Red warning lights. A sharp, bitter smell. Something jostling.

Nova woke up a moment before these sensations hit, and heard only a faint ding from towards the back of the ship. Upon hearing it, he immediately unbuckled and threw himself over William.

Because a bomb had went off in the passenger liner.

And William was small and fragile and he definitely was not going to let him die because everything he touched was always ruined and he wasn't going to let some bastard terrorist ruin the literally one good thing he currently had in his life.

Other people screaming and dying and smoke and aerosolized emergency sealant filling the cabin be damned, shrapnel in his back and blood soaking through his clothing be damned, he was not going to lose William.

" Nova, the fuck is happening?" William asked, sounding almost upset; the fact that he wasn't putting his cheerful tone probably meant he actually was upset.

" Shut up and look dead for a minute," Nova hissed. " I hear someone walking this way from the back."

" Mm. Just keep on top of me."

Nova did not have time to reply to this; he heard the back door open, and so did his best to play dead. Hopefully whoever it was wouldn't be of the mind to move him aside.

He tried to keep himself quiet and still. Footsteps. More than one, it seemed.

Gunfire and one of the people moaning in pain stopped.

" Hey, didn't I tell you to fuck up the easy too? The cabin should be way more blown out."

" Pretty sure somebody caught it before we left. That would explain why they delayed the flight."

More gunfire and idle chatter. They were drawing closer.

" Ha. They should've checked the engines and oxygen, too."

Fuck, they had sabotaged the oxygen. That would be a real problem, then.

He heard them shoot someone else; three times, quick succession. The gun sounded like DASS military standard.

Found himself grateful that his blood had gotten on William's clothes. If they didn't look too close...

" You wired up the escape, yeah?"

" Rest are set to go after we leave."

" Bet those catfuckers over at DASS never saw any of this coming."

" Their own fault for parading around acting like peace is that easy."

" Ah, holy shit, the passenger manifest was right. There is one on here."

He heard the footsteps stop in front of him. Didn't open his eyes; that would be horrifically stupid.

But fuck, capable regenerative ability or not, getting a clip unloaded in his back hurt like hell. He knew from his studies that a DASS Standard wasn't going to cause any permanent scarring, but it sure felt like it'd take at least a month or two to fade.

What he got for following along with William's schemes. Lyeha was probably having the time of her life nervously drinking wine spritzers with DASS escorts watching her every step.

It was hard to keep himself from tensing up; he found himself with a newfound appreciation for how William had been completely silent for most of his duel. It had been a long time since he had felt genuine physical pain.

" You didn't need to waste so many bullets on the fucker, probably already dead anyway."

" Fuck off, you'd know if you served. They're like monsters, won't stay down."

" Whatever. Let's finish cleaning up."

... They continued going down the isle.

" The cockpit's locked?"

" I got the key when we offed that stewardess."

" Oh, right. That sucked for her, she was cute."

" Wrong place, wrong time."

Oh, fuck, they were going to kill everyone on board, weren't they. And they'd sabotaged the oxygen. The oxygen was tied to the SOS on vessels made in DASS jurisdiction; that was primarily so that attackers who had boarded wouldn't compromise their own survival by destroying the SOS. This seemed to have backfired severely, though. In this case, they didn't give a shit because they had their getaway already planned.

He heard them go into the cockpit, the door opening and closing, and then the ensuing gunfire.

They came back after a moment, and then walked down the center aisle again.

" Page in and tell them we're done cleaning up."

" You put the wave up, right?"

" Of fucking course I put the wave up. That was the point, jackass."

... They went into the back again.

Cargo and emergency escape pods.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

They had said they'd sabotaged those. How the fuck were they going to get out of this?

" Are they gone?" William whispered.

" I think." Nova didn't move away from him.

" We need to move to the cockpit. The entire back half is as good as gone, judging by what they said earlier."

" Thorough fuckers."

William sighed.

" I knew we shouldn't have come directly from Siluria. Too much going on there."

Nova sat up a bit.

" You're going to help me dig all this metal out of my back later," he said, through gritted teeth.

" That sounded like it's going to scar."

" It'll take a month to get healed up, probably."

William seemed surprised by that.

" Nothing can keep you down, huh?"

" At best, I've been mildly inconvenienced. As long as you're alright, I'm fine."

" I might have a mild concussion?" William questioned, feeling through his hair.

" God. Dammit."

Nova stood, and picked up William by the back of his shirt.

" Just get me in the captain's chair and I'll figure something out."