Oh my god, what's this? A new chapter? WHAT?

Argh, it's been so long since I last updated...I just haven't had any Joe inspiration at all. I blame The Walking Dead - it's got me hooked on zombies at the moment :D Even cooler, there was a zombie shuffle where I live! Say hello to the Best Dressed Female Zombie - I looked pretty awesome, even if I say so myself :p I scared several children, heh heh heh.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this chapter was worth the wait. It's a little bit angsty, again (sorry! next chapter will have some action, I promise!) I wanted to update, though, because I'm going to South Africa in two days for a five week holiday! Excited! :D It was good to get back to writing Nomad though - I didn't realise how much I missed her. I've been so slack lately.

So, here it is (finally)! Enjoy, and hopefully the next chapter won't take, like, three months to do :S

They barely saw Airtight at all that week. Every now and then he could be seen in the mess hall, bolting down lunch or dinner - apparently he was exempt from training until he figured out what was going on with the neurotoxin. He'd taken to saying 'No' as soon as he saw Nomad or any of the other Joes who'd gone to the village approaching, anticipating their questions. Doc and Lifeline were working closely with him, trying to determine exactly what the toxin did - apart from liquefying the bodies.

Out of all three men, Lifeline was the one who gave the most information, but what little he did give was barely worth the time it took to convince him to give it. And half the time - Nomad thought he did it on purpose - he'd use words that the rest of the Joes wouldn't understand.

Nomad wasn't the only one who wanted to know what was going on; Duke was getting impatient, too - it was easy to tell by the way he kept sighing each time Airtight, Doc or Lifeline waved him off, shaking their heads. It was almost as if the first shirt had taken their semi-defeat in Africa personally. He trained harder, spent even more time than usual looking over paperwork in his office or the war room. If you were unfortunate enough to be scheduled for training at the same time as Duke, you'd have him on your back urging you to train harder as well as Beachhead.

It got a little annoying - Nomad was scheduled for morning PT, and so was Duke - but she couldn't blame him. It was hard not to wonder if, had they got to the base sooner, they could've saved the villagers. Psyche Out would say they couldn't afford to think that way, but still…the thought was there.

At least - and it was a horrible thing to think, Nomad knew - at least they hadn't known the village would be targeted until it was too late. Failing to prevent something and being unable to prevent something…it was a thin line separating the two, but the line was there just the same. The Joes hadn't known; there'd been nothing they could do.

It just made them more determined to wipe Cobra out.

On the other hand - for a couple of days, anyway - the mission to Africa had taken Nomad's mind off Goldilocks. A man with a grudge against her paled in comparison to a toxic missile that could kill millions.

Still…every time she saw Mutt with his arm in the sling, she felt guilty. She'd made the mistake of telling him that yesterday; he'd growled at her impatiently, told her to stop being stupid…and then said if she really wanted to make it up to him, she could pad up and help him train Junkyard. She'd spent the next hour running away from the snarling, slobbering Rottweiler as fast as she could.

Of course, the dog was faster, and each time he caught her he sank his teeth into the padding and dragged her to the ground, whipping his head back and forth violently in an attempt to rip her limb from limb. Then Mutt would call him off, the dog would sit back on his haunches and huff playfully at Nomad as if he hadn't just been trying to eat her, expecting a pat or a treat, and Mutt would haul her to her feet and she'd do it all again.

Nomad wasn't sure who gave a better incentive to run: Junkyard or Beachhead. At least the dog smelled better.

Nevertheless, she always enjoyed helping Mutt train Junkyard; once they were done he always let her spoil the dog, whether it be with treats, a game of fetch or just being overly generous with the hugs and belly rubs. The man always complained, of course, but he never stopped her.

In fact, when she thought about it, Mutt never stopped anyone from spoiling Junkyard. Neither did Law, when it came to his dog, Order - and both men always seemed to show up with their dogs soon after a team had just got back from a mission. The first thing a lot of the Joes did was lean down and give Junk or Order a good scratch behind the ears.

