From Warrior's Blood.
Kim sat up and almost screamed “You can’t be serious! You are NOT landing on a planet that turns everything on it to crystal!”
The look on Cort’s face began as surprise at Kim’s outburst, but changed into to something almost deadly, as if the woman had pointed a gun at him. No one watching was able to say exactly what passed between the two in that challenge, but Cort’s next words to Kim were cold and calculated. “Miss Point, need I remind you that I am the military leader of this government. What I do and do not do in the name of our defense is not up for debate. You yourself said that we cannot fight this thing effectively without getting samples of it. So let me tell you exactly what I am going to do. First I am going to take a ship to low orbit over one of the crystal planets. Then I am going to land a shuttle on it and watch that shuttle get consumed. You people are going to use that data to figure out a way to buy me enough time to be able to take a sample without becoming a crystal myself. I would highly recommend you consider how I am going to transport it as well.”
Kim could barely look at her screen. Cort could see she was trying to look everywhere but at his image. She was fuming and he wasn’t backing down. “Because then I am going to bring it back here and put it in some sort of a lab on one of the moons. I believe you might want to build that lab in such a manner that it is not connected to our systems in any way, because you do not yet know how this enemy propagates. Finally, I am going to repeat that process at least two more times to find out if the crystal forms the same way every time.”
“Now Miss Point, do you have a problem with anything I just said? Because if you do, I would suggest you remove yourself from this group. Perhaps you have forgotten, but I have only one job. That is to protect our people. I will do anything in my power to accomplish that task. Do you understand?”
Kim nodded to answer his mordant question, but it wasn’t good enough for Cort. “I asked you a question and I expect an answer. Do you understand what my role here is?”
“Yes, SIR! I understand completely, SIR! Excuse us a moment, everyone.” Kim said as she looked down and muted the others. After opening a private audio channel to Cort, she stared at his location on her monitor. The vitriol filled words spilled from her like a dam had burst. “I also understand that you are so afraid of caring for someone else that you constantly look for ways to die. I don’t understand if that is to ease your own pain, or is just the guilt you feel because you can’t save us all? Maybe it’s because you think everyone who loves you pays a price they can’t afford.
While the others couldn’t hear what she was saying, they couldn’t help but see and feel her emotion. When Kim felt tears starting to form, she muted their image of her as well and continued. “Well, that’s not your decision, Mr. Big Man. You don’t get to pick who loves you. And you don’t get to pick who worries about you. And you sure as fuck don’t get to make those choices for me! So forgive me if your announcement caught me off guard. It’s not every day someone I love tells me that he is going to take on an entire Gods damned planet by himself! Oh, and in case you have forgotten, this is the second time that a little gem like that has been laid on me, and the last time my fucking husband didn’t come home because he was trying to terraform this Gods damned planet! So I am going to work my ass off to figure out a way to get those samples without you having to turn into a Gods damned gemstone! Do you understand what my role is here?”
Kim wiped the tears from her face and went back to the open channel. “Mr. Addison and I have discussed it, and we have decided that our group needs to come up with another way to retrieve the crystal samples. I would appreciate any suggestions or input that the rest of you may have, because like me, I am sure you can all see the multitude of flaws in the plan put forth by our esteemed protector.”