Have to try and get this done in under two weeks. Story-rush time!
â€œAh, Private. There you are.â€ Aldarus and Indira looked up from their conversation to find two people standing in the doorway. The speaker was a heavyset, dark-skinned woman in uniform, a flamepiece clipped to her waist and a stern expression on her face â€“ one that betrayed a hint of amusement as she continued. â€œIâ€™m afraid Doctor Croft has need of your expertise.â€ Behind her, the thin doctor gave a tentative salute and a rueful smile.
Gallen stood smoothly, nodding to the two. â€œLieutenant Yumis, Doctor Croft. Iâ€™d be glad to help. What seems to be the trouble?â€
â€œItâ€™s a little embarrassing, actually.â€ Doctor Croft scratched the back of his head. â€œI seem to have forgotten the passcode to the infirmary â€“ itâ€™s locked me out. Iâ€™m not sure where Doctor Lanyard is, but I expect sheâ€™s working and didnâ€™t hear the chime.â€ He smiled again, and shrugged. â€œSo I need a security officer to open the door for me, and Corporal Kaltos is giving the commander his debriefing, andâ€¦.â€ He trailed off. â€œIâ€™m really sorry about this.â€
Gallen chuckled, and nodded. â€œDonâ€™t worry about it. Lieutenant, would you mind keeping an eye on Miss Galas while weâ€™re gone?â€
â€œSure. My shiftâ€™s not for a few hours.â€ The lieutenant nodded easily. â€œTell Lanyard to pay attention to her chimes next time.â€
â€œYes, maâ€™am.â€ With a crisp salute, Gallen and Croft headed out the door. Yumis sank into the chair Gallen had just abandoned with a snort.
â€œPride of the Imperium, my ass.â€ She glanced over at Indira. â€œThis sort of thing happen in the New Realm?â€
â€œI think it happens everywhere.â€ Indira chuckled faintly, and Yumis nodded to her. â€œSo, uh, youâ€™re the head of the security department, arenâ€™t you? Donâ€™t you have the passcodes?â€
â€œHmph, Gallenâ€™s been chatty, has he?â€ Yumis half-smiled, and shrugged. â€œIâ€™m the head of the division, but Iâ€™m still gunnery. Only actual security personnel have all the keycodes â€“ well, them and the Captain. I have to order one of my subordinates if I want to open doors.â€ She shook her head slowly. â€œBureaucracy. Another one of those universal constants.â€
â€œYeah.â€ Indira shook her head, then sighed. â€œI donâ€™t get why everyone here is being so nice. I mean, yes, Iâ€™m in a prison, but I expected more â€œthe prisoner will be quietâ€ and less gossip.â€
â€œI could go that route, if you like.â€ Yumis turned a glare on Indira, who swallowed heavily. Then the gunnery officer broke into a grin. â€œIâ€™m kidding you. Itâ€™s not my style.â€ She sat back in the seat. â€œLook, weâ€™re all grunts here. Itâ€™s not like this is a Hunt ship. One soldierâ€™s a lot like another. Just because you were born somewhere else, and that somewhereâ€™s our major enemy? Doesnâ€™t mean a lot out here.â€ She grinned. â€œIâ€™ve fought alongside New Realmers before a few times. There was a Hrugga infestation a year or so back, and it was a New Realm warship that answered the first distress call. Saved a few thousand Imperium lives, lost a few of their own doing it. Damn fine crew. High command can talk all they like about politics or enemies, but weâ€™re Wyldfarers first. Everyoneâ€™s a big family out in the chaos.â€
â€œThatâ€™s a nice way of looking at things.â€ Indira laid back on her pallet, looking up at the ceiling. â€œIâ€™ll try to hold onto that, for the voyage at least.â€
Down the hall and around the corner, Gallen and Croft were standing by the infirmary doors. Gallen was shaking his head in amusement. â€œI canâ€™t believe you actually forgot the medical code, Jusef.â€
â€œGuess Iâ€™ve been distracted, lately.â€ Croft shook his head. â€œIâ€™m having a hard time with the Captain being gone. What do you think theyâ€™ll do when we get back?â€
â€œPut someone new in his place.â€ Gallen shrugged. â€œEveryone on this ship is going places, Croft. Towards a better post, or towards retirement. I canâ€™t imagine that they hadnâ€™t planned for the possibility that the Captain would throw in the towel some time soon. Probably werenâ€™t expecting him to die, butâ€¦â€ He broke off. â€œThatâ€™s odd.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Croft leaned in to look.
â€œCodeâ€™s not working.â€ Gallen shifted and twisted the crystal matrix beside the door. â€œItâ€™s under a security lockdown. Stealth.â€ He frowned. â€œKaltos and I are the only people who can do that. Why would Kaltos lock the infirmary?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Thatâ€™s kind ofâ€¦ weird.â€ Croft looked around nervously. â€œShould we ask him?â€
â€œNo, I want to know whatâ€™s going on. Fortunately, Kaltos never changes his configurations.â€ With a mischievous smile, Gallen quickly rearranged three of the crystals, bringing them into a new alignment. A moment later, the door hissed open, and he started through. â€œSee? You just need to oh my Dragons.â€ He backpedaled quickly, face going green. Croft pushed past him as he was violently ill in the passageway.
A moment later, having gotten himself under control, Gallen joined his compatriot. â€œIs sheâ€¦?â€
â€œDead. Very much so.â€ Croft was looking like he was having trouble maintaining his composure. â€œItâ€™s horrible. I served on a medical ship, once, and we found survivors of a Chaos Seer raid. Even that was nothing likeâ€¦ who could have done this? Who would be capable?â€ Croft looked over at the door controls with sudden suspicion. â€œCould Kaltosâ€¦?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Maybe he found it, and thatâ€™s what he was going to tell the Captain. I can imagine not wanting anyone to see this.â€ Gallen shook his head. â€œIt looks likeâ€¦ like the crew back on that planet, but a dozen times worse. That thing couldnâ€™t have survived, butâ€¦ oh, Dragons.â€
â€œWe need to talk to the Commander.â€ Croftâ€™s nervousness was vanishing under a haze of urgency. â€œIf itâ€™s Kaltos that did this, we might have to help himâ€¦â€
Gallen nodded faintly, and the two hurried towards the bridge.