Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The post-incident review was in closed session and after the presiding officer read the first line of the bonded testimony, the session was restricted to herself and Brevet Captain Danyls alone.
“We are in complete privacy, Danyls. Having read your report and the recommendations of those with reputations to protect, I’d like you to take me through the end of the Vigilance’s last mission.”
With a nod, the frowning young woman stared at the blue fluctuations in the anti-snoop field and started to tell all in a calm voice.
She dived onto the bridge, heart hammering, smoke searing her lungs. Across all the port viewscreens, the impossible hulk they had hit hung like the gigantic headstone it was about to become. Her eyes were drawn to the video feed from Pinnace One, where Mike was buckling in.
Her hand slammed down on the intercom button. “Mike, what the hell are you doing?”
He looked up at her, guilt-faced “Sorry, Helen. It’s got to be done.”
“You don’t have to do this, Mike. What about us?”
“What I did with you was wrong and I admit my actions are tinged with relief in knowing you’ll never tell.”
Helen lurched back as if struck.
“I’m sorry, kiddo. You were great in the sack but in the end, I’m the irreplaceable asset on the Vigilance.”
“But Mike; Captain –“
“No time or interest in long goodbyes, Danyls. It was a pleasure having you.”
The screen went blank and the ‘clang’ of the departing pinnace shook the Vigilance.
Helen brought her eyes down from the blue.
“You have to understand that until his second sentence, I thought he was about to sacrifice himself to save us.”
The presiding officer nodded. “Go on.”
“After that, I suppose I could have interrupted him. Maybe I should have.”
“But you didn’t.”
“No, ma’am. I let him launch from the occluded side of the Vigilance, straight into the hulk. The reaction to his launch combined with that from the explosion when the pinnace hit the hulk broke us free.”
“After which you stabilised your drift away from the planet while the hulk entered the atmosphere, eventually causing a Category Eight catastrophe when it hit.”
“Yes, ma’am. But it went down without taking the Vigilance with it.”
“Captain Michael Tiernan should be buried with full honours, a Captain who died saving his ship and crew. The data that he was a philanderer and a coward who didn’t know the way around his own vessel is of no relevance to history or to his family. The result displays the proper command attitude.”
“Agreed. Captain Tiernan will be a feted hero. You, Deputy Danyls, are offered command of the Vigilance Two. Your recommendation proves that you have learned a hard lesson.”
“I accept. Thank you, ma’am.”
“Very well. Captain Helen Danyls, you are dismissed.”
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