Engagement part 2 by Ronald Faltus

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"Come in."

Captain Aswaud was seated at his desk looking over the action report form the earlier combat. The quarters were quite small, only enough room for a small fold down bed, desk and rack of shelves. The Azorean Grey was a fast response cruiser, designed to achieve great speeds at the expense of size. To keep the weight down, habitation spaces were kept at a minimum. So Aswaud wasn't afforded the same amount of personal space that was offered to captains of the larger battleships in the fleet. Not that he minded, if his crew was forced into camped quarters, so could he.

Lieutenant Myers entered, placed a red folder on his desk, stood at attention and presented herself, waiting for permission to speak. Her hair was still unwashed, now stiff with dried blood, but at least she had allowed them to put in the sutures to close the gash.

"At ease Myers, were off the bridge."

"Sir, I wish to..."

"Brice. Like I said, we are off the bridge." Aswaud understood that the formal chain of command had its importance; it's what kept crew operating up to the military standard. But there were times and places for such rigidity. Now was not one of them.

She forced his name from her throat; not out of disgust but more that it was against everything she had been taught at the academy. "Brice, I wish to apologize for questioning you decisions not to pursue the two fighters. It was not my place to question your orders."

Aswaud looked at the young Lieutenant, trying to read the woman's expression. Asking that she use his first name had made her uncomfortable, which wasn't his objective. He just was trying to impress upon the young officer that out on the fringes of deep space, etiquette was a luxury. He was much more interested in the performance of his command staff, not on how they addressed him in private.

"Myers, it is your place to question my decisions, and in retrospect, you were right. We should have intercepted the attack fighters."

"Excuse me." She nearly fell back against the bulkhead, caught off guard by the captain's admission. Even though he defied standard procedures, his decision had successfully saved the Sable and her crew. If the situation was reversed and she was the one in command, there would now be one less cargo hauler to worry about.

Aswaud caught the surprised look on the Lieutenants face, and was somewhat pleased he was finally able to pierce her stoic expression. "You were right, if we had engaged the fleeing craft, we probably would have gotten into maximum firing range, and a few well placed shots later they would have been destroyed. And even then, we would still have been in position to come about and take out the missile boat before it could jump away."

"But, the Sable wouldn't have survived."

Aswaud rubbed his hands together, impressed by her reaction. It is one thing to issue orders archive the operation's goals, it's another to understand that sometimes the mission is less important than collateral damage. "Yes true, but protecting deep space haulers isn't why we are out her, is it.

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