Flash: To Do List

Image from the internet Hivemind, adjusted with the symbol of the future military.

He took to the List an anger, a rage, he never felt before. Never before did he have people to protect. His people. Jonathan blazed through the crowded hallways of the Admiralty of the Green Fleet headquarters toward the courtroom where the List of Inquiry would be held, people unconsciously stepped back into the crowd giving him clear passage through the hallways.

“Captain. Captain Fairhurst.”

The voice behind him cut through the red haze driving Jonathan forward. No one would calling him that unless they were from his ship. His steward had given up desperately needed sleeptime to sew the bands on his surviving purples; the dress whites he was presently wearing were picked up from the commissary only an hour ago and were pinned with his last in-station approved rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. So the combat-minted captain paused to look behind while a man taller than he, used the wake Jon had cut through the crowd to close quickly.

Jonathan did not recognize the man, and after the long trip in with the fatally damaged ship he knew his crew. Dropping his eyes to the man’s wrists where the green cuffs decorated the whites and held four thin bands of a full captain and a gold star indicating attachment to an admiral’s council, his more natural state of curiosity reigned in his anger. A captain of the List of the Green. Why would one of the genteel crowd want to talk to him?

Stepping to the side, closer to a wall, monitoring the closing captain and the door to the Inquiry, Jonathan waited. He twitched up his purple cuffs with the single gold band. The ill-fitting monstrosity the commissary had gifted him needed tailoring. The sleeves were too long, the shoulders too tight, and the legs not capable of an airtight seal with his boots if decompression occurred on the port station. The only fit he was sure was the high-neck collar into the purple cap’s emergency mask. The commissary petty officer had searched a precious quarter hour before finding a combination which sealed around his thick neck. A quarter hour he had set aside to arrive at the Inquiry in good order. Now he had five minutes before the Masters at Arms guarding the door to the Inquiry opened up the courtroom.

Glancing at the name tag once the man cleared the crowed, Jonathan acknowledged the thin six-foot, caramel-skinned superior officer with a barely regulation salute. “Captain Torres-Diaz.” His eyes ran over the pins on the whites, nothing from combat and only the single required year in space. Ah, one of those Torres-Diazs.

The other man returned the salute with perfect precision before removing the white captain hat and tucking it under his arm. “I’m to be your advocate for the inquiry.”

Raising his shaved eyebrows in surprised, Jonathan replied. “When an advocate did not show up with the summons, I assumed the Inquiry would be informal.” He hadn’t assumed anything of the type, and felt his rage return, reddening his neck and ears, fortunately mostly covered by the high collar. While the trip had given his twenty-year old temper time to be tempered, he had expected to be safe once in port and not thrown to the wolves. After four years and getting his crew back to human space, he had relaxed until the summons arrived last night two hours after they managed to dock.

Torres-Diaz nodded. “Normally it would be, but with the Green going out for a month of maneuvers tomorrow, they wanted get this done quickly to let your sailors go home without a cloud.”

“I can see that.” Fairhurst smiled. The other captain took a step back, changing his stance. Pushing away thoughts about the less than twenty-four hours summons and what that entailed in breaking the regs, Jonathan rearranged the smile and decided to test how bad the lynch squad waiting on the other side of the doors would be. “Well, I am glad to have you. You have had access to the ship’s log and records we squirted when we got into human space sixteen days ago. What do you want me to do?”

The green captain from a family of lawyers on the well-established colony of Sainte Teresa Avila tried to hide his wince by changing his stance to be more casual. “I received the records when I got the assignment this morning. I also have the List of initial Inquiry.”

Breathing in through the smiling teeth, the combat seasoned captain stared at the older, taller, and senior officer through eyes black with four years of hell. “What did you do to get this?” The lawyer had to have screwed up big time.

Brown eyes broke from his instantly and looked over the Jonathan’s broad shoulders. “The inquiry will start in two minutes.” He tapped the tablet he carried and Jonathan’s buzzed. “Those are the questions. Try to run your answers by me before responding.” Torres-Diaz dropped his eyes back to the black pits before him. “I will try to save you.”

“Sir, may I give you an order?”

The thin lips of the civilized desk-jockey navy man pursed.

“Save my crew.”

The masters-of-arms opened the courtroom doors and the crowd, which had kept conspicuously back from their conversation, moved.

The admiral advisor took his cap from under his arm, dusting the insignia on it thoughtfully. “I can’t save everyone.”

“To the deep with me, give me the words to save them. I got them this far, and I promised them home.”

The Captain of the Green returned his cap to his head and waved Jonathan toward the List of Inquiry.

(Words 942 – first published 9/17/2017; From a prompt – the story had to start with “He took to the list…”)