Kostas glanced at the man’s
retreating back and smiled at Trixie. "Captain, may I have a word?"
"Make it brief." She rubbed
her gloved hands together.
"I took the liberty of
loading two large pallets of weapons." Kostas pointed to the place in
the column where he’d positioned them.
"How typical!" Trixie’s voice
erupted loud and cutting, with a hint of exasperated sarcasm. "I
specifically requested survival supplies only." She counted on her
gloved fingers. "Livestock, food, medicine, tools..."
Her attitude sluiced Kostas
like an icy shower. Tempted to clam up, he decided otherwise but
struggled to keep his tone neutral and low. "You’ll need these weapons
if whoever shot us down comes looking for us."
"We were shot down by
automated defenses on the small moon." Trixie shook her head in obvious
frustration. "No one manned the guns. We detected no ships in the
Trusting his instincts,
Kostas refused to capitulate. "Still..."
"Still what?" She took a
quick breath. "You military types are all alike. Shoot first, think
later. These pallets could have carried more food rations."
Kostas ground his teeth, then
struggled to keep his voice civil. "I beg to disagree, Captain. Whoever
built that moon station did it for a reason. Some advanced civilization
staked a claim on this planet, and they may return at any time."
"If they ever return."
Trixie’s visible efforts to calm herself failed as her voice rose again.
"That battery of cannons might have been on the moon for centuries. That
race may never come back, or not in this millennium. But without food,
many of these people will die of starvation or related disease before
the end of the winter."
"Hold it, Captain." Kostas
wouldn’t let her blame him for doing the right thing. "We still might be
able to get more rations tomorrow."
"Orders are orders, soldier."
Her voice dropped to a quiet but threatening level. "I expect you of all
people to follow them to the letter."
Kostas refused to apologize
for his actions. "May I remind you, Captain, that we are not on your
ship anymore. You have no authority on land, and I am the survival
expert on this expedition."
She just stared at him,
open-mouthed. Afraid he’d say something he might regret, Kostas
tightened his jaw and held Trixie’s glare without flinching. She didn’t
flinch either. So much fire in those cool blue eyes. Damn! She was
beautiful when angry.