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   Chapter 5 Moon base (2)

Bactine By Paul Kater Characters: 12881

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:03


Daniel carefully opened the door and glanced through the slit. The corridor seemed empty, most of the folks shooting at the military team were in a side corridor. Checking the entire corridor quickly, he slipped out of the office as once more the floor shook and trembled. Parts of the ceiling rained down on him as he made his way to the action. Just as he reached the turn in the corridor, a heavily armed figure came round it, his armour blackened from impacts of phase-pistols. A sound emerged from the person, who raised a large gun.

Daniel was faster, helped by his Bactine body. The armoured shape fell down, disabled for good. Daniel grabbed the weapon, which was much larger than his own, swung around the corner and took two seconds to evaluate what he saw.

The invaders had grouped at least two dozen scientists from the moon base behind them, to protect their backs. The scientists were standing, the invaders were either small or kneeling, to stay out of sight. How they had managed it so quickly, Daniel did not know, but the scientists were all tied together by the neck, with the chains ends high up in the wall so they could not escape or bend down. Two of the scientists were killed, being held up by the others, so they would not be strangled by the weight of the dead people hanging down.

He raised his hand and put a finger over his lips. Swiftly he moved forward, jumped, and yanked one end of the chain from the wall. Mere seconds later the other end was loose also. The freed people did not need encouragement: they ran off as fast as they could.

Daniel jumped up, almost reaching the ceiling, and buried the fingers of his free hand in the wall. That position gave him an open view on the attackers. He aimed the confiscated gun and fired at the front line of the invading force, taking out three of them in the first blast. As he had expected, several of them turned and started firing. They just aimed too low.

Andred appeared in the corridor also, and soon the invaders had been reduced to smoking bodies. The fight was over all of a sudden. The group that had been terminated turned out to be the whole invading group.

Troops began to locate hostages and freed the ones that had been locked up. The wounded were seen to.

Daniel found Troy, who was limping around and gloating at the success. "Are you satisfied now?" he asked the leader of the subgroup.

"Yeah. I am. The base is liberated. We did a great job."

"Nine civilians dead, five soldiers dead. Sixteen people wounded. Yes. A great job." Daniel wanted to punch Troy in his grinning face.

"Casualties are a risk in operations like this, Daniela, " the man said, stabbing Daniel in the chest with a finger. "If you can't take that, find another job."

"Operations, " Daniel fumed. "This was not an operation, you idiot. This was a simple hostage situation. You should have listened to me, then no-"

"Shut up!" Troy went from gloat to furious in an instant. "You couldn't even protect a load of weapons against a handful of Qurgon pirates. Don't you tell me about operations!" He pushed Daniel aside and limped off.

Daniel's rage roared, then dropped away. Pain wrung his gut; pain of the memory, pain of the lives lost on this base. He bit away a few tears. This was not the place nor the time.

They held the moon base until local authorities had come to take over. Then the soldiers were loaded into the shuttles again and the journey home started. Daniel felt horrible; Phil and Kjella had been killed in the final blasts of the battle. Wilson had lost a hand. And Troy faked a limp.

-=-=-

"I did what I could, Daniel." Burt sat down on the chair in the conference room. "I won't make things pretty: I doubt it will make a difference. General Rudyer is very strict on protocol and following orders, and his word will make the verdict. Sorry."

Daniel nodded.

On their return to the star base, Troy had filed a serious complaint against Daniel, for insubordination, leaving his designated station before notice and even endangering the lives of military personnel and civilians.

"I guess I should count on being thrown out, right?"

"Yes. Which is better than..." The trainer did not finish his words.

Wilma came in, bringing coffee. "Here. How was it?"

Burt filled her in. Wilma's face grew dark. "That sucks. Troy made mistakes and Daniel has to take the fall because Troy hates his guts."

"That sums it up. And he got Rudyer."

"Damn it." Wilma put a hand on Daniel's shoulder. "I'm sorry."

Daniel shook his head. "You can't help it. No one can. It can happen and it happened." There were no people left alive that would stand up against Troy for him. That made things even more sour.

Two days later, Daniel and Troy were present in the office of General Rudyer. An official read out the verdict. Daniel was found guilty of endangering the mission on Hargha 9 and disobeying orders of the assigned leader. Troy had tried to make him responsible also for the death of some of the scientists, but that accusation had been rejected for of lack of proof. Daniel's counters that Troy had failed to listen to Daniel's experience as assault marshal had been brushed aside, which was hard to swallow. He had to, though, or suffocate on it.

"Daniel Zacharias, as this mission was called upon in haste, and you had not completed your training as an enhanced person yet, there are some mitigating circumstances. Therefore this is not an official court martial, although the rule will be binding. The ruling is that you will be taken from the R1 group and no longer will follow the training. You will be detained in your cabin until a new designation for your person is found. You are allowed to eat in the mess, provided you are accompanied by two people. You are free to mention two people, General Rudyer will decide if these are appropriate. Otherwise we will assign two people to you."

Troy beamed. He had won. Pulling the string that was his uncle, who was married to the General's sister, had helped.

"Daniel Zacharias, do you have any questions?"

Daniel looked at the woman next to him, who was supposed to be his legal representative. She stared at the floor, not paying attention to Daniel. He sighed. This was not going to get him more than this, he knew. At least he wasn't kicked off base, or worse. "No, sir."

"Thank you. That's all. This session is dismissed.

"

That was it. Simple, clean and fixed.

