Chapter 14: Ethan
“You’re sure this is going to work?”
“You’re sure you have enough evidence?”
“You’re sure you can trust her?”
“Yes, Ethan. Yes. This will work. Don’t worry,” Dante finally says, losing his patience.
The both of us wait in the hangar bay for our special guest to arrive. It had been about a week since the incident.
I came out relatively unscathed with the exception of bumps, bruises, and my elbow. Elena didn’t fair so well with her ribs. The piece of equipment falling on her must have struck her head as well given the fact that she also had a concussion.
Medical saw fit to keep her in the infirmary until they could determine a clean bill for her. I’ve visited her every day since then.
Even if she has been distant since we got back…
Cain sent off the evidence that had been collected, with redactions that exonerated her of any guilt. It was a very short period of time before the Commander of the Navy decided to take a personal trip here himself to investigate.
“XR-3 Zeus, this is Falcon-1. Are you ready for dock?” A voice calls over our comms.
Dante lifts a finger to his ear, keying his mic “Copy Falcon-1. This is Sec Lead. You’re clear for docking. We’re ready to retrieve you,”
“Roger that, Sec Lead,”
I look on as a small ship passes through the shield array into the hangar bay, setting down in front of Dante and I. It’s door slides open and out steps a man of a tall stature. He walks like a man of his status, back straight, eyes forward, almost marching with each step.
Dante and I snap to a salute. He stops in front of us, shifts his eyes to each of our faces, and clasps his hands behind his back.
“Relax gentlemen,” He says.
Dante and I look at each other, breathing a sigh of relief as we take a more casual stance.
The Commander looks at Dante’s chest, then back to his eyes “First Class Hall. Tell me how a Sec Specialist manages to get his wings,” He says as he points to the identifying patch resting above Dante’s UEDF patch on the left side of his chest.
“I was pilot previously, sir,” Dante answers snappily.
A smile forms at the corner of Commander Walker’s mouth “I thought you were that Hall. I remember you. Best god damn pilot I had ever seen. You know they’re using your missions for examples and simulation runs back the academy now, right?”
“I had heard that, yes sir. I was just doing my job, though,”
I stare at Dante with surprise at his reputation.
“And giving a damn fine performance while doing it,”
The Commander then turns his head towards me. He narrows his eyes, trying to recognize me. He shakes a finger at me as the memory comes to him.
“Lieutenant Blake,” He looks at my collar “Or Petty Officer Blake, I should say,”
“An unfortunate mess you ended up in. It was up to me, I wouldn’t have been so hard on you,”
I look at the Commander, confused “All due respect, sir. But it is up to you,”
I notice Dante place a hand over his face and shake his head. The Commander gives me a hard stare for moment. I notice a smile grow on his face until he lets out a chuckle.
He shakes his head as he pats my shoulder “Typical drop troopers. You say what you mean and mean what you say. I like that. Tell you what, I’ll see what I can do,” He says.
I give an approving nod in return. Commander Walker deliberately moves his head from left to right, exaggerating the action of searching.
“Where’s Captain Anderson?” He asks.
“Right here, sir,” I hear Anderson’s voice behind me.
Dante and I turn around as Walker steps in between us to greet Anderson. They shake hands.
“Apologies for my tardiness, Commander. I was just finishing up some progress checks,”
“No matter, Captain. I need to inform you, I’m not here for pleasure. All business, Anderson,”
“I’m not sure what you mean, Commander,”
“High Command received some…disturbing reports to say the least. Figured I’d come down personally to take a look,” Walker explains.
I lean towards Dante “They seem rather chummy, don’t you think?” I say quietly.
“It’s all formalities, Ethan. Don’t worry,” Dante reassures.
“If you’ll just follow me, we can go to the meeting room and discuss the matter, Commander,” Anderson says, motioning towards the hangar bay entrance.
“That would be ideal. And have Doctor Cain join us as well,” Anderson is taken aback by Walker’s order.
“Doctor Cain, sir? I fail to see why she needs to join us, sir. She’s a civilian contractor,”
“It’s a good thing that I know the reason, then, Captain. I expect she’ll join us shortly,” The Commander says in a cheerful sarcasm as he walks past Anderson, walking towards the exit.
Anderson stands in place, pondering as to why the Commander could possibly want Cain in the meeting.
He looks at Dante and I “You two, go collect the Doctor,”
“Aye, sir,” Dante says as we go our separate way from Anderson.
“How did he sound?” Doctor Cain asks as we escort her through the hallway.
“I’d say he’s a little too cheery if you ask me,” Dante speculates.
“I’m just not sure why he would want me there,”
“That makes all of us,” I comment.
The lot of us approach the door of the meeting room. Dante makes a knock on the door.
“Come in,” A muffled voice sounds.
I open the door, allowing Cain to step in.
“Doctor Cain. Please, take a seat,” Walker motions towards the seat opposite Anderson.
Cain nervously and quietly takes her seat at the table.
Dante and I turn to leave “Gentlemen,” The Commander speaks up.
Dante and I turn back towards him.
“Please, close the door. Make sure no one gets any bright ideas to enter or eavesdrop,” He orders.
