Captain Tony Faulk was livid. This wasn't how the mission was supposed to go. The Merchantman was supposed to meet up with him, transfer the cargo and both would exit the system no one the wiser. Radar sensors and warning klaxons were going haywire. Vanduul scythe were already being launched from a nearby Harvester and he didn't have time to deal with it.
"Commander, keep those Vanduul at bay. AND Not another word." Last thing he needed was Matthius bitching about failed missions and vacating the system.
As Matthius and Karis moved to intercept the first wave, Faulk furiously mashed buttons on his sensors to change the sweep parameters. Alternating between the sensors, and the ongoing battle, he finally got a blip. "There" He said to no one in particular. He knew that in the unlikely event of disaster they were supposed to jettison the package. Moving to position the Gladius so that he could take advantage of the non-stock tractor beam, he watched as the duo took out another scythe. He actually admired the duo as they were handling more than most could and surprisingly hadn't belly ached about the situation or fleeing the system.
A few seconds more and the package was secure on board his Gladius. Matthius and Karis were engaged with a couple more Scythe and the tide appeared to be turning against them. Faulk punched in a coordinates for the return jump and switched to a direct channel with Matthius.
"So long, you son of a bitch." Faulk cackled then he pressed the trigger device and his jump drive in unison.
Matthius would forever be haunted by the blood curdling scream from Karis as her channel had been open in response to his order to jump back to Kellog. Her hornet had erupted immediately after Faulk's message and the Gladius was no longer in system. Confused and alone, Matthius hit his jump drive as well leaving forever his companion in the coffin of space.
Faulk exited the Gladius and was overseeing the refueling efforts. He was to leave in an hour but no one was to touch his precious cargo. To his surprise the landing sirens went off and a hornet, badly damaged, hard landed stopping far to close for comfort. He watched as Matthius exited the craft, tossing his helmet off and briskly walked over to him. The rage in his eyes was frightening. Before Faulk could react, Matthius decked him. The punch stung and left the sweet taste of blood on his lip.
Faulk smiled. Perfect he though to himself. "Guards take this man to the brig!" He wiped the blood off his lip. "Striking a superior should get you enough time." Enough time he thought, that I can be on my way.
Matthius had been in the brig for a few hours when Vice Admiral Malcolm Bennett walked into the chamber. "Leave us" he bellowed at the guards on duty.
"I don't know how you cheated death this time Commander but I'm done with you. You'll have a formal court martial and I'll have you stuck behind a desk somewhere on the remote fringes of Banshee." The Vice Admiral was a mixture of happiness and pure hatred. Matthius still didn't understand his hatred. Nothing he'd done during serving under the admiral could perceivably caused such a hatred for him. Faulk had already left the Mantis and seemed less upset about being decked than the Admiral.
He thought to himself, after all it was Faulk who had left them there to die at the hands of the Vanduul and Karis paid for it with her life. Matthius opened his mouth to utter that fact, when he decided it was pointless. Bennett hated him and arguing over Faulk wouldn't help his case at all.
At this point, his career on the Mantis was over and possibly his entire UEE career. He could do nothing but sit and wait...