the lights shine brightly into your pale blue eyes, as shaky feet carry you across that big stage. you don't dare look out into the audience, the thought of all those eyes on your only makes you more nervous, seeing them all staring back at you might make you trip over your own two feet and land flat on your face. besides, your mother is out there, and though the site of her beaming face would calm you, it might also bring you to tears. you've been anticipating this day ever since they gave out the awards rooster. this is what you had been aiming for the whole of the year. crossing the stage, your anxiety makes it feel like a mile long, when really it's only about fifty feet. you stop in the middle, next to your teacher, who hands you the award for academic brilliance, your name having already been announced, as you try to walk away like the other kids did, they stop you, noting that, while the work you did is not the same as kids in higher levels of schooling, so is somewhat incomparable, you are also recognized to have the highest gpa in all the school. your eyes widen, you didn't know that, but it pleases you, leaving a warm and fuzzy glow in the pit of your stomach. you leave that stage feeling better than when you started across it, anticipating the look on your parents faces. all you ever aim to do is please. you just want people to be happy with you.
a grey cloud has frozen over your head, and is raining down on top of you, you feel as though you are drenched to the bone instantly, cold inside and out, miserable, in shock at out how seemingly out of no where it appeared. one second you were fine, and the next moment it was like you were being told your whole life was finished. essentially that is what the doctors told you. after a slight fit you thought at first was a panic attack, something you had never had before, your parents took you to see a doctor where it was discovered that your genetic modifications were flawed and that you were "sick" and essentially nothing could be done about it, it was just something you would have to live with. suddenly the future didn't look as bright for you as everyone around you had always thought it would be. flawed humans, aren't exactly sought after for any type of job. not only that, but your parents worry so much they want you under constant care, just in case something were to happen, and also in hopes that something can one day be done. it's just another blow to your gut, and suddenly you are soaked and in pain, so distraught that you work yourself into a frenzy and you cause yourself to feint. you wake up and curse your body, curse the universe, and you cry, so many tears, because being sick, that doesn't make anyone proud, that just makes them look at you with pity.
four years have gone by, and it has been the longest four years of your life, that grey cloud has been raining over you continuously since the day you got the news about your illness. nothing has really been the same since. you still have schooling to finish, but now instead of having fun, joking around with other people your age in a class after finishing your work, you have to sit at a desk in your hospital room and do it alone, with only a nurse to look in on you from time to time, see if you need anything. your parents, who were busy enough before, but always made time for you, now are even busier, paying the fees to keep you in the hospital, to keep you isolated and locked up. that's what it feels like at least, even if you never say it out loud. you know that they are just doing what they believe is best for you, so you suffer in silence, loneliness gripping your heart and making you sad. for a long while you were in a rut before you had a bright idea to pull yourself out of it. if you were going to potentially die anyway, why die locked up, why not die fighting in the war.
the thought didn't scare you like it should have, in the four years you had lived in dark loneliness, you had become accustomed to the thought of death, and had stopped fearing it. before the idea of joining the alliance and becoming one of those people who goes out into space to fight the colterons was not even an idea you entertained, but now the thought of doing so gives your life purpose, makes it worth while. you can die fighting for your people, and you already know you'd make a good navigator, it's just a matter of how, with your illness you aren't exactly a prime candidate. that won't deter you though, without fear of the consequences, without telling your parents, you do however write them a letter of which they can never speak of or rebuke because it will mean your imprisonment once more if they do, you bribe officials to forge your papers, not even they know what's wrong with you, you just tell them make it so that you look good on paper, well enough to join the forces trying to save your world.
you have managed to keep your illness a secret, you have managed to go through navigator training, you have managed to excel, and to become the lead navigator under commander cook. in the five plus years that have passed you have spoken to your parents in brief stints, your mother is proud, your father at first was angry, but he understands why you have done what you did. they both hope that you come home alive and that you don't get caught. those are the dreams of parents. you know that you can't keep your secret forever, and you know that eventually you will get caught, but for as long as you can you will hide who you are.
keeler, is your assigned name, and when you take up that mantel you give up your old name, your old life, and you encompass what you believe a lead navigator should be, grateful, encouraging, helpful, but also forceful when need be. it's easy keeping up this guise, you've always been charming, charismatic, endearing. it's made easier because you don't really let anyone get to know you, you don't share your secrets, you make friends but stay detached and aloof, everyone likes you, but no one knows you. that was easy to keep up until you were assigned your fighter. you didn't anticipate it to be easy, after all this was someone that you would be infinitely times closer to than any of you subordinates, some one whom you'd spend ample amounts of time with and eventually go into battle with. you would have to trust him with everything.
encke. unlike me, he had known this would be his life, had been preparing for it since he was a child. a navigator and fighter duo is meant to be in sync, meant to be compatible, and we were. at first. we got along so well our first couple of months together. encke, strong, handsome, and kind, was a natural born leader, you never expected that one day when you commented on it it would lead to what it did. you should have known better though, you shouldn't have called him out on acting one with you and another with his fighters, telling him that he didn't have to be anyone but himself with you, he didn't have to fake it. that was all you had been doing since you had joined the alliance, of course he would call you out. you knew he hadn't meant to upset you, when in return he asked if you were faking, but he did, because deep down inside you liked him, you wanted to be honest and tell him everything. but you couldn't, and the secret was eating away at you, but you couldn't ask him to keep it to. so the good relationship the two of you had been building, broke, and your compatibility as navigator and fighter suffered.
in an attempt to get you back to where you were encke had you practice with him for hours to no avail, tired you left in a huff, angry and yelling at him that it was useless if you two weren't compatible. you shouldn't have gotten so worked up. he found you back in your room on the ground, having feinted. he wnated to take you to the med bay, and you had to stop that, so you told him the truth, unable to keep it from him any longer, and with no other choice than to trust him and hope that he would keep your secret. you asked him not to tell, and he didn't, and your secret reforged the bond the two of you had, if anything it was even stronger than it had been.
aboard the sleipnir, you're headed for colteron space, and you don't know when or if you will ever make it home, this might be it for you, though if you have anything to say about it, it won't be. you don't want to die anymore, now that you're finally not alone. encke watches over you, somewhat too protective now that he knows about your condition, constantly telling you not to push yourself and checking up on you when he has the time. you appreciate, though it embarrasses you, despite it being sweet of him.
new recruits join you, among them abel, commander cook tells you that he will be a great navigator, so you decide to watch out for him when you can, more so than everyone else. you like him, he works hard, and you think you can depend on him. perhaps that is why it is so upsetting when he isn't there, when you have to prep his ship yourself because he is no where to be found. when he does finally show up, you are angry, out of breath, and tired, your breathing is hard bought, and you leave the ship yard for an isolated storage room to compose yourself, but you must feint again, but before you do, encke is there to catch you.
waking up, you see the look on his face, and you know you can't keep this up, you're not just hurting yourself anymore. you just didn't want to be alone, more than that, you didn't want to be without him. but it's time to give up the charade, encke tells you he won't leave you, and you are stunned silent, pleased, and unsure all at once. you two are still there when the attacks are launched, commander cook tells you that this battle will be your last, and that after it, you'll spend you time in the brig, awaiting a return to earth to face trial for you crimes. encke wants to argue, but you are already resigned to your fate, you won't pull him down with you. you just want to make it through this battle, make sure he makes it through this battle.
and you do. and then you're meant to sit and wait in the brig. another prison. alone.
but you don't.