The girls barreled into the outer office of the Commandant’s and skidded to a stop at the Executive Officer Peter Compton’s desk. The XO stood and they exchanged salutes, three fingers of the right hand pointing toward the middle of the forehead by the girls and a two fingered salute in return by the XO denoting their non-commissioned status.
Both girls started speaking at once.
The XO gave them a stern look and they fell silent. “I was wondering when the two of you would show up. Have a seat.” The XO spoke into the handheld comm unit on his desk then got up and opened the Commandant’s door. “Cadets, if you will.” He motioned for them to go in.
Rising they entered and stood at attention. Liz’s eyes went to the back of Gem’s head. Their teammate was sitting in a chair front and center of the large ironwrought desk that dominated the sleek office.
“At ease cadets. Please take a seat.” Commandant Akira Yoshimoto’s normally stern voice was softer than usual.
The girls took flanking positions to Gem. Liz and Peep moved their chairs as close as possible to their friend. Gem was silent but her tears rained down her face and slipped off her fluoropolymer uniform to a puddle on the deck plating.
Liz reached out her hand to grasp Gem’s, but she shook her head, not ready for comfort.
“Cadets, Ladies, Gemini’s father, Colonel Duke Schirra gave his life to save the Senators of Alera Seven. It is due to his heroism that the government of the system have maintained order and can protect the civilian populations. The Consolidated Systems Alliance owe the Schirra family a debt of gratitude. Mrs. Schirra is in route to pick up her daughter. There will be a quiet ceremony that will be holovided by CSN to all military stations throughout the Alliance. When Mrs. Schirra arrives she will also be expecting each of you to attend.”
Liz looked over at Peep, who nodded sharply in reply to the unspoken thought. Of course they were going.
Commandant Yoshimoto continued, “I have cleared the flight plans with each of your families. Now I need you to pack your dress uniforms and what you will need for one weeks leave.” Yoshimoto stood, so the girls did as well.
“Cadet Schirra, no words I say can make this burden easier to bear, but know this your school stands united with you and your family.”