“One last call of honour and a few questions to answer and I’ll shut us down,” Hendricks muttered as the helm door tried to close but jammed half open. The halls rang to the sound of his boots as he walked wearily down the ship to the hospital, lying on the blood stained floor were the remnants of the 7th; “A braver group of men I never met, nor will I meet. Don’t worry, your sacrifice will be recoded,” he thought as he walked to the bed occupied by Dennis Charnellor, the soldier drifted in and out of consciousness, lucid for a second then raging with fever, during one of the lucid periods when Hendricks said, “Your sacrifice took more Goddamn balls than I have, Dennis.”
“Sir,” Charnellor started, before he was allowed to speak further, Hendricks stopped him.
“Dennis, you can cut the red tape, from here on I’m rank and file like the rest of you brave men.”
The surgeon who was operating glanced up in shock and started to speak, but remained lost for words.
“Allow me,” Hendricks continued, “I’m tired of the bullshit we keep getting dealt and when or if we get back, I am handing in my resignation and becoming a soldier which is what I joined for; I’m sick and tired of politics and saying a horrendous defeat is a tactical withdrawal. Doc, is it possible you can save his arm?”
The doctor glanced down at the severe lacerations and torn muscles and replied, “We can try an Orgamanian transplant, the operation has only been done twice before and in a sanitised ward and the patient died both times, the cause was blood poisoning caused by the blood from the Orgaman appendage attacking the usual cells.”
Hendricks didn’t think when he replied, “If you can do the operation, I think Dennis deserves the chance; no matter how remote. I will leave the ward with the last of the air supply, when I close the door and go to my room I am turning her home and hoping some of us make the trip in deep hibernation.”
“Thank you, we won’t need much more time. Once the operation has started we only have a few minutes before the cells get attacked after that we need to rely on a blood transfusion.”
“Use what you think you’ll need, doc, I don’t think anybody will mind. He gave his life for us and now it’s out turn to return the favour.”
Hendricks left the ward and made his way back to what remained of his room, with a kick the door flung open and he walked in. He sat on his bed and turning the vocilator on then dictated his last message as an officer:-
“This is the final message from former Gardatrousier Malcolm Hendricks of the Explorator vessel Forgstriker. The men are dead or dying and the ship is down to minimal power usage with only the ward using oxygen. The men with the greater chance of survival are in deep hibernation as we are in deep space, returning from Gameroon to Baal and have no idea which sector we are in after running battle with many rogue vessels, if anybody receives this message, you can tell the great and wonderful Emperor his empire is as full of shit as he can imagine, my men died for his foolish beliefs, as of this moment I hand my resignation in, I don’t think it matters as I doubt we will get back home; Hendricks out.”
As his last command, Hendricks said, “All controls off and divert oxygen to the ward until commanded by surgeon Willisher that he does not need any more.”
In the ward, surgeon Willisher tried valiantly to combat the alien blood and realised the situation had become a losing battle, but he was determined not to let a braver man than he would be, die without going the extra mile. He fought the alien cells with blood capsules and was about to implant one when he collapsed on the floor; getting up he realised his dire situation and he made the call, “This is surgeon Willisher, I am handing control of Forgestrker over to the ship. The patient undergoing Orgamanain transplant requires a capsule of blood every six hours to combat the alien cells. My oxygen is almost out and I will be here in the emergency tent should we get rescued; Willisher over and out.”
Willisher crawled to the tent and pulled the zipper closed as he heard the ship change to auto-pilot and stop pumping the air; the only thing remaining; hope somebody out in the vast darkness of space ahead received Hendricks’ message and was close enough to come to their aid.