Flynn studied the man in the closet, who had metal bindings on his wrists. Eltie had also taken advantage of the servos in her armor to hang him from a hook in the closet. The binders cut into the man's wrists with his entire weight on them. Despite the injury, the man looked nonplused. He had a few years on Flynn, looking to be in his early fifties with iron grey hair and eyes that matched. He had a shaggy beard peppered with the black of his original hair color. In the small hole in his beard, he had on a casual, easy smile. As if we were old friends.
"You want to join my crew? You and a half dozen marauders breached my ship, and you want to join my crew." Flynn rested a palm on his pulsar pistol.
"Absolutely," the man said, ignoring the threat. "I did surrender to your fine lieutenant straight away, which I hope goes some distance to proving my sincerity. My name is Connor Reese. I don't expect you've ever heard of me. I am not famous or have any notoriety whatsoever. Before I continue, could I get your name. I would like to know who I'm speaking with before you decide to kill me."
Flynn looked at him hard for a good three seconds before answering, "Peter Flynn."
“Peter Flynn. Or should I say Captain Peter Flynn, a famous man whose reputation definitely precedes him. Your trial was something to see. All of the Alliance got you see you as—"
"Finish that sentence and you'll have a hole in your throat." Flynn interrupted, pulling his pistol.
"Quite so. No need to mention that part. But there was also the battle of Fagan's Forge, where you received certain commendations, particularly the black nova."
Flynn lowered his pistol. "That mission is classified. Exactly how do you know about that?
"You know of Systems Intelligence Directorate. How could you not given your past."
"You're an SID man?"
"Well, no. I'm going to be completely honest with you as I suspect we have more in common than you might suspect. I work for an intelligence agency that supplies SID with information so they can report it to the government. I have a variety of useful skills to offer you and your crew."
“So what brought you out here, hiding out with a gang of pirates?
Reese looked at him, weighing what answer to give. The smile disappeared.
"Like you, Captain, something went horribly wrong."
"And you're trying to put the pieces back together."
"Humpty Dumpty the Cosmic Egg is broken. There's no putting him back together. I'm trying to have a life, now."
"Somehow, Captain, I think you are lying, to yourself more than me."
"It's a lie only until it becomes true."
Flynn looked at the man, weighing the man's words. It could all be a lie. It could all be true. The smart move, the safe move, would be to kill him and move on. It was what Ann would say. Maybe even Hank. If asked for a straight opinion, Eltie would say it's wrong to kill in cold blood. Battle, sure, but a prisoner, without judge—the crash of the gavel sounded in his head again—or jury, was murder.
Flynn flicked off the pulsar, then holstered it. "You're a passenger. Free access to the common areas of the ship, but Lt. Kimball is going to watch you while you're on board. If you make yourself useful, prove yourself trustworthy, you can join the crew. Cross us and you'll be floating. Clear?"
"As unreflected starlight, Captain." He seemed to relax some. It wasn't any one thing, but how his entire body seemed less rigid, less ready to spring into action.
"Let me undo the binders, and—"
Connor twisted his wrists and the binders popped open. "No need. As I said, Captain, I have skills. And I promise to be quite open with you in order to gain your trust."
"That trick doesn't exactly make me feel any safer."
"Honesty isn't about safety. That's why we lie. Lies are the warm, dark shroud we wrap ourselves in to keep the truth out."
"You're going to share all sorts of uncomfortable truths, aren't you?"
"Only if you want me to, Captain. No one says we must face the truth. In fact, I suspect if we were to do so on a regular basis we would go quite insane."