“Our final fatality list on Janoor III is 3,751.” Crawford sat at the conference room table on the Olympic with the senior command team from his ship and Mackenzie. “Thanks to Charlie, we have a nearly complete list of people requesting to be transported off the planet and moved elsewhere. Charlie?”
Hargraves had two PADDs before him as he navigated the massive amounts of data, “2,574. We’ve got a capacity for 5,000 in an emergency on Mack, so we’ll be ok. Engineering has made great headway in getting decks cleared and the structural damage repaired to the point where we can safely go to warp speed.” He tapped at the other PADD, “We lost most of the central government in the attack. I’m working with the Under Secretary of Agriculture to form an interim government while we sort out how to hold elections.”
Okada was up next, “The city of Polaris is a total loss. Our infrastructure teams have been working on a report, and I’ve taken an early look – and it isn’t good. To restore Polaris would break this colony’s economy several times over, and we’ve asked Colonial Operations for assistance…Atega got stuck in a circle of holds, transfers and leaving messages. Nobody in the city elected to stay…they’re either on Charlie’s list or moving to the other colony cities.”
Wren shook her head at the devastation, “I can’t imagine anybody will want to live in Polaris.” Reading the reports had been enough for her. Hell had come to Janoor III, and the smoke would be never truly clear.
Charlie agreed, “They’ve taken to calling it ‘The Ghost City’ or ‘City of Death.’ The Chief Diplomatic Officer had more to share, “Diplo is refusing our requests to qualify this as a refugee-level event, so I’m coding it as a resettlement operation, and so far, they’re not pushing back.” He didn’t add that he’d had a few choice words for everyone involved.
The last reports were given, and the room cleared until it was just Crawford and Walton. He stood from his chair and sat beside her, “How’s Park?” He’d been keeping an eye on her case. Her return to life on the operating table had added to the legend of the Mack’s Chief Medical.
“She was discharged this morning and put on limited duty. She’s lucky to be alive. How’s Dread?”
He indicated his thanks to her question with a nod of his head, “She’s in recovery and should be back to limited duty this afternoon. She’s just as lucky. We both nearly lost our XOs.” He leaned back in the chair, “How are you feeling?”
She chuckled, “Take your pick. Shitty, like hell, or my personal favorite – like someone dropped a Galaxy Class repeatedly on my head.”
“Galaxy is a fat bastard.” He laughed at her long stare of offense, “I know, I know…you have a thing for the fat one.”
Wren enjoyed the banter with Pete. “The fat one had a habit of saving the galaxy repeatedly, so take that.” She felt a hesitant smile return to her face and welcomed the warmth it brought her. “You ever think of giving up the chair if they asked you?”
Crawford glanced at her sidelong, “Stepping into a Fleet Captain or Admiral role? I don’t know. Why are you asking?”
Walton sank into the chair, “It’s crossed my mind since stepping aboard the Mack. A part of me loved going from ship to ship, patching up the mistakes and problems…but I never got to know anybody for long. It was always short. Here…I have a chance to make something that lasts.” She shrugged and pulled herself out of her chair, “I’ve got a lot of years before I even imagine myself as a Fleet Captain. The Mack is a beautiful ship..and she needs me.”
Pete stood up, “I would say the same for you – you need her as much as she needs you, Wren.” She felt her smile widen, and they embraced, feeling the warmth between them grow. They separated awkwardly, and she gave a small wave before exiting the room. Crawford stared at the space where she had stood. He whispered to himself, “Well…that’s…new.”