Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chapter 3: Competent Captain

     General Kur, flanked by his guard, walked up to Captain Sardon who had been waiting at the back of the main bridge.
      "Sardon, do you have that imagery I commanded?"
     "Yes, General. Kur, right here."
     The captain handed Kur a small stack of photos. The general scanned each picture, quickly flipping though the stack; he did everything quickly -- crisp and efficient --  he did not want to fail the Emperor. He appeared indifferent to what he saw, he always appeared indifferent, never betraying his own emotions. Captain Sardon stood patiently at attention. He knew he was in trouble, but he also knew he had good reasons for his recent failure.
     "And these are the ships that attacked your patrol, Captain?"
     "Yes, General."
     Kur pulled a photo from the pack, and handed it to the young captain. Sardon held it as Kur pointed to a portion of the dark image,"
     "Tell me, Captain, what is that under the nose of this vessel?"
     "That seems to be some new secret ultra weapon the Galacteers have rigged to this ship, sir. The enemy squadron was small and isolated. My officers and I concluded it was lost. After a quick analysis of  the enemy, I determined we should commence a full attack in the name of the Emperor. I called for Captain Banipal's squadron to assist, and together we attacked.We did not notice the ultra weapons until it was too late, General."
     "You were correct in your tactical decision, Captain."
     Kur took his eyes off the photo to look at Sardon, "But this is not an ultra weapon on this ship, Captain."
     Kur snatched the photo from Sardon's hands, crumpled it up and dropped it to the ground as he spoke with a kind voice to the young captain.
     "What you think is an ultra weapon is actually a long-range microwave koniscope, used to determine the dust content of a nebula."
     Sardon eye's revealed his new predicament. His horrified mind raced for excuses as Kur pulled out more photos, one at a time, crumpling each while he explained their contents. The general's voice was still gentle.
     "And here we have a beta-gamma actinometer, and here a coronagraph, here a statoscope -- Captain, your ships were destroyed by a squadron of fighter scouts and galactic surveyors."
     "No, sir, they were superior armed enemy warships, um, they ...uh .. space torpedoes, ultra weapons..."
     Kur interrupted, "Captain, do you have a anything  you would like to tell the Emperor?"
     "General? Sir, the Emperor?!"
     Kur snapped a simple motion to the guards, who each grabbed one of Sardon's arms, immediately dragging the terrified captain away. "Please, General! Please no!! NOOOoooo!!"
    Kur looked at one of the photos, the only one he had not crumpled. In his still-kindly voice, he called to one of his subordinates as he examined the image of the small yellow-nosed ship launching it's torpedo payload.
   "Lieutenant, contact the capital. We'll need a replacement to command what's left of the late Sardon's squadron. And make sure they send me a competent captain this time."
   Kur crumpled up the last photo, crossed his arms behind his back and resumed his duties.

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