|| This article, Stargazing, was written by Timothy Emeigh. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.
It is the middle of the Siege of Sirona, and Lieutenant Aleksandra Zaytseva has been embroiled in the conflict for the past two and a half years. Stuck in the center of Maponos City, with nowhere left to go, the fighting slows, long enough for the Marines to take a break, and for Sasha to find comfort in the company of one Lieutenant Michael Waverly.
|2200 HOURS, December 21, 2546 (MILITARY CALENDAR)
Location: GROOMBRIDGE 1618 SYSTEM, PLANET SIRONA, MAPONOS CITY CENTER
It was quiet for the first time in a while. No plasma zipping past, no explosions, and no bullets flying through the air. The only sound Sasha could hear was her own breathing and that of the Marine laying on the floor next to her. They were cooped up with the rest of their company in the Optican Building, located right in the center of downtown Maponos, and, for once, there was a lull in the fighting. While their rifles still laid within reach of them, ready to swiftly be picked up in case of combat resuming, the two Marines were content in the silence, huddled together, and not only for warmth in the cold Sironan winter.
It was no secret amongst the company, and definitely not in either of the Lieutenants’ platoons, that Aleksandra Zaytseva and Michael Waverly were “dating”, at least inasmuch two Marines in the middle of a warzone could be. The two of them remained professional when in command, and didn’t go further than spending time together in private. But the other Marines could catch the glimpses and private conversations, laced with words of affection, when the two thought they were alone. Tonight, however, was different.
On the fifty-eighth floor of the Opticon building, and with the Covenant advance temporarily stopped, Mike and Sasha were actually alone. And for them, in the middle of a warzone, that privacy amounted to laying on the ground by a window, getting the angle just right to look out up at the stars. Whispering stories in each other's ears, each anchored around another star, the Covenant was, for once, not on their minds.
Huddled close together, Mike and Sasha gazed out into the inky black night sky. Millions of fiery specks twinkled in the dark as Sirona’s moon cast a blue glow over the scene. Among that vast number of stars were those whose stories Sasha and Mike were exchanging. Stories of planets burned by Covenant onslaught were hard to avoid, but that night, the marines managed to dwell exclusively on happier tales. The star which each of the lieutenants first saw. The star which held the planet each first visited other than their own. These were the stories each lover shared and, when they ran dry far too quickly, they simply joined the silence. As their whispers ceased, they held each other closer in their arms, relaxing together.
In the back of her mind, Sasha knew it wouldn’t last. Soldiers died far too often in war. Or were separated by different deployments. Both held even truer in this war, seemingly never closer to the end. Yet she didn’t care. She had been shut out for far too long, locking her heart to any form of love. In Mike, she found the key, and laying here, held tight in his arms, she was happy. For her, that was all that mattered.