Sam heard the thunder from the engines of the L-ROV in front of theirs as it roared down the runway and took off. That put them next in line. The engines pitched up slightly then fell off again as they nudged the ship into moving again. They bounced and jostled slightly as the pilot taxied them onto the runway then stopped again and waited for clearance. Roja looked like she was on a roller coaster as it approached the first drop. Sam leaned into his seat, closed his eyes and tried very hard not to think about all of the things that could go wrong.
The L-ROV's engines pitched up to a roar and the ship rapidly picked up speed. Sam felt them swerve and jolt as the pilot fought to keep it pointed down the runway. The nose pitched up until it felt like they were standing on their tail, the ship popped and creaked as the airframe loaded up. Sam could almost feel the ground fall away from them as the 'Bluejay' leapt into the air.
The pilot rolled her into a steep banked turn and pulled them around onto their course. After a moment Sam felt the ship bump a few times as the landing gear and flaps were retracted and the ride smoothed out. They climbed aggressively for a few minutes longer before leveling out to a gentle cruise.
The ship would spend the next hour climbing like this to the stratosphere before accelerating into orbit; it would then take them another seven or eight hours to reach the Manhattan from there.
They visited quietly between themselves for a while but Sam was starting to feel weary from the departing anxiety and getting up earlier than he'd grown accustomed to. The steady drone of the engines slowly lulled him towards sleep. Roja grew quiet herself and leaning back in his seat he closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep.
He walked alone, it was cold and the wind howled around him. He kept looking behind him, back to the point where there had been two sets of tracks in the sand instead of only one. He wanted to go back there so badly but the winds would shriek and push him back until he'd relent and continue forward. Always forward.
Looking ahead, he could see the trail curve out of sight. There was no way of knowing what he was heading toward but he staggered onward. It was the only direction he could go anyway.
Steeling his courage in the face of this unknown he forged ahead around the bend. He came out into a small grassy spot, sheltered somewhat from the wind. Wearied, he laid down and the sun came out a little. He pushed his cheek into the soft grass and felt comforted by its gentle presence. It was a welcome respite, though he knew it probably wouldn't last. Pushing his fingers through it, he closed his hand around a tuft. He'd hang onto it as long as he could anyway.
Sam was dimly aware of being awake again, though he had no idea how long he'd been out for. He could hear a few voices around him in hushed conversations but one pair stood out from the rest.
"…so who is she Lieutenant?"
"Heck, I don't really know. We sorta bumped into her at the Wellington Airport and they took a liking to each other I guess."
"*Snicker* Well, they sure look cute together."
"Heh, I think he's the only one who doesn't get it."
Slowly, he became more aware of his surroundings; his cheek was resting against something firm, but soft. Cracking his eyelids he glanced down and saw that he and Roja were leaning against one another, her head was on his shoulder and he rested his cheek against her. At some point he had taken her hand in his, he wasn't really sure when.
He thought about moving but Roja made a small noise and settled more firmly into his shoulder. He settled back himself and glanced over to the ongoing discussion between Cpt. Pitja and Jay.
"…And out of all of the ships taking part in this operation her squad just so happens to be assigned to ours."
Jay put his hands up defensively, "I know nothing!"
Sam shut his eyes again. Her touch felt good… but he felt a little guilty about enjoying it. He couldn't put his finger on why either, but… it just felt so nice. Just as he was falling asleep again he thought he felt her give his hand a little squeeze.
Roja giggled silently to herself. She felt just a little bit trapped at the moment. She must've laid her head on his shoulder when she fell asleep earlier and now his head resting on hers. She couldn't move without disturbing him so she settled into his shoulder a little bit and tried to adjust her neck.
She thought about him a little, she knew it was stupid and reckless to be moving this quickly but she just couldn't seem to help herself. Maybe it was because he reminded her of her dad a little bit? The accent and some of his mannerisms certainly did… and he really did seem like such a nice guy. Still, not being careful had cost her dearly in the past… and at the time he had seemed like a nice guy too.
Sam took a deep breath and nuzzled into the top of her head a little before settling into sleep again and she smiled to herself. Maybe this was just one of those times that caution needed to be thrown to the wind. Squeezing his hand to reassure herself, she settled down and was asleep again a few minutes later.