To Live For Tomorrow

Chapter 2

A Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future fanfic

By Jeannine Trevizo

 

 

 

 

8/28/2009

 

Spoilers: End of season 1, references to leaked info for unfilmed season 2.

 

Disclaimers: Landmark Entertainment and Mattel – even though they probably aren’t looking for anything.

 

Author’s note: Okay, so I thought about it and realized that all the “Pilot’s not dead, damnit” stories all seem to end after she’s rescued and everyone declares their love and happiness is assumed. But no one really goes the next step and shows what happens next, so I’m jumping back in and adding a second chapter to this story. Hope you enjoy!

 

-x-

 

 

48-2 Mark 12

 

 

It was their first outing as a full team again following Pilot’s miraculous return.

 

The request from the resistance cell in Freeland meant they needed to go to The Passages and see what supplies were available to transport to the fighters in the field. And while the rest of the team was loading the Jumpship with supplies, Pilot could replace some of the things she’d lost when their base had exploded.

 

Pilot reverently climbed into the Jumpship and headed for her seat, the rest of the team following. She strapped in, listening to the sounds of the others climbing on board. Hawk scrambled into the co-pilot seat beside her and started checking instruments, and she smiled slightly. Even though she’d been back nearly two weeks, she still hadn’t gotten used to the fact that she’d been given a second chance; that she was really here with all of them. She’d almost lost all of this when she had detonated the power core at the old underground mountain base, but Dread and Blastarr had unintentionally saved her and in a way all of them in the process.

 

Hawk turned back to see her smile and flashed one back at her. They all knew how lucky they were. Pilot back meant the Captain was back, which meant the team was complete once again and they had a real chance now at winning the war and starting to work to rebuild everything.

 

“Everyone ready to go?” Power asked as he boarded the plane last, closing the door behind him and moving to sit in his chair, swiveling in place to face forward.

 

“Systems check out Captain,” Hawk replied.

 

“Okay Pilot, take us up.”

 

At his order, her hand curled around the throttle and with a firm push she engaged the engines and the thrust fired from the exhaust ports, letting them lift off. She negotiated the Jumpship out of the hangar bay and out into the snowy air outside their base and flew them towards their destination.

 

It was just like old times as she directed the ship to a transit gate. Now that their base was located north in what had been Canada, it was a different route to get to the closest transit gate, but that helped keep them from Dread’s prying eyes. Once on the other side, she guided them to the lower western part of the country where The Passages were. The ship flew over expanses of destroyed cities and landscapes until they came on the area that hid one of the largest concentrations of free people who were working on both fighting the war as well as trying to create some semblance of society.

 

“Bring us in Pilot,” Power said from his command chair, the decisive tone of his voice making her smile in her seat.

 

Years of working together superseded their new relationship, and it was as if nothing really had changed. Of course, she was very well aware that it had.

 

“Descending now Captain,” she replied.

 

In his seat, Power watched as the ship slid through the air and then touched down without the slightest bump. Pilot’s skills at flying had always been excellent… She was good at what she did. It was one of the reasons that she was part of the team. And it reminded him of what they had lost for those thirty days when she was gone.

 

“Alright, let’s go see what we can get on their grocery list,” Scout piped up as he unbuckled from his seat to move to the Jumpship door, his joke making Pilot laugh lightly.

 

After exiting the ship the team made their way through the vast tunnels that made up The Passages, connecting with people there who were able to let them know what supplies were on hand. With a list and instructions on where to find everything, Power split everyone up into teams to go and collect the items they needed. Tank and Power went to locate the heavy boxes of tools and hardware that were needed to repair the resistance group’s vehicles. Hawk, Pilot and Scout went the opposite direction to pick up medical and food supplies.

 

Once the three of them had collected four boxes of food and two of medical supplies, Pilot evaluated the load and figured she better get what she came for before they were ready to leave.

 

“I’m gonna go check on those clothes,” Pilot said to Hawk and Scout. “I have no doubts that you two strong guys can carry those supplies in a couple of trips – I’ll meet you back at the ship.”

 

“Okay, but don‘t be too long. We wouldn’t want to have to leave you behind,” admonished Hawk in a teasing manner.

 

Pilot left Hawk and Scout to take the boxes back to the ship while she made her way past the galley area where they’d picked up the rations. Continuing past it, she finally reached the section where clothes were not only brought and sorted for distribution but in some cases even made. Dread needed materials to make uniforms for his soldiers, and sometimes those materials were ‘liberated’ and made into clothes for the resistance.

 

“Hello?”

 

After a moment, a thin woman with dark skin and long dark hair appeared from a back doorway to what probably was a makeshift office or something. She smiled as she noted Pilot’s uniform and actibadge.

 

“Corporal Chase! It’s good to see you. What can I do to help?”

 

“All my things were destroyed when we lost the base,” she began nervously. “I was hoping you might have some clothes to replace what I lost?”

 

“I’m sure we do. There are some new UTO uniforms that a contact was supposed to pick up later in the week. Did you want to go through what we have and take a few before we bundle them for pickup?”

 

“That would be great,” replied Pilot as she followed the woman to a pile of familiar jumpsuits and dug through the clothing.

 

Luckily for her, she found a few that were her size in the tan color she liked. They even had the UTO patches in place already.

 

“Got a couple pair,” she noted to the woman who’d been helping her, holding up the clothes.

