General Tal sat for a while, thinking over the scientist's proposal. Caltu stood still and awkward. Razaal just kept silent, looking out the plastic sheet that served as a window for the General's tent.
General Tal disrupted the silence with the squeak of his chair as he rose to his feet.
"The issue is I cannot spare anyone in support of your mission."
Razaal looked back to the General, relieved that there would be no mission.
"But, I am willing to give it a shot."
Caltu flashed a smile, tightly drawn, but a clear sign of relief.
Razaal continued to stare out the window. Damn, he thought. He would do his duty, whatever he was asked, but he wasn't exactly thrilled at the idea of an unnecessary mission that wasn't going to guarantee results. Razaal didn't exactly find himself wowed by technological solutions... too many malfunctions on the battlefield had made him wary.
"Kameku, you're rated for covert operations, are you not?"
Of course, I am, you already chose me for this, Razaal thought.
"Sir, yes, sir. I am qualified for strike-team operations and solo missions."
General Tal said nothing for a few moments, clearly weighing his options. Finally, he took a seat back at his desk.
"Captain Kameku, you are to lead a mission escorting Research Caltu to the staging area where the trenching device is located. You will take two additional soldiers with you from your unit. See to it that you get Caltu to the trenching device so he can activate his program. If it works, you are to set it after the main encampment of the Imperial forces and signal us immediately for a tactical update. Understood?"
Razaal rose to his feet and gave the salute, a short bow with a fist planted in the center of his chest.
"Understood, Commander. I'll begin preparing for the operation immediately."
Razaal walked past Caltu who was still enthusiastic about the operation. He shot him a cold glance. Razaal stopped short of the entrance of the tent, waiting for the scientist.
"Oh, and Research Caltu," General Tal added, "see to it you don't get my soldiers killed."
Caltu's smile vanished.
General Tal said nothing, instead, he poured over a datapad. Caltu hung around for a few more seconds, thanked the General, and stepped out of the tent.
Razaal followed after.
It was a terrible mission, but Razaal had just the soldier in mind for it. He wasn't happy that he'd need to drag Bradley along, but he felt all the safer with his best rifleman at his side. The terran had a natural fighter's spirit, especially because it seemed like the Empire wanted his people dead in no uncertain terms.
As Razaal had expected, Bradley was at one of the tables at the mess tent, funneling his food into his mouth, his rifle on the bench next to him. He carried it everywhere.
"Bradley, front and center."
Bradley whirled around and threw his leg back over the bench, hopping to his feet. He snapped into his salute, mid-chew.
"Sir," he said, spitting out half-chewed crumbs.
"At ease, Bradley."
Bradley swallowed his mouthful of food, his gaze was on Caltu.
"What is this about, Captain?"
Razaal gestured to the spot on the bench next to Bradley, occupied by the gun. Bradley hesitated for a moment and then moved the rifle to his other side. Razaal took a seat, Bradley followed, and Caltu sat to Razaal's right.
Razaal grabbed one of the small breadsticks from Bradley's tray and popped it into his mouth. Bradley looked annoyed.
"Researcher Caltu, care to make an introduction?"
Caltu peeked his head out from behind Razaal's. He reached over, in front of the terrekin, his hand extended to the terran, Bradley.
"Irm Caltu, Alliance Science Division. How do you do?"
Bradley waved away the scientist's hand, noticing the annoyance on Razaal's face.
"Second Officer Carlos Bradley."
Caltu was puzzled that Bradley wouldn't shake his hand, the typical Terran greeting. He slunk back onto the bench, unaware of Razaal's scowl. Razaal turned to Bradley.
"Researcher Caltu, here, wants to get us killed, Bradley. Do you want to die today?"
Bradley popped a breadstick into his mouth.
"Today seems as good a day as any, I guess."
To be continued...
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Cosmic Dash: Silver Spiral StoriesScience Fiction
This collection of original stories explores characters and settings from the science fiction webcomic Cosmic Dash. This collection features a novella, short stories, and flash fiction. Unless otherwise noted, all stories are appropriate for a gene...