She was pretty sure Mutt and Law knew what the dogs did for the troops. Sometimes it was easier to open up to the dogs than it was to people. Nomad knew that well enough, too. When she'd been in hospital after Goldilocks almost killed her - when she'd been allowed out of her room - Archer had sometimes brought his dog with him when he visited. She'd almost popped her stitches the first time; Archer - a big, broad, menacing looking man - had a tiny, fluffy Pomeranian. It had been the best day she'd had for a long time - Archer helped her onto the sofa and sat beside her, and the dog (aptly named Fizzgig) settled down comfortably between them. It had been nice just to pat the little fluffball, scratch behind her ears and listen to her snuffle contentedly.

"Hey, kiddo."

She glanced up from the screen of the brand new laptop Mainframe had picked up for her a couple of days ago when he'd been off base for the day. "Hey, Jaye. What's up?"

Lady Jaye raised an eyebrow as she pushed the laptop closed. "What's up is that you, me, Scarlett and Covergirl are going to have us a little talk."

Uh oh. This sounded bad. "Uh…about what?" Nomad asked cautiously.

Jaye gave her a look that clearly said, 'oh, you know very well what about'.

Shit. This had to be about Lowlight. It had to be.

Well, she really should have expected it. It'd been a week since Lowlight had said…what he'd said. She'd been on the receiving end of suspicious glances the whole time, courtesy of Covergirl. It was a wonder she'd lasted so long without getting the third degree.

Still…it was worth trying to get out of it. "Jaye, I don't -"

The buxom brunette waved Nomad's protests away. "Come on," she said firmly.

"Oh, alright," Nomad said with a sigh. Leaving her iPod hooked up to the computer to sync, she placed both devices on the scarred coffee table in front of the rec room couch. Hopefully, it'd be safe there, but there were no guarantees; Wildcard was back from wherever he'd been posted.

"Good girl."

Nomad followed Jaye out into the corridors and to the personnel elevator. Jaye pressed the button for the surface, and they stood in silence until the doors slid open again.

Nomad followed the other woman to the PX Snack Bar, where Scarlett and Covergirl were sitting at a table by the window.

"Hi, Percy," Nomad said, nodding absently to the man as she passed him. He nodded back warily - they weren't friends, but she'd seen him often enough during her visits to the Snack Bar when she'd been trying to exile herself to warrant a polite greeting.

Scarlett pushed back a chair with her foot, glancing questioningly at Jaye. "She give you any trouble?"

"No trouble at all," Jaye answered, grinning.

"Huh. Surprising."

"I'm right here," Nomad pointed out, rolling her eyes as she took a seat. "Get on with it."

Scarlett opened her mouth as Jaye sat down, but Covergirl beat her to it. "Fine. What. The. Hell. Is going on with you and Lowlight?"

Nomad had thought she'd prepared for it - braced herself well enough.

Apparently not. "I…uh - it's…" She stumbled for words. "He…"

Lady Jaye, Covergirl and Scarlett were all staring at her. Covergirl looked frustrated - it must've really been eating her, not knowing what had happened.

Nomad sighed and looked out the window. She could see Zap and Grunt hanging around out the front of Garage 3. Zap was lounging on a crate of some kind - that man could find something to sit on anywhere.

But she was stalling.

"He said…he loves me," she said quietly.

The reaction would've been funny, if she hadn't felt so conflicted about it. Covergirl let out a squeak, pressing her hands to her mouth and sitting back quickly in her seat. Scarlett nodded, as if she'd guessed something along those lines. Lady Jaye flung an arm around Nomad's neck.

"Finally!" Covergirl exclaimed, clapping her hands in delight. "Nomad, that's great!"

She kept her eyes fixed on Zap and Grunt. She could sense the confusion around the table.

"That's not great?" the former model asked hesitantly. "Why is that not great?"

"It…I don't know," Nomad admitted. "I don't…" She scowled, unable to think of a way to explain. At least, no way to explain that didn't involve telling them…well, everything.

