Wow, thanks everyone! That chapter was a fairly tough one to write, so I'm glad it came across as well as it did.
-- I'm so glad you enjoyed the chapter. John did the only thing he could think of to do, which was use the one resource available to him to get the ship fixed, and use it to the fullest. Unfortunately, that 'resource' was a member of his crew. You're right, though, if it had been Maren, things might have ended very differently. We've seen his lack of objectivity when it comes to people he's attached to before. As for Anit, he's a very competent pilot ... but apparently not a guy you want around in a real emergency. At least he's following orders and functional, but his attitude sucks for sure. And Herk -- yeah, I was sad when he died, too. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!
-- Thanks. This is a crappy day for John to get his first taste of meaningful command, but if he makes it through, he'll have learned some pretty important lessons. And you're right -- the day isn't over yet, not by a long shot.
-- I'm glad you think John "knocked it out of the park" -- I'm not sure he feels that way, but I'm sure if he could read your comment he'd be grateful for the vote of confidence. He's always wanted to be in command, but I'm pretty sure this was not the way he had envisioned the job. As for Herk, yeah, he was awesome. He knew he had moments left, so he did his best to make them count. I doubt John Quigley will ever, ever forget him. Thanks so much for the very kind comments!
-- Wow, thank you for the high praise!
So glad you enjoyed. Sorry about the wait between chapters!
-- Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Herk did know what had to be done ... he had the perspective that comes with years of experience and half a lifetime lived already -- in marked contrast to John (27) and Anit (25). John might have been the ranking officer in that destroyed room, but he was smart enough to follow his instinct and defer to Herk's superior knowledge. Of course, he'll live with the memory of this moment for the rest of his life. I seriously doubt he'll ever forget the many lessons he's learned today -- and has yet to learn.
All right ... I'm off to go camping for a couple of days! So my checking in here will be infrequent until Monday. But then ... I'll write some more.
Thanks again for reading and commenting!