by Petar Toushkov
a flash-fiction short story
The second the matter transporter had finished reconstructing my quantum state from the data stream, I was already regretting this.
“Teleportation sequence completed,” the ship’s computer said. “Do you want me to connect you to Captain Pierce?”
“Put him on.”
“Captain.” He looked preoccupied. A hero personified. I hated him actively. The son of a gun even had the nerve to smirk at me. “Forgot something?”
“Look,” I said. “I changed my mind. There’s still time to get you out of there. No point in last stands. It’s over. The aliens have won the quadrant.”
“Fuck you it’s okay, old boy. Jupiter will cover your retreat. Accelerate now! Do not try to take on the entire alien fleet yourself!”
“It’s okay, Captain.” His eyes were full of quiet wisdom and forgiveness, but all I wanted was to kick his self-sacrificing ass. “You’re experiencing survivor’s remorse. You were trained for this. Take command of your crew and get the rest of the evacuees as far as you can. We’ll do our job. You couldn’t possibly save me.”
Damn saving him. I wanted to be in his place.
“You know the protocols as well as I do, old chap.” He smiled, sadness overcoming his features but for a brief second. “All military personnel stay at their posts for as much time as possible. Everyone must beam away at a safer distance once a position cannot be held. Even though the transporters cannot physically displace matter, they can make a near identical copy of their passenger. We need every man, woman, and child to win this war, Captain Pierce. Remember your duty!”
His face was starting to lose cohesion through the millions of kilometers of space radiation. The last members of my crew were already materializing at the landing pad of the rear transport ship that was going to get us out of the battle as our copies behind us tried to buy us some precious time.
“Do me a favor. Next time you see them, give ‘em hell, would you?”
His face filled up the screen as he was cutting out the comm link.
“Captain Pierce has terminated the connection,” the ship’s computer said. “Would you like me to dial him in again, Captain Pierce?”
Writers live on coffee. I am adding to the inside members list of my Buy me a coffee page everyone who has even once bought me a cup of joe. Members get for free three of my books: „Отдел „И“ (изд. „Ерго“ 2015, роман), „Блуграс“ (изд. „Ерго“ 2021, сборник), and „99 истории“ (сборник) as eBook downloads. Also, you can download my novelette „Вазев 1887“ as an audiobook in three different formats (MP3, MP4, M4B). If for some reason you don’t have the spare change at hand, well, no worries, been there. Every little bit helps me to write more science fiction stories and other oddities like translating from English into Bulgarian and vice versa–share this short story with your friends and thank you for your support!