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The Red Survivor is on a critical peacekeeping mission to deliver an ambassador to negotiate the end of a war that has humanity on the brink of extinction.
When Captain John Marchant orders the ship to respond to a distress call, First Officer Nick Williams immediately challenges the captain’s order. Nick struggles to persuade Marchant that the effort is futile and they are best served by staying on course to deliver the ambassador.
Ships explode, tempers flare, and their vessel is put in danger as the two square off.
In the Red Survivor universe, this is a standalone space opera short story that focuses on the inherent tension between Marchant and Williams. Buy your copy today!
“Full halt!” Captain Marchant shouted, his face red, the veins in his neck sticking out so much I was afraid one of them might burst. “Why haven’t we stopped?”
“Sir,” Ensign Redding said, her face as white as her uniform. “We are slowing, but it’s going to take another seventy-nine seconds for us to arrive at full halt.”
Marchant was up from his chair in a flash and so was I, getting in his face, forcing him to either stop or run me over.
“Out of my way, Nick!”
“No.” I was surprised Captain Marchant had used my first name. What was going on with the man? I added a belated, “Sir,” but he didn’t seem to notice.
He was a mixed bag at best, but this sudden rage was out of character for him. I usually saw his emotional explosions coming, but there had been no warning on this one. I sometimes thought my father had assigned me to this ship, just to keep an eye on the man.
I’d heard somewhere that a soft answer could turn away wrath, but that didn’t appear to be working on Marchant. His face had turned beet red.
“It’s life and death out there!” Spit flew as he yelled. “If we don’t stop immediately, it could be us too.”
We didn’t need to stop. The battle had nothing to do with our mission. In fact, it was a reminder of everything we stood to lose if we didn’t successfully deliver the ambassador to his meeting on time.
Slowing down for a look-see was a terrible risk. I would have tried to convince him to do otherwise if he had taken the time to consult with me. Now, I was left in damage control mode, and that was tenuous at best.
“Starships can’t slow from above the speed of light in the time you’re demanding.” I kept my voice even and calm, though I was explaining something any first-year cadet would have known. “Is it possible, sir, that you’re letting your feelings get in the way of your impeccable judgment?”
He usually responded well to flattery, but it only served to further agitate him. He moved to take a swing. I stepped back and brought up my arms to protect myself.
The blow never landed.
His fist stopped midair.
“You’re relieved of duty, Commander,” Marchant said, his voice bristling with emotion like a hot blade thrust into a cold bath.
“Sir, I recommend against that. You were about to strike me.” I nodded toward Ensign Redding. “And who knows what you might have done to her. We could both press charges against you. I will refrain from doing so, should you countermand your order relieving me of duty.”
His eyes bulged. He opened his mouth and for a long moment I thought he was going to do it anyway. Ensign Smith let out a small cough.
At first, I thought he did it to get our attention, but a glance showed he had his hand to his mouth and was avoiding eye contact with either the Captain or myself.
Marchant’s lips moved, but no words came out. The color slowly returned to his face. The moment of crazy started to subside and rational thought regained control. It was evident on his face that this was a significant struggle.
I lowered my arms and stood with my back ramrod straight while refusing to break off eye contact, though it was a difficult thing to do.
“As you were, Commander.”
Relief flooded into me, but I kept my face still. After a small nod of my head in his direction, I turned to the viewscreen.
“We are at a complete halt, sir.” Ensign Redding’s voice was calm and certain, though I knew her well enough to know it was an act. She didn’t handle Marchant’s outbursts well. They sometimes left her in knots for days. “Orders, sir?”