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The Hospital Ship - Page By Page

Chapter 1 - The Battle - Page_3

So, Functionary had travelled onward into depths of space and into a zone where civilian traffic had now almost ceased. All that remained were a few civilian traders willing to take their chances in what had now become the desperate borderlands of outer space. The expanse of space around Kontrol_36 had become an a area of high risk but also of potentially high profits. So, initially Functionary had managed to purchase several expensive rides on a series small freighters who crews had worried him more than the threat of any external attack. With every hostile glance cast at him and his Service uniform, he worried that he might become the next source of the strange and indeterminate meaty substance that formed a part of the broth that was the regular fare that constituted the ships’ daily dinner. Then as he edged neared to his final destination, the captain of the vessel in which he then travelled, woke him, shaking him roughly to point out that there was a Service vessel nearby and apparently heading towards Kontrol_36. Should the Captain hail this vessel? Functionary had briefly reflected that he would have preferred to have continued sleeping in blissful ignorance of this opportunity, to have dawdled on with the current vessel with the prospect of having to negotiate another transfer which may have or may not have finally brought him to Kontrol_36. Instead, the ruffian of a captain, seemingly bordering on pirate, had helpfully spotted a Service ship going Functionary’s way. Why could not the man have been true to his apparent form and function as a renegade? Functionary momentarily searched for a reason why the ship should not be hailed, but could think of nothing convincing. While he though it an unlikely eventuality, if he stayed with the vessel he was currently travelling upon and had then missed his posting upon The Protector, he would have  subsequently faced considerable disciplinary measures if his decision were ever revealed. Soon after his conversation with the captain of the freighter, he found himself transferred to the small but swift Service vessel which was heading directly to Kontrol_36 with urgent replacement parts required by ships savaged in the hostilities. Two days later, the small vessel delicately edged its way into the large but crowded space dock of Kontrol_36. Through a port hole in the side of the vessel, Functionary could see a tremendous amount of refit and repair activity occurring around the multitude of military ships therein docked. In comparison with the date he had been given to join his ship, Functionary was now five days late. Had the SMS The Protector already departed? Functionary knew what to look for, as he had raided the Service Vidbrary for images and silhouettes of the ship. Painfully twisting his neck so he could look upward into the dock, he could see a larger ship which stood out against the smaller vessels of war, the frigates, the corvettes, the hunters, which otherwise made up the rag-tag collection of buffeted warships under repair. This larger ship was The Protector. She was still here as though she had patiently waited for Functionary.

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