Night falls on HMS Mariner Venture. The ship's crew gets set for a shift change, allowing those on the day shift to get a well-earned rest. They've been on the rescue mission for quite some time now, but they still have not seen any sign of the shipwreck.
First Officer Robert Martin heads down to the dining hall, looking forward to Fajita Friday. A hot, piping batch is served just as he enters the dining hall. Grabbing a plate and taking what he needs, he settles down at a table at the corner. The rest of the crew know well enough by now that whenever he picks that table, he wants to be left alone with his thoughts. A lot of things run through his mind, but the most prominent of all - he just wants to go home, back to seeing his family and friends, with this being his final involvement with the navy. Though he likes the regimented lifestyle, he figured it is time to lead a normal life, with a professional job. He starts eating his fajitas, and before he knows it, he's cleaned off the whole plate.
Two weeks later...
The crew on board HMS Mariner Venture are getting excited. They just spotted a huge debris field of what they believe to be of the missing ocean cruiser, the Majestic Hope. All the rescue equipment has been put on standby, waiting for the command to be deployed. After getting the clearance, the equipment is deployed, hoping to find survivors, although they know any chance of that is very slim.
"Hey, is that a guy over there?"
Private Russell Lane's shout got the attention of some of the rescuers. Quickly, a couple of speedboats change their course to the location Lane pointed out. Sure enough, they found a man on one of the floating debris. Unfortunately, he was long gone. The rescuers retrieve him from the debris, and put him in a body bag. For a few hours, they scoured the area, and with the help of other ships that joined the rescue mission, they recovered most of the bodies of the victims of the wreck.
Lane's crew arrive on deck, together with the bodies they recovered. Robert helps them carry the bodies to a holding section. After finishing the task, he got a little curious.
"Mind if I look at the bodies?" he asks the ship doctor.
"Not really, just don't contaminate them any further" is the reply.
He runs through their faces one by one. Whatever emotion he has while looking at the faces, he keeps it hidden really well. Then, he stops at one of them, taking a long, hard look at the face. It is of a man, who is of similar age as Robert himself. Slowly, Robert breaks into a smile and whispers...
"Finally. It's been years, but you're finally dead. What took you so long?"
To be continued...