I sat on the bridge crying uncontrollably. Attalla was dead. He had never regained consciousness. He just quietly slipped away. I was sobbing so hard I did not hear Ma-rye-a’s soothing voice. I didn’t register Moby’s offer of tea. I didn’t acknowledge Sam asking me if he should remove the body for refrigeration.
All I could see and hear in my head were the times Attalla had comforted me - the sound of his laughter as he threw morsels for Chee to catch. I cried for our lost friendship and for the relationship that 'might have been.'
Chee was wrapped around my neck trying to give and receive comfort from me. I had no doubt that she knew Attalla was lost to us both. I reached up and stroked her soft fur. She trilled and nosed the palm of my hand affectionately.
I wanted to turn Ma-rye-a around and go back to blast those feathered freaks to the four corners of the verse. I wanted revenge. I wanted, for the first time in my life, to kill.
“Ma-rye-a, lay in a course back to Ambassador Attalla’s home planet. Contact his superiors – I want to talk to them as soon as possible. They have to be updated on the situation.”
“Immediately,” Ma-rye-a confirmed.
I absentmindedly stroked Chee again. She unwrapped herself from around my neck and perched on my shoulder. I had to pull myself together. My crew and Chee were depending on me. As much as I wanted to wreck havoc on Attalla’s killers, I couldn’t. I had to go through proper channels. I had to stay calm - rein in my anger and all the pent up emotions.
“I’m going to get Chee something to eat. Patch the call into me in the galley when you get them.”
Taking care of Chee would calm me down. Knowing she depended on me now would keep me headed straight.
I picked up the mug of tea from the prep unit and headed for the mess. Tomorrow, next day at the latest, we would see that justice was done.