607 – Conscience

“All enemy ships have been destroyed or disabled, Captain.”

“Any more hostiles in the vicinity?”

“No, sir. All sensors show clear space.”

“Very well. Prepare rescue teams. I want all ships searched for survivors.”

“We suffered no casualties, sir.”

“I meant their ships.”


“You heard me. I want all survivors transferred to our ships.”

“With all due respect, Sir. We are at war and they are the enemy. We suffer losses just like they do. Why should we help them?”

“There’s a difference between combat casualties and murder. If we leave those people out here so far away from their fleet and with life support failing that’s exactly what we would be doing. Besides, regardless of which side we chose in this conflict, we are all human. I’m not letting anyone die like that.”

“This goes totally against our orders, not to mention fleet regulations. High command will not be happy about it.”

“Hight command is never happy about anything anyway. Giving them one more reason to justify their dissatisfaction is hardly something that should bother us.”

“Sir, you know that it would be my duty to relieve you of command and arrest you if you aid the enemy like this.”

“I know, but you don’t have to do it right away, do you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Once those people are on board they will automatically become either prisoners of war or refugees, depending on whether they are military personnel or civilians. Am I right?”

“Yes, that’s what fleet regulation dictates. But it’s a norm that hasn’t been applied since…”

“That’s all that matters. Once all survivors are safely onboard, I will voluntarily resign my command, accept full responsibility for any rules or regulations we break and submit myself to your authority. You have my word. But for now, let’s not have any more unnecessary deaths.”

The first officer looked at his captain for a long time with a mixture of pity and sincere admiration.

“I’ll organize the rescue teams. Our men can justify it by sayin we ordered them to search the enemy ships for any valuable intelligence and they just stumbles upon the survivors.”

“Thank you.”

“You do realize this will be the end of your career.”

“Perhaps, but it’s a small price to pay.”

“Sir, I wish it didn’t have to end like this.”

“But you have your duty, I understand. Don’t worry to much about me, I don’t think they will be terribly eager to court-martial one of their own ‘war heroes’, no matter how pissed they are. They’ll probably just retire me or send me to some desk job.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. You’re a fine soldier and a good friend. These men will be fortunate to have you as their captain. But regardless of anything you might have learnt from me, I only hope there’s one thing you can learn from yourself.”

“What’s that?”

“That even if your sense of honor and duty are important, they will never be as crucial as trusting your own heart when it comes to knowing the right thing to do.”

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