"Why did you not report sooner, C1?"
After contacting Space Station, Colonel Steiner acted like there were no qualms about results. A victory was granted under his supreme command. With no dwelling on details, he obstinately insisted on having an explanation of why Captain Gromov did not report during the battle.
With no intention to reveal his true motives and being too exhausted to search for excuses, Gromov decided to ignore Steiner's obnoxious demands.
"Sir, an unknown number of our crews may drift away," he replied instead. "We need to locate them as soon as possible. It should be safe to dispatch rescue teams since the enemy had fallen back, leaving our perimeter."
"You have not answered my question, C1. Why did you not report sooner, C1?"
Because you are an incompetent idiot! This was the reply Gromov could only offer, but he chose rather ignore Steiner, and went on, "Captain Chi, the leader of B-group is amongst the drifters, sir. I repeat we need the rescue teams as soon as possible."
"Captain Gromov, answer my question."
Steiner's persistence slowly got on Gromov's nerves. "What wants that moron to hear from me?" he cursed. "That I am sorry?"
"Sir, I've already given my reasons. Communication under three Q-Fields was unstable. There is no time to spare. I am requesting rescue teams to be dispatch immediately."
"Unstable?" Steiner asked sarcastically, "A1 and B1 had no problem connecting Space Station. This is unsatisfactory!"
"So what?" thought Gromov. "Like I care, you smartass. Alright then, we both can play the game..."
Quite frequently, he failed to exercise necessary patience when dealing with Steiner.
"Sir," he said aloud. "You seem to ignore our urgent situation. The lives of our crews are on stake. This is unsatisfactory! I have to repeat, send rescue teams as soon as possible to avoid more useless deaths under your command."
He deliberately emphasized the word more, even though he doubted Steiner would understand the implication. From his side, being bold did not require any particular bravery. Steiner could only complain to Dolzana base's commander afterward.
After a few seconds of silence, Steiner decided to change the topic.
"C1, begin the pursuit of fleeing enemy vessels. Do not let them run away. I repeat..."
Shocked to the core, Gromov hissed under his breath, "Who do you think you are talking to, you spawn of the brainless mollusk? The commander of Space cowboys?"
"What?" he blurted aloud, neglecting all proper respect.
"C1, pursuit the antagonists," Steiner kept insisting. "Confirm the order, C1."
"Sir, this is a misunderstanding. We barely accomplished the mission. Our forces were mostly obliterated with less than ten fighters left. I estimate the number of enemy spacecraft being over thirty. Do you understand the situation clearly?"
"C1, I understand your situation fully. Begin the pursuit!"
A vein popped out on Gromov's forehead. Not only Steiner omitted to send rescue teams, but he abused his authority as if he wanted the last survivors to die in vain.
Was it only incompetency or and intrigue emerging from the miniature brain of the desperate fool? Did Steiner think that killing all pilots would erase the evidence of what had happened so far? There were recordings, not only at Space Station, but both cruisers on the orbit had certainly monitored communication, too.
Wait, cruisers?

They should have rescue teams vessels. Gromov neglected Steiner for good, trying to connect the battleships. It did not take long, and he got the answer he needed. The rescue teams were dispatched immediately.
Then, being fully aware he was going against the order, he announced: "C1 to all units. We are heading back to the Space Station."



About the author

Pavel Morava

Bio: Born in the Czech Republic, Pavel Morava is not a native English speaker. Having been twenty-two years old, he published his first book, which did not become an international bestseller. After a few other attempts, Pavel Morava abandoned the literary career for over twenty years, during which period he has been focusing on processing of plastics, programming, and raising of children.
Recently, with more time at his disposal, he returned to the forgotten ambition, fighting a futile battle with English language, procrastination, and the tendency to give up too early.
Being vivid reader of not Anglo-Saxon origin, Pavel Morava was fortunate enough to experience books from different countries, including Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, French, German, and English. Such a vast literary variety heavily influenced his own work, which typically relies on an one-point-of-view narrative, consecutive storytelling, and elimination of unnecessary details.
Web novels and online publishing made him reevaluate his approach to style and building blocks of the text; the result should be, hopefully, lighter, shorter, and more intelligible for reading on electronic devices.

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