 

“Good. Anything else? I know when the others were here last month they didn’t have ANYTHING.”

 

“All my underclothes are gone too,” she replied with a touch of awkwardness.

 

The woman smiled with a gleam in her eyes that gave Pilot a weird feeling in her stomach. Then she waved her past the utilitarian items that made up the section of The Passages ‘clothing depot’ and took her to a storage space in one corner of the room, where Pilot had thought an office had been.

 

“We salvage things from the outside besides making new stuff. You never know when we’ll need them, and it’s funny how some stuff is somewhat useless while others…”

 

In plastic bins, different kinds of garments were stacked. The woman led her to one section in particular, filled with women’s undergarments in a variety of colors, but the material some of them were made of…

 

“What is this?” she asked as she picked up a pale pink colored pair of panties that felt similar to the material her power suit’s underskin was made up of.

 

“Silk. You’d think it would have degraded, but it hasn’t. Of course, it’s a natural material, made by worms if you can believe it.”

 

Pilot nodded. She’d learned about different kinds of materials in a session with Mentor when they’d gone over how different kinds of materials were affected by blasters, lasers and the acids you could find in Darktown. But she’d never seen silk, lace of any of the other materials making up the garments in the bins before her.

 

“Take whatever you need. No reason you can’t feel feminine under those uniforms, right?”

 

Holding up the same pale pink panties that had started the conversation, she pondered the idea of being feminine. She’d learned to be human in the time she’d been with the team after leaving the Dread Youth. But one thing that had been glossed over by the guys was being a girl. For Hawk, Tank and Scout, it was most likely something that they didn’t feel all that comfortable with explaining. For the Captain… she had to wonder if he had shied away from it because he didn’t want her to think he was suggesting anything. Most of what she knew was from Mentor and her time before joining the team… and silk underwear and lacy nightgowns hadn’t been brought up.

 

Looking back down at the bin, she recognized more underclothes, including bras and nightgowns… and a wicked smile formed on her face. Jon wouldn’t know what hit him when they finally took their relationship to the next level when he found her wearing something like the little black lace thing in the box to her right.

 

With a new purpose in mind, she started combing through the bins to put together some sets of clothes that she was sure would be useful for a few different purposes – both standard utilitarian selections and some ‘special’ ones.

 

“This okay?” she finally asked the woman helping her, pointing to the items she’d selected.

 

“I think any man you set your sights on is in for a pleasant surprise,” the woman replied, laying a hand on Pilot’s arm and giving her a wink. “Let me get you a bag to wrap all these up with.”

 

A few moments later, Pilot had her new clothes bundled up and was heading back to the ship. When she got there, she saw the team loading the last box into the cargo hold.

 

“Did you find everything you needed?” Power asked as Pilot walked into the Jumpship, the wrapped bundle under her arm.

 

“Yeah,” she murmured, fighting to keep the blush from her cheeks as she quickly stowed the clothes in her locker on the ship before turning back to the front and moving to her seat.

 

Power turned slightly to watch her, a curious look on his face.

 

“Okay, we’re all secure,” said Scout.

 

With Scout’s voice, Power shook off his mental musings and fell back into commander mode. He moved to his chair and watched as his team settled into their positions, the ship’s engines powering up.

 

“All right, let’s go Pilot. We have a delivery to make.”

 

-x-

 

It had been a busy week. After the Freeland supply run they’d gotten information on a supply convoy Dread was sending into sector 18 that might be able to replace everything they’d picked up in The Passages times ten.

 

They’d planned out the attack to the minute and had been lucky in how easily it had gone. Once the Bio-Mechs and the Overunits had fallen or run, they’d hurriedly gotten everything on the Jumpship and gotten out of the area before either Soaron or Blastarr arrived. After assessing exactly what the convoy had been transporting, they’d taken almost all of it to the Passages, but had kept a few boxes for their own uses. Now they were doing needed maintenance or restocking the spare parts and miscellaneous supplies from the raid at the new base.

 

Jon had just finished checking on where Matt was changing out components for the security systems and was walking down the corridor leading from the command room to the hangar bay when he found Jennifer going the opposite direction. With Matt in the command room and Robert and Michael working on repairing the air filtration sensors and filters, he and Jennifer were alone in this part of the base.

 

When she saw him, she smiled and kept moving towards him, but now with purpose. He smiled back, feeling like a teenager who was meeting his girlfriend on the sly. In moments they were nearly touching, standing in the low light of the corridor, caught in one another’s gaze.

 

“Finished for the day?” she asked, the silky tone of her voice making his heart beat faster.

 

“Nothing around here is ever really finished, but I think we’ve done enough for the day,” he replied, his voice dropping as he nearly whispered the last.

 

Closing the gap between them, he caught her waist in both hands and turned her so her back pressed against the cold concrete of the corridor. She looked up at him eagerly as her hands moved to wrap behind his back.

 

Without preamble he leaned in and kissed her, his lips slanting across hers as they pressed against one another. With no one to see them, they allowed themselves the opportunity to indulge their passions. As they kissed, Jon’s hands moved from her waist to tangle in her hair while her hands pressed him against her tightly, her fingers slowly tracing his spine from his waist to his neck. His lips coaxed hers open and his tongue slipped inside her mouth, teasing her own as the kiss deepened.

