“Eyes front and mouth closed!” Kenric froze the rookie with a hard stare before his face slipped back behind his blank professional mask. He couldn’t understand why the company always stuck him with the new guys. Sure he and Dimitri were among the best they had and were actually pretty damn good at breaking in the newbies but seriously. Who wanted to babysit a bunch of kids when they were supposed to be overseeing security? He made a mental note to speak with the director about this once they were done for the day. There really had to be someone else.
His eyes followed Researcher Lazen and Senator Lawrence as they walked past. Lazen was once again whining about the checks the Senator insisted on. He barely kept himself from snorting at that. The construction of the new research vessel was plagued with accidents and you couldn’t have paid him enough to actually travel in the damn thing. He did his best not to get to know any of the crew that was going up in the thing because he was certain it was going to explode. He just hoped it wasn’t on his shift. Dodging flaming debris wasn’t his idea of a good time.
“Dimitri! Help a girl out?”
He turned to take in the beauty that was trying to catch his brother’s attention. Pale skin, long legs, baby blue eyes, long shining blond hair, and a smile that hit him in the chest every time he saw it. Even when it wasn’t directed at him. He ignored the jealousy that stabbed at him watching his brother walk over to take the boxes out of Daisy’s arms. By now he was well used to Dimitri attracting attention from both women and even men on some occasions. Having inherited their mother’s wavy dark red hair and slim build he tended to draw the eye easily.
Glancing down he took in his taller but stockier build. Where Dimitri was all lean muscle Kenric was a thick solid mass. Straight black hair cut short instead of brushing his shoulders like Daisy apparently preferred. The only thing they had in common besides gender was their father’s amber eyes. They definitely had different temperaments. D made friends easily while people tended to be nervous around Kenric until they got to know him better.
Dimitri kept telling him it was his serious no-nonsense attitude that had people avoiding him. If he would just loosen up and let the mask slip a bit people would see that he wasn’t a stone. Easier said than done. Squaring his shoulders he settled back to surveying the area. That was what he was being paid for. Not noting the time his brother was out of sight with a certain blond beauty. He wasn’t counting the minutes at all and he certainly wasn’t feeling the urge to go hunt them down. Movement in the upper tiers lining the huge hangar caught his attention. People running around and shouting like that was never a good sign.
The ground gave a huge shake as the supports and cranes surrounding the research vessel came crashing down. Emergency lights started flashing and Kenric was running and shouting out orders. “Help clear the area! Get everyone to the bunkers!!”
He didn’t glance back, knowing his crew would follow orders. The door into the vessel was already closing so he skidded to a stop and looked at the panel next to it. He tried the sequences they had all memorized that were supposed to open any and all of the doors in case of an emergency. This was a definite emergency but it wasn’t working. Shit, what the hell was he supposed to do now? Echoing down the dark halls of the vessel was the voice of the main computer announcing five minutes before take off. Fucks sake, it was getting ready to take off?
The image of a giant fireball in the sky filled his head and had him grabbing the metal equipment laying around the opening and shoving it in the way of the door to try and prop it open. After the third metal girder bent and fell aside Dimitri came tearing around the corner. He was carrying Daisy and running like he was being chased by the hounds of Hell.
“Move your fucking mule D! This shit is closing and I can’t keep it open!”
Locking eyes the same thought went through both of their minds. It was too far and the door was closing too fast. He wasn’t going to make it in time. Kenric was about to move forward through the quickly diminishing doorway but Dimitri braced himself and threw Daisy across the distance to him. He caught her and managed to get her through the small gap before it slammed closed.
He ignored the stinging in his eyes and slight shaking in his hands as he whirled. Adjusting his hold on Daisy he started running for the reinforced bunker where everyone else was still heading. After the radiation leak several bunkers had been installed in case something else went monumentally wrong with the project. Like it suddenly deciding to take off while still in the hangar. With personnel still on it. Like his brother. Fuck.
“What about Dimitri?! We can’t leave him behind!”
Clinging to his shoulders Daisy’s gaze was locked on the closed door. He would have answered her if his throat wasn’t feeling so tight he couldn’t squeak let alone get a word out. What the hell did she think? That he would have left his brother behind if there was a single damn thing he could do about it? She looked about to say something until she glanced at his face and went silent. Whatever she saw there had her closing her mouth and her lower lip beginning to tremble. His mask was slipping but it was all he could do to get them safely through the door and down the steps. Thankfully his throat wasn’t as tight now. He lifted his hand to the button on the communications unit around his neck.
“Ramirez, Tulley, Kaiwi, Lee, report! Is everyone accounted for!”
The front of his mind focused on business. On insuring that everyone was in the bunkers and safe. On finding out what the hell had happened. The back of his mind though was rioting. He should have stepped through the damn doorway. What was going to happen to his baby brother now? He knew what Dimitri was doing right that second. Getting whoever he could round up ready for whatever the hell was happening next regardless of not knowing what that was.
He was still trying to ignore the back of his brain while avoiding looking at Daisy when the ground gave another shake. This time it was accompanied by a loud roar that could only be the engines. Holy fuck please do not let that be what he thought it was. The monitors on the wall showing the various views inside and outside of the hangar showed that was exactly what it was. The damn thing was taking off. No one made a sound inside the bunker as everyone watched the massive oblong shape speed up into the sky.
Please. Please don’t blow up. Please don’t. His brother was all he had. He wasn’t even aware of the tears sliding down his cheek or of Daisy’s hand finding his as they watched the ship suddenly disappear. His mind blank he vaguely heard the engineers in the room trying to figure out how the new Twitch Drive could have suddenly engaged like that and a furious argument went from flinging insults and accusations at each other to fists. It didn’t register to him at all. The only thing that filtered through to his brain was that his brother could be anywhere. Fuck.
“SHUT IT! What the fuck just happened and how do we get that ship and everyone on it back home?!”