In the midst of combat, however, there is no splendor. The beauty of this spectacle was lost on Charlie. The vibrations turned into blasts as his ship’s shields dissolved and the armor was naked. The enemy was in close range. They had encircled him, gone for his legs and had crippled him, and were now moving in for their kill. He could feel the armor take hits that the structure wouldn’t stand. He knew this, because it had happened before. At any second a flash of white light would overtake him, turning Charlie’s body into nothing.
Charlie gazed out of the window at the nebula in the distance. He longed to get back to his ship. His ship, he thought, not exactly. It would be an exact replica of his previous model, now drifting as wreckage in a deep pocket of space, or every last bolt salvaged by the pirates who ambushed his fleet. The suit stopped pacing. He flicked the lighter closed for the last time, palmed it, and turned to face Charlie. He looked at Charlie with a thwarted expression. It was with the type of curiosity that one might look upon a dog who keeps urinating indoors after it had been house-broken for years.
“That fucking suit…” He thought to himself. Charlie looked back at his cup.
“Again.” Said the man, beginning a slower pace.
“No, not the fucking debrief again! I want to hear it! I want to hear from your own fucking lips what happened!” He paused and clenched his jaw, the lighter squeezed tightly in his grip. The veins in his neck pressed firmly against his collar.
“I’m not talking about the mission. What I want to know is what you remember. What you told the nurse who worked your recovery. She said that the first words out of your mouth were ‘where is she?’ I want to know who she is. I want to know where ‘she’ came from.” The suit wasn’t letting up, and Charlie could tell this wasn’t going to end well for him.
“Every day for 90-odd days you’ve woken up, put on that suit and thought to yourself, today is the day. this rotten little shit will finally remember. Finally be able to give us all the answers… Well today isn’t your day my friend, not today and probably not tomorrow. I don’t have all the answers. Fuck, I don’t have any of them.”
After a minute Charlie replied, “There was a girl.”
“I don’t know anything really. I don’t… remember who she is. I can see her face and I can hear her voice. There are pieces… pieces of pieces.”
“Tell me everything. Anything will help.”
Charlie lifted his head, “What does it matter that I don’t know who she is! What does it matter that I said anything at all! You heard the doctors, it’s just a side-effect, just a dream during recovery!”
“I’m sorry Charlie, but I can’t let you fly.” He turned and left the room.