“No!” Gideon yelled.
“Oh,” Seabrook said with mock incredulity, “I do hate it when you’re wrong.”
He turned to Gideon. “She was such a nice girl, so honest and fair. Would have been nice if her sacrifice had meant something… You know, served a purpose… accomplished something… But she just died and took your ship with her. Ha! I guess you lost two girls in one go.”
Without warning Gideon’s right hand shot out and punched Seabrook in the nose. While his left hand grabbed Seabrook’s gun. Seabrook stepped back in surprise and Gideon pointed the weapon square between Seabrook’s eyes.
Gideon brought his full presence to bear and addressed the mix of pirates and mercenaries, all of whom had their weapons trained on Gideon. “I am Gideon Wright of the Ftharan house of Clawf, and commander of his special ops. In Boss Clawf’s name and with support of the Ftharan Syndicate I hereby take command of this operation. Escort the prisoners from the bridge and place them in the estate rooms of the Grand Premiere. By order of the Ftharan Syndicate they are not to be harmed until they stand before the Tribunal and face the consequences for their crimes against Fthara. Any man who lays a hand on any one of these prisoners shall forfeit his life in exchange no matter his house or place.”
Seabrook laughed and then clapped his hands. “Well, well, what a performance.” He turned to the others in the room. “Did you all see that? He’s something else now, isn’t he?”
Gideon cocked the weapon. “Stand down by order of the Ftharan Syndicate.”
Seabrook stepped forward putting his forehead against the muzzle of the gun. “You want to make a sacrifice that matters? You want to go down in a blaze of glory? Then shoot me, between the eyes. I’m unarmed. You want the promotions and glory you’ve deserved for so long, then shoot me. Boss Clawf wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Shoot him!” The Grand Premiere yelled.
“I’m right here,” Seabrook said. “All you’ve gotta do is pull the trigger and you’ll be the hero, the savior of the Grand Premiere. What are you waiting for? Heck, everyone here wants you to do it, even my own men would like to see me go down. All you’ve gotta do is put a little pressure on that trigger and you’ll make all your wildest dreams come true. And maybe, just maybe that wench’s sacrifice’ll actually mean something.”
Gideon’s fist shot forward like lightning to land a blow on Seabrook’s face, but Seabrook was faster. He pulled a dagger from his belt and stabbed Gideon in the stomach.
“So much for the hero,” Seabrook said.
Gideon fell to the floor.
Seabrook spat on him then turned to his commanders. “We don’t need hostages,” he said, “but leave the Grand Premiere alive for now.” He walked toward her and made a crude gesture. “I’m sure I can find a use for her.”
“Don’t kill them,” The Grand Premiere said. “Do what you want with me, but spare their lives.”
Seabrook smiled a dirty, lecherous smile. “Oh I plan to do with you what I want.”
He directed two of his men to hold her, while he advanced toward her and undid his belt.
Gideon lay on the floor. As his consciousness slipped away he offered a prayer. A prayer of forgiveness for what he was about to do, a prayer for the soul of Seabrook, devil though he be, and a prayer that justice would prevail whether he saw it through or not.
He lifted up the gun in his hand and shot Seabrook square through the brain pan. Even with eyes partially closed and a knife wound in his gullet he was a dead shot.
Seabrook’s body seemed to fall in slow motion as the transfer from standing to the floor mirrored the transition from life to death.
For the first time in all Gideon’s years as a law enforcement officer, for the first time in all his years as a man, he had ended another’s life. He had pulled the trigger and sent someone to meet their maker.
The events following went by in a blur for Gideon. Seabrook’s death put his hodge-podge army on the bridge in enough disarray for the captain and his crew to get the upper hand. Meanwhile the rest of the Grand Premiere’s ships had been able to beat back Seabrook’s armada. They were not winning, but they did give the flagship enough cover to make a jump to hyperspace.
Awards and ceremonies followed. The Grand Premiere promoted the captain of the flagship to Commander of all military operations and she offered Gideon Himson’s old position, Postal Commander.
Yet Gideon passed through these days like a zombie, never allowing his heart to feel in the trifold loss of his ship, his partner and his innocence. The life he had longed for and dreamed of was just beginning, yet he found himself no longer able to live it.
Gideon drove the hovercraft down the long driveway. He parked by an old shed whose anti-dust coating had rubbed away in spots.
He rung the old-fashioned doorbell and waited on the splintered wooden steps.
An old man answered the door. The metal brace that supported his back showed through the places in his clothes where the metal had rubbed it thin. He creaked as he walked and held a sandwich in one hand.
“Mr. Cofax?” Gideon asked.
The man nodded. His eyes widened as Gideon took off his hat.
“Can I come inside, Sir? I have a final delivery from your daughter.”
Star Date: 95141.3
To: Ms. Cassandra Falling, Grand Premiere of the Colonial Federation
From: Mr. Gideon Bartholomew Wright, Postal Inspector, Sector B12
Re: My Final Post
Ma’am, Let me first say that you do a humble Postal Inspector proud to offer him such a shiny title.
But in good conscience, I’ve got to turn you down. Those jobs’re for men like Himson, and I’m just not him. You can also consider this my resignation letter. I just don’t have it in me to do this job any longer.
The stars are calling and I don’t want to disappoint.
Best of luck,
Gideon Bartholomew Wright