It's a bad decision! Realized it Baron the moment he walked in cafeteria.
It's lunch time, every table was, and everyone was startled by his appearance.
The atmosphere changed immediately. The lively chattering ceased. People exchanged look secretly.
Baron pulled down face, went to the food machine, while wondering what should do. A public apology seemed too much. Maybe act as usual? Soon he need no more worrying about that.
A bold guy approached to him with a big laugh. He patted his shoulder heavily.
'Hey, Baron! It's said you are writing a memoir about your splendid journey on Yawa. We were passing over it, want a re-visit there? Maybe it will refresh your memory.'
'Get off me!' Baron shook off that hand resentfully.
Some chuckles came off from the crew.
'Hey, Baron, don't forget mention how you cry back on to the ship.' someone yelled out from distant.
'Baron crying?' Another joined in.
'Yeah, I saw it.' A voice answered. 'The tears swelling off this face, mixing with those dust, I hardly recognized him…'
'Wow, I wish I was there!'
'Back off! All of you!' Baron burst out and shouted to them furiously, hissed them off like a lion waving off annoying flies.
The laugh gasped. Partly because of his fury, partly because of the presence of Anderson.
Baron saw her too. Immediately he wanted to return the plate back and went back to his cabin, but Anderson acted faster. She walked straightly to him, which made Baron daren't made any movement. He didn't want it like he was afraid of her.
Suddenly one after another finished their lunch and walked off quickly.
The room was even quieter.
'There you are. I'm just looking for you.' her attitude was surprisingly nice.
She took a meal, motioned Baron to sit at an available table.
Those left people were struggling. It's really a historical confrontation, they didn't want miss it. But after evaluating the situation they followed others out finally. Something, or someone seemed will not end well today.
The cafeteria was clear in a minute.
But he wouldn't run. He sat down across the table to Anderson, started to eat, and decided say nothing to her. Even though he regret sincerely inside, the only one he wouldn't apology was Anderson.
'They said you are writing a report on me.' Anderson's voice was cold and motionless as usual.
Deny didn't help. ' Hm.' Baron answered vaguely.
'Good. If you need someone vouch for you, I'm willing to be your witness.'
Baron couldn't be more astonished.
'You're not upset?'
'Why should I' Anderson said with a cold sneer. 'I'm quite happy you did it.'
'There's no good words in my report!'
'As witness, I can make my own dictation on your report, that means I have the chance to tell the whole story… finally.'
'There's no need.' Baron replied coldly. 'They can just read your daily log, I'm sure you have written everything in it.'
'Sadly not.' Anderson replied grimly.
Astonishment came to him one after another today.
'... I don't believe it, that's not like you!'
'If I had, how could you still walk all over on this ship?'
Baron was enlighten suddenly.
'Captain! It's Captain!' Gratitude grew in his heart. 'He must did a lot of work to persuade you.' he said thoughtfully. It's not easy to shake Andersons' position.
'That's true.' Anderson took a sigh. 'But I had to agree, at last. if I still have any intention of taking any further progress in my career, letting a boy sabotage a important mission by stealing the key device under my nose definitely sounds not so good on my resume.…and he promised to make sure you learned your lesson. You did improve a lot in this year..'
Then there's a long awkward silence.
'Why did you take the amplifier?' Anderson suddenly asked. She can finally look for the answer bother her long time. they barely talked since he's back. 'how did you know there's one in anti-G array? It's not something you see everyday.'
'Jimmy mentioned it.'
'He told you take the amplifier?!'
'No! I remember he said once before, and I never saw you used it…'
He stopped when he saw Anderson's black face
'See, that's your problem. You always do whatever you wish and never bother to consider other people.'
'But how could I know it?' Baron cried. 'Something I can do, something I can't! those are common sense to you but not to me!'
'That's why you shouldn't be on this ship at the first place. You are not ready.'
Baron burst out. 'I know you dislike me, but leaving me alone on that planet to die, that's too much!'
'You wouldn't.' Anderson replied coldly. 'But I'm surprised you found those left supplies.'
'Oh, don't mention that! Please!' Baron lost his appetite instantly when he thought of those food. he threw off the spoon. 'I barely forget that.'
'How did you know there's food on that planet?'
'It's nothing, USS couldn't build a institute directly on Ocamo, you must did research on a milder environment, and where is more perfect than Yawa? I found that shelter minutes after I landed there.'
'Impressed.' Of course Anderson knew it was not easy like he said, but she also knew he wouldn't tell her the truth. At last she stood up and said. 'Just remember, You can always come to me. I'll appreciate the chance to make my own dictation.' Then she strode away.
'If I file the report, you wont have an easy time!' Baron shouted to her back.
'If I left you on this ship messing all around, I won't have an easy time either.' Anderson's voice came from outside.
Baron picked up the spoon, stabbed at the food fiercely.
