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by Tom Verreault/jedion357

Nausea swirled in Groon’s head like a dust vortex till he was compelled to wretch but nothing would come. A cold and sandpaper like hand pushed him back into a reclining position as the gray vortex of confusion began to pull him under.

Distantly he heard a hissing voice say, “Ssssoon he will have no memory of the event.”

Later Warrant Officer Groon sat patiently through a Doctor’s discharge exam knowing the medical service would move at its own speed.

“Hey Doc, what happened to me? My last mission is pretty foggy in my mind and I have these dreams about someone saying I wouldn’t remember anything?”

The doctor stiffened then lied, “You’ve sustained massive head trauma which may have resulted in memory loss. Wait till your debrief and I’m sure your questions will be answered.”

Groon knew he was lying. Any dralasite worth his fluids could plainly read that and Groon had honed his ability to detect lies as a Sergeant long before going to Officer Candidate School. Besides the biological nature of a dralasite made head trauma causing memory loss about as likely as Groon spacewalking without a pressure suit.

Trying another tack, “How the rest of my crew? Lieutenants Tabbe and Klast?” The doctor shook his head and said, “I’m sorry son, I cannot answer your questions you’ll be conducted to a debrief shortly….I’m officially discharging you as fit to leave the hospital but recommending some time off from full duties.”

Groon sat with Ensign Bryson in a hot tub. They were getting steadily drunk and toasting dead companions. Groon was imbibing a mild intoxicant in the form of a weak human style beer as well as absorbing stronger stuff directly from the water. The beauty of being a dralasite was the ability to absorb alcohol from any portion of his skin. So at this point he was considerably further along than Bryson who was knocking back whisky and as a human he was immune to the hot tub’s intoxicants. That was the point though to get numb enough to sleep through the shock of loosing the rest of their ships crew.

“So you can’t remember anything either?” ask the ensign.

“No nothing before closing with the freighter and Lt Tabbe ordering us to exchange our lasers for stunners.”

“He did?”

“I think so but it seems foggy- something about order form higher command… but they didn’t go into it during debrief.”

“Speaking of which, wasn’t that the shortest debrief you ever had? I mean a Royal Marine ship is stormed by Sath…”

Groon changed his foot appendage into a hand to grab the ensign’s leg and pull him under water. The young human came up sputtering and glowered at Groon, “Hey!”

“You stow that shit Marine! Getting drunk is no excuse for violating orders.”

“Yeah but Chief we’re being lied too and you of all people should know that.”

“You think I don’t? I’m still a Royal Marine.”

“But Klast and Tabbe and the others are dead and we don’t know what happened... just a statement of, ‘died in the line of duty?’ And that shit about head trauma? I thought dralasites kept their brains in the center of their body? So how does head trauma affect your memory?”

Groon wanted to shake his head at the naïve ensign but instead said, “It doesn’t and we are going to find out what happened or I’m not a Chief engineer!”

“How? Their putting Osprey through and unscheduled refit and you can bet the computer logs will be wiped. They won’t even let us aboard with this sick leave crap. Since when don’t they make a ship’s crew work their butts off assisting with a refit?”

Groon sighed, “Bryson I have no doubt you’ll make a fine commanding officer one day but damn if you aint a bit dense. For whatever reason the fix is in and we’re not suppose to know what happened.”

“And you’re fine with that?”

“Heck no, but I’m no fool either, which is why I spent a little time down in robotics today.”


“If they aint putting us to work on a refit then who’s helping with the work?”


“That’s also the reason we’re sitting here getting very drunk in public,” he said motioning to the rest of the bar. “I had to program the robot with Klast’s security code so that it could download the ships logs and that will create a record of the download and we’ll be suspected.”

“Klast’s code, how did you get it?”

“She was always a bit of an air head so she wrote it inside the cover of her personal tool kit.”

Bryson had sat stone face with a black eye through the memorial service. The black eye Groon had given him after they had viewed the logs together. Bryson had wanted to storm the heights of command with his new knowledge and get them both before a court martial and another brain wiped, however that had been accomplished.

The logs had revealed that Lt. Tabbe had been a traitor and had shot Klast in the head on the bridge as the airlock had opened to the freighter. They had been caught flat footed at the air lock as the alien sathar had swarmed aboard the Osprey. It had been a desperate fight from which only Bryson and Groon had emerged alive. Once the sathar undocked from the Osprey they had fled the system with all speed. When Tabbe had shot Bryson from behind it was Groon with his naturally high reaction speed and martial arts training who overwhelmed and killed Tabbe. It had been touch and go for Bryson till another ship could get there.

Now they knew the truth. Lt. Maxwell Tabbe had been a sathar agent, a traitor and he was receiving a hero’s burial with full military honors. That was what the Royal Marines wanted covered up. It was too much of a scandal to admit that the premier militia of the Frontier could have a decorated officer turn coat to the sathar. It was why they had even gone to the extent of a memory wipe. Neither Bryson nor Groon were native born citizens of the system and they could ill afford the truth leaking out if either of them resigned and moved away. Groon understood the reasoning behind that but shook his head at the thought; Bryson and Groon despite their difference in age had taken service in the Royal Marines to earn citizenship and the benefits of living in such a prosperous system.

He even suspected that he knew how the memory wipe was done. There had long been rumors surrounding the eorna of Volturnus and their advanced medical and physch technology. Groon had not believed the stories concerning mind wiping by the eorna but once he pulled the recording of the eorna ambassador’s voice he knew that was the voice from his weird dream that had prophesied his memory loss. Some discrete chit chat and buying of drinks for hospital staff had confirmed that the eorna ambassador had come to the hospital under military escort.

So now they knew the truth and it burned like acid. Maybe he should finish this tour and resign, taking a billet with a freight line to get out of Clarrion altogether. One thing was certain to Groon though, being a Royal Marine had lost its shine.