Self Sacrifice

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, and Adrift. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in order.


They continued their drift, and their conversations for a couple more months. Both knew the rations were running out. Although they both knew they should be watching the long range scans and SOS transmissions, neither paid much attention to these details. Instead they simply set the computers to sound an alarm if anything significant came up and then ignored it for weeks at a time.

The normal speed of a pod of this type would never reach any place to land, nor would it reach a listening post to pick up on the distress calls. If either of these were possibilities, the pirates would have destroyed them. The certainty that it could not happen was the only reason they were still alive. But in reality neither the computers on the pirate ship nor the pirates themselves had considered the extra boost of speed given to the pod by the explosion of the CDF ship.

When the rations were reduced to a couple of weeks, their conversations took on a more somber tone. Chambers speculated more and more what it would be like to starve to death. She tried not to talk about it, but she couldn’t help herself. Jamison hated to see her despair in this way. His response was to begin skipping his rations at times, returning them to the stores. But it didn’t take long for her to catch on and reprimand him for this action.

Jamison was beginning to consider a more drastic action to keep from wasting rations on himself. He figured he couldn’t shoot himself because then she would have to live with the horror of the sight of his suicide and the nasty task of cleaning up. But what he could do was lock himself in the airlock used as the garbage disposal. Then he could launch himself into space. Instant death for him, and another couple of weeks of rations for her.

He knew it would be too cruel to leave her without saying goodbye or without any word of explanation. So one night he waited for her to fall asleep first, then he went to the computer log and asked it to open up a death resolution. To his surprise a file of this type already existed. He immediately suspected what it was, so he opened it up and read.

Dear Jamison,

In the past few months I have come to know you in a deeper way than I have ever known anyone before. I never expected to care like I do for you, much less while the world was in such a mess as it is today. I always thought it was more important to spend my life making the world a better place. I was willing to sacrifice my own life to give humanity a chance at survival.

Now the time has come to put this commitment into action. But instead of sacrificing myself for the sake of humanity, I choose to sacrifice myself for you. It is my highest hope, my wildest dream, for you to be rescued, giving you the opportunity to align yourself with the Kilkians.

I am sorry that the best I can give you is the slim chance of a couple more weeks. But this is all I have to offer, so I give it to you.



Jamison read the letter to himself several times. He shuddered to think that if he had delayed his choice one more night he would have missed her, forever. He went to the bottom of the note and typed.


Ditto. Which is why we need to ride this out together.


He closed the file and then went over and sat on the floor, his back leaning against the door to the air lock.

A couple of hours later she woke him up and asked him why he was sleeping on the floor. He took her by the hand and led her to the computer console. He opened up the log and scrolled down to the addition he had put on the end. She closed it without saying a word.

When she finally turned around she was crying silently, but as she wrapped her arms around him, she began to wail. The two of them stayed in that position for a long time, at first Jamison was trying to console her, but eventually he gave up and joined her.

After a while they settled down to the floor, still arm in arm, still crying. They grieved for each other. They grieved for the lives they could have had in different circumstances. They grieved for humanity so wracked with turmoil that the simple, normal experience of love had become uncommon and difficult.

They might have fallen asleep together, right there on the floor. Neither was sure when they considered it later. But a couple more hours into the night a proximity alarm went off. Jamison didn’t startle, he didn’t strike out in fear, he simply roused, and went to the computer to deal with it.

The console described them approaching a galaxy. It had one planet capable of sustaining life. Although it had no current human activity on the planet, there were ruins of past colonization. Extensive knowledge of the landscape, climate and life forms was in the computer. If they wanted to land on the planet he had 25 seconds to decide. 24. 23. Jamison pressed in the response.

They both took their seats and outside the pod they could hear a device moving a single use thruster to just the right position to change their course, a slight change but just enough to make them enter the atmosphere and make a crash landing. These landings were rough and sometimes un-survivable. But the chances down there would be better than the chances up here.

A moment later they felt the push of the thruster redirecting them. It only lasted about 30 seconds. Then the main display had two countdowns added to it in the top right corner.

12:31 to the outer atmosphere.

13:13 to impact.



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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe 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.

Defensive Position

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst Mark, and The Pirate’s Life. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in order.

Tyler died in an attack on a CDF vessel, it surprised everyone and in the next few minutes Jamison began barking the familiar orders of their commander. He had to, if they didn’t stay organized they would all be killed. This vessel had more seasoned and higher ranking defenders. This fact and the loss of Tyler caused Jamison to go on a new level of rampage. He had killed nineteen and was leading his group into another heavily defended room.

Then he heard a sound, it was one of those quiet noises soldiers make when they are trying not to be discovered. He spun around ready to dispatch whoever had survived the battle, and he saw Captain Chambers. She was the MPO who had attended him at his failed homecoming. Her small frame was pinned under the body of a much heavier officer. He stared for half a second and realized that she still reminded him of Jenny, at least the old Jenny, before she aligned herself with the Dibolocos.

At that moment, everything in his thought processes shattered. There was no justifying killing Captain Chambers. He wanted to be the man he used to be. He didn’t want to be the murderous aggressor he had become. Neither did he want to be the skittish sniper who had suffered from isolation in the Zilkas Asteroid Belt. He wanted to be her defender. He was certain the choice would get him killed, but he didn’t care. Death would bring relief.

