Chapter 4 - Cortes

He hasn't been a hundred percent sure why he'd offered thus Kiara a place on his team. He knew next to nothing about her, her abilities her background; all he knew was that she had information on the Sphere and he had the firepower to challenge that. Apparently that's enough to get you onto the team these days.

Sprawled out at the wheel of the , he stared thoughtfully into the rays of the sunset that were making themselves known. Golds, oranges, yellows, creams and reds were all in there, dancing through the clouds and darkening sky with their own unique dance and they seemed to be performing for him. The corner of a lip twitched upwards in a smirk as he entertained the notion for a moment. He enjoyed snippets of time like this; on his own, with only nature to distract him. The rays had done their job of pulling his thoughts from the whirlpool they had been in, but now the smirk faded and a frown almost touched them, his expression brooding and severe.
Propping his chin on an arm that was leaning on the arms if his chair, Cortes shifted his weight, not really moving from the languid position he'd adopted with ease but his eyes seemed to darken as he drifted into thought.

So, this Kiara knew the position of one of the medical facilities, if it what was being practiced could even be labeled as Medicine or Medical. Now a lip did lift and he scoffed to himself; it seemed the Sphere just found new ways of disgusting him and the urged to spit on their name itched at the back of his skull and he shifted with a sullen air before stilling again. Anger would do him no good now, so he swallowed the rising bile and continued to try and work out a plan of immediate action.
Seek and destroy? It sounded easy enough; find the base Kiara spoke of, try and pull the locations of other bases and destroy those as well.

He huffed as complications and other priorities took this moment to flood into his mind. If his actual goal was to just throw the Sphere into disarray and disrupt their progress, then yes, destroying as many bases, medical or not, would be the way to go; but he had made promises, to himself, to his crew, to friends and to two certain children that he would not only cripple the Sphere, he would end it, avenge the death of his Leader and find not only the most powerful Sejin on what was left of thus godforsaken joint, but the mother of two very worried children.
He huffed a long breath out and closed his eyes, massaging his temples.
No, this was about cutting the head off the snake then burning the body.
The Sphere was going to have to go down and stay down.
But then what happened when the Sphere disappeared; would tensions over resources rise more? Would a more tyrannical individual appear from the ashes?

The arrival and existence of the Sphere had actually managed to crush a lot of territorial disputes. Not solving them, but obliterating them and taking that space and whatever resources they harbored for themselves...then the slavery had started... And the spies.
His teeth ground together silently and finger dug into auburn tresses as recollections and reasons to hate the Sphere flooded unbidden into his mind.
The territorial disputes had soon stopped. Fights wasted man and fire power and a attracted attention. It attracted the interest of the Sphere and then nobody won, in fact, usually, everyone died. Sphere operatives and Brigs had been known to level a block, shatter it into nothing, destroying and shattering lives just to prove a point.

When word got out, alliances had been forged out of desperation and resources had been shared but not freely, just quietly and with underhand dealings. Spies had played a part, people selling others out to the Sphere for a cup of water. And the Sphere in turn changed their tactics, becoming stealthier and far more dangerous. There was no need for much brute force anymore. Backstabbing ran riot within the blocks and Cortes as hard pressed to keep Puerto Angel hidden and free of dissent. He had sniffs of it, now and again and had acted accordingly, but...

He groaned and doubled over now, nails catching and pulling at some of the hair as his thoughts cascaded out of control.
When this happened, Cortes could have sworn it hurt. He certainly suffered some form of nausea which hit violently as he made to stand, hands clamped onto a railing and head hanging, some strands of hair hanging round his face.
In a sudden fit of frustration and a blur of movement, Cortes reached round the back of his head and yanked his hair restraint out, hand returning to slam down on the failing, restraint in his palm and his hair, now freed, fell and framed his face, hanging like a waterfall on each side and catching the sun so stands looked like they were on fire.

