He woke in the middle of the night to a man in white coat leaning over him, hand stretched out toward his shoulder.
"Ohfuckdon't" were the first words that made sense in the middle of a torrent of whispery babbling. No-name gave a slow blink and took the point of his knife off the man's neck. He recognized him; head scientist's right hand man. Friedriks.
Three in the morning and some change, station-time. He sat up on his bunk as the man stumbled back and smoothed his coat.
Friedriks looked tense. But not ashamed, like a guy caught trying to slip in a teenage boy's bunk in the middle of the night ought to be.
"Corridor," Friedriks whispered. No-name considered it, then shrugged, slipped off his bunk straight into his old combat boots, and padded silently after him. No doubt they'd woken up other mechanics; it wasn't no-name's problem. They'd fall back asleep if nothing else happened.
The dormitory door sealed closed. Arms crossed casually, knife still in hand, he stood in the gloom of night-lights and waited for Friedriks to notice he wasn't following.
"We've got no time!" the man hissed. No-name shrugged. He could have spoken, but being woken up in the middle of the night made him edgy, and the adrenaline jolt still running in his veins didn't especially dispose him to friendliness.
"Alright, fine, fine. You're pretty good with weapon systems. Resourceful. How old are you? Not eighteen, don't even try it. Whatever, doesn't matter."
"What does matter?"
"Listen, it's sanctioned by Doktor S. He'll explain."
"Is it sanctioned by the base commander?"
Aha, he thought, thoroughly unsurprised, as the man's face twitched. It wasn't.
"I'm going back to bed." He turned away.
"Do you want your own dragon?"
Doktor S's voice stopped him first - hadn't heard him coming, bad for survival - but the words were what made him turn around, against his best judgment.
Showing people that you had buttons to push only ensured that they keep pushing them.
"There's only one egg on this station," no-name said; something they both knew, but everyone also knew the egg was to be someone else's - had been tailor-made for someone else. It wasn't like Trowa Dekim Barton the Fourth, of the Barton Foundation, was especially secretive or modest about it.
Doktor S gave him a heavy-lidded look, and then a small, lopsided smile. "Can't raise him on the radio, and he's not in his quarters."
No-name was sure they'd tried very hard. Yeah. And he had talon-sheaths for sale, made in L2, guaranteed authentic silver-and-ivory.
A dragon of his own. He'd... mentioned he liked animals, once, mostly because not answering would have made Trowa keep pushing. (He liked them much better than people, was what he hadn't mentioned.) The scientists didn't, for some reason, want Trowa Barton to captain the dragonet, and they couldn't afford to have it go masterless and feral on a space station, especially since so much money and time had been sunk in its genetic engineering; if no one captained it, would it be killed and used for cloning samples? Locked in a cage?
He could see their point of view. Better some random mechanic with no agenda of his own and a liking for animals (and who was, apparently, able to take care of the dragon's armament on its own) than Trowa Barton; but if no-name said no, they'd just go and find someone else. Anyone but Trowa Barton.
He shouldn't get involved. Sounded dangerous. And when Trowa woke up and found out, he was bound to go berserk on no-name and anyone else remotely involved.
He already knew too much, anyway, just from this little discussion, so why not.
"The Bartons won't like it," he said, even as he took his first steps toward the waiting scientists.
"The Bartons won't know about it," Doktor S replied. "If we're lucky."
No-name arched a doubtful eyebrow.
"You won't have to care long, boy." The man rested a hand on his shoulder, totally ignoring the knife still in his hand. "Your dragon can survive in space. There's nothing that can trap you."