Of course the fact was not easy as Baron said. But he would tell no one
At the end of the first day, he found water in a lower place, he plunged in the pool, took a good drink, and decided to rest there. Because he had no strength to walk anymore.
A good sleep refreshed him. He woke up next morning, and found he's quite adapt the environment. The exhausted feeling gone, his heart rate dropped down a lot. Though still a little tired, he managed to stand up and started searching around. Near the water grass and bush here were more flourish. He tried some. They were edible. Then he noticed the foot marks around the water.
A great joy overwhelmed him. There's animals here!
He made a quick math in mind. Normally he could survive 5-7days without food, but on this planet, every movement consume him double energy, so 2-3days was the limit he could hold, before that he must find a way to get some meat.
He decided to stay here. What's a more perfect place to hunt than a tater pool? He studied those foot marks again. Most of them were tiny ones. Not big figure, easy to catch! He thought. Then he sheltered himself behind a bush, lurking.
Patience rewarded him. not for long came a bunch of little mouse like things. Baron hided himself more deeply, watching them eating and drinking and playing. Finally when they all lying resting around the pool, he jumped out like lightening…er, not so much like.
He forgot to consider the gravity here.
Baron landed even 1/3 distance as presumed. The herd scattered far away before he could make another move. He picked up stones thrusting at them, the stones fell down only yards before his feet, not even scratch oss a single hair of those little things.
Baron watched them flying away, the dust disturbed up by those tiny feet fell back down to earth quickly, only some new foot marks left.
The chase made him even hungry. He went to the pool, drank a lot to cease the starving. On the water he saw muddy worn face.
He started to miss the food machine and the comfortable bed on Thales. A little regret started deep inside.
Later that day, he made another twice hunter. One for a new herd of mouse things, one for a goat like thing with two line of horns from its head to tail.
Both were failed.
Rest of that day, no animals approached here anymore.
When the night fell, Baron was exhausted absolutely. He made a bed with the leaves and braches and lie down, tried falling asleep to escape the torture of hungry, but the empty stomach reminded him the miserable situation he made himself in.
It's not so unacceptable idea of apologizing to Anderson now, just let him back on to the ship, have a good meal, and lying on his soft clean pillow.
With tears welling in eyes, Baron fell into dreams of sweat aroma of delicacy cuisine.
'…the unique condition Make it perfect site for special materials experiments. After 163 years and construction and expanding, now Ocamo is the largest research institute and production site of special function materials.'
Baron made the dictation, waiting for Portney's review. But Portney seemed abstracted.
'What? Oh, it's very Good.'
Then he motioned Baron sit in chair near him.
'Are you going to ask me the report on Anderson?'
'It' s Commander Anderson.' Portney corrected him, continue. 'So you're serious.'
'Yes!' Baron answered sternly.
Portney pondered, fell into silent.
Baron said first. 'Doc. Sulik And Lt. McCain told me the whole thing this morning. I understand now I brought a big trouble to you, for that I apology. I'll do anything to amend it, and I promise that'll never happen again.'
'But you're still going to report it? Even it will bring a thorough inquiry about procedures on this ship?'
Baron was hesitated a little. 'but I must tell people what Anderson did to me, her vicious attitude and evil trick on me.'
'Commander Anderson.' Portney corrected him again. 'What's wrong her attitude? Anderson is the most in-attitude human I know, and what tricks?'
'Don't you see? Since first day I came here, she sees me like a thorn in the eye, like I'm some kind of bug! She's targeting me everywhere! Getting rid me off must be on the top of her list! She hates me!'
'All she did was to keep Thales safe. It's her duty. You know Anderson prefers everything in order, she watches everyone, including me.'
'She never tried to kill you.' Baron muttered.
Portney was shocked. 'How do you say so?'
'Then how do you explain she kick me down from 20 thousand km altitude? That's an intention to murder!'
'She gave you a landing gear.'
'Then left me without supplies, starving wandering on a strange planet?'
'You found a way to survive.'
'She wants me dead!'
'I don't see that. You're fussing…'
Baron wouldn't listen. 'She wants me dead! She hates me! That brutal, heartless woman!' he said loudly. ' And you watched it happen.' he added in a low voice.
Portney sighed. 'Baron, nobody intended to murder anyone. We will never put you in real danger.'
Baron shrugged. 'You have to admit it She's very disappointed when she saw me alive. She didn't even bother to land down the shuttle to take me back.'
Portney intercepted. 'Actually that's my idea.'
Baron didn't believe.
'No need to cover her, Captain.'
'I'm not covering anybody. It was my idea let the shuttle behind.' Portney said seriously. 'I knew you must be really pissed. It's not impossible you could hijack the shuttle and made the situation out of control.' Baron was silent. Because what Portney said was totally truth. That was one of the revenge plans he made in those exile days. Portney continued explaining. 'So I transferred me and Anderson down to you fisrt. But my plan was knock you down then brought you back.'
Baron silenced for quite a while, he felt extremely grieved.
