Breakfast Serial is a serialized collection of short stories. We will post an episodic entry each week.
“You do, don’t you? She died, and you don’t want to live without her!” The first officer looked at the captain, face buried in his hands. Turning to the command screen, the young officer knew she had to move quickly if there were to be any hope saving herself and the untold millions who would die in the the ensuing war.
“Computer, the captain has been deemed unworthy to command. Under section 8, subsection 2 of the FCP, I am taking command of this ship.”
“I am First Officer Bey Jo-Cho, officer number JCB480222. I received my commission upon graduating top of my class at Fleet Academy. A veteran of five years, I have commanded several cruisers under the authority of Captain Jek Wzro, in active war zones and on exploratory missions. I am the first officer, and I am taking command due the captain’s incapacitation.”
“Computer, countermand that order!” The captain’s eyes were red with grief and wide with fear.
“AUTHENTICATING. PLEASE AWAIT A RESPONSE.”
Jo-Cho checked her forearm computer. The counter had now reached three minutes.
“COMPUTER SHUT DOWN IN PROGRESS. SECONDARY SYSTEMS INITIATING.” The lights flickered as the command screen went dark. Suddenly, the whole ship shuddered. The engine’s blast shield was beginning to fail.
Neither officer looked at the other. Silence had taken control of the bridge.
“SECONDARY COMPUTER SYSTEMS ONLINE. ACTING CAPTAIN JO-CHO, I AM NOW AWAITING ORDERS.”
“Suspend all standing orders. Shut down the engines according safety protocols and immediately alter our course so as to fly parallel to but not cross into the Treaty Zone.”
“COMMAND ACCEPTED. EXECUTING.”
The rumble of the engines that two sets of ears had become unknowingly acclimated two was suddenly replaced by echoes of silent relief.
The acting captain finally turned to face the man she had just usurped. He was nearly bent double in his chair, weeping.
“I’m sorry, Captain. I know you’re distraught, but we will help you get through this.” She put her hand on his shoulder and stood by his side silently, letting cries fill the void.
“Good work, Bey,” the old man breathed deeply, sighed, and stood up after a few minutes of unrestrained emotion, “You did exactly what I’d hope you would do.” Bey was speechless as the captain wiped the last few tears from his eyes. “I couldn’t command the ship to abort the suicide mission it was already on, so I decided to accelerate the timeline, knowing that you would attempt to take command.”
“And once the computer deemed you to be unfit, it would shut down and initiate the secondary systems which are not bound by any existing commands.”
“But for the computer to accept me in your place, the computer would have to believe that you were unfit for command, truly suicidal.”
“Since the day my wife died, there hasn’t been an hour that has gone by that I haven’t missed her enough to wanted to join her…” The captain’s voice trailed off, mired in emotions he’d been trained to control.
“Don’t worry, captain,” the acting captain said, taking her mentor’s hand in her own. “I am here for you. You are not alone.”
“Thank you, Bey,” the captain and gentleman kissed her hand and patted it with fatherly affection.
“Now, we started to this mission trying to find those who were responsible for her death, so let’s get back to it.” Bey’s voice had begun to reflect the authority she’d earned, the confidence she’d displayed.
“We never left it, Acting Captain Jo-Cho.” He smiled slightly at her look of confusion. “Cosmic Cruiser 325 was my wife’s last assignment. This was the place she was last seen alive.”
The two captains, one young and one old, looked around the bridge. “If there is a clue to her killer’s identity…we’ll find it here.”