He had no idea how long he'd been standing there for, but when he looked up next, the sky was just starting to darken and his neck and back ached something horrendous.
He straightened with gritted teeth and a grim expression and gingerly started to make his way off the massive cruiser.

By the time his feet touched grass, Cortes had full movement returned to him and he made his way briskly over the open space, past the lighthouse and to the main building of Puerto Angel, not worrying about the ; after all, she was programmed to respond to his bio-signature, and once he swiped out, that was it. She was in lockdown.

-x-

He entered the main building and had to hold back a groan as he saw the equipment being set up, but his eye roll wasn't quite suppressed. Mahad was obviously planning on another party, any excuse to show off his music and dancing skills. He snorted at the thought and jumped slightly as a voice came from his right.
"Yeah, we feel you there."

He met Dahlias amused gaze with his own level near-glare and wasn't surprised when she merely raised an eyebrow and smirked at him, leading the way to the central bar and somehow, Cortes found himself following her, drawing up alongside and shooting her a sideways glance which was beautifully ignored.

"Two soda and lime, please." Dahlia addressed the bar tender respectfully and he nodded in response before turning away to prepare the intended drinks.
"Expensive taste," mused Cortes leaning on the bar and he met her playful gaze steadily, momentarily distracted as Dhalia turned to get the drinks then moved away towards the stairs to access the upper level of the bar.
"Yes but it's all in good taste, what with Mahad back into the party mood." She chuckled, side eyeing him as Cortes drew up alongside again. She was met with a rueful "Aye." in response.
"Not to worry anyway, it's going on your tab." Now her smile was positively radiant as Cortes snorted in derision and rolled his eyes ahead moving further in front of her to start taking the stairs in his own fashion, two at a time.

Dahlias smile merged into a dry smirk as her comment was met with more resistance than normal. Something had really got the Captains boxers in a knot, she mused, looking him up and down discreetly, eyes lingering on the sway of his hips as he increased his pace and changed his stride to start bounding up the stairs.
Dahlia followed at a more sedate pace and joined him at a window booth, sliding in opposite him and pushing a glass over to him, a quiet "You're welcome." to his "Thank you."

Thanking Dahlia for the drink, he took a couple of deep dregs of it before placing it back on the table and learning back against the glass, allowing it to warm his back slightly from the best it had stored during the day.
Turning his head to look at her, he was surprised to find her look away almost shyly before her eyes resolutely came back to meet with his and he just smirked at her, an eyebrow arching briefly.
They stayed there for a while, Cortes filling Dahlia in on the events of the last few days, explaining the possible new crew member, both of them wincing as Mahad started sound-checks and messing with various levels of bass and treble.

When the music started in full flow, Cortes offered to refill their drinks. "And as it's already on my tab, you shouldn't have a problem saying yes, eh?" He had observed casually. "When have I ever?" Was the just as casual response coupled with an airy gesture.
Cortes had barked a laugh and started making his way back down to the bar with the empty glasses.
He wasn't long having them refilled but as he ascended the stairs, a flash of movement caught his eye and he turned to focus on it.

One if the back doors had opened and shut again and walking down the stairs to the main floor, looking somewhat bemused by everything going on around her, was the topic of his earlier conversation with Dahlia.
Time seemed to slow as she lifted her head and their eyes met. Contact was held for what seemed to be an eternity, but in reality was barely even a breath.

Then Cortes inclined his head in invitation and continued to make his way back up the stairs.

-x-

AN: Again, a quick insight into how I'm having the characters work in this story. I've always had this story as a little OOC, so I'm keeping it that way, think of it as an AU almost. But this is just to help whomever read is see how much I've put on Cortes' shoulders and how I think his attitude is towards it.
The interaction with Dahlia is harmless, I've often shipped them together, just because Dahlia seems to have the potential to have a great sense of humour and be easy to get along with but also a bit of a flirt. She's clearly athletic in the movie/tv shows so appreciation of another's body come naturally to her. I'll see how I feel about adding more Dartes in there. The soda is just fizzy water, nothing major.