'I was half dead. I had no strength for anything.'
'I cant risk. Baron. Just think of all those… surprises you made. I'm a captain, my priority is always the ship.'
'You're just covering for her.'
'I'm only telling you the truth' Portney replied patiently. 'what done can't be undone, there's no need to hold on to it. Well, how about I buy you a Wernhb Hazsf, you always want one, then…we let it go?'
Baron didn't answer.
'Being one day helmsman? With Sullivan as supervisor of course, and no stunt!'
For a moment Baron was moved. But those miserable memories on Yawa restrained him. He shook head silently.
Portney took a deep sigh, wondered if there's any other things he could offer to bribe him.
Although Baron spoke first. 'Captain, after the inquiry, can I still stay on Thales?'
'It depends on the conclusion.'
'Will…Commander Anderson be suspended?'
'How much chance the results are for me?'
'So it'll end with nothing but me off here?'
Portney nodded. 'See, that's why you shouldn't do it.'
Baron didn't remember how he exit from Portney's office. He wandered mindlessly in hallway until he walked into Sullivan.
'Hey, look out! Baron! What are you doing here? We are approaching Ocamo, you'd better find a place sit down, it's quite shaking when the anti gravity array on.'
'Nothing. I will miss you, Lt. Sullivan.'
'Er… why do you say this?'
'Is it about the report? I heard Commander Anderson has already approved it.'
'Of course, she can finally get rid of me, though I won't be dead as she wish.'
Sullivan laughed. 'You mean your little adventure on Yawa, last year? If she wanted you dead, why did she left a team there? You were very safe, Baron. We hade people monitoring your stature in space, they would take you back if anything wrong. But you adapted very quickly and very well, that's a big surprise. Commander Anderson seemed harsh, but she knows the boundaries, while…eh…'he thought of something, stopped suddenly.
'You're looking at me all the time? It must Captain told her do that.'
'Yeah, that kind of thing… yeah...'
Then he was called away and went off quickly.
'Take care yourself, Baron.'
Baron saw him vanished around the corner.
A mild shaking came from the ship. They are arriving Ocamo. Baron walked to a window, looked out down to the earth.
A tiny dark spot caught his eye. It's not like part of the institution.
As the ship getting closer, the spot was clearer.
It's a shuttle, crashed and shrank, shape lost because of long time exposure in thick air and high G environment.
It reminded Baron the day when Portney and Anderson came for him.
It was the high noon the fourteenth day since he's been to Yawa. He was lying in the shabby shelter half buried in the sand.
The shelter must be built by those ancient explorers. They left then and left it behind, along with quite amount of food, which whey couldn't take away. The food was preserved in canisters, taste terrible, but at that time, there's nothing more delicious in this universe to him.
He could finally settle down, for a while. But he daren't go any farther.
It was the twilight of the 13day, Baron felt something deferent in air when he collecting water at the pool.
The horizon turned dark first, then very fast the dark spread half sky.
Baron jumped up immediately, rushed back to the shelter. The storm roaring behind.
The shelter was too fragile to stand in the storm. But he's not worried about it. The builder must had considered it. He found the button to initiated the refuge mode.
The roaring was just outside the door.
The ceiling lowered down, almost hit his head. Baron lied down quickly, the roof stopped just above him, only a little higher than the ground.
The storm seemed would never cease. The shelter was shivering under the howling, liked it could be blown away anytime.
Starving and thirsty bothered him no more. Fear and lonely reconquered. The last thought before Baron passed out was he might not survive through this tonight.
The storm roared over and over…
Baron was wakened by some weak sound, it sounded like someone's whispering at him, or talking from afar. But he was not sure. Or it's just another dream, like others he had before.
'…they couldn't land down, so they called us for help…the storm was stronger than presume…'
'Relax, he's alive. Signal says he's nearby.'
'I didn't see anything…look!'
'Baron?! Baron!...can you hear me? Anderson!'
The roof was lifted by a strong strength. Light shined in. Baron struggled opening his eyes.
'There you are.' A figure stretching out a hand to him. 'Come here, Baron.'
With tears pouring down face, Baron grabbed that hand. It's firm and warm and reliable.
They came back to him, at last, he thought, anyway. Baron looked at the report in hand, struggling.
Then he deleted it.
One day after long, a question abruptly came to Baron.
'There is a problem. it takes only 16hours to get into the orbit of Ocamo, even though your back needn't be so rush, two days was enough. Why did you take two weeks to get me?'
'No need two days, We back to Yawa the second day, but Captain asked go to near station to take a thorough examination and gave us a break, we took a rest there.'
'No way. You were on vocation and party every day, leaving me suffering and starving on that planet ?'
'Not many parties…'
'It must be Anderson's idea!'
'No, It's Captain!'
'It must be her!'
'I remember it clearly. Everyone thought we should take you on the way back, even Commander Anderson was a little worried leaving you there alone, but you know Captain, when he's determined, no one changes his mind.'