 

“Captain?” called out Robert’s voice from the wrist comm. Jon pulled his lips from hers with a soft swear and then he sighed as he broke from Jennifer’s embrace to answer it.

 

“What’s up Scout?”

 

“The air filtration system is working at full capacity, but we had to jury-rig a few parts. When we go back to The Passages, we’ll need to see if they have something that works better before our patchwork repairs fall apart.”

 

“Alright, add it to the list for our next run. Power out.”

 

Jennifer smirked at him as he looked back to her. She looked beautiful in the limited light of the hallway as her eyes burned into his. She looked like she’d just been kissed senseless by the man she loved. Her ponytail was askew from his hands in her hair and her uniform was rumpled. Of course, he had to imagine that he looked similarly, and ran a hand over his hair before tugging at his uniform with both hands to straighten out the front.

 

“I guess we’d better get back to work,” she said softly, the smile that had been there slowly fading away to be replaced with a business-like expression.

 

“Let’s go out tonight,” he said suddenly as he realized that he wanted to spend time with her away from the base and the others.

 

“Where?” she asked, stunned.

 

“I have an idea. Instead of eating with the others in the mess, I’ll come and pick you up at your room and we’ll go somewhere. Okay?”

 

“I guess it’s a date then.”

 

-x-

 

Matt watched intently as Jon packed up a box for his ‘date’ with Jennifer. Since her return the two of them had finally acknowledged how they felt about one another and were attempting to have some kind of normal relationship during the quiet moments of the war that they were in. Matt didn’t begrudge them in the slightest. He and the others were genuinely happy that their Captain and their Pilot had found one another. But things like tonight did worry him with the potential exposure to attack…

 

“We’ll be gone a couple of hours, tops,” Jon told Matt as he snapped the lid closed on the box he’d just packed.

 

“Are you sure about taking just a skybike? If you get caught by Soaron out there…” replied Matt, the serious tone of his voice matching his concern.

 

“We’ll be fine. I want to leave the Jumpship for the team in case something comes up.”

 

“And if we do have to go out, you know we could go without you and Jennifer…”

 

“No. You call us if something happens. We’ll meet you and the rest of the team,” Jon rationalized as he turned to his friend and laid a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Heaven forbid we not drag you two along. You’d rather we disturb… things,” Matt added as he smirked and patted Jon’s shoulder in return. He knew that Jon was thinking of what the team needed rather than what he and Jennifer needed – time alone.

 

“It’s just dinner, sort of. Nothing that can’t be interrupted,” Jon argued, but without any enthusiasm.

 

“Just behave yourselves out there. And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do – or half of what I would.”

 

Jon’s jaw dropped briefly before he recovered and then began laughing at Matt’s suggestion. He reached for the box on the console and tucked it under one arm before turning to leave. Hurrying along the corridor, he arrived at Jennifer’s door, his heart pounding in his chest. Lifting his hand, he knocked lightly and waited while he heard her moving inside. When the door opened, his breath caught for a moment, and he smiled brightly at her.

 

“Ready to go?” he asked as she stood there in the doorway of her room, still in her uniform jumpsuit but with her hair down, the blond strands brushing her shoulders and cascading down her back.

 

He could count on one hand the number of times he had seen her wear her hair like this, and each time he was reminded how lovely she was. Only now he could actually say something about it and show her how attractive he thought she was, if he could just find a way to actually form the words…

 

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” she replied, as she walked out of her room to stand beside him.

 

Catching her hand with his, the box under his other arm, they walked together to the hangar bay. Once inside, Jon moved to the skybike and secured the box on the far back before he climbed aboard. Usually he’d let her ‘drive’ but since he was surprising her, he’d have to pilot the bike. Once he was on, Jennifer climbed on behind him, her arms wrapping around his waist tightly, and he laid a hand over hers for a moment before turning back to the controls.

 

Punching in his code, the bike roared to life and he lifted them off the floor of the hangar bay, headed out into the cold night. He pushed the bike to go as quickly as it could to get to the transit gate, wanting to keep them from getting frozen. It wasn’t long before they were no longer in the frozen north but in the southwestern skies. Jon steered the bike across the sky until he slowed near a tall red-brown pillar of rock, hundreds of feet from the ground below them.

 

Guiding the skybike to a soft landing, he waited for Jennifer to climb off, and then followed her, turning the power off on the bike as he gathered an emergency blanket from the back of the bike along with his metal box.

 

He spread the blanket across the top of the mesa, and then encouraged her to sit down. He set down the metal box and opened it, revealing a utility lantern along with a few food items that could easily be packed up and brought with them – a pair of bottled water and some protein bars. He turned on the lantern and set it out on the blanket as he passed her one of the protein bars and her bottle of water.

 

Jennifer grinned lightly at the ‘picnic’ he’d created for them. It was as traditional a date as could be expected in these times. She took the protein bar from him and peeled the outer cover from it before taking a bite. She looked up to find him watching anxiously, and she gave him a beatific smile and he instantly relaxed.

 

They ate and drank, punctuating the meal with conversation about her repair work on the Jumpship and the results of his feelers to the other resistance cells about Dread’s new plan of attack. When they’d eaten and drunk their fill, Jon reached over to grasp her hand and gave a light tug. She slid across the blanket and when she was beside him he pulled her up across his lap, his arms wrapping around her as her head leaned into his chest with a soft sigh.