Eventually she would tell them everything. Just…not yet. Not until she'd told Lowlight.

Lady Jaye clicked her fingers in front of Nomad's face. "You okay?"

She nodded.

"So, what's the damn problem?" Covergirl insisted exasperatedly.

Nomad glanced at Scarlett, who gave her a small smile. Maybe, being with Snake Eyes, she understood better than the other two; understood why Nomad was so hesitant.

"I don't…know why. I don't get it," she admitted finally, and was surprised at how much lighter she felt.

Jaye rolled her eyes, but spoke gently. "Trust me, kiddo, you don't need to 'get' it."

"But I -" Nomad began, although she didn't know exactly what she was going to say.

Scarlett nodded again. "She's right. Just go with it."

Nomad bit her lip thoughtfully. If only it were that easy, to just…give.

Covergirl nudged her. "So, what'd you say?" she pressed, grinning broadly.

The question jolted Nomad from her thoughts. "I…" She trailed off guiltily, looking down at the tabletop. "Nothing. I ran off."

The other woman swore. "Nomad!"

Her temper flared briefly, then subsided. "He just sprung it on me! I wasn't ready for it; what was I supposed to say?"

"The general response to 'I love you' is 'I love you, too'," Covergirl explained. "Usually followed by making out."

"Yeah, well," Nomad said lamely, "it's not that easy for me. There's still some stuff I need to work out."

"Like what?"

"Stuff," Nomad said, giving her roommate a fierce look.

Covergirl opened her mouth, then shut it again and nodded reluctantly. "Alright," she said.

They fell silent for a minute or so. Nomad absently traced the scratches on the table with her fingernails.

It was Lady Jaye who broke the silence. "So, what're you gonna do? You can't leave him hanging."

Nomad shrugged. "I don't know. I don't know what to say." With a wry grin, she held up a finger before Covergirl could say anything.

"Well, you need to talk to him," Scarlett said firmly. "Trust me."

"I know, I know," Nomad groaned. She stood up, declaring the meeting over. "I already feel like a bitch, don't make it worse."

Covergirl pointed at her as she turned to leave. "You and me aren't done," she warned.

Nomad chuckled quietly. "Alright, alright."

She headed for the mess hall where - according to the large, neat, round handwriting on the fluoro pink Post-It note stuck to the lid of her laptop - Jeckle was holding Nomad's iPod hostage.

The diminutive Joe was dancing around the big room, depositing salt and pepper shakers on the many tables. The white earphones trailed down the inside of her shirt and into her pocket; when she saw Nomad, she grinned cheekily and brazenly flourished the mp3 player as she shimmied around. She moved easily, switching between what looked like ballet and generic club dancing, with a grace that was almost on par with the ninjas when they were doing their martial arts stuff; she'd obviously had lessons at some stage. Behind the food prep bench, Roadblock was watching her with his arms crossed over his massive chest, reminding Nomad of a clucky mother hen. Clutch and Rock 'n' Roll were also watching appreciatively from a table nearby.

As she wandered over to the table where the grease monkeys were sitting, Nomad felt a brief stab of jealousy at how easy Jeckle made it look. Nomad's mother had enrolled her in ballet classes once, when she was about six years old, probably in some attempt to make her less tomboyish…or possibly hoping that maybe it would be something they could bond over.

It hadn't worked. Nomad had hated ballet, and after four lessons had simply refused to go. She'd never been graceful.

Jeckle twirled her way over to their table, set the last salt and pepper shakers down, then grabbed a chair, spun it and perched herself on it coquettishly, tugging the earphones from her ears. She looked at Nomad. "You know, you really need to widen your taste in music."

Nomad frowned. "What's wrong with my taste in music?" she asked.

The other woman rolled her eyes, pulled the iPod from her pocket and placed it on the table. "Because all you had on this is angry old rock music!"

