The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, and Defensive Position. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in order.
Floating through space waiting for the rations to run out was hard on Chambers. Jamison could see that. He watched her suffer with the stress of impending death. He found it impossible to explain to her why he took it so well. For him this situation was better than his previous. Both of them were reconciled to death at some level, but with Jamison it was compared to the life of a pirate slave. For Chambers it was the life of a successful and quickly rising military officer.
If Chambers had not gotten on the pod, she would have been destroyed in the explosion. Jamison was pretty sure Lobokidos destroyed the ship because his away teams had all been killed in the process of trying to capture it. So both of them looked on every day as a gift. And both of them looked on every day as another step toward a slow death, lost in space.
But the pod was well equipped. It could support eight people for a month. So it should be able to support the two of them for about four months. The difference was at some deep level Chambers craved survival, while the last couple of months had worked a desire to die into Jamison. This difference was a point of wonder for both of them, and besides, what else did they have to do but talk?
Jamison had considered romancing her. It would not be easy because she still made him think of Jenny. But the real clincher was she had no visible interest in him, so he gave up on the idea.
In the course of conversation, everything came up eventually, so he told her about Jenny. He concluded by saying, “I guess she probably did sell me into slavery. I hope she got a good price.”
This made Chambers laugh. “Well it’s nice of you to want the best for your sister like that.” Her tone changed, “But I doubt she was paid anything. With the Dibolocos, life is cheap, and short. If she was paid with anything more than the promise of another day’s survival, it would be more than I expect.”
“Don’t you mean life is cheap ever since the Kilkians revealed themselves to us? They dragged us into a war we can’t fight on any level. The Kilkians and the Dibolocos must mark their victories by whoever kills more of us.” Jamison was still blaming the Kilkians for everything that had happened.
“Kilkian’s killing humans?” The sound of Chamber’s voice checked Jamison’s attitude. “Have you ever seen a Kilkian kill anyone? You are one of the few who have seen both with your own eyes, what did you observe of their behavior? Can’t you see how different they are?”
Jamison didn’t like being chastised. He had made up his mind about the Kilkians and he didn’t want to change his opinions. But still her question nagged at him. They changed the subject but Jamison’s mind failed to drop the question.
That night he dreamed about the Dibolocos killing the man on the ship returning from the rescue. It was a Kilkian that brought a ship to rescue him, it was a Dibolocos that had done the killing, and it was Kilkians that had defended of the humans on board. Above all that he thought about someone screaming “No!” during the attack. Someone who had been deeply distraught at the death of the rescued human.
He had never realized it before, perhaps never allowed himself to think of it. It was Captain Colofer’s voice. She was the one who had cared so deeply for the humans. By the next morning when both of them were fully awake, Jamison knew he needed to reconsider everything he had thought and felt since his rescue.
His conversations with Chambers took on a deeper tone. One day about a month into their drift she admitted to him she had aligned herself with the Kilkians. A week before he would have been sent into a rage by this news. But now he considered it carefully. She testified that she had found them to be good in every way. They treated humans well, only the Dibolocos enslaved and killed. The Kilkians considered saving lives their point of victory, rather than taking them.
Jamison also noticed a change in himself. He had started this journey a ruffian. A ruffian in mutiny to his pirate captain, but a ruffian none the less. Now he was beginning to rediscover himself. He wanted to be valiant; he wanted to be virtuous.
Chambers continued teaching him about the ways of the Kilkians, and she said something he remembered Captain Colofer saying. “Choosing to not align with either, is the same as aligning yourself with the Dibolocos.” He believed this. He believed he had become like the Dibolocos.
His desire to die was changing. If he could not be good he wanted to die. He had no use for the version of himself which acted like a Dibolocos, murdering and plundering. But if he could find a way, he would put that part of himself and his past to death. Then he could embrace a new life embracing the values of a Kilkian He wanted to be noble, free, and brave.