 

All around them was darkness, only broken by the light trying to pierce the dark sky of dusk and the lantern beside them. Being there together, Jon was reminded of campfires under the stars and a bright moon that shone overhead. But those days were long gone with the devastation the war had done to the planet.

 

“Before the war the sky would have been like a black velvet curtain filled with pinpricks of bright white light if you were out in the middle of nowhere like this,” Jon noted as he held her tightly.

 

“I wish I could have seen it,” she mused, imaging as best she could what Jon had grown up seeing and remembering.

 

“Maybe one day, after the war is over the environment will change…”

 

“Do you really believe that?” Jennifer asked as she turned in his arms and looked up to him.

 

“I have to have faith that it will. Miracles do happen,” Jon said sincerely, and then looked deeply into her eyes, “You’re proof of that.”

 

“If you believe that, then maybe it will happen,” she replied, her lips parting as she inched closer towards him.

 

He didn’t hesitate a minute, and lowered his face to hers, capturing her lips with his as he let his heart fill with the miracle that was Jennifer Chase.

 

-x-

 

Within Volcania, the changes within Lord Dread since his merger with Overmind were even more apparent as he looked to find the failing of his plans. His outer form held only the shell of a human being now. No flesh remained any longer as his transformation to resemble the machine now was complete. But the vision of a new world was still not realized.

 

While the setbacks from the destruction of the New Order project were still being felt and repairs to Volcania being completed, new plans were underway to change the tide in the favor of the machine once again. Yet there were still… failures.

 

Following the debacle in Johnstown, the entire lab tech group who had reconditioned Overunit Chase had found themselves summarily executed, whatever value they might have had to the machine had been deemed irrelevant due to their failure. Now Power was back to his full strength while Dread was not. It had been a bitter defeat… if he still felt emotion, that was.

 

“Power and his team are still operational,” Overmind reminded Dread. “They continue to pose a threat.”

 

“Yes. But they are a small threat in the scheme of things. We must identify a way to eradicate the organics and create a better, mechanized world. We must change the minds of the organics… make them want to bow to the will of the machine.”

 

“Digitization or extermination is the only sure recourse for conversion.”

 

“We may still be able to… alter them. Their minds are malleable…” Dread insisted to his sole equal in the world – the machine that had led to the purge of all deficient organics.

 

“The organic mind is unstable. The reconditioning of Youth Leader Chase failed,” Overmind intoned starkly. “The perfection and logic of the machine is incompatible…”

 

“No… WE have merged minds,” Dread quickly remarked, “it is possible for an organic to see the way of the machine. The New Order will assure this.”

 

“Organic minds are imperfect.”

 

Dread could not say anything to that. The machine was perfection, the perfection he was trying to attain.

 

“We must eliminate all forces that oppose the will of the machine. This world must be of the machine.”

 

“Yes, yes of course Overmind,” Dread validated his machine overseer, “and when we do, it will be the final blow to Power and his people, and the victory will be all the greater.”

 

-x-

 

Days drifted together in a string of repetitive tasks; reconnaissance missions and busy work at the base were punctuated by Pilot and Power’s blossoming relationship. More than once one of the others had teased them over catching the two kissing in the hangar bay.

 

Of course, the one thing about being in a war was that they all knew the calm couldn’t last long. 

 

“Captain, we have a priority one message from the East Coast resistance group,” Scout yelled from his seat at the communications console in the command room.

 

“Put it through Scout,” Power instructed as he quickly moved to the comm screen to view the incoming message.

 

Hawk, Tank and Pilot all hurried from their other stations in the room to cluster around Power and Scout. The screen crackled to life and the image of Cypher, leader of the East Coast resistance filled the space before them. He looked haggard, and Power was instantly wary.

 

“Captain, we have a problem. One of our squadrons was scouting a Dread installation along the seaboard and they’ve been discovered and pinned down by several squadrons of Bio-mechs. Without reinforcements they’ll all be killed or digitized. We could really use your help.”

 

Power knew that Cypher wouldn’t be calling for aid unless they were in dire straights. He didn’t even hesitate a moment.

 

“We’re on our way. Send us the coordinates and we’ll be there in less than thirty minutes. Let your team know they just need to hold out until we get there.”

 

“Understood. Thank you.”

 

“Don’t thank me yet. Power out,” he said, and then turned to the others who had converged on the command center of the base. “Power up everyone.”

 

Everyone rushed to the charging station, and in a matter of moments the electrical surge that recharged their power suits flowed through them, leaving them ready to do battle.

 

“Pilot, Hawk, go get the Jumpship warmed up. Tank and I will get some extra firepower from the armory. Scout, get the coordinates from the transmission and redirect it to the Jumpship’s navigation computer. We don’t have a lot of time people. Let’s go!”

 

As Pilot and Hawk rushed to the hangar bay, Power and Tank headed to the armory, grabbing as many therm grenades and laser stars as they could easily carry. They were coming out, arms laden when they nearly ran into Scout on his way to the Jumpship. The three of them got to the ship, Tank taking all the weaponry and stowing it while Scout input the coordinates into the Jumpship computer. Power took his seat; his eyes anxiously watching Pilot and Hawk make the flight plan to get to the stranded resistance fighters.

 

“All set,” called out Tank as hurried from the cargo hold and buckled into his seat.

