“I’m sorry Kap, he came up behind me, he was on me before I could do anything…”
Snivelling. Wright was snivelling. He was a useless lookout, as this incident was ably illustrating.
Kap raised his hands until the palms faced the intruder. He moved well for a guy of his age, and had a firm grip on Wright’s neck. Kap didn’t want him getting nervous and making any sudden moves. Not while he was waving Wright’s firearm around like that. Kap wasn’t afraid of the gun, but that wasn’t the only dangerous thing in this bunker right now.
“I would stand up, but,” Kap nodded towards his useless legs, “I can’t.”
His ComH crackled. A muffled voice. Jones. She was going to have to wait.
“Toshock!” shouted the man with the gun. That was unexpected.
“What do you want with General Toshock?” Kap was spooked now. This guy seemed to know what they were doing out there. Must do, if he knew Toshock was in the bunker.
“Just get him here!” insisted the intruder.
Kap breathed a sigh of relief. He lowered his hands. The stranger had given himself away. He didn’t have anything apart from a name. Kap was back in control, and he was used to being in control. He knew control.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, calmly. The panic was gone from his voice, the urgency had died. He could manage this.
The old man grunted, and brandished the firearm. Kap shrugged.
“It’s not functional,” he scoffed. “We’ve barely enough weapons as it is. We wouldn’t waste one on Wright. He’d blow his own foot off before he hit anyone useful…”
The man looked at him through slitted eyes, apparently weighing up whether to believe him. Kap was sure he would, he was generally very persuasive.
The man threw the firearm to the floor with a clatter and slumped back against the wall, releasing his hold on Wright, who slithered out from under his arm and disappeared back up the tunnel to his post.
Kap’s Com crackled again. He was starting to get concerned. This was taking a while and he’d been trying to locate Jones ever since he lost her earlier. She should have been back hours ago. She might be in trouble, and it didn’t do to lose personnel so soon after recruitment. He should check in with her. But the coast wasn’t entirely clear here yet, the threat not entirely neutralised. He was still wary of this intruder who was looking for Toshock, even if he didn’t appear to actually know who Toshock was.
He glanced down at Wright’s weapon on the floor. It had landed close to him; he wished he could just stick out a foot and drag it towards him. He had been relieved when it didn’t go off, when it fell to the floor. He’d lied. It was fully operational and more than a little loaded. Wright might be an idiot, but any idiot could fire a gun.
He looked across to the man, who now had his head in his hands. He seemed to be sobbing. That wasn’t what he’d been expecting. He thought it made him easier, but he wasn’t sure that it should.
“What’s your name?” he asked, gently. This guy was unpredictable, best not to antagonise him with the wrong question, or the right question asked the wrong way.
The stranger looked up, face tear stained, eyes red.
“I saw myself die,” he moaned. “I’ve seen how I die. I’ve seen…”
His head dropped again.
“I’m not as old as I look,” he mumbled into his chest. “I shouldn’t even be here. Not like this. Not with this face. They told me to come here. They told me to ask for Toshock. I don’t even know who that is…”
Kap just stared. This wasn’t making any sense.
“What’s you name?” he asked again.
“My name,” sighed the man, “is Dawkins.”
He fell silent. Kap raised his eyebrows.
“Is that meant to mean something?” He asked.
Dawkins shrugged.
“It means something to me,” said a woman’s voice, from behind him.
Kap spun around in his chair. Toshock was framed in the doorway to her sanctum, light silhouetting her. She was a tall, lean, athletic woman, with a wild shock of grey hair that stuck up and out to the right.
“Mr Dawkins,” said Commander Toshock. “Come with me.”
Dawkins struggled up from where he had slumped and obediently followed Toshock into her quarters. The door slid noisily shut behind them. Kap let out the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding.
“Who was that?” came a voice from the doorway. Jones. “I couldn’t get any sense out of Wright. Is it really sensible to have a gibbering wreck on guard duty?”
“Where have you been?” snapped Kap, relieved to see her and irritated at how casually she’d reappeared.
“Getting back here,” she shrugged. “Had to stop off at Authority on the way.”
Kap spun around and stared at her.
“You had to what?” he demanded.
“Long story,” shrugged Jones. “Remind me to tell you about it some time.”
She was pissing Kap off now.
“I’ll give you a full debrief after you’ve completed your guard duty,” he instructed.
“My what?” Jones looked genuinely horrified.
“Your guard duty,” repeated Kap. “You’re right, it isn’t remotely sensible to have a gibbering wreck on guard duty. You can relieve him.”

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