One by one the pods opened and the chatter and laughter of life slowly returned to Genesis I. Kenzi sat in sickbay when one of the Freelancers, wearing sergeant stripes, stepped through the hatch.
“Gordon Miles said you wanted to see me, Ma’am,” he said.
Kenzi paused for a moment and looked at the name label on his camouflage shirt. He stood at attention, his feet together and his arms rigid at his side. His eyes riveted somewhere behind her.
“Did Gordon tell you why, Sergeant Brackett?”
“I think I know, Ma’am.” His eyes never wavered from the spot behind her. “The Major was supposed to be up before me and I’ve not seen him.”
“Relax, Sergeant,” said Kenzi. She held out her hand to Brackett. “Doctor Kenzi Sheppard.”
Immediately the tenseness in Brackett disappeared and he shook Kenzi’s hand. “Mike Brackett, Ma’am, glad to meet you.” Spreading his feet apart, he stood with his hands behind him.
“Major Grayson’s pod malfunctioned,” Kenzi informed the Sergeant. “It happened sometime after we left.”
“Can I see the Major, Ma’am?”
“He may be hard to look at.”
Kenzi rose from her chair behind the desk. “Follow me, Sergeant.”
She led Brackett to a corner of the small sickbay where a black body bag rested on a gurney. Kenzi unzipped the body bag. The sergeant looked at the remains of Major Grayson for a couple of minutes, and then looked up at the doctor.
“Thank you, Ma’am, I’ll break the news to the men when we’re all together. One more thing, the Major was really looking forward to this mission. If you don’t mind, I’d like to bury him wherever we decide to settle down.”
Despite the sergeant’s rough exterior, Kenzi could see the sadness and hurt in Brackett’s eyes. “I think that could be arranged, Sergeant. We have a chaplain with us. I’ll talk to Miles about it.”
“Thank you, Ma’am. The Major and me go back a ways. We met in the Corps. Fought a lot of wars together since. He was a warrior and a gentleman. You would have liked him.”
“I’m sure I would have,” replied Kenzi.
“Well, I should go be with the men. Thanks for taking care of the Major.” Sergeant Brackett turned and strode out of sickbay.
Kenzi zipped up the body bag and returned to her desk. She’d been apprehensive about the dangers of the Genesis Project, but if the rest of the Freelancers were like Sergeant Brackett, they were in good hands.