 

“Let’s go,” Power announced quickly, and the ship instantly was up off the ground and heading for the hangar bay doors.

 

Pilot and Hawk had the ship on high burn, hoping that any time they could cut of the trip would mean another few people they could rescue alive. Scout’s review of Cypher’s data had indicated that there had to be over two dozen resistance fighters on the mission, and they were now situated in small clumps across the rocky landscape above the Dread installation. Bio-mech soldiers had them pinned down, but due to the inaccessible rocks, they were able to hold off any significant assault on their positions.

 

The Atlantic Ocean was visible in the distance, meaning they were getting closer to their destination. Pilot was starting to bring the ship lower, knowing that for Scout to scan the area they’d need to be closer to the ground.

 

“We’re about five minutes out,” she stated as she and Hawk guided the plane towards a rocky formation along the coast.

 

Suddenly the cabin of the ship filled with lights and sound – a familiar alarm to all of them.

 

“Captain, I’m getting a Bio-Dread reading heading straight for the coordinates of the resistance fighters,” Scout announced grimly.

 

“Damn. I’ll bet Dread sent Soaron to flush the soldiers out of the rocks,” Power stated angrily.

 

“I can drop you off and Hawk and I can keep Soaron busy,” Pilot quickly suggested.

 

“Good idea,” Hawk added. “I can get out there now and Pilot can join me once you guys are on the ground. Then that metal bird will have to chase one of us and the other can blast him outta the sky.”

 

Power sat and considered the suggestion, and nodded his head in acknowledgement, admonishing them both, “alright, but be careful you two.”

 

With that, Hawk climbed out of his co-pilot seat and headed to the emergency hatch to the Jumpship and popped it open. Slipping through, he extended his wings and took to the sky, the hatch closing behind him. Once Hawk was airborne, Pilot sped the ship to find a safe spot to drop the rest of the team off close to the action on the ground before she headed back up to assist Hawk. As the others powered on their armor, she watched and waited.

 

“I’ll see you in a bit. Good luck,” she said, staring at Power intently before his head swiveled to catch her gaze through his visor and she felt the instant connection of his love and concern through his eyes.

 

“Will do Pilot. Give us a minute and then take off.”

 

The Jumpship door opened and Power, Tank and Scout all rushed out it, Power turning to close it behind them. As they moved to the rocks close to the ship, she recognized that they were clear and she engaged the thrusters to get the ship back in the air and up to help Hawk with Soaron.

 

Once on the ground, Power signaled to Scout and Tank, directing them towards the sound of blaster fire. Power took point, letting Tank and Scout follow. It wasn’t long until they met their first contingent of bio-mechs. With the metal soldiers focused on the human resistance fighters holed up within the mountain before them, they never knew until it was too late that they were under attack from behind.

 

As Power, Tank and Scout worked to eliminate the Bio-mechs, Pilot rushed to aid Hawk as he eluded Soaron’s laser fire, doing his best to get in a few missile strikes himself. He banked left as he saw Soaron closing, hoping to put enough space between him and the Bio-Dread as he waited for his backup.

 

“Could use that hand anytime,” growled Hawk as his suit took another hit as he tried to evade Soaron.

 

The Jumpship appeared on his right accelerating quickly as Pilot sped the vehicle towards his position. Soaron had yet to see the ship, and Hawk dove to keep the Bio-Dread’s attention.

 

“Hawk, get out of there! I’ll cover you,” Pilot yelled as she suddenly maneuvered the Jumpship between Soaron and Hawk; the massive metal of the vehicle shielding Hawk’s smaller form.

 

She felt the ship groan and buck as Soaron’s lasers struck the ship, and she yanked on the yoke of the controls hard to keep the ship on its course. Another blast brought smoke and crackling sounds to her attention, and she realized one of the blasts had fried Scout’s comm panels.

 

“Damn,” she swore as she swung the ship around and engaged the lasers. She lined up and pushed the button, firing at Soaron’s backside.

 

The Bio-Dread bucked in the air with the impact of the lasers, and then flipped around, facing her. She smiled darkly and fired at him again, this time hitting him square in the chest. There was a mechanical scream before it spun end over end and plummeted to the ground.

 

“Good shooting there,” called Hawk via the comm link as he flew beside the ship. “Let’s go help the Captain.”

 

Hawk was able to fly directly to where Power and the rest of the team were while Pilot had to land the ship before she could join them. Hawk landed close to the others, folding his wings and pulling his blaster. Power, Tank and Scout had already been able to rescue three of the four holed up resistance groups, directing them to retreat back to safety. The last one had dug in fairly close to the Dread installation and still needed help. An Overunit was directing over a dozen Bio-mechs to keep trying to find a way of breaching the rocky barrier that stood between them and the organic soldiers.

 

“Need some help?” asked Hawk as he moved to join the others as they surveyed the situation from a rocky outcropping overlooking the standoff.

 

“Glad you were able to join us,” retorted Tank through his helmet and Hawk gave him a wry grin.

 

“Where’s Pilot?” questioned Power anxiously, and everyone fought to keep from smirking at the obvious concern in his voice that even before the change in the Captain and Pilot’s relationship had been there for nearly forever.

 

“Landing the Jumpship. She already sent Soaron for repairs.”

