The Last oft the Brave : Divided We Fall

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Chapter 1

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JUNE 22, 2550 [14:54] (Military Calendar)

UNIFIED MILITARY HEADQUARTERS WEST POINT

EARTH, SOL SYSTEM, SECTOR 001

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Johnathan Mercer sat awkwardly in the old wood chair. The entire room has served various purposes for nearly 700 years since it was originally established as the United States Military Academy in 1804. Now he sat here, being tried for several charges: mutiny, insubordination, negligence, and loss of a ship. All four were grounds for loss of rank, dishonorable discharge, imprisonment or in rare cases death. However, that hasn’t happened since 2440. As he sat there, he can still remember as if it happened minutes ago as the JAG Officer questioned him for nearly 6 hours on every little detail from the Battle of the Binary Stars which happened six months ago. For most of it, his own JAG Officer who is representing him was silent. Simply sitting there unsure how to counter the slew of questioning.

Not that it was unusual.

It was common in cases of loss of a ship and in turn negligence where the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer are questioned about their actions, logs, and orders given. Mercer wouldn’t be surprised if there is a backlog of court martials for Commanders who lost their ships in battle and survived to tell the tale.

Snapping his attention back to the Naval Officer who came out:

“All rise.” As the entire room did so as a collective unit, the four judges - fellow commanders and flag officer - and the Military Justice walked into the room and took their seat. “You may sit.” Doing as they did, the judges and justice all look at the room.

“Major Mercer, please stand...” Standing up, he curled his hands into fists as they sweated. “It is the decision of this court,” Glancing over at Admiral Burnham he saw him glaring daggers at him. The man was never a friendly individual who hated his guts since is son was killed when they were at MLAMS. “That on the charges of mutiny, insubordination, negligence and loss of a ship, we clear you of any wrongdoing.” Nodding, the Court Justice tapped his gavel bringing end to the court martial. “This court is adjourned.”

Taking a deep breath, Mercer was conflicted. He had mutinied against his Commander but had done it in a vain attempt to save his ship. That said his own subordinate had come to his defense saying his overthrow of Commander Adar had saved hundreds. While he was happy to avoid jail time, he at the same time had hoped he would be forced to leave the military, it would be an easy way out. Most military officers’ resignations are denied these days.

Turning around, he shook the hands of his J.A.G Officer before exchanging thanks. Looking behind him he saw a familiar face in a slightly outdated uniform.

Cursing under his breath, he grabbed his hat before rushing out of the court room. As he exited the doors, he felt a hand fall on his shoulder.

“John. Can we talk?” Grimacing, he turned around and faced a person who looked very much like his father. An identical old version of who his father could have been.

“Admiral?” His grandfather raised his right eyebrow, ever so wrinkling his forehead.

“Really going to call me ‘Admiral’ son? I mean, I am your grandfather.” Giving his grandfather a deadpan look, at times he did not deserve the name.

Looking him in the eye, he looked at his grandfather and said:

“Not really.” Shrugging of his hand, he quickly began to walk towards the doors to the pavilion on campus.

“John, we need to talk...”

“About what?” Turning around he looked at his grandfather. The man he hadn’t seen since his wedding twenty years ago. “You haven’t shown any interest in me. I mean... fuck.” He stopped. “You decide to show your face at my court martial, but couldn’t have been there while I was in a coma when I was 17?”

“It was a different time.” Calming down he looked at his grandfather. “I was out at war, you know, serving on the Frontier. Had there been something I could have done, I would have.” The old man looked at his grandson, the person who had grown from a young orphan into a military leader. “I tried to be there. I did.”

“Okay, maybe once. But you were not there for my entire life. You sent me to military school when I needed family. You abandoned me. Grandma had really no choice because of her position. But you, you had a desk job and took the easy way.”

“John, I didn’t abandon you. You lost your father. I lost my youngest son...” His grandfather looked at him, before giving him a gentle look. “Walk with me?” Resisting for a moment, Johnathan nodded, before stepping out of the door and putting his hat back on. Walking onto the west bastion of the ancient fort before turning towards the pavilion. Stopping for a moment, he looked at the memorial dedicated to all those who died in service to the Academy. The memorial has been expanded to include the modern history when it became a academy once more in 2104.

Sitting in front of the wall was a statue of the Excalibur - his fathers ship. It had been one of the last great Endurance Class Destroyers to serve in the war.

“Your name could have been on here.” The entire wall was still relatively small. Over 30,000 Naval Officers had been killed in the war, but only the bridge crew was on it to help with the space. Walking up to the memorial wall he saw it sitting right there:

Cmd. Edward Mercer (2479-2525)

Looking, he presumed that his dad’s death date was a estimate. They never found his ship. Only six years old at the time.

“So, what do you want?” He looked at his grandfather.

“To know if you are, okay?” Looking at the old man curiously, Johnathan felt skeptical of his worries. He never seemed to be like that. “Honestly, when I saw your ship as destroyed, not knowing if you were alive, it was like I was dead. Thing is, losing a ship is hard, but being blamed for it is worse.”

“I’m not okay. I am considering applying for a medical discharge. At least taken off active duty. Thing is, I don’t think they will consider it.”

“If you decide to do that, I will respect it. I can pull strings.”

“I know.” Turning to his grandfather, he gently smiled at him, a change for once. “Look, I need to go. The transport back home leaves soon. But give grandma my best?”

“Will do, son.” Heading back to his original destination he stopped for a second before turning around and hugging his grandfather. “Be safe?”

Nodding, Johnathan turned around before heading towards the space tether to the station.

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