Today, both Apollo and Clay left for work.
“Hey, are you doin’ alright?”
God, it felt like it had been ages since he had seen Starbuck. How had he taken so much time to talk to the man he looked up to? Oh wait, he technically talked to him yesterday. Clay grinned. This time it was genuine. “I just have a case of the launch jitters. You know how it is.”
Starbuck grinned. “I hear ya. I’ve been to space and even I still get them.”
Clay talked with Aura who was still abusing Clonco. He managed to feel some semblance of sympathy for the poor robot, and patted it on the head as he left.
Director Cosmos was riding around on his segway, acting more important than he really was, but Clay didn’t care. He finally felt happy, almost as if a weight had been lifted off his chest.
When he got back home, Apollo entertained him with stories of the porcelain menace and Trucy’s borderline dirty magic trick. Clay laughed harder than required.
Apollo gave him a weird look which caused the other man to laugh until tears were rolling down his cheeks.
“Seriously, it wasn’t that funny.” Apollo had gotten his friend a glass of water. “Five minutes of laughing was not necessary.”
Clay kept giggling like a school girl, as Apollo shoved the glass of water in his hand.
“Good god, I don’t need you dying of laughter.”
Clay drank his water and slowly the laughter died down.
“Please tell me you’re not going to be like this all weekend. I don’t think I can handle you for that long.”
Clay assured Apollo that he was done, and drank the rest of his water.
The rest of the weekend, the two lounged around. Clay wasn’t afraid Fulbright was going to knock on their door. He just watched watched Netflix and counted down the hours until the fake launch.
. . .
Starbuck was slipped the drugs in his water bottle. He was beginning to feel groggy by the time they were boarding the fake rocket. “You feelin’ dizzy, Clay?” His eyes were half open and it seemed like he was about to pass out.
“I’m sure you’re just nervous. We’re almost there.”
Starbuck nodded. Once they boarded the rocket, he passed out.
So the bombs should go off at some-
Clay sprung into action. He grabbed the HOPE Capsule, and Starbuck. He had to take the elevator due to all the excessive amount of cargo, but he slowly made it away from the rocket.
The lounge was dark except for the red emergency light flashing above him. Sweat was dripping down Clay’s back. That short trip had taken a lot out of him.
This is it…
He collapsed to the ground just as he heard a door slide open. Forcing his eyes open, Clay caught a glimpse of Fulbright. There was the instinctive urge to run away, but it quickly subsided as a knife entered his chest. His breath caught in his throat. He hadn’t been stabbed in a while.
Shots rang out above him. Clay tried to turn his head but exhaustion, mixed with blood loss had turned his muscles to lead.
There were voices around him, but they were muddled together into an incomprehensible mess.
Finally his strength gave out, and his consciousness faded away.
This time, it actually felt permanent.