Troy got up and sauntered over to Daniel. His limp had miraculously disappeared. "I'm really sorry to witness this, Daniela, " he whispered as he leaned on the table. "This takes away most opportunities to have fun. But you see, justice was served. I get commended for doing a good job and you barely missed the brig."

Daniel's lawyer got up and walked away after picking up her things. She did not say a word.

"I hope you will have learnt something from this, Troy, " Daniel said. "I really do. But knowing you, that hope is in vain. Please, try not to kill too many people with your decisions."

"Don't worry, Zacharias. You seem to forget your place." Troy stared Daniel in the eye, then walked off. Ludo was near, looking apologetically at Daniel for the last time. Then he walked off, following Troy.

-=-=-

"I heard they may have found something for you, Daniel." Rhonda watched him eat. She was the one who had been agreed upon to accompany him. Burt was unacceptable, they had told him, as 'trainer O'Shaughnessy has better things to do'. They just wanted to keep Daniel away from all things Rebuilt, he was convinced of that. The other person with them was Chin-Ho, a regular human who worked in the kitchen and deemed not dangerous.

"Oh?" Daniel was curious enough. He had been detained for a few weeks already and life was becoming so boring that he would have gladly gone out to rake the bare planetoid ground for a few hours a day. Rhonda had sources everywhere, he had noticed lately.

"Nothing definitive yet. But rumour has it that there is something like active duty in the works for you." Rhonda spoke quietly so no one around would hear her. Using the built-in military band was prohibited when not on assignment, and also monitored when on base. "Less glamorous than star cruisers and stuff, also you'll be mostly on your own."

That sounded intriguing to Daniel. Not so much to Chin-Ho, who was trying very hard to finish his game of electro-go. "When did you hear that?" Daniel asked.

"This morning. I am-"

"Daniel Zacharias?" A soldier in full uniform stopped at the table.

"Yes, " Daniel admitted.

"Come with me."

"Why? I haven't finished eating yet."

"I just have orders to bring you to Captain Chambers, sir. Now." The soldier looked at Daniel. "I'm sorry about your food."

Daniel shrugged. "Okay, I'll come with you. Are you sure that you alone are capable of getting me there?" He winked at Rhonda who grinned.

"Yes, sir." The soldier did not catch the joke.

Daniel got up and followed the soldier to the office of Captain Chambers.

"Zacharias. Sit down, please." The captain was a friendly man, who came right to the point. "We have looked at your case, and decided that it is not possible to maintain your person here on base. Too much has happened. As you are well aware of?"

Daniel nodded. That was an indisputable fact.

"Good. We have found a request for security from a rather remote star system in NGC6637. I doubt you ever heard of that."

"No, I haven't." Daniel knew a lot about the New General Catalogue of space objects, but most of the numbers and designations were lost on him.

"Thought so, yes." The captain nodded and punched his keyboard for a while. "Tell me. Do you suffer from sea sickness?"

"I beg your pardon?" Daniel was stumped by that question.

"Sea sickness. You know, when you start throwing up when the floor waves under your feet."

"No, I don't think so, sir."

"Right. You will be going there then. NGC6637. Don't forget. Your cabin terminal will be granted access to everything we have on that place, you will be sent a memo on what is asked of us so you can prepare for this place."

"Thank you, sir."

The captain dismissed Daniel, but called his name as he was at the door. "Zacharias... I'm sorry about what happened. Really."

Daniel just nodded. Then he left the office and was escorted back to his cabin which was closed and locked behind him. He hated that little part of the deal, it wasn't that there was a place to run off to here.

He flipped on the terminal, took the screen from the wall and lay on the bed with it. "Let's see where they want to ship me off to..." A small blinking symbol attracted his attention. He tapped it and was asked if he wanted to open a personal message. "Huh... who would... Hmm. Yes."

"Note that this message has been checked. No modifications have been made to the original content, " the tablet told him.

"Hello, little soldier brother, " Malcolm's voice said.

Daniel stabbed at the tablet, making the voice stop. All bloody Qurgon pirates on a deadman's chest, he thought, what's this? Almost feverishly he tried to think of a reason why Malcolm of all people would send him a message. A spoken one for that. He couldn't think of one, so he punched the tablet to listen to the message.

"As usual it is difficult to get in touch with you. That is probably why nobody ever tries." Malcolm had this uncanny ability to make people feel guilty by just saying things in a certain way. The bloody prick. "Things here are going well, of course. Belinda is doing well, and the children are growing up to be good and reliable people."

"Damn you, dear brother." Daniel's mood dropped below zero with ease and practice.

"We got them a poodle. They work so well at their schools that Belinda told me we should get them a pet, and they wanted a poodle. I am not sending you a picture of the pooch. That costs too much."

"Of course. You sit on your money, that is how you get your wealth." Daniel snorted.

"I do want to praise you, soldier. You stayed on your post. Really, amazing. Not even a small note on our father's fifth dying day."

Daniel closed his eyes, groaning. He could kick himself. The family had agreed that each year, on father's dying day, they would send notes to each other. He had totally missed it this year, as he had been on the mission that got interrupted by the Qurgon pirate ship. The fact that he had not been able to, even if he had thought about it, did not matter to him. He had forgotten it.

"I hope this little reminder is enough of an incentive for you, big brother, " Malcolm sneered. "Cynthia of course came to your defence, as she always does. Just thought you'd like to know."

It took all of Daniel's willpower not to fling the tablet against a wall.

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