Hammersmith. Chapter 4.

The sun set on the city. It gathered the last tendrils of golden red light and stole away behind the new taller buildings and the small ancient ones alike.

“Seems like we are always watching sunsets together. ”
“Arline, your always have a way to make me feel better. Even when we were kids.”
“Darren.” I swished my brown hair from my face as Darren, my older brother looked at me on the outdoor couch. “We always watch sunsets, as we are both night owls. I barely ever get up before mid day. After all in my job I mostly work at night.”
“I’ve learned to wake in the mornings. Sleep when I need. I can take a nap or sleep for days. I am really good at it. Used to drive her up the wall though.”
“Yes well she was a nurse!” I laughed.
“She just got her doctorate in Nursing actually. She was planning on doing a big lecture circuit with some of the other big wig medical types when I got my posting. She didn’t have to come. She was right though. We needed all the help we could get.”
Darren’s wife was a awesome nurse. She had helped everyone she could. It was her selflessness that meant she had given up her life so everyone else could survive the pirate attack.
“They came so fast. Hit us so expertly. It’s was like every weakness we had was exploited. I saw… They had weapons I have never seen before. Ones that shoot this paralyzing light. It’s worse than being hit with a Class 3” .

The pirates in the belt were the Solar forces biggest bugbear. Too well resourced to take out as a group and too easily scattered. They attacked automatic mining and construction stations stealing all the resources and reprogramming the bots to send the shots of metals to pick up points they chose. By the time you got to one station and undid the work, they could hit five more. They had hit some poor manned miner freighters lately. One managed to kill them and take the freighter back but his co-pilot had died in the attack.
Darren had been sent to try and take their base of operations in the belt with a Warbird class fighter carrier. One of the clans of pirate had herd the military was on its way. Taken up a defensive position and knocked out the military ships. Killed Darren’s wife when she had set the self destruct and shut the bridge doors. Darren and a scant few others survived. It was still being investigated by the military police. Someone leaked info. God help them if they are found. Penalties ranged from painful death to even more painful death.

So I was now re-tasked with military intelligence on the Pirates. It had been my job to look into internal affairs but I asked for a transfer when I heard of the disaster. However when Darren had got back to Earth I had to look after him. Taken my long service leave. My CO told me if I hadn’t asked for it he would have ordered me too. “I can’t really afford to loose two Captains, get him better Arline.” My CO was fleet commander for the Sols Space Force, what was left of it with all the pirates.

Darren had a unkempt face and tracksuit pants on. A large band shirt which said “Mountain Killers” in colorful flowers and skulls. He looked a mess. Military families like ours really don’t know what to do with time off. My dad had always been training for the next mission. God only knew who Darren’s dad did. His birth certificate didn’t even has his name in it. Just had “not disclosed to Canadian Register”. Mum was a Canadian resident who emigrated from Russia, so his birth was her new nations responsibility, not his fathers. Now in my house Darren’s recovery was my duty. We needed good men like him. Especially after the incident. That mess was still at hart after 50 years. You can expect that with so many people dying,

“The counselor is coming at 1500. A MP from the 2nd division an hour after that. You going to be in those clothes when they come?”
I was certain this tactic wouldn’t work, but anything was worth a shot.
“I almost feel overdressed. I’m mourning my wife. She’s dead. I left her. It’s my fault.”
“Captain Darren. You are a officer in the military. Death is your job. You can’t blame it on yourself. She died because the Pirates had a exact knowledge of the ships and time you were going to be their. It was her quick thinking that saved those who did survive.”
“She’s still dead. If it’s not my fault whose is it? I was in charge of the ship. As ranking CO I should have been the one to do what she did. I didn’t. I just ordered the evacuation and got as many off the shop as it was about to blow. Trying to hope that the Pirates didn’t take out the EVA modules as they thrusted out.”
“That was your job. Her job was to look after the crews health and safety. She was the head of the medical section on the ship. She shut herself on the bride while you were getting the crewmen onto the EVAs. You didn’t even know till you was off the ship.”
“I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!”
His anger filled the space in the room like liquid fire in space. It was full of self hate, rage, feelings of uselessness and lastly doubt. He wept quietly. We sat in this wet silence for about 30 minutes before I finally felt he could hear me again.
“We do what we need to.”
It was the militaries unofficial moto.
“we do.”
He agreed.
At that point the doorbell chimed.

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