 

Power smiled at that, and turned back to observe the last entrenched group of resistance fighters. To get to the Bio-mechs, they’d have to expose themselves more than they had before. They could try throwing in some therm grenades and laser stars, but there was a bigger opportunity for casualties.

 

“What’s the plan Captain?” queried Scout, continuing to survey the scene below them.

 

“If we could just distract them enough, we could probably…” Power started to suggest when a presence behind them sent him and the others spinning around, blasters drawn.

 

“You guys are awful jumpy,” Pilot joked as she held her hands up in mock surrender.

 

Power and the others sighed in relief and Pilot moved to stand beside the Captain, her armor rubbing slightly against his as they leaned over the rocks concealing them from the view of Dread’s forces.

 

“Do you think we could flank them?” Hawk suggested, pointing to the opposite ridge of rock.

 

“It would take time,” Power remarked just as another volley of laser fire erupted from the combatants below them. They were running out of time; the Overunit was yelling something that he couldn’t hear and pointing at the rocks the resistance soldiers were sheltering behind. “Which it looks like we just ran out of… We’re going to have to just rush them; it looks like they’re going to try and overwhelm them.”

 

Below them, the Bio-mechs were suddenly moving forward, no longer trying to evade the laser fire coming from the resistance people. And from behind the Overunit, reinforcements were now coming from the installation.

 

“Let’s go!” Power shouted, heading for the break in the rocks to their right that would lead them down to where the fight was. “Hawk, see if you can delay those reinforcements…”

 

Extending his wings, Hawk took off, flying over the battlefield and firing a few missiles at the oncoming Bio-mechs. Those that weren’t destroyed went scattering, trying to regroup. He would keep firing at them until he had them all down or he got some backup; he had a job to do so the Captain and the others could rescue the resistance fighters…

 

“Tank, we need some defense here; Scout, cloak and see if you can start taking out troopers as we keep their attention.”

 

“Got it,” Tank replied, and took up point, providing the Bio-mechs a big target to shoot at.

 

“Already gone Captain,” said Scout as he activated his cloaking system, disappearing from view.

 

With the team assigned, Power and Pilot followed behind Tank as they got closer to the open space where the Overunit and the Bio-mechs were. At their approach, the Overunit realized he was being pinned between the two forces as the resistance fighters began firing nearly non-stop, desperately trying to keep the metal solders occupied while their rescuers arrived.

 

“Power and his team are the priority!” the Overunit shouted, taking his own blaster and firing at Tank.

 

Laser blasts bounced off Tank’s armor, and Pilot and Power shot around him as Tank used his own heavy artillery gun and shot back at the Overunit. As Bio-mechs fell around him, the Overunit realized his mistake and ducked under Tank’s return fie (‘fire’?) before turning to run back towards the installation. With his back turned, he never saw the shot from one of the resistance fighters hit him in the back, sending him sprawling in the dirt.

 

Scout reappeared across the battlefield, his knife in hand and a Bio-mech crumpling to the ground before him. It was only a matter of minutes before the ground was littered with mechanical soldiers and the resistance members were able to come out from their makeshift bunker. Hawk joined the others with good news.

 

“Reinforcements are taken care of. A few missiles and they were down for the count.”

 

“Great job Hawk,” Power said, and then turned to the resistance fighters, “Do you have any wounded that you need help with?”

 

“No one with life threatening injuries,” responded one of the fighters, his helmet pushed back so he could see Power directly. “A few casualties, but… we can get ourselves home. Thanks for the assist Captain.”

 

“Understood. Take care,” Power replied with a quick salute before he looked back to his team. “Okay everyone, let’s go home.”

 

With that, the team turned back towards the way they’d come in, heading for the Jumpship and for home.

 

-x-

 

48-3 Mark 2

 

Power had needed to split the team up again, sending Scout, Tank and Hawk on an intelligence mission. They were checking out a report of a new Dread military outpost popping up in the region where Chicago had once been. If Dread was massing any forces there, they needed to let the resistance in that area know so they could coordinate an attack to clear it as best as they could.

 

So it had fallen on Power and Pilot to take the Jumpship to a remote settlement in the upper northeast with supplies Cypher had requested. The place had become a stop for the East Coast resistance, although they weren’t formally aligned. Power had never seen the place, and wasn’t sure what they’d find when they got there.

 

When Pilot landed the ship just outside the settlement’s building line, he was tempted to have them power up. But not sure if they might need their suits later, he decided against it. Getting out of his seat, he moved to the door and pressed the button to open it.

 

Walking out, Power waited briefly for Pilot to close and cloak the ship under the hologram program. Then they walked to the edge of the town, looking for their contact.

 

“Captain,” called out an older man in the ragged looking button down sweater. “My name is Martin. I’m the senior council member here. Thank you for coming.”

 

“It’s no problem. We have the supplies on the ship. Do you have anyone to help?”

 

Martin waved behind him to where half a dozen youths stood anxiously. Obviously they were the ones tasked to help with unloading the Jumpship.

 

Having ascertained that the situation was secure, Power and Pilot guided the townspeople back towards the ship. Pilot uncloaked it and moved to open the cargo hold. She and Power handed out boxes until only two were left. They hefted them themselves and followed the others and the community’s leader back to where everything was being stored.

 

“Thank you Captain. Cypher said you could help,” said Martin.

 

“We’re glad to assist. I didn’t know there were settlements still populated this far north, what with the winters here,” Power noted, glad that the circuitry base fabric of the power suits could withstand cold and heat pretty well.

