect everyone. I suppose that's what gave me the power to actually destroy the Colteron's ship. Though, I'm really not sure what happened since everything became so bright that I couldn't even see my own hand in front of my face in a blink of an eye.
It felt like a surge of electricity that coursed through my body and into the ship. I really have no idea what it all meant.
Nevertheless, we won and that is what is important, right? I didn't think that anything could make that very moment better. But I was wrong. It got much better the minute I saw his smiling face the minute we stepped out of our ship.
I never expected to see something like that throughout the time we've known each other. Granted, there were times where he smiled at me, but it was more of a cynical sense of the concept.
But the moment we shared? It felt different. It was as if we were the only two people alive. I felt his arms around me,
holding me as if I was the most important thing to him, and he was happy. Genuinely happy. I couldn't believe that I felt that sudden rush of emotion, and I wanted it to last. Yet, everyone wanted in on our little celebratory moment and we couldn't really help ourselves but comply. We'd won a difficult battle. It may not have been the entire war, yet it meant a victory all the same. And in that single moment it made me realize something about me that I never thought I'd experience before.
I never felt the same way I now feel towards Cain. What once I felt as distaste began to grow into something much stronger than that. I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to get closer to him than ever before. Granted, we have slept together countless of times, but I wanted to know more about the person underneath all of that. I wanted to look beyond the insults, beyond the quick snapping remarks, behind all of the warning signs everyone seems to keep giving me. I see something in him that others refuse to address, or simply prefer to overlook.
I wanted those moments to last forever, engraved in my memory for as long as I am able to breathe. It seemed like the gods weren't going to have any of that the minute I felt my entire world shift. I was hauled into a corner only to have information be thrown at me all at once. It caused my mind to become nothing but a jumbled mess with what Praxis was telling me. Things involving Cain, and more things involving Deimos, Cain's friend. Or so that's what I got from their interactions. I wasn't going to let him ruin what I have with Cain with petty jealousy.
Granted, this man owed me, but if it meant that all he was planning on doing was bad mouthing my companion? I didn't want any part of it. He should be more focused on establishing his relationship with Ethos, his own Navigator, rather than worry about me. I am absolutely not his concern, nor do I ever want to be. It's really no wonder why a lot of people stay away from him. He's paranoid beyond belief. I can't stand people like that sometimes, and more when they brush you off as if you saving his life didn't really matter.
The way he spouts out things carelessly without even taking my emotions into consideration is beyond selfish. Of course, I decided to listen to what he had to say since it seemed like he wasn't going to let me leave. He began telling me about the first time he met Cain. Describing the air of confidence he had around him, the way he held proudly above all of the other Fighters which is something I'm not alien to. I already knew this. I don't need him regurgitating information this way, but he caught me off guard for a second.
"Cain called you a slut!"
That was all. Those four words that could easily stir emotions out of anyone. However, what Praxis didn't know is that I have come to terms that I understand Cain far better than anyone else on this ship. He has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. Cain isn't the kind of person who could easily say something like that, much less about me. Praxis is nothing but a coward and a pathetic excuse of a human being. I wasn't going to stand there and take everything he had to say about my partner.
Yet.. it didn't make me feel any better with the way Keeler chewed me out. He was right. Instead of taking the time to have my ear blown off by the senseless things Praxis had to say I should've been taking care of my ship. Who knows when the next time an enemy could attack us, and I guess I just lost sight of that. My chest felt heavy. I didn't have the slightest idea what I could do to fix it. And then I saw his face. Everything came back to me in a rush; pleasure and pain all at once, causing my shoulders to feel heavier than they used to.
This really wasn't my day at all. What I didn't expect was for Cain to invite me somewhere. What could he be thinking, I wondered as I made my way to meet him after the time he told me to give him was up. The scenery became blessed with the sight of a million brilliant stars glimmering through the transparent pane of glass overlooking the skyline. It was completely breathtaking. I had been invited to share a few drinks and a couple of words with Cain in that instant. A moment where I wasn't going to ever forget.
We exchanged experiences of our past, our lives before we arrived on the ship. About what drove us to be part of this war. And it is where I managed to find out more about what made Cain the person that he now is. It all made sense now, and it also made me feel closer to him in many ways. I felt that I could really trust this person. That I didn't need to be someone who I wasn't in order to keep him around. I was comfortable just being myself whenever Cain is around no matter how much he teases me.
And this is also where I parted ways with him. The man who captured every single one of my dreams, weaving it with his own to create new ones. I don't remember when or how it happened, but the minute he spoke his name it was as if the whole universe stopped. It all fixed itself on those syllables that rolled off of his lips, so casually with a hint of innocence. The innocence he probably thought was long forgotten. Alexei. I wanted to know my name. Ethan. But it was too late.
I lost him at the same time as I lost myself.
It's been a year since I arrived on this new world. A full year since I've seen any of my crew members, as well as Cain. I'm not sure where they could be right now or how they're doing. No matter how many times I try I just can't catch a single signal that can let me somehow communicate with them. I've simply resigned myself in believing and hoping that we finally won the war, that everyone is at peace. It's what we had been striving for all this time, after all.