He didn’t exactly make a decision what to do next. He just did it, improvising a plan as he went along. The whole time he believed his situation was hopeless. He would die today and so would she, but he would die defending the young woman instead of killing her.

He ordered his men to the next room to continue the battle. No one asked about the woman, they probably all assumed he would rape her. Some of the men may have wanted to argue splitting up, but they were scared of Jamison. And at that moment they had every reason to be, he appeared fiercer than he ever had before.

When the men left he threw the corpse off of her and picked her up roughly. She tried to fight him off, obviously thinking similar thoughts to what the other pirates had thought. In the battle, she had not recognized him. Under the circumstances, she wouldn’t have trusted him even if she had.

But these facts mattered little, Jamison had the capability to completely master her and drag her back through the ship. He was looking for a defensible place to make a final stand. He found a room on the extreme side of the ship, he didn’t recognize it at first, but he chose it because it had one way in. He would turn that access tube into a killing field.

In the few minutes he had before his treachery was discovered by the other pirates and Lobokidos, he tried to explain to Chambers. At first she didn’t listen at all, then she stopped fighting and looked carefully at his face. Recognition and memory came slowly.

Jamison might have enjoyed a smile or a word of thanks. But instead she looked over his shoulder, out the window into space and screamed. The pirate ship had just launched a massive salvo of missiles at the mark. In a few moments the ship and everyone on it would be destroyed. Jamison, turned, recognized what was happening and stared hopelessly.

Chambers came to her senses. She slapped a button on the wall that closed the door and started a launch sequence.  She ordered Jamison to take one of the seats and strap himself in. About that time he realized his defensible location he had chosen was a survival pod. He strapped himself in just in time. They launched away from the ship and within a few seconds he saw it being ripped to shreds behind them. The pods survival display indicated there were no other pods.

He saw chambers starting to unbuckle. He yelled at her to stop, hang on for a few more minutes. She did so, and suddenly the pod was hit by the shock wave from the explosions. The pod had been launched away at a high rate of speed, but now they were going much faster.

Jamison continued to study the displays. He expected to see the pirate ship shoot them out space. They had no reason to let them live. But no shot came. Chambers must have had the same thought because she speculated aloud whether there pod was hidden among the wreckage.

Then Jamison figured it out. They were heading out into space with limited supplies and no chance of rescue. Shooting them would be a waste of energy. They had already chosen the slow painful death of starvation.

The Pirate’s Life

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, Shanghaied, and First Mark. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in order.

On that next attack their number was cut down by two thirds, and they would have all been killed except for a larger group of pirates were transported aboard trapping the defenders in a crossfire. So there were other boarding parties.  Jamison again used the stun setting, but as he counted the dead men around him, he made up his mind to stop this practice.

A couple days later he went on his first raid with the kill setting. It was a small barely defended vessel. He almost got by without firing a shot, but a stowaway in a cargo hold jumped out at him and fired a projectile between his arm and his chest. Without thinking he dropped the man. If the shot had been a little to the left or right Jamison would be among the dead or worse yet dying without medical assistance.

He spent a long time staring at the man’s lifeless frame. For Jamison it was a defining moment. Who knows how long he would have stayed but the signal to gather up for transport home was given. He didn’t sleep after that raid. But he spent the time awake recounting the reasons he had no other choice but to embrace the life of murder. He could enumerate them, but would he believe them?

His descent into the lifestyle and habits of a pirate had begun. He would go through a couple of dozen more raids in the next two months. Each time he became a little harder. Soon he began to embrace cruelty. He was beginning to wonder why he didn’t help himself to the women on the marks as other pirates had done. It just went with the territory.

With each raid the humanity of the victims became less and less real to him. He understood their terror, but he had his own to worry about. He understood their pain, but he had his own to worry about. He understood their desire to survive, but he had his own to worry about. The pirate’s life was becoming all he knew. Or all he allowed himself to know.

Even in this condition there was some distinct hints he was really not reconciled with his buccaneer’s ways. One night he startled awake in the middle of sleep cycle, he jumped to his feet and fired three random shots around the room before realizing what he was doing. After that incident Tyler had suggested he sleep without his weapon in his hand.  Jamison had indicated he would gladly kill anyone who tried to take it from him.

The men had seen his skills with a weapon and nobody was going to challenge him. In fact, his skills were beyond exceptional, and seemed to improve with each raid. On the first few raids he killed two or three people. But after a month or so the number increased to six or eight. Then in another leap of ability he might come away from a raid with over a dozen kills.

He had even been seen to fire backwards over his own shoulder and kill an opponent he had never faced, pinpointing the victim by sound. Stories about the pirate, who was such a remarkable marksman had begun to circulate among the shipping companies.

His skills were scary good. He scared the victims on the mark ships, he scared his fellow pirates, but most of all, he scared himself. But the defense mechanism he had chosen, never showing weakness forced him to internalize every bit of his anguish. So he slept poorly and sometimes, not at all. At times he barely ate anything, then he would binge, eating his portion and the portions of whoever else he chose. His insides were constantly fighting back with pains and spasms. The only time he was not aware of the pain was when the adrenaline of battle drowned it out.

So he began to long for battle. He fully expected that one day soon his lifeless body would be piled on the floor of some abandoned and newly derelict vessel. But he didn’t care, one way or another he would find relief in battle.