Dead men dont cry a shor.., p.1
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       Dead Men Don't Cry: A Short Story, p.1

           Nancy Fulda
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Dead Men Don't Cry: A Short Story

  A Short Story

  Copyright 2007 Nancy Fulda

  This collection contains works of fiction. The characters and events portrayed in these stories are either fictitious or used fictitiously.


  Originally printed in

  The Sword Review, 2007

  Morgan Kimball shuffled through the flimsy stack of papers, trying to ignore the collective scrutiny of the Aldebaran Inner Council.

  “I’m sorry,” he said finally, laying the papers on the polished stone table. “I can’t approve this report.”

  Shifting-of-feet and clearing-of-throats greeted him from the seven other men in the room. Mathias Farlay voiced what they were all thinking.

  “Commissioner Kimball. I realize that Josef Rannen was a close friend of yours, and that his treachery must come as a great shock, but I urge you to maintain your objectivity.”

  “I am maintaining my objectivity. This security report is as breezy as a windsock in Autumn.”

  Security Chief Sanderson, who had drafted the report in question, looked pained. A half-grimace creased the flabby skin near his jaw, making it bulge against the precise gray cut of his uniform. “Your ex-mentor fired on the earth ambassador. We have three hundred eyewitnesses and several news videos to confirm it.”

  “You also have insufficient motive and an unexplained corpse. Mr. President—” Kimball turned towards the head of the table. “Mr. President, I swore two years ago that I would serve this council in honor. This report is inconclusive. Throw it out to appease the angry Earth men if you must, but I won’t — I can’t — put my testimony behind it.”

  President Duchevsky sighed and combed one hand through gray-streaked hair. His face showed strain from several months of political tightrope walking. Relations between Earth and Aldebaran had been tenuous ever since the first FTL ships visited the isolationist colony five years ago, and the controversial Partial Protectorate Treaty had tempers flaring and trigger fingers itching on both sides of the negotiation table.

  Ambassador Komitz’s recent near-death experience might very well set off a war, and without the unified signatures of the Inner Council, no accounting of or apology for recent events would hold validity.

  “Hell of a time for principles, Kimball,” Farlay said.

  Kimball rifled uncomfortably though the papers before him, uncertain how to justify his obstinacy. Yes, he hated to see Rannen’s good name soiled in the push for political equilibrium, but there was more to it than that. Uneasiness rustled in the back of his mind. Sanderson’s report was full of dangling threads, and Kimball knew about threads. You usually didn’t like what you found at the other end, but if you didn’t pull at them, they’d sneak around and bite you later.

  President Duchevsky straightened in his chair. For a heart-stopping moment, Kimball thought he was about to become, not only the youngest man ever appointed to the Aldebaran Inner Council, but also the first to be ousted from it. But Duchevsky just studied Kimball for several seconds, saying nothing, as if measuring some invisible component of his soul.

  “Very well, Commissioner Kimball,” the president said. “You may have twelve hours to produce a report that you can approve.” He glanced towards the window, where an atmosphere-shrouded Terran warship hung ominously over half the sky.

  “Preferably one that will still appease Ambassador Komitz.”

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