"Angry old -" Nomad shook her head indignantly, staring open-mouthed. She glanced across the table to Clutch and Rock 'n' Roll, who looked similarly outraged - they both knew and agreed with Nomad's taste in music. In fact, they'd introduced her to some of the stuff she liked. "That's classic rock, thank you very much."

Jeckle waved a hand dismissively. "Alright, alright. But really? Metallica? Guns 'n' Roses? AC/DC?" She paused. "And who the hell are Rammstein?"

"Oh, so what kind of music do you like, then?" Rock 'n' Roll asked, leaning forward. Clutch nodded, approving of the question. Nomad just chuckled quietly.

Jeckle grinned, pushing her chair back and stretching her leg out to him over the table in a move that would've been sexy had she not been wearing fatigues and combat boots. "Anything you can dance to," she said sweetly.

Apparently, the guys found the move sexy, fatigues and boots and all. Clutch swallowed. "Man, how'd Shipwreck get so lucky?" he asked.

Jeckle grinned and put her foot back on the floor.

Something suddenly clicked. Nomad turned to the other woman. "What do you mean, angry old rock music's all I had?"

Jeckle swung off the chair and snatched up the iPod again. "Oh…I may have added some songs to your iPod while you left your laptop all defenceless and on its own."

"What songs?" Nomad pressed warily, raising an eyebrow.

"Just some of mine."

Nomad eyed the mp3 player, then looked back at Jeckle. The other woman smiled innocently…and at exactly the same time, they both made a grab for it.

Jeckle was too quick. She snatched the iPod off the table and smirked triumphantly at Nomad. "Ahah! I'll get this back to you later, okay?"

Sighing in resignation, Nomad nodded.

"Awesome." Jeckle skipped away, stuffing the earphones back into her ears. She was already halfway across the mess hall when she let out an excited, "Ooh, I love this song!"

Nomad almost choked as she watched Jeckle stop Deep Six from walking straight past her, dancing up to him and grabbing his hands, trying to make him dance, too. The bewildered look that briefly crossed the surly deep-sea diver's face was just too funny - Jeckle actually managed to lift his arm so she could spin underneath before he shook her off and hurried to his seat at the far end of the room, shaking his head.

Laughing, Jeckle ducked back behind the food prep bench, still jigging around. Nomad wondered what song she was listening to.

"I'm sexy and I know it!"

"That's it," Clutch said sympathetically. "Your iPod is tainted."

Nomad groaned.

She was just about to leave Clutch, Rock 'n' Roll and Steeler - who'd joined them for lunch - and head off for the training room to meet Scarlett for an extra hand-to-hand class when without warning a heavy hand clamped down on her shoulder.

Nomad was halfway to her feet, cursing, before she noticed the expressions on the mechanics' faces. "It's someone who's gonna kick my ass, isn't it?"

"Not this time," Duke said good-naturedly.

With a sigh of relief - she didn't know why; she was home, for fuck's sake - she sank back into her seat. She almost asked him who he was and what he'd done with the real Duke, but she wasn't quite on such good terms with him. Instead, she just sat there, looking at him stupidly.

"Hawk wants you in his office," Duke explained.

Across the table, Steeler rolled his eyes at her. "What've you done now?"

"Nothing!" Nomad said, a little more defensively than she intended. She blushed slightly, then tried to cover the pang of anxiety with a grin. "Uh…have I?" she asked, tilting her head back up to meet the first shirt's bright blue eyes hopefully.

Duke pulled her chair - with her still on it - away from the table. "Hawk told me you might jump to the wrong conclusion," he said, offering a wry smile. "He told me to tell you you're not in trouble."

Clutch crossed his arms on the table and leaned forward. "So you know what he wants?" he asked.

Duke nodded.


Nomad rolled her eyes. Trust Clutch to be more curious about it than she was.

"I'm sure Nomad'll tell you later," Duke said, "when she gets sick of you asking about it."

"Damn straight she will," Clutch agreed, looking pointedly at her.

