Chapter 6 - The Quality of Loyalty

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Eve heard a buzz on the entrance to her quarters, and lazily rose to answer. She pressed a button and the door slid aside to reveal the callers. It was Gideon and that other armsman Eve didn't know. She supposed he must be Gideon's partner.

"You two again?" asked Eve "Are the rebels back? I'll just walk this time if it's all the same to you."

"We're not going to the Cherub Bay," said the armsman whose name Eve still didn't know "And we'll be escorting you."

Eve decided she had to learn this guy's name at the earliest opportunity.

"Where are we going then?" she asked.

"The brig," he replied.

"No we're not," replied Eve, looking to Gideon and fully expecting to be let in on the joke.

"Yes we are," said Gideon, in a voice that changed the way Eve thought of him for the rest of her life "Come along peacefully."

"What in all the stars am I supposed to have done?" demanded Eve.

"That's not our concern," said the nameless armsman, grabbing Eve's arm harder than he had to "Our concern is bringing you to the brig."

And they did.

* * *

"Don't you think that's a bit of an overreaction?" asked Lord-Captain Methuselah.

He was in his private ready room, speaking to a man wearing an imperial military uniform on a viewscreen on the wall. The man had muttonchops and a grim looking face.

"These orders come all the way from the Emperor himself," replied the man on the screen "I speak with his voice in this matter. You will execute the girl and launch the abberant Seraphim into the heart of the nearest star. That is an order."

Lord-Captain Methuselah said nothing.

"Don't let your feelings cloud your judgement here, Lord-Captain. You have a duty. Eve Peleg had the opportunity to destroy the rebel Seraphim twice according to your own report. She elected not to do so both times. There is an unacceptable probability that she is compromised by rebel propaganda. She cannot be allowed to contaminate the fleet. What is the life of one girl when weighed against the Empire? Against the survival of the human species?"

The man on the screen had lost his cool for a moment, but quickly regained his composure.

"I trust you'll do the right thing."

"Of course, m'Lord," said the Lord-Captain.

The communication link was cut and his face disappeared. The screen resumed being a window into space.

* * *

Eve's cell was about the size of a coffin. It felt like it too. With space at such a premium on the fleet Eve didn't expect prisoners to be afforded much of it, but this was intolerable. She had been slid into it on a padded slab like a corpse in a morgue and then locked in. That was ten minute ago. Or five hours.

Eve's legs were restless. This was not her most pressing problem but it was the one her mind was the most focused on.

Eve's one solace was the terrible revenge she was going to wreak once the Lord-Captain heard about this and got her out of here. Those armsmen were going to be reassigned to janitorial duty, for starters, along with whoever else was behind this. And then she was going to tell Gideon's Mom on him. She was the highest ranking Cherubim pilot on the ship and she wasn't going to be treated like this.

Eve's legs were even more restless, and she couldn't bend her knees properly to stretch them. It was interfering with her revenge fantasy.

Eve wondered what time it was. If she missed a meal over this she was going to be even more furious. Eve wasn't sure how often the prisoners were fed either. She hoped it was according to their color's normal ration schedule.

She tried to move her legs to the side and bend her knees that way, but it didn't work. Legs: still restless. Eve promised herself to make Gideon tell her who his partner's name was and tell HIS Mom on him too. Everyone's Mom was going to hear about this.

There was a scratching noise, then a square outline of light, and Eve felt the slab beneath her being pulled out of the cell and herself along with it. She looked up and saw the face of the Lord-Captain.

Eve smiled. Now Gideon was going to get it. She sat up on the slab.

"You're in a lot of trouble, Eve," he said.

"For what?" she demanded, jumping down "What's this all about?"

"I'm not sure," said the Lord-Captain "I was hoping you could tell me. Because I just got order from the Emperor himself to send you out an airlock and shoot your Seraphim into a sun."

"No..." said Eve, trying to convince herself to believe it "No you haven't. That's ridiculous."

"I have Eve," said the Lord-Captain "And right now as an Imperial officer and a man I'm trying very hard to think of a reason why I should disobey these orders. I don't suppose you have one to offer?"

"So, what, so I'm supposed to beg for my life?" Eve wasn't sure if she was crying from anger or fear "I'm supposed to justify my existence or you're going to kill me?"

She was dizzy, and grabbed hold of the slab to steady herself.

"Why didn't you finish off the rebel Seraphim?" asked the Lord-Captain "Why did you let the pilot live?"

"Because there's so few of us left!" Eve screamed at him "Why do we have to keep killing each other?"

The Lord-Captain couldn't look her in the eyes after that.

Eve was incoherent by this point, the emotional breakdown she had been fighting off all this time coming crashing through like a tidal wave. She struggled to catch her breath.

"Please... please, I don't want to die..." she finally managed between sobs.

"I'm sorry," the Lord-Captain said "There's nothing else I can do."

Then the he turned and left, without putting Eve back in her cell.

Or locking the door behind him.

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