O’Brian groaned as he sat up. His head ached terribly. “Not too fast! Not too fast! You have a concussion from severe blunt force trauma to the head, and the bone repair for your skull fracture is not fully set for another couple hours. I didn’t want to wake you so early, but….” Doctor Saeed chastised O’Brian while referring to medical data on his mobiglas. He trailed off on his statement hoping someone else would take over. He was unhappy with the current state of affairs and generally distressed. He had never had to force patients with such extreme injuries out of sleep until the basic surgical methods were verified as successful. That changed when a couple crew members came into the medical bay shortly after Malachi’s little grandstanding speech. Not everyone liked the Captain’s plan and there was talk of staging a mutiny. He originally only woke Franklin because he looked up her records in the computer systems. Since O’Brian was not in the OWA he had no records on him, and only woke him at the insistence of Franklin.
Franklin picked up on the Saeed’s trailing off and took over. “But… I insisted” she smiled during a brief pause before she resumed “You did well in getting off of the Artemis. The original plan was to go much more smoothly, but military operations don’t always go smoothly. You are indeed on a ship of the Outer World Alliance, but from what Doctor Saeed told me, our arrival here did not go smoothly, and unfortunately, instead of retreating to New Haven for a debrief we are rushing to Earth. This is likely to create an open war between the Empire and the Alliance and reveal our hidden chain of jump points. This is something we cannot allow. Yet, the data from Shaw’s files indicate a plan that is pure genocide is in motion, and we now need to ensure that Shaw does not survive his own voyage to Earth to rearm and recommit. I believe that he will likely concoct a story that will grant him significant firepower on a return to Halcyon.” Her smile had long faded. O’Brian could see that she was still weak and in pain, but putting on one great show of trying not to show it.
“So, what is the plan? We are on a semi-hostile ship, apparently hostages of reckless Captain looking to make a name for himself, and we need to eliminate someone who poses an even greater threat but is located on a crippled but not completely dead carrier with a fully functional escort destroyer. Both which are likely to receive reinforcements to prevent being picked off by unsavory types. Given the options I’m half tempted to have the Doctor put me back to sleep!” O’Brian shook his head as he spoke. The situation was bleak no matter how he looked at it, and his headache left him irritable and impatient.
“The plan is your responsibility. You outrank me, and I’m not going to mutiny my own people! And frankly as reckless Malachi’s plan is, it in some strange way may actually be the right course of action for now!” Franklin exclaimed. Her face now a vicious scowl, “If you wouldn’t have been throwing your pity fit and about to put a bullet in your head we could have escaped much faster, and I wouldn’t be in pain because of a hole in my shoulder! We rescued you because I thought you had worth, but if all you are going to do is sit back and complain, I’ll have you tossed in the brig with the rest of your crew, if I have to do it myself!”
“Well the way I see it, I am in no better shape than I was then! At least my head was whole!” O’Brian was resisting the urge to strike at Franklin out of frustration and anger. He knew she was right, but what options are there? It seems that no matter what happens it has a negative result. Her comment about his attempted suicide hit a sore spot. He started to think of his wife and son and the events that had transpired. He wondered if he would have just been better off to destroy the freighter and live with the weight of the deaths of those onboard it on his mind instead of the disaster his life had become. What has his life came to that he would even consider something such as that? What would his wife think of him had he done as ordered? He lowered his head into the palm of his hands, covering his face. He wondered that even if he did survive if he could ever move on.
Franklin felt sorrow that she stirred up so much angst in O’Brian, the pain she was fighting back from her wound, and the realization of her own mortality from nearly being killed, weight heavily on her. She took a deep breath and started to speak softly “Look, I know everything is all twisted around for you right now. If anything I owe you for not leaving me on the flight deck. You saved my life as well as your own.” She leaned close to O’Brian and whispered into his ear “And I have a secret. The OWA knows what is going on, in my flight suit I carried a special transponder. I checked it, it shows that it reported to my scout the full contents of the information we stole. Help will come for us. Do not tell anyone else.” She gave O’Brian a light pat on the shoulder as she stepped back and gave him a nod and a smile to reassure him.
O’Brian, while unsure of what to do next, decided he needed to slow the pursuit down some how to buy some time. He calculated in his head that the jump to Elysium was inevitable, but both the Artemis and the patrol he was with both need to get stopped there. He assumed that the Artemis will have some limited fight operations now, and they still had the UEES Centurion to contend with. Attacking a destroyer with a corvette and some fighters was not a fight he felt was able to be won, especially if the UEE carrier was going to have reinforcements, which he felt was likely. “Alright, Doctor, can you get a holo-projector and set it up to display a map of the Elysium system? I have an idea that I think….”
“You think WHAT!?!?” A loud demanding voice interrupted from the door way. It was Captain Malachi. He then continued in a softer but condescending tone “I do hope that you don’t have anything “regrettable” planned. I sure don’t want to undo my good Doctors’ handiwork. “
O’Brian smirked and rolled his eyes at Malachi and replied “No, I actually was discussion a plan to help you, but certainly if you don’t want my help or my intimate knowledge of the enemy you will face, then I will gladly have the doctor put me back to sleep!” O’Brian was not in the mood for this petty squabbling. He knew he needed to get Malachi to buy in, but also knew his type. He could see his arrogance and desire for grandeur. He decided to play off on it “Certainly, on your trip to Earth you could really make a name for yourself and show your worth by, say, bagging a Bengal and her escort destroyer. It would be rather impressive don’t you think? And, I am the answer to how you pull it off, but I need the rest of my crew here to plan it correctly” O’Brian, could see the change in Malachi’s demeanor. Those who are vain and arrogant are easy to manipulate if needs by. O’Brian didn’t like playing this game, but sometimes, it is needed to achieve victory.
Malachi, almost beaming with pride replied “You make a compelling case. I will leave you alone with the staff here and have your crew transferred here. We jump to Elysium in six hours. I want a briefing on the plans before we jump.” Malachi nodded to O’Brian, and with a prideful posture marched out of the room as if he just conquered the universe singlehandedly.