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The ship was in orbit around Rubywood, a term that seemed more fitting of a colony or an… estate. The ship, Ticonderoga, once the I.R. Ticonderoga, having lost its military vessel status just like Adam had lost his own, would not be entering Rubywood’s atmosphere. Adam and his small team would deploy via a smaller drop ship. The Ticonderoga was too large to move in and out of a planet’s atmosphere.

“Miss Allen,” Adam greeted coldly. The woman was small, pale skinned and had a mass of red curls that she was trying to hold into business like bun at the nape of her neck. Her hair had other ideas. This was Adele Allen, Isaiah Allen’s oldest daughter and niece to Sam Allen who owned the Company. Adam had tried to convince not only Miss Allen but his supervisors and even sending a message to her uncle that her coming along on this expedition, rescue mission, whatever it was they were doing, was a very bad idea. It wasn’t that Adam was a male chauvinist pig, he was, it wasn’t that women weren’t capable of handling themselves, they were, it was simply because when Adam did these types of missions, he liked to be the one giving the orders. Miss Allen was a boss, she was supposed to be sitting behind a desk somewhere, giving orders from the safety of a glass tower while he did their bidding away from their watchful gaze. This would be like bringing his mother along, he just knew it.

“Captain Bradshaw,” she replied equally cold but even Adam had to perk a brow, she had used his military rank, which did not exist anymore. Was she trying to get on his good side? She’d be surprised to find he didn’t have one.

“Is it useless to suggest again that you remain on the Ti and monitor our progress from up here, rather than coming down to the planet’s surface with us?” She shook her head. Curls bounced.

“That is my father and my sisters down here, I have to help them.”

“We don’t even know that its them down there, it could be raiders, could be ghost images, could be…” He stopped noticing her lip quiver a moment before a steely look came into brown eyes at the same time the lower lids reddened. Her jaw tightened, she straightened up a little.

“My family is alive,” she said evenly and firmly.


The drop ship was nothing more than a pilot, Chelsea “Janie” Jayne, and seats for Adam’s small team of three others. Also in the seats were Miss Allen, Miss Allen’s own bodyguards, two big oafs that didn’t talk, and were larger than Adam, he thought of them as Thing 1 and Thing 2. They acknowledged his presence but had already proven they didn’t take orders from anyone other than Miss Allen.

“The Ti is still trying to contact Rubywood but no reply. Not even radio static,” stated Janie from the cockpit. She then spoke into her headset to the Ticonderoga, and pulled a lever above her head. “We’re detached from the Ti,” she informed the passengers of the drop ship, “Beginning descent into the planet’s atmosphere.” She pressed buttons and the drop ship rolled so that the top of the ship was facing the planet. It was unnoticed in the drop ship as in zero G there was no up, no down.

There was turbulence as the friction of the air of Rubywood berated the drop ship, and the further they got into the atmosphere, the feeling of gravity slowly took hold and with Janie’s expert hands they were suddenly sailing easily over the red trees. Adam slowly released his white knuckle hold on the seat. Of all the battles, of all the horrors of all the fucked up shit he’d seen on different planets, he still had issues with flying. He glanced over at Miss Allen who sat there with a straight face, but her eyes were smiling.

“Mr. Jenson, check the atmosphere,” Adam ordered as he felt the drop ship land. Through the glass of the cockpit windows he could see the big house and smaller buildings. The entire place was surrounded by a brick wall, topped with black metal spikes. It looked more decorative than functional in keeping anything from coming over the top of the wall.

“The air is breathable, Captain,” Miss Allen stated before David Jenson, the “techie” of the team could reply.

“Maybe it was when your uncle built a house here, but something may have changed. I’ve seen planets react violently to colonization, Miss Allen.” Adam replied. He could’ve regaled her with the story of MG-201, in which the plant life had excreted an odorless, colorless vapor that had caused and an entire colony to commit suicide. Or RD-947 where everything had poison glands, plants, animals, bugs, everything was venomous. The protective domes were put up for a reason.

“Air is very Mother Earth like, maybe slightly more oxygen, but levels are breathable and nothing abnormal detected,” Jenson stated.

“Okay now I’ll open the door,” Adam stated and before pressing the button that opened the back hatch, his team very military like, they were all ex-military, hefted their weapons, large pulse rifles. They could stun or they could kill if needed.