“Yes, sir,” Dante answers as we take up positions on either side of the double doors.
“Wouldn’t it be easier to do that on the outside?” Dante mutters.
“He wants us in here for a reason,” I reply.
“Well, let’s get down to business shall we. Anderson, would you like to run me through what you’ve been doing here. Or rather, what this station does as a whole,”
“Well…sir…it’s a research facilitation hub,”
“What kind of research do you do?”
“Perhaps…Doctor Cain would be better suited for these questions, sir,”
Commander Walker looks at Anderson skeptically “You mean you’re in charge of this station and you have no idea what they do here?”
“No, I do, sir—”
“Then tell me,”
“Typically, our civilian scientists research and make advancements in the biological sector. They study the human body and develop technology that allow our soldiers to work more efficiently in the field,”
“That wasn’t so hard, was it? Doctor,” Walker turns toward Cain “Tell me what kind of advancements you’ve made,”
“Um…for which time period, Commander?”
“Let’s go with something easy. Tell me what you’ve developed this past cycle,”
“Well…this cycle we’ve focused on field medical treatments based on a survey we put out to soldiers who have seen combat. Many of them answered that the thing that impacts efficiency the most are physical injuries. That while they aren’t life-threatening, they take too much time to heal and cause too much pain to allow proper combat effectiveness,”
“Hm. I would tend to agree with those soldiers. So then…if that’s the case,” The Commander lifts a briefcase he had been carrying on to the table, opening it. He sifts through and tosses a file, intentionally left open on to the table “Tell me why in heaven’s name I received documents and pictures detailing the experimentation and research of biological weapons and genetic engineering from this backwater dump,” The Commander demands, his face now turned to seriousness.
“Captain…” He says, waiting for an answer.
Anderson and Cain stay silent. Walker slams his briefcase shut, causing a loud bang to echo through the room.
“Today!” He yells.
Anderson sighs “Sir, I don’t know where you received that report. But it is entirely false,”
“Is that so?”
“If it is not, then neither myself nor Doctor Cain had any knowledge of the experiments taking place,”
“Maybe you can explain to me why it was Doctor Cain herself who submitted the report then,”
Anderson’s mouth drops as he stares at Cain in shock.
“Shit,” Dante says under his breath.
“Why would you do that, Doctor Cain?” Anderson says, feigning ignorance.
Cain looks at Anderson indignantly, owning her role.
“Because I couldn’t sit idly by anymore while you conducted your sick experiments,” She says with a false conviction.
“You…you bitch!” Anderson explains as he jumps from his chair, hands balled into fists.
Dante steps forward - a little too fast in her defense for my liking – placing a hand on his pistol. Walker raises a hand towards Dante, halting him.
Anderson slowly sinks into his seat, eyes filled with violence still locked on Doctor Cain.
“I’ll be frank with you Captain. You can either admit to your wrongdoing now, and we can take care of this. It’ll be behind closed doors. You won’t be a Captain, hell, you won’t even be UEDF anymore. But you’ll get to leave with dignity. If you want to keep your pride, however, then this was just a formality. I will proceed to file charges against you, and you will have a hearing proctored by myself as soon as I deem it,” The Commander explains bluntly.
Anderson shakes his head, his mind already made up “I will not be subjected to this defamation,” Anderson gives Walker a hard stare “I’ll take my chances, Commander,”
Walker shakes his head in disappointment “Very well. Gentlemen, one of you please escort the Captain to a holding cell, pending his hearing,”
“Aye sir,” Dante says, stepping towards the Captain.
Anderson stands up, stubbornly pulling his arm away from Dante as he attempts to escort him from the meeting room.
Dante looks Anderson in the face smugly “Sir, don’t force me to have to control you,”
Anderson relaxes as he glares at Dante. I open the door for them as Dante steps out behind Anderson, moving to his side as he escorts him down the hallway.
“Make no mistake Doctor. It may have been omitted, but I know you had a hand in this as well. The second I get the evidence, you’ll be in a cell right alongside Anderson so you can…hash out your issues,”
“Well I wish you the best of luck on that, sir,” Cain responds.
I decide to step outside myself before either of them realizes I’ve been eavesdropping on their conversation. I breathe a very deep sigh of relief, knowing I escaped the tension of the room. The relief doesn’t last long however as Doctor Cain flails the door open and steps outside.
She walks past me, not even giving me a second look as she attempts to go about her day. I stare at her for a moment, thinking. I roll my eyes to myself as I make a decision against my better judgement. I jog to catch up to her.
“You okay doc?” I ask.
“What the hell do you care, Blake? I need to get back to work,” She responds as she quickens her pace.
“Well, Dante must see something in you, so I guess you can’t be all bad,” I reply, attempting to keep up with her.
Cain stops suddenly and turns toward me. I almost fall in to her as I struggle to a stop.
“What’s between Dante and I, is just that. Keep your nose out of it. As far as this hearing is concerned, make sure you do your part or there will be hell to pay for all of us. Understand?”
“Y…yeah. Sure,” I reply, taken aback by Cain’s unreserved response.
She glares at me for a moment before turning and walking away. I figure the best option is not to follow after her.
What the hell kind of relationship do they have?