Meeting a Maniac...One More Time

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After the Destruction of K'tithrak Mang

Meeting a Maniac...One More Time

It wasn't a month after the last mission, that we jumped into Deneb Sector. With the Admiral's help, I was able to locate the carrier where Maniac had been transferred after his months in sick bay and two years of therapy. I planned on surprising him. When I reached the carrier, I was told that Maniac was in the bar. The warrant officer gave me a strange look when I said that Maniac and I were friends. I just figured the guy was goofy.

I went up to the bar to order a few mugs of Goddard Special. I thought I'd just walk over to Maniac's table, hand him a beer, have a seat, and wait for his reaction. That's what I did.

"What the hell," he said. "How'd you find me, Prankster?" I started to explain, when Maniac interrupted.

"I guess you think you're the big hero of the war again, right hot shot? Well, let me tell you something," he said. There was a malicious edge to his tone. "You can't hold a candle to me when it comes to flying. I saved our entire strike fleet in Deneb, with some of the niftiest maneuvers you've ever seen. Ask anybody around here!" he exclaimed. "They'll tell you who the best pilot in the space navy really is!"

"Hold it, Maniac," I replied. "I just came over here to see how you were doing. I figured things had changed. I thought you'd be glad to see me." I noticed that the bar had become very quiet. Everyone was staring.

"Glad to see you!" he yelled. "There's isn't anyone I'd rather avoid. You've tried to knock me down since our first day at the academy. On the Tiger's Claw, you talked about me behind my back. I've heard all the stories. I know what really went on. You were just trying to be my friend so that you could learn my secrets. Well, it won't work this time, Prankster. I'm wise to all your tricks. You just wait. By the time this war ends, you'll find out who the real hero is."

I just got up and walked away. "Damn," I thought as I headed back to the launch bay. "I've seen this act before. That guy might have been cleared by the psych staff, but they better keep a sharp eye on him, because he's headed for trouble again. He just can't handle the stress of combat."

When I returned to the Concordia, I decided to write Admiral Tolwyn about my concerns. I sent it by regulation e-mail channels to ensure it became an official part of the record. "I've taken enough lives in this war," I thought. "Maybe, in Maniac's case, I can save one."

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The Losing Paths