What does it say when you can’t trust the man in charge?
The Admiral was looking tired, possibly the result of being woken, yet again, in the dead hours of the night.
Out in space, we should be keeping earth time, in fact, we probably were, but I didn’t think to check before calling.
The matter was urgent, or at least I thought it was.
I’d just relayed the events leading up to the attack and the result. For some odd reason I didn’t think he looked pleased.
“I sent two shuttles over and they’ve confirmed 11 fatalities and one escapee who transported to the larger ship moments before the attack. I told them to set a geosychronous orbit around the moon coronas until you work out what you want to do with them. Their systems have been encrypted, so they can’t be resurrected.”
“And the base?”
“We understand it’s beneath the surface of the moon, accessible only by transporter. Our physist says she knows where the plutonium is.”
“I take it there are people down there?”
“Skeleton staff. It’s a new base, recently built, but we don’t know its purpose.”
“Definitely not alien then?”
“Unless the criminal world has made the first contact before us, and if they have, it can’t be for the betterment of mankind.”
I was no expert but at that moment I got the distinct impression that the Admiral was hiding something, or had information that might be useful to us.
Until now I hadn’t had time to think about all the events leading up to this point in time, but somewhere in the back of my mind, it had been processing everything that had happened, to do with the ship and even before that.
And the question that leapt out was, why me?
What was the compelling reason to appoint me as first officer to this particular ship at this particular time? I had no doubt there were a hundred others equally or better qualified than I was, and yet, my name was pulled out of the hat, and I could remember distinctly the captain of the ship I’d been completing my training, as surprised as I was that I’d been selected.
Them, out of left field, a memory came back, one o had tried to bury very deep, of an incident no one could explain, let alone comprehend because it was as if it never happened. I had no proof, and there was no one else left alive to corroborate what I believed to be the facts.
Solar stress, it had been called. The psychiatrist who handled the debriefing told me it was nothing more than an over-active imagination, fuelled by overwork, sleep deprivation, and the deaths of my family members on an outpost on the moon when I’d been visiting them.
That diagnosis alone should have prevented my appointment, and yet here I was.
“Then it’s no longer your problem. We’ll take it from here. There’s a ship on its way. Your mission is to proceed as planned.”
“And the other ship that fled? I’m sure they’re no to going to just forgive and forget.”
“The chances are they will. Now they know you have superior firepower, and the speed to hunt them down, they will not be coming back for a second encounter. If you do come across them, you can deal with them as you wish, but that is not the priority. You have your orders.”
The screen went blank.
Yes, he was definitely hiding something.
© Charles Heath 2021