The Doomed Voyage: Part 6

Read previous installments here. From the logs of Kelust Anton Lomax: “Sir, I still don’t think this is a good idea.” General Calix Weston paused in his preparations of the stasis unit. “We’ve been over

Read previous installments here.

From the logs of Kelust Anton Lomax:

“Sir, I still don’t think this is a good idea.”

General Calix Weston paused in his preparations of the stasis unit. “We’ve been over this, Kelust, our food supply is too low. If we don’t put the crew into stasis—and cut some time off our journey—then we’ll all starve before we reach Ithacor.”

“I understand that, Sir.” I’d done most of the calculations on how long our food supply could last with various numbers of crewmen requiring solid nourishment. The numbers weren’t good across the board.

“It’s just…you shouldn’t be the one to stay conscious. I have much more experience with the stasis fields and their operation, if something were to go wrong—”

“If something goes wrong, you’ll be the first one I wake.”


“Lomax, do you know how to pilot a starship?”

“No, Sir.”

“Or read astronomic charts? Or run tactical scans? Manually fire the turrets? I could go on.”

I shook my head. “So maybe not me, but there must be someone other than you who can handle those responsibilities. Any of the kybers could pilot the Odyssey and decipher the astronomic data. General, you still haven’t fully recovered from your exposure to the trilanthine gas.” I gestured to his twitching hands.

He squeezed them into fists for a moment and when he released them, they were still. “All the more reason for me to stay awake. My body needs time to fight the withdrawal. You yourself calculated that the odds of us encountering…well, anything during this little test of ours were practically nonexistent.”

“That doesn’t mean it won’t be dangerous. This ship wasn’t designed to go through deep space, but you’re planning to attempt it anyway. If anything goes wrong, we’ll be so far from the closest planet that our children’s children would never see Ithacor.”

“And if it works, we’ll cut a few months off our journey in a matter of days.”

“Twelve days. It will take twelve days to cross out of deep space. Twelve days of you being absolutely alone.”

“And anywhere else it would take a month. This is the best opportunity we have to cut our journey short.”

“True.” But statistically it would end with us floating in deep space.

“You have to trust me, Lomax. I can do this. I can get us home.”

Slowly, I nodded. Odds never seemed to fall right when the general was involved. “If anything goes wrong—”

“You’ll be the first one I wake.”

“Good luck, Sir.”

“I didn’t think you believed in luck?”

Smiling, I lay back and closed my eyes. “I don’t, but you need whatever help you can get.”

There was a slight tingle through my skin as the stasis field activated, then nothing.


From the logs of Penelope Weston, third speaker of the assembly:

It has been almost a year since General Anthony Cantrell reported my husband’s death to the assembly. An accident aboard the battle frigate assigned to bring him back to me had torn the ship apart. By the time the rescue parties had arrived, half the ship had drifted into deep space—never to be found again—and the other lay as scattered wreckage across half a continent.

No survivors were recovered.

A memorial was held for the brave men and women who’d crewed the vessel—most of whom had never even seen combat. The war ended before they reached it.

I was the face of the bereaved for my people. The assembly decided—almost unanimously—that it would be “good for the common people to see that war has great cost. For low and high alike.”

I could have refused, surrendered my position, and retreated back to the safety and isolation of my home. But I knew those snakes too well. If not me, then some other poor soul, lost in grief, would have been coerced into being their figurehead. I would not condemn some other widow to the public scrutiny that the assembly demanded.

There was no privacy for my grief. It was broadcast, in excruciating detail, to every corner of the sector. I learned later that even our defeated enemies were made aware of my pain. My suffering.

It became almost impossible for me to walk the streets without strangers stopping to console me. All this and more I endured for the sake of my people, who’s pain was suffered in obscurity. The true victims of this tragedy.

Because I had a secret. Buried deep in the hidden places of my heart, where no camera could see, no reporter question, was a belief that no evidence could shake.

Calix was still alive.

I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know where. But somehow, he must have survived.

As the “face of the grieving,” I was taken to the morgue to help families identify the bodies that had been recovered from the crash. I saw each dead face and—though many were barely recognizable as human—none belonged to my husband. Reason—and General Cantrell—argued that he must still have been among the almost hundred-fifty that had been lost to deep space, where his corpse could never be recovered.

But I knew it couldn’t be true.

Still, I played my part, so that the grieving could know they were not alone. So they could find comfort and help from those around them. And in time, healing would come.

As for me, it was only a week before the vultures began circling.

Anthony Cantrell was the first, insisting that it was “improper for a woman of your station to be unaccompanied.” For a while I humored him, allowing him to escort me to the various appearances that my new duties required. But never to my home.

And when it became clear that he was more than interested, I demanded he remove himself. After all, I was the face of the grieving, it would not do for me to be seen so closely with another man.

That line worked for a time, but now he once again grows bold in his advances. Though I would not have him were I as certain of Calix’s death as I am of the color of the sky, and my own life could be saved only through that union.

But he is not my only foe. My role as the grieving widow has brought me much public attention and love among the common people. Affection that other members of the assembly desire jealously.

I have begun to hear rumors that more and more of them speak in secret of removing me from my position “for my own good.” So far, my reputation—and the few friends I still have in the assembly—have kept this talk to mere rumor, but it can only be a matter of time before someone moves openly against me.

“Calix, if you are still out there, know that I will always wait for you. And I will hold these snakes in check for as long as I can. But please, my love, return swiftly.”

To Be Continued…

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