Commander Raiker looked sullen as he’d taken the prisoners away. As well he might. Leylan had known the man was trouble from the minute he'd looked up his background. He was FSA, son of a brilliant commander, expected to go places, yet somehow he'd landed prison run on this old crate. He hadn't been booted out of the Academy, nor was there any record of his asking to be let out. Complete absence of information meant only one thing - Raiker had done something, committed a sin of such magnitude that not even his corrupt Alpha trainers could waive off his behaviour as high-spirited. Rape? Murder of a superior cadet? Whatever it was, his career was instantly ruined. The Cygnus Alpha run would have been his best chance of getting back in. It was a remote possibility, but sometimes reformed and penitent former recruits could work their way back into the Academy by accruing hundreds of hours of community service.
Raiker wasn't that kind of man. Used to a world of wealth and privilege, he would never understand that he couldn't just have whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. Now he’d taken two other careers down with his own. The man was a human gravity well.
In two more months Leylan would have retired. He would have been unceremoniously given his release papers and with less gratitude would have handed them back his rank, security codes and firearm. A little over 40 years he'd spent in the service of the Federation would evaporate into nothing overnight. If he was remembered at all, it would have been as a statistic, and he would have disappeared into his cube with its viscasts on a repeat loop of his favourite matches, until one day he just stopped getting up. There had been a time when he'd been looking toward his retirement, back when he was exhausted from double shifts and double runs, but that was before he had time to hang out in the Service bars and chat with a few of the veterans. Nothing was like it used to be, they said. The veterans clubs had been disbanded due to cost-cutting. Then the pensions had been cut back, followed by the health care, and finally they'd stopped paying out at all. He'd asked them where they thought the money went. None of them had an answer, but none of them had any money either. Sympathetic crewmen out on leave paid for their drinks. They had nowhere else to go and nothing to do. It didn't look like a bad life, boring maybe, but then so were the Cygnus Alpha runs, and at least in the bar you didn't have to look after anyone else.
He'd been squirrelling away money for years, in preparation for the announcement that his pension had been 'saved for his future' by the government. Another two months and he would have started dipping into it, just a few drinks a day. The bars showed the matches of the day. He'd envisioned spending the day in the bar yelling at the cast with his peers, then heading home and falling asleep to the commentary. An endless round of days, till he was just anaesthetised enough not to care when they came to haul him away for a 'routine' medical check.
Now he would forever be a footnote in history. A bit player in the pivotal moment that lead to Blake's freedom. He had no doubt they'd be hearing from Blake again. He'd seen fanaticism like that once before in a recruit, and she'd scared the hell out of him. Funny, how in retrospect it seemed so natural that Commander Servalan would have risen so far so fast. At the time he'd just been convinced she was dangerous. Still believed she was, if truth be told, but no more nor less than Blake.
Now there would be enquiries. Now there would be a court martial. Forty years of service would be expunged and they would take away his little savings. He would most likely end up on this very ship again, but not as part of the crew.
A notion of running off to Blake seemed momentarily attractive. He could join the crew. As what? A pilot? They had Stannis. They hardly needed a washed up ex-Fed.
He scanned the monitors. The few remaining crew were running routine checks or sleeping. All prisoner quarters were empty. All neatly facing forward except for one. He wondered which seat he'd end up in. Perhaps they would give him Blake’s, and he could see what Blake saw as he left Earth for the last time.