One week left until shore leave. The team would have a week off, then they would all have personal schedules for a couple of weeks. Some were going back to the base at Sol’s Ward for education and practising, some were going on various guarding or patrolling duties on their home colonies. It all depended on what the colonies demanded and what the commander thought was needed.
Haylen had orders to be at the Sol’s Ward base for amp training and a crash course in modern military knowledge or something similar. He didn’t exactly look forward to any of it, especially not that second part, but he didn’t have much say in it. At least the time at Sol’s Ward would give him an opportunity to catch up with Ziva.
If she wanted to. They hadn’t talked or written to each other since Haylen left for UGS Ignis.
There was some motivation for the amp training though. The talk with the captain earlier hadn’t been very encouraging, but at least she had been honest. No promises, no smooth-overs. Simply showing him her cards. He hadn’t been thrown overboard yet. Still a chance to take control over these damn amps.
Except for the follow-up talks with captain Avril, they had all been busy with various maintenance duties the whole day. Now they were having dinner before the shooting practise. Felicia just sat down with the other team 1-members with her tray of food. She was late; the rest of them were almost done eating.
“I just texted with Santo”, she said while she stuffed her mouth with fish and carrots.
“You got a connection finally?” asked Morgan and looked up at her, expectantly.
“Yeah but it took forever to send and receive”, Felicia answered, her words muffled by food.
“What did he say?” asked Keith, who was absent-mindedly touching a bruise on his face. It was barely visible since his skin was so dark, but there was still a swelling. The close combat training yesterday had been… enthusiastic. At least Tianyi’s left hook hadn’t started another war between them.
“That his legs are healing as they should and that he’s feeling alright, more or less. But I mean, he’s not able to walk for a while and he’s kind of low at the moment, I caught that much.”
“I wonder if his feet could have been saved if he had been cut loose instead of pulled out”, Cory mused from his side of the table. He always managed to place himself so he could hear what team 1 was talking about.
Haylen decided not to answer that, even if it was clear that it was directed at him and nobody else; he was the one who had freed Santo. He focused on mixing the rest of the fish with whatever gravy he had left. Simone was a good cook but even she couldn’t turn fish into anything that wasn’t fish.
Felicia inhaled in a way that meant she was going to counterattack Cory, but surprisingly enough, Morgan was the one coming to Haylen’s defense this time.
“You weren’t there Cory, there wasn’t really time to be surgical.”
“I thought you were passed out most of the time?” Cory sounded as innocent as ever.
“And I would’ve been dead if Haylen hadn’t got Santo out so Felicia could shoot the centipede.”
Cory shrugged. “If you say so.”
“They’re pretty good at integrated prosthetics these days though.” Xander said, maybe attempting to ease the tension. He sat in front of Haylen, and lifted his left hand, waving his fingers.
Haylen tilted his head a bit to the side, looking at the hand.
“Never noticed. Which… be your point, I guess.”
“Well, yes. It was.” Xander smiled awkwardly.
“How much of it?”
“It goes up to just below the elbow. I’m one of the first on UC01 born with infant mortification. They had to amputate it at once.”
“Ew”, said Tianyi, “I hate that word.”
“Mortification?” Morgan said, looking at Xander with a frown.
“Yes”, Tianyi answered even if it was obvious Morgan was talking to Xander.
“I thought all those who were missing limbs from birth simply didn’t have them, not that it was mortification”, Morgan continued.
“I said ‘ew, I hate that word’”, Tianyi said and leaned forward so she could spell it out directly to Morgan’s face. He just smiled and pushed her head away.
“That’s another syndrome”, Xander explained. “The infant mortification…-” Tianyi made a disgusted noise again. Xander paused with a little smile, then continued. “This syndrome is less common, but since people tend to find it appalling, it’s easier to just say you’re born without a hand or foot or whatever.”
“And we’re all very grateful”, said Tianyi, drinking the rest of her water.
“Can they put prosthetics on infants?” Keith asked. “Won’t you have to switch them every other month if so? And aren’t they like, really tiny?” He measured with thumb and index finger, squinting.
“I didn’t get my first until I was five, but yes. They have to be switched as you grow. And upgraded or exchanged once in a while. But this one I’m supposed to have for some years now.”
“That means you stopped growing?” asked Tianyi. “Thank the gods for that, you’re obscenely tall.”
“He got a perfect height”, Haylen said, as he checked the time. They had four minutes until shooting session started. They better get ready.
“Well you’re biased, you mutated mammoth tree”, Tianyi replied.
“Ever considered the option that you might be obscenely short?” Keith asked as he stood up with his empty tray, a mocking smile on his face.
“I’m exactly the height I was meant to have, more would be a waste of flesh”, she said, and as Haylen stood up in his full length, taking his tray too, she added: “As you can see on some other people here.”
He looked at her. She smiled widely with closed lips at him. So he just smirked a bit and went to leave his tray, giving Xander and Felicia a brief look as he walked around the table. The TR was looking another direction, blushing for some unknown reason. Felicia on the other hand had an innocent smile on her face as she gave Xander a pat on the arm and left the table as well.
Before he made it to the shooting range, doctor Eira caught him in the corridor.
“Tomorrow, after whatever it is you lunatics do before dinner, we’ll do the stress test. Then you can rest after if you have to. Don’t show up starving, but don’t come completely full either.”
“Got it”, he said.
She peered at him. “You were hoping I had forgotten about it, weren’t you?”
He pointed the other direction. “I goin’ be late.”
“Shoo then”, she said, waving him off while walking away herself.
Another thing to not look forward too. But there was one more day left for her to forget it on, right.