She got to her feet. "Fine," she conceded. "Duke, can you go to the training room and tell Scarlett I'll be late? I was supposed to have a hand-to-hand -"

"I'll tell her," he said with a nod. "Get moving."

Nomad racked her brain as she hurried through the corridors toward Hawk's office. Duke had said she wasn't in trouble, yet she couldn't help but feel apprehension beginning to bubble up in her gut. Hawk did that to her; she didn't exactly have the best track record when it came to being summoned to his office.

But…she hadn't done anything. So…maybe he had a new mission for her?

No - it couldn't be a mission so soon after the last couple. When he could, Hawk gave the Joes time to recuperate, and there were plenty of other Joes who could go on a mission right now. It wasn't like she was a specialist, or anything - she was just a grunt. Easily replaceable.

Not that she'd refuse a mission. She'd decided a long time ago that she'd do practically anything Hawk asked.

Like, for example…jumping out a window attached to an extension cord held by Beachhead.

Nomad knocked on Hawk's door when she reached it and waited until he called her in. Upon opening the door, though, she saw somebody she didn't know already sitting opposite her general. "Oh…uh…sorry, sir, I thought I heard you -"

"Nomad." Hawk nodded to her. "Close the door."

"Yes, sir." She promptly backed out of the office, pulling the door shut as she did.


She heard the other man chuckling as Hawk called her name again, this time sounding a little exasperated. "Sir?"

He beckoned her in. Eyeing the other man warily (but trying not to be too obvious about it), Nomad stepped inside. He was older, with dark skin and black hair that was going grey. He had stars on his shoulders, and the dress greens stretched over his belly said he saw more action in an office these days than in the field.

She stood at attention just inside the door, her heart now beating fast. What the hell was going on? Who was this other general? She couldn't remember doing anything warrant anything official; why had she been called into -

Her breath caught in her throat. Had they found Goldilocks?

No...it couldn't be that, could it? Hawk had told her they wouldn't go after Goldilocks until the business with the neurotoxins was sorted out.

Then again, that had been before they knew Goldilocks was involved with Cobra.

"Don't look so nervous, Corporal," the second general said, standing.

Hawk also stood. "Nomad, this is General Hollingsworth. He's a good friend of mine."

"Sir," Nomad said, saluting even as she tried to hide her confusion.

Hollingsworth chuckled. "At ease, Corporal," he said lightly. "I was in the neighbourhood, and Hawk here asked me to bring this in for you."

Nomad tensed as he reached into an inner pocket of his jacket. She couldn't help it; it was an automatic reaction. It was ridiculous, though, especially here in the Pit.

If either man noticed, they said nothing. And all Hollingsworth pulled out was a small, black box which he offered to her.

Frowning, she took the box and flipped the lid open…and then she almost dropped it.

Hell…she'd forgotten all about it. Nomad stared at the gleaming silver heart resting on the cushiony suede insert. The soft black material made the purple ribbon seem all the more bright.

She wished Hawk had forgotten about it, too.

"Take a good look at it, Corporal," Hollingsworth said. "It's going straight back to a safe in the Pentagon."

She couldn't very well tell him that she wasn't looking at the medal in admiration or awe, but in some kind of…revulsion? Was that the word? Or was regret the one she was looking for? All the damn thing did was bring everything back; those long hours in the dark room, bound to a chair in her own filth, unable to move as Andy -

But she didn't say anything. Instead, she looked up and caught Hawk's eye.

…And if he didn't know exactly what she was thinking, she'd go become best friends with Short Fuse.

"Thank you, sir," she said politely, only just managing to keep her voice from shaking, and handed the medal back to Hollingsworth. She hadn't looked at it properly, hadn't bothered to turn it over to see if her name was engraved on the back. She honestly didn't care. Let the fucking thing stay in the vault.

Hawk nodded to her. "Dismissed, Nomad."

"Yes, sir," she said gratefully. She snapped off a salute to Hollingsworth - who returned it - and left the room.

