Vice Admiral Albert Bunting is one of the main characters in my novel Nu Book 1 – The Esss Advance. There is a chapter in the book where the Vice Admiral is introduced to the audience. It occurs in the protagonist’s (Sted Richardson) hospital room where he is recovering from losing both of his legs above the knee joints.
I hope you enjoy this little snippet of the book:
“Good morning, Captain Richardson. I’m Vice Admiral Albert Bunting, and I have taken charge of overseeing your recovery and determining your fitness for further duty in the Navy.”
“Good morning, sir,” Sted said in a listless tone. He had a hard time looking directly at the admiral as the guilt he was feeling made his eyes slide away from the presence of authority. He knew that failure must be written all over his face. Fitness for duty seemed impossible at this point.
The Vice Admiral filled the doorway. He appeared to be the type of sailor found in the bowels of a ship tearing apart and rebuilding some major piece of equipment that kept the Space Navy’s vessels functioning properly. He actually was that type of person, except he did not deal with the mechanical part of a ship but with the individuals who manned those ships.
“I am truly sorry for the loss of your two officers in this unfortunate accident,” Bunting said. “I want to assure you that the Navy is doing everything possible for their families here on Luna and back on Earth. I have already written personal notes expressing the Navy’s gratitude for their service and to let them know that you, as their captain, are still recovering from extensive injuries suffered in the same accident. That is one task I was able to do for you while you were in surgery and post-operative recovery.”
“Thank you, sir,” Sted replied, looking up at the imposing officer with a mixture of gratitude and trepidation. “Over the next couple of days, I will also write notes to their families to let them know how much I appreciated their service to the Navy and to me personally as their captain on this last deployment. They were wonderful people and close friends, and I think the families deserve to know that directly from me.”
The Vice Admiral smiled. “I am sure that would be very much appreciated. I’ll have the families’ names and addresses sent directly to your comm unit along with a copy of my notes to each of them. Is there anything else I can send you that would be helpful?”
Sted shook his head. “No, sir.”
The Vice Admiral nodded. “Very well then, are you up to discussing your post-recovery career?”
“Maybe tomorrow or later this week,” Sted replied. “My thoughts are scrambled right now, especially when I try to remember what happened in that airlock. I’m not sure I could retain very much at this point.”
“Not a problem, Captain. I’m certain it will take time and a great deal of counseling with Ms. Fry for you to deal with the losses you have suffered. I just ask that you give us that time and your every effort to make things right again. I am also asking you to have faith in the recovery plan I have established and the team I have assembled. With all of us working together, I believe we can piece your life back together in a very meaningful way.”
“I will try, sir,” was all Sted could manage.
“Excuse me, sir,” Emily said as she pushed past Bunting and entered Sted’s room. “We need to get the captain down to rehab where we can begin the process you’ve outlined in your program.”
As she spoke, Emily disconnected Sted from the many wires and tubes around his bed and reconnected him to several on the wheeled transport gurney she brought over from the side of the room. Sted wondered what type of therapy they would start while he still required external devices to recover his health.
“I will return at 1400 hours tomorrow to review some of your options, Captain,” Bunting said. “I have instructed Emily and the hospital staff to give you full access to your proposed recovery regimen. Part of your initial visit to rehab will be setting you up with your own portable tablet from which you can see all of your medical records, including surgical notes, vital statistics over time, your rehab plan as set up by me, and anything else necessary for you to understand your progress and your goals. I put the initial plan into place while you were coming out of surgery, but it will be your responsibility to modify the plan going forward based on the decisions you make regarding your immediate future. Until then, Captain, I wish your good luck and Godspeed!”
With that, the Admiral withdrew from the room. It was just as well, as Emily needed most of the available space in the room to move Sted from the bed to the gurney. In the lower lunar gravity, his weight would not be a problem. She could easily move him. The only thing that made this difficult was working around the various attachments between him and the equipment on the gurney.
“Captain Richardson, can you hold on to these three lines while I shift your weight? Hold them up high enough so that when I lift your torso and then set you down on the gurney, the lines don’t get caught under your backside. Then I can rearrange everything appropriately once you’re settled.”
“Certainly,” Sted replied. “How long do I have to have this IV drip going and the monitoring devices attached?”
“Your IV will probably be removed sometime tonight, but that depends on the doctor’s evaluation of your progress on getting your digestive track working normally. The monitoring lines will remain in place for at least a week.”
After reorganizing everything on the gurney so that Sted was comfortable, she swung the gurney around to point what was left of his legs toward the door. “Okay, let’s get you downstairs to the computer lab so Larry can get you set up properly.”
Sted knew things were moving rapidly, but somehow, he didn’t care. He knew he would make the effort to write to Lorraine and Jeremy’s families, because that was his responsibility. That was about the extent of his plans. After that he just wanted to curl up into a ball and escape the pain of their loss.