“Maybe we can use prisoners.”
The eager-faced private was probably a little older than most recruits, but carried herself well as she refilled water glasses in the war room.
Admiral Kang looked around slowly, murder in her eyes. “Did someone ask your opinion?”
“Er, no ma’am, I just thought if you can’t find someone to risk their lives in the barrel, then you could perhaps send a prisoner in there to do it.” The private swallowed nervously and her hand tightened on the water jug.
“The weapon will probably kill them during the test fire. That’s what happens when you’re in a barrel of a giant weapon. If they face death on the outside why would they face death on the inside?”
“Well, you said it would ‘probably’ kill them. If the weapon doesn’t kill them, then you can promise to release them?” the private said, her voice dry.
Admiral Kang briefly considered this. Then she shook her head.
“The problem, I think, is the weapon’s design,” Captain Folda said, leaning back in his chair his feet lifting slightly off the floor. “Test fires are suicide. Who thought it was a good idea to place the diagnostic computer inside the actual barrel of the weapon?”
Kang glared at the short man. She hated the way he spoke, unsure and hesitant, always saying “I think” when it was bloody obvious that when he spoke, he was thinking the words that came out of his mouth.
“Of course it’s in the design. That’s why we can’t fix it. That’s why we need a workaround,” she said. “I wish I could put the actual design team in there to fire the weapon. That would be fitting punishment.”
“All are dead but one,” said Dr. Wu, the physicist who oversaw the project. He looked at a tablet and scrolled through some names. “One of the designers: an Aleksandra Zielinski. A prodigy, it seems.”
The private had begun to slink from the room, obviously hoping to escape now that the focus was elsewhere.
“Private,” Admiral Kang barked. “What did you say your name was?”