“You really didn’t know.” Anson leaned in the door of the infirmary’s office.
Doctor Narel was sitting at the desk, his head bowed, and his hands clasped behind his neck. “I thought it a defensive facility.” He didn’t look up. “Not an offensive…” He took a deep breath. “Not an offense.”
He entered, shutting the door behind him. Then he took a deep breath of his own before sitting down across from the doctor. He removed the datachit from his vest pocket and set it on the desk halfway between them. “I downloaded their…” He sighed. “Pull the information on the vaccines and treatments off this, then dump the rest.”
For a moment, Jakob stared at the chit. He slowly lifted his head to meet Anson’s eyes. “Commander?”
“I…” Anson swallowed. “Would appreciate it if this stayed between us. We can tell them it was separate files, or the rest got corrupted, or…” He shook his head. “I can’t take the chance some asshole with more rank than decency will get notions about poetic justice and…” He shrugged. “Can you do that, or should I dump the chit entirely?”
“If anyone learns of this, Anson…” Jakob picked up the datachit.
“Fuck…” Anson twitched his shoulder and managed to smile. “What’s a little light treason between friends, right?”
Jakob laughed softly. “It was a spur of the moment operation, chance rather than planning. You grabbed what little data you could before the Alliance came to investigate…”
“And blew the place to deny them a resource.” Anson nodded. “Not like we had orders regarding it to disobey.” He leaned forward again, resting his arms on the desk. “You alright, Doc?”
“I am…” Jakob nodded. “Reevaluating ideals.” He looked away. “I did not pick up a weapon, Anson. Yet I gave orders that may have resulted in deaths.”
“You gave information.” Anson shook his head. “I gave the orders. You let me —”
“It does not work that way.” He rubbed his neck again. “There was a time I believed all lives had value. That all lives were worthwhile, worth saving. That everyone deserved to live.” He set his arms on the desk.
“Being in command means having to make decisions. Kill one man to save ten. Let ten men die for the chance to save a thousand.” Anson swallowed. “Order one man to die, so the rest might live.” He reached over and put his hand atop Jakob’s. “Don’t lose sight of those ideals, Doc, because they aren’t wrong. Our job in all this is to save as many as we can.”
The other man’s hand turned over to briefly grip his own. “Yes.” Jakob nodded. “Our job is to save as many as we can.”