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   Chapter 96 No.96

The Galaxii Series Omnibus 1 By Christina Engela Characters: 5863

Updated: 2018-06-29 19:02

Lofflin ran out of steam. What was the use anyway? The man was beyond reach, and there was nothing that really could be done further in any case – except for each of them to make peace with their fate and with whatever set of gods they favored. As if that would make any damned difference! He let the limp, bedraggled man go, bumping the table. A sheaf of old papers slipped from the table top and sighed to the floor. Blaine slumped silently back into his chair, totally deflated. This was not the Captain Blaine who would give clear concise instructions on the bridge, the commander who always had a series of options in his plan, or the man who would stick to protocol and etiquette as if they were etched in stone by one of the Old Gods. This was not the same man Lofflin had known as Captain. Sure, Captains weren't perfect – they were only Human, and everybody had faults. The man had been hard and demanding of both ship and crew, but never truly harsh or really unfair, and the crew had respected him, even loved him… maybe – some of the time at least. More than that, they depended on him, as did he. But this pathetic drunken… shadow – wasn't him! This wasn't Blaine, not the Blaine he knew.

Under normal circumstances, by now, Joe Lofflin would have been restrained by Security Marines and escorted to the brig under arrest – but the shadow just sat there, looking bewildered. Then Blaine began to tremble, with grief and with guilt. He looked up at Lofflin, his bloodshot eyes making erratic contact with his own.

"I…" He croaked, lips trembling. "I'm… Joe, I'm sorry. You'll never know how sorry…" Greasy tears ran down the shadow's cracked face. Repelled by the sight of the specter, Lofflin turned and walked away, slamming the door on hi

m with, obviously – except maybe a few well-hidden nut-cases who slept in underground fall-out shelters with their blasters under their pillows, and hoarded water and AAA batteries under their beds. The Fleet was also there to defend against Corsair attacks – and just in case they ran into some more Ruminarii – or somebody even worse.

In many ways, the Corsairs were worse than the Ruminarii – because the Ruminarii weren't even Human. They'd attacked Earth just ten years after the Big Nuke in the next step of their intended conquest of the galaxy, and tried in vain to reach the planet after destroying nearly all of Earth's small colonies on Luna and Mars before being driven off again. The young Human upstarts who had only dipped their little toes into the waters of space proved to be hardier foes than the Ruminarii imagined, and the Gimp War lasted five years. Earth was the rock that broke the hull of their expansionist Empire, and they pretty much withdrew and pulled back afterwards. By contrast, Corsairs were not only Human, but they originally came from Earth itself – and subsisted by plundering and murdering their own kind. They were despicable.

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