Chapter 45

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An alarm awoke him.

Not his daily alarm. An emergency alarm.

Osterman gasped, and gripped the sheet as he sat up, searching the room with bleary eyes for the source of the alarm.

Hope Runt's alright...

In the dim, compact captain's bunk, the glow of a datapad was the only thing providing light. Osterman reached across his tangled sheets and grabbed the pad, starting to sit up.

A message flashed in bold red across the screen, along with an urgent alert.

He rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and looked at the message.

Osterman-

We just received a message from Runt on an encrypted channel. He sent us the datapack from his contact, as well as a message about the resupply chain. Very urgent.

-Cameron

Osterman sighed, and glanced at the clock in the upper right hand of the datapad.

He'd gotten a little over five hours of sleep.

It'll have to do. He thought, flipping the covers back. He smacked the light switch, and started searching for his uniform...

~

The bridge was as busy as it had ever been. With multiple shifts and watches running at any given second, the bridge and all other systems were manned with fresh personnel at all times. Only Osterman, and a few other high-ranking positions, were denied their rest as the situation evolved.

It wasn't much worse than working overtime, though. And this... this was for a better cause that simple business. This was for Socotra. This was for Pathmos.

This was for Runt.

Osterman pressed his cap on as he marched to the center of the bridge, clearing his throat to get Cameron's attention while his assistant worked on a control surface. The rest of the staff continued working, several of them nodding to him or saluting as he walked down the broad, smooth surface of the control floor.

"Cameron, I got your message. Fill me in." he said, marching up and leaning on the commander's chair.

His aide glanced away from the control surface, and towards Osterman, as he worked.

"We got a message from Runt. The situation has turned south. He also sent the data from his contact. I'm contacting the heads of intelligence from Pathmos and Imbra now."

Osterman felt a jolt in his stomach. A touch of worry mixed in with the before-breakfast hunger to renew the ache of nausea he'd been battling since the attack. He cleared his throat, and glanced across the bridge in search of something to eat...

To no avail.

"What's gone wrong?" He asked, already licking his lips.

Osterman looked out of the massive glass panel before him as he listened.

"He gave us information about the vessel he's on." Cameron said. "He's got pretty good evidence that it's being captained by the MLA. He's concerned that there may be more operatives onboard."

Osterman's appetite evaporated. In one heartbeat, his mouth went dry and thoughts of food left his mind. He needed coffee, aspirin, and maybe something solid to hold it all down.

The last thing Runt needed as more hazards. He was already in deep enough. And with rescue being days away...

"This is not turning out well." He mumbled.

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