For the Last Time:

‘No.’

‘But, Captain – just to the inner perimeter, just to see if we can make contact—’

‘I said no, Corporal.’

‘But, sir, Sergeant Booker—’

‘I know how close you and the sergeant were, but don’t think I won’t write you up for insubordination. I said no – there’ll be no rescue, no investigation – I’ll not lose any more lives to that death-trap. Understood?’

Corporal Ong’s hands were bunched into fists, his knuckles turning white. But, still, he nodded.

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Good,’ said the Captain. She sighed, and her expression softened. ‘I know he meant a lot to you. If you need a few days to get his affairs in order—’

‘We don’t know that he’s dead, sir.’

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