 

“There hasn’t been a hard winter since the wars,” the man replied as he walked along with Power. “Nowadays it’s just cool in the wintertime. Which is just fine. The mechs don’t like the cold. Messes with their circuitry…”

 

Power dismissed the old man’s remarks as wishful thinking. He’d seen Dreads soldiers in cold enough conditions before…

 

“That’s the last of it Captain,” Pilot said as she set down a box inside the building they’d been stacking the supplies in for the settlement.

 

“While you’re here, why don’t you take a look around; let the people greet you. It’s not every day they meet Captain Power and one of his team. Eldin can show you around,” Martin said, waving to a middle aged man in a knitted cap and pull over sweater with holes showing through it.

 

Their guide had walked them around the town, allowing people to come out of their homes and greet Power and Pilot. As they continued the tour, they passed the center of the town and Power was nearly brought up short. An old style movie theatre anchored the square, despite its battered condition it was obvious what the building was. The marquee and ticket window damaged, but the double doors into the building looked to be in working condition.

 

“An old movie theatre?” Power commented as they stood there, his thoughts muddled by the surprising find.

 

Pilot looked at him with a curious glance. He regarded her with a small smile. He would never get used to the idea of how few things she knew about the world outside of Dread’s control before she’d met up with them. His childhood, his education had given him so many things… and sometimes he got lucky enough to share them with her.

 

“Yup,” Eldin informed him as he looked from the building to regard the two resistance people.

 

“Is it operational?”

 

“Sure is. We run it once in a while… not too often, but often enough. Say, you wanna see?” Eldin said pleasantly.

 

Power looked flabbergasted.

 

“If it wouldn’t be an imposition…”

 

“Nah. What with all the supplies you brought, it’s the least we could do.”

 

“Power to Hawk,” Power said as he raised his wrist communicator to contact the team in the field.

 

“Hawk here.”

 

“How goes the reconnaissance?” he asked, his eyes flicking to where Jennifer stood beside him, a quizzical look on her face.

 

“Pretty smooth. We’ll report up when we’re at the base. Should be there in an hour,” Hawk replied businesslike.

 

“Pilot and I are going to stay here for a bit; get to know the situation up here, talk to the people. We’ll head back in a few hours.”

 

“No problem. Stay safe out there.”

 

“You too. Power out,” he said and then tapped off the link before turning to Jennifer and smiling.

 

“So, what exactly are we doing?” she asked as he moved to place a hand on her elbow and led her towards the double doors where their host had already gone.

 

“We’re watching a movie,” he replied, holding back speaking aloud all the thoughts running through his mind about dates and movies and making out in the back row…

 

“A movie?”

 

“You remember how we explained that a few forms of entertainment from the previous centuries before the war were books and plays, right?”

 

She nodded. In the years since escaping the Dread Youth she’d learned so much about what humans were capable of creating – things that were good and fun rather than evil and cruel. She’d found music and books to be some of her favorite things. They were hard to come by, but when she could hear or read something that had been created so long ago, she was always entranced by the idea it had been created by people.

 

“Movies are representations of those kinds of stories, except they would get people to act them out, like live plays but instead of being in front of an audience; they captured the images and sounds so they could be replayed. Similar to recording music… They would then project the movie on screens so hundreds of people in cities across the country could all see the same thing.”

 

“So all cities had theaters? You’re kidding.”

 

“Not every city, but close. In the 1950’s a lot of towns built at least one small theatre. It looks like this place was one of them. I’m just surprised they have a working projector and any film still able to run…”

 

They entered and moved past the empty concession stand to the doors leading to the theatre seats.

 

Inside, rows and rows of seats were simply gone, salvaged for materials over the years, no doubt. But in the center there were still approximately 50 seats still in place. Their fabric worn out, springs poking through tufts of stuffing… but it was a theatre. Jon looked for a pair of seats in the best condition and guided Jennifer in.

 

“All set down there?”

 

“Yeah,” called out Jon as he and Jennifer settled in.

 

The limited lights that had filled the room disappeared, dropping them into darkness and then the screen illuminated and then vibrant colored images began to cover it as the film started. It was an old romantic comedy, Jon couldn’t recall ever seeing it; it was over 80 years old. Still, it was a movie and Jennifer sat in her seat by his side, entranced by the sounds and sights being played out before them.

 

Without really thinking about it, he wrapped his arm across her back and pulled her as close as the seats would allow as they settled in to enjoy this small piece of ages gone by normalcy.

 

-x-

 

With the beating Soaron had given the Jumpship in their last battle and following the way the ship had handled going out to drop off the last delivery of supplies, Jennifer had decided that she should run a full series diagnostic check on the vehicle. With all the repairs she had had to make to it recently, she wanted to make sure they were enough to keep it in the air in another fight. Two days later she was just finishing the last series of system assessments when she heard footsteps coming up the ramp stairs. They weren’t heavy, quiet or slow, so she ruled out three of the men in the base, leaving her with one.

 

“Jon,” she said without turning around in her seat, and then felt a hand land on her shoulder in a familiar way.

 

“How did you know it was me?” he asked as he moved to co-pilot chair beside her, flashing her a grin.

 

“Too loud for Robert, too quiet for Michael and too fast for Matt… simple deduction.”

