Paul sat with an elderly akumillian.
“Doctor Albrecht,” she said. “It wasn’t your fault. You know that, right?”
“I do understand that,” Paul stated. “But she was under my care. It was my responsibility to save her. I just… I just keep going over it. Could I have done anything different? Could I have moved more quickly at a crucial time?”
She nodded. “I understand. You are a good doctor. You are very attached to your patients. you would do anything to save them. but this train of thought, it is not healthy. You will drive yourself to madness if you agonise over every lost patient to this extent. Let me tell you something, Doctor, I used to be a practised surgeon myself. And there are times in the career of any doctor who handles emergencies when a patient comes in with injuries so severe that they can not be saved. No matter how hard you try, how quickly you act or what you do. We still try. We still try damn hard but, ultimately, we’re going to fail most of the time we have a case like that. It must be especially difficult for you. You work on a small ship where the crew is very close-knit. These aren’t strangers you’re trying so desperately to save. They’re your friends, your family.” She put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “It must have been very difficult, seeing her in that condition.”
Paul nodded, tears flowing freely.
“I’m going to suggest something,” she said. “Talk to Miss Katie. she is the leader of your fighter squadron. I’m sure she shares your feelings of personal responsibility. I think talking it through with her, openly and honestly, will benefit you both.”
“It does make sense,” Paul conceded. “Leaders do tend to feel a sense of responsibility for the people working under them. I’ll talk with her.”
“Hate this bloody thing,” Leon thought. “How does sitting still and focusing even help?” The machine powered on around him.
He remembered seeing Allison’s ship get hit out of the corner of his eye. He and Farah had provided covering fire so that Kat could retrieve her. Then the fight ended and the waiting began until…
He remembered how he had felt when the announcement had come. Furious, ready to snap but also hollow and tired.
A part of him wanted revenge, to hunt down all the people in the Alliance’s hierarchy who’d so much as read a memo about the operation but another just wanted an end to the conflict so he wouldn’t lose anyone else.
After all, how far could they push things before another one of them got shot down? Would Kat be next? Farah? Him? What if next time they damaged the Cerberus herself? If something happened to Paul he knew he’d lose it, absolutely and completely.
Still, didn’t his comrade, his friend, deserve to be avenged, no matter what the risks? Wasn’t that justice?
“I liked her,” Farah said. “She made me feel welcome when I joined the crew. She was funny, confident. Like, there was always an energy about the room when she was around.”
“But I didn’t know her as well as I should have,” A second Farah said.
“I wanted to,” Farah said. “I really did.”
“But my romance with Grace came first,” the second Farah chimed in. “And then there were Paul and Leon. They treated me like family. I liked being around them.”
“I tried to get to know everyone on the ship,” Farah said.
“And now I feel like I should have taken more time for Allison,” the second Farah jumped in. “Like I should have taken more time with her when I had the chance.”
Farah could only nod to herself. “I know. I really, truly wish I had spent more time with her.”
“Ophelia, start,” Lucy encouraged.
“This is dumb,” Ophelia said. “We don’t need to be here to talk.”
“We don’t,” Lucy said. “But here you can’t even try to lie to me or yourself. So, start.”
“I feel responsible, okay?” Ophelia said. “I brought Allison into space. I put her into danger. I sent her and the others in the fighters.”
“That’s a very human way to take the blame,” Lucy chided. “You offered her an opportunity that she loved. She loved flying the Nebula. She loved missions that let her feel like she was making a difference.” Lucy took a moment. “Did you know that she thought about leaving after the original Cerberus was destroyed?”
“No, I didn’t know that,” Ophelia said. “Are you certain?”
Lucy nodded. “She was afraid. Afraid of what almost happened.”
“She was right to be,” Ophelia said.
“But she stayed,” Lucy continued “because she loved us. Because she loved her life aboard the Cerberus. Ultimately, she knew the risks and she chose to stay and face them because that’s what we meant to her. Frankly, Dear Heart, it makes me a little angry to hear you belittle her ability to make decisions and try to take all the credit.”
“I…” Ophelia began.
“You gave her a life that meant that much to her,” Lucy said. “And we all contributed to that. Right now, you shouldn’t be feeling sorry for yourself. You should be grateful that you got to know her and saddened that there won’t be any more memories with her. Just don’t speak and think about that for a moment.”