Walking around now, I watch them as they get ready the different reactions from them all, Mark, quiet, trying hard not to show any emotion, trying to be strong for the others. Jason determined not to show how he really feels. Princess is trying hard to suppress the sobs as she comforts Keyop. Tiny who has lost his appetite recently due to the events that have occurred over the last few days. Keyop who is trying not to cry so he can be of some comfort to his sister Princess. They have all rallied around one another talking only occasionally in whispers.
I guess I should try to explain how this all came about. I never used to have trouble articulating these things; I made myself numb to it all, it had to be business so I shut them all out even when I knew what the outcome could be. To tell them you see could have meant the end, the end to everything.
It was a beautiful summer’s morning, much like it is today. We had received a call to an impending attack by Spectra. We got the team ready and briefed them, sending them off to locate the Spectra base. It seemed like just another mission; certainly not as dangerous as some they have been in so I was not overly concerned.
They found the base, a bit too quickly for my liking and everything seemed to go according to plan. It was on the way back it all started to go wrong. The call came in that there was engine trouble and Tiny was going to have to put down somewhere to try to make some repairs. They managed to find somewhere and set down, Tiny did what he could to patch up the Phoenix and they took off to return to base. As they were approaching to dock a laser seemed to fire from centre Neptune hitting the Phoenix’s bridge. I don’t know how they managed it but somehow they docked the Phoenix without damaging the Phoenix or Centre Neptune. Actually its something I wonder a lot at times, though I have never said anything to them, how they manage to do some of the things they have done.
A medical crew went to the Phoenix all five were unconscious but fortunately not too badly injured. A few days in the medical centre and they would be right as rain. I wrote up the report and set the investigation in motion as to how this attack on the Phoenix occurred. I stayed at Centre Neptune all night whilst the investigation took place and while they rested and recovered.
I have never let anyone know how much they meant to me, Always I have tried to hide it so they were not targeted. I have lost count how many times I have had that sick feeling in my stomach when they went missing on a mission, wondering if this was the one. The one time they would not come home, the one time we would lose. I never for one moment thought though that this would be that time.
I remember how Jason would pull pranks to get Mark into trouble. I remember the laughter at the house at Christmas as the opened their presents. I remember before all this started how I felt like I had a family at last. I don’t think I ever told them how proud I was of them even though they certainly got into all sorts of trouble growing up. I wish I had taken that time and now it’s too late.
I walk through the corridors of the house down towards the waiting car remembering those last moments. I remember the report coming back that there had been a computer glitch; I remember Zark initiating repairs and I remember the doctor reporting almost moments after that the team should be well enough to leave soon. How could it have gone so wrong and so fast.
It was my fault I did what I should never have done; I relaxed and now as I head to the car I can only reflect on those final moments. The call 15 minutes later to say they had been attacked; someone had managed to inject them with poison. The frantic organising of the lockdown of the base and security set about searching for the person or persons responsible. The emotionless voice of the doctor barking orders to his staff to try to identify what had been used. The cries of the nurse calling that they needed the crash cart as Tiny had gone into cardiac arrest.
I am in the car now travelling to the cemetery the final place. How could I have got it so wrong? How could I not realise that this would happen? My head in my hands I await our arrival. We are there. I get out and enter the chapel and listen to the ceremony. It all seems to pass like a blur. There are so many people here and so much security but then there would be for something like this.
We walk outside and watch as the funeral concludes. This is really it; the end of everything and it was my entire fault. I knew the protocols you see. I knew what to expect, what could happen but in my haste, my emotions having taken over I let this happen. I watch the others leave and then turn to read the tombstones as I remember those final moments.
I had to get there; this could not end not like this. My pace quickened as I walked to the medical centre but I never made it. As I rounded the corner there stood one of my oldest friends pointing a gun at me. There were no words just the sound of it firing. I always thought it would hurt but for some reason it didn’t. I put my hand to my chest and then looked down at it; it was now covered in blood. I glanced at him once more before falling to the floor.
They had tried everything they could to save me but it was too late. I had died and left them to deal with the grief. I had not told them how proud I was. I had not comforted them when I should have. I knew I was not just their boss, I was their father too but still I had held back my emotions. All those times, all those mistakes and now I could not put it right.
They got back into the car and all I could do is say what I should have said when I had had the chance “I love you”
The faint breeze seemed to whisper to them as they got into the car and each looked at each other thinking they had heard the Chief speak. They shook themselves and climbed into the car. How could they have heard him? He was gone and he never would have said what they thought they heard.