 

He was impressed. If he thought about it, each of them would have a different walk, and the metal of the Jumpship would amplify their steps making it easy for her to hear them climbing into the ship. Leave it to her to figure it out, he admiringly thought to himself.

 

For a moment he sat there and just watched her in her ‘element’ – sitting behind the instrument panel in the Jumpship, perfectly attuned to this vehicle that she took care of like a member of the team. She flew this thing better than any of them and she was determined to make sure that it was in the best shape it could be every time they went out. He thought again how lucky and honored he was to have her with him and the team.

 

“Jon?” she said, breaking his train of thought as he refocused on her and reminded him what he’d come looking for her for.

 

“Sorry… anyway, I have a surprise…”

 

“Do I have to power up my suit for it?” she asked in a wry tone.

 

“No, but you may have to decide which side you want,” he countered lightheartedly, and her eyes narrowed questioningly.

 

Getting out of the co-pilot seat, he moved to offer her a hand. She caught it and let him lead her from the ship and into the corridors of the base. It wasn’t long till they were in front of his personal quarters. Standing at the door, she swiveled her head to regard him with a questioning gaze.

 

Instead of giving her a verbal answer, he simply pushed the door open and waved her inside, closing the door behind them. Once in the room, there was no doubt what the surprise was. Instead of a single inset bunk where Jon would have previously laid out, the space was fully taken up by a pair of pillows; where the edge of the bunk had been, now the mattress extended into the room, creating a large bed that two people could comfortably fit on.

 

“How…” she began, her voice wavering with emotion.

 

“Robert and Michael figured out how to do it. They used some scrap metal and bolted the additional framework to the wall below the bunk. Then it was just a matter of moving two smaller mattresses across the frame…” he elaborated, pointing to the now generous space that the bed now took up; it was nearly three times the area the inset bunk had taken up before.

 

“It’s wonderful.”

 

He noted the way her eyes were fixed on the bed, how her voice seemed to catch on the last syllable… If he was forced, he would have to admit that he was feeling a bit overwhelmed as well, but over the weeks since they’d taken that next step by acknowledging how they felt about one another; the feeling that they belonged together had just kept growing stronger. Each morning he looked forward to seeing her and each night he hated leaving her side again.

 

Now, if she wanted it, they could stay with one another every night. Anything more than that… well, he was certainly not going to push…

 

Jennifer blindly reached out and caught his hand with hers, twining her fingers with his. This surprise had been so unexpected, yet it was what she’d been waiting for now for weeks.

 

“I know we said we’d take things slowly…” Jon ventured, knowing that he should explain himself.

 

“But?” Jennifer asked as she turned to pin her gaze on the man beside her.

 

“I thought, maybe you might hate falling asleep alone as much as I have been…”

 

“Do you just want to have someone to curl up with at night?” she asked softly, her tongue unconsciously flicking out to whet her suddenly dry lips.

 

“Yes… no, I…” Jon faltered, and then turned to face her, his hands moving to catch her shoulders, her face coming up to look at him with a pleading expression. “I want to be with you, but I don’t want to rush you into anything. More than anything I’d like to wake up with you in my arms every morning. And if that’s all we have for now, that’s enough for me. I just… I just want to be with you… however I can.”

 

“But you’d like… well, you know… to have intercourse?  It’s what lovers do, right? I mean, I know the fundamental process for, well, you know…”  Jennifer trailed off, her voice nearly a whisper as her eyes slid away from him and she felt a slight blush burn her cheeks.

 

Jon swallowed hard and regarded the woman before him seriously. He’d had youthful liaisons, fallen in love… but Jennifer had more than likely lived like a nun, even with men all around. Sex was not of the machine. Tenderly he slid one hand from her shoulder to cup her cheek, making her look at him again.

 

“Would I like to make love to you Jennifer? Yes, I do… but part of me can’t even process the idea that you love me let alone believe that you would want to be with me like that,” he started carefully, his heart threatening to burst from his chest as his love and desire for this woman threatened to overpower him.

 

Needing to show him that she felt like he did, wanted what he wanted, she stretched her body upwards, coaxing him to dip down to meet her lips in a kiss that went quickly from soft to heated. His hands moved to tangle in her hair and hers wrapped around his back, her breasts pressing flat against his chest. Their mouths melded and the passion within them seemed to come unleashed; the moment seemed to overcome them both and Jennifer finally broke away, her eyes burning with all the emotions that she’d never dared imagine she could feel for anyone. But she did feel for this man in her arms.

 

“I want to be with you like that too. But… I need… you need to sort of take the lead here.”

 

Jon nodded in understanding. With exquisite care, he let his hands trail down from her hair to the fasteners at the collar of her uniform. Undoing the closures, he started to part the material and then his breath caught at the sight before him.

 

“Is that a pink silk bra?” Jon gasped slightly as his hands peeled back the edges of her jumpsuit’s collar revealing the silky fabric covering her breasts.

 

She smiled again, this time mischievously.  The woman in The Passages had been right – he was surprised, and obviously from the look on his face, pleasantly so.

 

“It is. You would never guess the kinds of things they have stockpiled in The Passages,” she replied softly, her own hands pulling at the front of his jumpsuit as she moved them backwards towards the mattress, “So, how about we test this bed of ours?”

 

-End-

 

Okay, hopefully this really is the end…