Nomad hoped Scarlett was ready for a good workout. She wanted to hit something.

It turned out to be a long day. First Lady Jaye, Scarlett and Covergirl, then Hawk and Hollingsworth…and, naturally, as soon as she walked back into the mess hall for dinner that night, Clutch and Rock 'n' Roll all but jumped on her, wondering what the general had wanted. By the end of the meal (chicken pie, followed by ice cream with Jeckle's famous hot fudge sauce), the whole room knew she'd finally received her Purple Heart. She accepted the congratulations graciously, not wanting anyone to know how she really felt about it.

She was pretty sure a few of them guessed, though. Clutch kept glancing over at her, as if he'd expected her to blow up the next time someone clapped her on the shoulder. If she'd had a big brother, she was certain he'd watch out for her the way Clutch watched out for her now.

Lowlight hadn't been in the mess hall at all, not even to grab something to eat and run.

Now, Nomad was leaning on one elbow in her bed, just getting ready to put down her book, reach over and switch the light off. From the corner of her eye, she saw Covergirl watching her.

Nomad sighed. "What?" she asked, knowing full well that the former model was going to finish their conversation from earlier.

"Have you figured out what you're gonna say yet?" Covergirl asked.

There was no point playing dumb. "Nope." Nomad paused, then looked up at her roommate. "Am I being stupid?" she asked hesitantly. "I mean…it's just words, right?"

Covergirl shook her head. "It's more than just words, and you know that. Come on; if it was just words, would he have said it?"

She had a point there. "I guess not…"

"Exactly," Covergirl said smugly.

"But…he's only known me a few months," Nomad said. "How can he know if -"

The other woman threw her pillow at Nomad. "What, you don't believe in love at first sight?"

Nomad snorted. "No, I don't. And anyway, it wasn't 'love at first sight'. I'm pretty sure he wasn't too impressed with me that first day on the firing range. And I wasn't too sure about him, either."

Covergirl rolled her eyes. "Well, maybe you're soul mates. Meant to be together. Huh? Ever thought of that?"

"I don't believe in that, either."

The stunning woman flapped her arms impatiently. "For fuck's sake, Nomad, you have got to be the most unromantic girl I know. Look, just do me - and yourself - a favour. Don't question it."

"But -"

Covergirl crossed the room in two big steps, grabbed Nomad's shoulders, and shook her. "Look. What you've got with Lowlight is special. If you let it go, I'll have to kick your ass myself. You hear me?"

"But -" she tried again.

"Ah." Covergirl pointed warningly.

Nomad couldn't help but giggle at the look on the model's face. Covergirl smiled in satisfaction. "That's better. Now." She reached across to the bedside table, where the photo of Lowlight still sat facedown. "I think this can go back up on the wall, don't you?"

"I guess it can."

"Why'd you take it down?" Covergirl asked curiously.

Nomad shrugged. "Dunno. I kinda...felt guilty. I couldn't stand seeing him smiling at me, when I just ran out on him." She took the photo and looked at it intently before sticking it back in its place on the wall. Then she turned back to Covergirl. "Um...how do I know?" she asked shyly.

"Know what?" Covergirl wondered.

"If I…you know."

Covergirl raised a perfect eyebrow.

Dammit, she was going to have to say it. "If I…love him?"

For a moment, the bombshell looked astonished. "What do you mean, how do you know?"

"Well, it's not like I've ever…you know, been in love, or anything."

Covergirl stared.

"I haven't!" Nomad said defensively. It was true. Sure, she'd had boyfriends…but she'd never believed she was in love with any of them.

"You really are clueless, aren't you?" Covergirl asked affectionately, shaking her head in disbelief. Then her expression turned thoughtful. "Well, could you be happy if Lowlight wasn't in your life?"

Nomad frowned. She'd never thought of it that way. And when she did put it that way, the answer was simple: no. She'd already felt what it would be like without Lowlight when she'd resigned; she'd missed him. Some days, she'd missed him so much that her chest had actually hurt.

