Spero Karas pressed the button at the Admiral's portal. The Admiral's holograph appeared, the auto ident system scanned the Doc remotely and the portal irised open without the Admiral speaking at all. The Admiral entered his office from his quarters as Spero was entering from the corridor.
"How's it look, Doc?"
"Not what I'd hoped, Admiral." Karas had a good relationship with the Admiral and, under normal circumstances, would have used the more informal "Smitty," but this was a somewhat formal occasion; the presentation of the pre-action injury report. He didn't feel comfortable in this situation using informal salutations, especially when the news wasn't especially good. "Lieutenant Samuel is out." He could see the Admiral knew there was more.
"So...what else, Doc?"
Karas sighed. "It's Roddy, Admiral. He hasn't responded as quickly as we hoped."
"Dammit, Doc, it was just a severed ankle! I thought we had the technology to handle that?"
"Well, we do," said the Doc, somewhat testily. "But the nanobots repairing Roddy's ankle seem to be taking some time. It's not like it's an immediate, miracle cure."
"Jeez, Doc, we need Roddy! He's a key to our offensive strategy!"
"Dammit, Admiral, we're giving it all we've got!" Doc Karas realized he'd raised his voice, and took a second to compose himself. "We can get him in shape to work marginally. But if he gets into a situation where he could aggravate the nanobotic activity..." Karas trailed off.
The Admiral sighed, and waved Karas away. "Just do what you can, Doc."
"Aye, we will, Smitty." Karas let himself out of the Admiral's quarters.
The Millenium Falcon skipped out of hyperspace into the open space of the Creole system. From there it was a short skip to a point near the planet Etouffee. Skips into near-planet locations were typically dicey, since the effects of mass and gravity complicated the skip calculations significantly. As a consequence, long-range skips were not conducted to the final destination when that destination was near a planetary mass. Even the short skip placed the MF a bit off course of its intended target, above the Etouffeean city of Metairie.
They made no attempt to evade detection by the Etouffeean satellites. It wouldn't have mattered; they were expected. The Nationalist Federation of Lifeforms, a loosely-knit but powerful organization dedicated to profiting from such tilts, was very open about upcoming battles, heavily promoting them and providing limited live video feeds to millions of interested citizens on both sides. As a consequence, the element of surprise was invariably lost, save for unexpected tactical execution.
The battle was quickly engaged, with opposing forces squaring up on opposite sides of the starfield. The MF probed the Creolean defense and was quickly stopped. The Creole force punched slightly deeper into the MF defenses, but they were also repulsed. Then a small starfighter, piloted by Lieutenant Douglas, made a deep penetration on the left side of the Creolean force and opened a hole for Commander Gonzales, who scored a direct hit on the foreign battle cruiser.
After that, the battle devolved into a melee, with both sides trading punches, and failing to score a decisive victory. The MF crew advanced to an early advantage, which was just as quickly erased by the Creole forces. After nearly three hours of fighting, it became clear to the MF force that the battle was lost. There were some heroes, for sure; Captain Ryan acquitted himself well, especially considering the spotty performance of the Captain's Guard. Lt. Douglas did a very respectable job filling in for Commander Roddy White, who made a token appearance in a pair of feints. Finally, Lieutenant Jackson acquitted himself well, despite his failure to press home an opportunity to win the day in a last-ditch offensive effort. But at the end, it was clear that the Millenium Falcon needed to make an orderly and hasty withdrawal, and lick its wounds to fight another day. They exited the battle area, skipped into hyperspace, and left the Etouffeeans and other Creoles to celebrate their victory in whatever craven way they saw fit.
Delando Rumbutter was prepared for the post-operation interview. As the somewhat retro-dressed lead reporter covering the Millenium Falcon for the Galactic Journal/Planet, he had some probing questions to ask the participants of the recently-failed probe into the Creole star system. The effort was a resounding failure, and he was committed to bringing the truth to his readers. He was going to ask the tough questions, yessiree.
Rumbutter made sure he had a front-row seat for the post op. The first appearance was none other than Admiral Smith, the top commander and leader of the Millenium Falcon, dubbed the "Big MF" by friend and foe alike. He joined the other reporters in asking the Admiral the usual questions.
"Admiral Smith, what are your observations regarding the recently failed expedition to the Creole system?" asked Rumbutter.
"Well," said Smith, "we need to assure that we don't lose two in a row." There was some chuckling among the other reporters and participants. Rumbutter was slightly annoyed, but kept quiet. The next interview was with Captain Ryan, the tactical battlefield leader.
"Captain Ryan, what do you think you need to do after this ignominious defeat?" asked Rumbutter.
Ryan gave him a long look. "Well, I think we need to look at the recordings of the battle, and learn from it. As professionals, we need to get past this and make sure that we don't have two defeats in a row." There were titters among the other reporters.
Not to be denied, Rumbutter was prepared to ask the hard question of the next interviewer, Lieutenant Jackson. "Lieutenant, do you think you should have taken the day when you had the chance at the end of the engagement to pull out a victory?"
Jackson gave him a piercing look. "I always think I should do what it takes. I always expect to win."
"But Jackson," pressed Rumbutter, "if you had pressed that opportunity, don't you think the MF would have prevailed?"
"I don't deal in ‘what ifs,' I deal in expectations of myself," said Jackson. "I expect to contribute, I expect to win."
"But Jackson..." started Rumbutter.
"When you guys get to know me better, you'll realize who I am," said Jackson. "I'm here to win, and I expect to do whatever it takes to achieve that. We have another upcoming operation. I'm going to be ready for it. We need to be sure we don't have two defeats in a row. Now, if you'll excuse me..."
Jackson left the podium amid laughter and applause. Rumbutter left alone.
"Next week," he fumed to himself. "I'll get ‘em next week."