SeerK here with a short story. Please be forgiving I am an amateur. Hope you enjoy, "The Fleet Marshals Doubt"
The air tasted stale in the chapel. The smell of incense and unwashed bodies filled Alex's nostrils. It had been a scant hour since the engagement with the Sorylians. The Bishop had insisted on having a service and giving thanks for the victory. Alex fidgeted with the collar of his uniform and let out a slow sigh. Victory. It didn't feel like a Victory. The second engagement in three weeks of deployment and Alex lost two heavy cruisers and almost all of the Frigates in the battle group. His second engagement as a Fleet Marshal and it felt like an abysmal failure. The Sorylians had laid a trap and Alex had advanced to quickly. Two Cerberus and eight Bulwarks and fallen in the ensuing close range engagement. The engagement against the Terrans a week before had gone well. Minimal losses and he had blooded the nose of the Infamous “Rad Hounds”.
The Sorylians had boarded a third Cerberus and folded away with it before Alex' flagship, The RNV Leonidas, could destroy it. Despite having destroyed the entire Sorylian flotilla he had lost most of his battle group in the process. It was a disaster. Fleet command was sending reinforcements, but Fleet Marshal Alpha Gronier was also coming. That meant a command review. His appointment to the Rense Navy was a great milestone only surpassed by his Promotion to Fleet Marshal Gamma.
Alex sat in contemplation as the command staff and bridge crew filed out of the small chapel. They looked tired. Alex could feel the doubt they had in his abilities as they saluted halfheartedly walking past him. He needed to rally them. Morale would be low given the losses. It would be an uphill battle to regain the trust of the crew. Make that crews. Alex was still adjusting to being in command of a fleet rather than a single vessel. Another long sigh escaped his lips. He sat weary, his head in his hands as the Bishop approached.
“I know how you must be feeling Fleet Marshal” Bishop Kelly sat on the bench beside Alex. He was a man of advanced years. His gray hair was close cropped and his clean shaven face was craggy and dusky in color. He unbuttoned the top buttons of his white service uniform and produced a flask from its inside pocket. He took a long draw on the flask and offered it to Alex. The Fleet Marshal looked up and held up his hand refusing the drink.
“Suit yourself sir” The bishop took another swig before putting the flask back in its pocket. “I have been in space for longer than you have been alive to be frank Sir”, “and I have seen my fair share of battles”. “You cannot blame yourself..... “
“Can't I?” “I ordered the Fleet forward to quickly and we paid for it in lives and ships”. Alex stood and turned to face the wall of the chapel and let out a long sigh. “The crew doubts me and I doubt myself, how can I lead now?”
Bishop Kelly leaned back and looked up at the dull drab gray ceiling of the ships chapel. “Well sir you suck it up and carry on” Fleet Marshal Gamma Alexander Kraft turned to face the Bishop. “Excuse me?” “ You heard me.......Sir.”
Alex was about to say something when the Bishop Continued. “Did you know I was at the battle of Cygnus 4?” Alex paused as he let the statement sink in. His anger at the Bishops familiarity suddenly ebbed away. “Really? What Ship?”
“The Ignatius Rex.........”There was a long pause. “Fleet Marshal Alpha Renses Flagship!?!?”
“Yes sir I was there when the Terrans destroyed it.” “Barely made it out”
“My God, I didn’t know Bishop Kelly.”
“The battle didn't go well, we were ambushed by 3 dreadnoughts with a host of battleships and cruisers” “The fleet was lead by none other that Admiral Vladimir Gravanivitch of the Rad Hounds”
Bishop Kelly began to drift off as he spoke. His thoughts elsewhere as he described the desperate battle. “The Admiral Stayed true and strong the whole time, even with the ship burning around him” “His first officer had to knock him out to get him off the ship, bastard was lucky I didn’t bring him up on charges”
Alex looked confused for a second before speaking “ That was a terrible day Bishop, We lost a lot of good men and woman as well as ships. We also lost a great man. Fleet Marshal Rense was a great man.”” What is your point though?”
“Well Sir, my point is this. No matter the odds or the situation you have to give the appearance of being strong.”” Even if you are about to douse your pants in fear you have to hold strong and inspire”
“Easier said than done Bishop”
Alex turned and started to walk out of the chapel. The bishop stood and paused in the aisle as the Fleet Marshal left.” The real trick sir, is to not blame yourself”
“ I thank you for your council bishop, I will try”
Bishop Kelly turned and took out his flask once again. He chuckled to himself. “ I don't blame my self for failing, I blame the Terrans. They got the drop on me , those crafty bastards.
Bishop Kelly Ignatius Rense thought to himself a moment. This kid should do fine if he can get over himself.
More next Friday
Crush The Alliance and as always..........