…No. Not her chest. Her heart. Some days, she hadn't even wanted to get out of bed.

So…did that mean she -

No. It couldn't. "There's got to be more to it than that," she said stubbornly.

"Not really," Covergirl said gently.

Nomad refused to believe it. "No, there must be more to it," she insisted. "How did you know with Beach?"

The gorgeous blonde chuckled. "Now there's a story in itself, but we're talking about you now, so don't try and change the subject."

"Fine, Psyche Out," Nomad muttered.

Covergirl grinned. "Let me make it easier for you. Just look me in the eyes and tell me you don't love Lowlight."

"What? But -"

Covergirl waited, arching an eyebrow and drumming her fingers impatiently on her crossed arms.

Nomad opened her mouth. It would have been easier. It would have got Covergirl off her back, would've shut them all up.

…It also would have been a lie. And she couldn't lie to Covergirl - or any of the Joes.

She looked at her hands, blushing bright red. "I…can't do that."

"Then maybe you need to consider the other option," Covergirl pointed out, crossing back to her own bed and hopping in. "Seems to me like you already know the answer, though. And, I gotta say, it's about goddamn time!"

Nomad lay awake thinking about that for a long time.

By the next morning, she'd made up her mind. This was it: today was the day she was going to talk to Lowlight. She'd tell him everything he needed to know - everything she should've told him before he'd decided how he felt.

And if he changed his mind…well, so be it.

Still…Nomad was nervous. She barely ate any of the pancakes that Roadblock stacked onto her plate for breakfast. Dusty made sure they didn't go to waste, though - at least she got a slight giggle out of him dripping blueberry syrup down his chin. He shrugged and swiped his face carelessly with his sleeve. He didn't have his warpaint on yet; Nomad didn't think she'd ever get used to seeing Dusty with a clean face.

One good thing about this morning - something that proved promising - was that Kismet had joined them for breakfast. She was sitting between Dusty and Footloose, and while she was still quiet as a mouse, Footloose seemed to be doing quite well at getting her to smile. For some reason, it reminded Nomad a little of Benny and Joon. It was kind of cute.

Nomad was scheduled for a session on the firing range later that day. She'd thought about waiting until then, maybe catching Lowlight after and going for a walk, or something…but then she'd decided she couldn't wait that long. If she waited until that afternoon, she'd have too much time to think about it - she'd probably end up talking herself out of it. Sci-Fi had said something yesterday about an NV session, as well; but so soon after the mine fiasco, she didn't think it'd be anything too serious. Probably just a game - a few Joes in teams, maybe, just to let off some steam.

Speaking of Sci-Fi: there he was, just leaving. Nomad quickly excused herself and jogged to catch up with him. "Sci-Fi! Hey, wait for me!"

He glanced over his shoulder and slowed down. "Morning," he said, smiling. "You heading up top for PT, too?"

She shook her head. "No, I still do the early shift. Gets it over and done with. I have hand-to-hand soon." Nomad paused as he nodded, then went on. "I just wanted to ask if you've seen Lowlight around," she said. "I need to talk to him, but he wasn't in the mess hall this morning or last night. Was he on the range, or what?"

Sci-Fi looked at her sharply. "He didn't tell you?"

Nomad frowned. "Apparently not. Tell me what?"

The laser gunner shifted uncomfortably, looking like he'd rather be somewhere else. As they reached the personnel elevator, he reached out and jabbed the button repeatedly, as if pressing it more would make the lift arrive quicker.

"Tell me what, Sci-Fi?" Nomad repeated impatiently. Sci-Fi's expression made her regret her tone instantly - he looked like a puppy who'd just been scolded for being naughty. "Sorry," she said.

The laser gunner waved her apology away, giving her a look she couldn't read. "I can't believe he didn't tell you," he muttered, almost to himself.

"Seymour P. Fine, I swear if you don't -" she began.

"Nomad," he said quietly, "Lowlight left on a mission yesterday afternoon."