Awen: Tongue of Flame

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Blackhawk Brigade

Already congratulating himself on a victory, Griffin followed Presley's trail, leaving the hostages without any guards.

Dashing back towards the others, Hal knew that they could not waste this opportunity to act. Noticing right away that he was alone, Kelly felt her heartbeat start to race. 'Where's Jensen?' she asked.

The fact was, Hal, did not know. 'His actions have given us a chance to survive, come with me, Kelly.' he said.

Following him towards the ship, she rushed to catch up. 'Surely, Griffin wouldn't have just left the hostages to run free Hal; it makes no sense!' Kelly argued.

Thinking about that, Hal pursed his lips. 'Perhaps he had a moment of stupidity?' he asked.

Kelly shook her head. 'I doubt it. What about Jensen then, you're not suggesting that we leave him out there are you?' she demanded.

'Of course not! The hostages are closer to us, though.' Hal reasoned.

'Fine. Let's go.' she replied coldly.

Reaching the first hostage, they saw a young lady, of whom already had a head start on her escape. Thin bands of raw skin adorned both of her wrists, where fraying rope continued to rub excessively. 'It's alright; you can stop now, they're gone.' Hal promised.

Not believing him, she rolled onto her back, blindly kicking into the air. She was no older than her early twenties, and she was a fighter. Gratefully switching places with Kelly, Hal stepped backwards.

Removing the lady's blindfold first, Kelly held out both hands. 'I come in peace.'

Mumbling something inaudible, Kelly realised that she'd forgotten to remove the dirty rag from her mouth as well. Noticing that she was the only hostage to have been gagged, Kelly chuckled. This woman must have been a talkative one.

'Sorry about that, what's your name?' Kelly asked, offering her hand.

Her behaviour changed in an instant, and with guileless charm, she took Kelly's hand. 'Thank you. My name is Julie.'

'Julie, I'm Kelly, and the man that you tried to take out is Hal.'

'Sorry, Hal.' Julie said.

'Already forgiven.' he replied, moving on to check on the other hostages.

'What happened here?' Kelly asked flatly.

Swallowing deeply, Julie made to speak. 'Colonists started arriving from all over the place; they were searching for shelter when the flare hit...' she began.

Impatiently waiting for her to elaborate, Kelly called out to Julie. She was entranced. 'Julie, are you alright?'

'I... yes, I was at my watch station on the bridge. I'm in charge of deep space surveying, and analysis here at Aspire Base.′ Julie replied. She was avoiding the question.

Hal overheard the conversation. 'You were at your watch station when the flare hit?' he asked.

A guilty pallor crept over her, and her smile vanished in an instant. 'I was—the solar flare registered on the sensors, with just enough time to send out a warning. You may have heard the Executive Officer, Isabelle Sharpe deliver the broadcast.' she said.

'Is she alive?' Kelly blurted.

'I can't say for sure, although she and little Jackson were on board when the flare it. After the Blackhawks appeared, people ran away. Some didn't make it far.' she replied.

'My brother Kyle, and my mother were visiting the landing site, did you see them?' Kelly asked. She had been curious but was too afraid to ask before now.

Shaking her head, Julie looked Kelly directly in the eyes. 'I'm sorry I have no idea. It was chaos.' she said.

Eventually looking past her, Kelly followed her gaze, noticing that Julie was staring at the remains of the dead. 'Did you know any of them?' she asked.

Nodding slowly, Julie closed her eyes. 'I knew two of them; they were friends of mine.'

Tasting the copper tang of fresh blood, Kelly realised that she had been biting her lip. 'Isabelle was my friend too; I know how you feel.'

Julie snapped. 'Oh, did you have strong feelings for your friend? Feelings that you never got a chance to express?' she demanded.

'No.' Kelly replied.

'Then, with all due respect, you don't know how I feel!'

Interrupting again, Hal strived to change the subject. 'Are there any more Blackhawks out here, Julie?' he asked.

Throwing her off balance with the question, she hesitated to speak. 'There are no more outside, but there may well be some inside with the suits.' Julie replied.

Hal was confused. 'What suits?' he asked.

'Sorry, they came in with the Blackhawk brigade thugs. They all wore suits belonging to Red Star Tech Conglomerate.'

Filled with rage, Hal paced back and forth. 'Those bastards!' he cursed.

'Aren't they the corporation which landed first, attempting to claim the best land?' Kelly asked.

'You bet they are! First to land, and first to want to leave it seems,' Hal replied. 'Now that I think about it, I can understand why a group like the Blackhawks would be taking orders from the Red Star Tech Conglomerate.' he added.

'That explains why they threw a lot of us back outside to die; then, they want to have the entire ship to themselves.' Julie said.

Kelly was furious. 'They would seize a ship which could save thousands of lives, to fill it with what, two hundred people?' she snarled.

'They only brought fifteen of their people inside with them before locking the hatch.' Julie commented.

Hal looked shell shocked. 'You're telling me that they left the majority of their workers out here to die?' he asked, frowning.

Julie nodded. 'You met some of their Blackhawk goons.'

'Griffin, I have met the man before.' Hal replied bluntly.

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