I turned to face Harrigan. “What’s up, Cap?” I said.

He rubbed a hand across his face. I wondered just how long it’d been since he’d slept. He’d probably been popping stims like candy lately. Ultimately, he was going to crash, and when he did, it was going to be monumental. I didn’t envy him that.

“I’m done with this wild goose chase, carto. Since it began, my ship has been battered to pieces, the systems have been infected by an alien virus, I’ve lost crewmen – good crewmen – and we’ve all nearly been killed.” He sighed, a weary sound in my ears. “Hell, carto, you’ve already been in the infirmary twice.”

He paused, visibly collecting himself. I gave him the time he needed. He’d picked up the jitters, I saw, and his hands shook uncontrollably. I doubt he even realized it.

“In a few minutes,” he continued, “I’m going to call the officers together. We’re going to decide if this thing is worth pursuing to its end or if we drop it and go home. Organize everything you know because the floor will be yours.”

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