Debriefing Gabriel Usuriel

Debriefing Gabriel Usuriel

A Story by Octavia

So, are you going to ruin this heart with the drugs, too? Or are you done endangering my starship by behaving like an angsty teenager?


Olivia left the office, her pretty, besotted face looking like a strange echo of my own past as she glanced over her shoulder at Gabriel.  Then the door shut behind her and I was alone with the biggest thorn in my side for the first time in several months.

“You’re an idiot,” I couldn’t help the words from falling out of my mouth the instant his too-blue eyes met my own green ones.  “A reckless, irresponsible, thrill-seeking idiot who is going to get himself and everyone else on this ship killed.”

Gabriel ducked his head under my verbal assault but I could see from the set of his shoulders that he wasn’t going to take the scolding passively.  Before he could interject, I continued.

“So, are you going to ruin this new heart with the drugs, too?  Or are you done endangering my starship by behaving like an angsty teenager?”


“Captain Blackmon,” I corrected him.

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair.  For all that I was angry about the way he’d bluffed his way into this mission, I was relieved to see him looking a little less like death warmed over.  He and Olivia had seemed genuinely affectionate the last two times I’d seen them together.  Maybe the two of them would work things out and the insanity of the last six months might actually settle down.  For a moment, I considered bringing it up, but decided their relationship wasn’t any of my business.  For Gabe’s sake, I hoped things were truly on the mend, however.

“Captain Blackmon,” he tried again with a sigh, “I know I’ve been… struggling the last few months.  And I know my actions have had some unforeseen consequences for my crew mates.  Honestly, though, I never intended for my problems to impact the Inspiration’s safety.”

“Never intended,” I repeated, “More like you never think.  How much brain power does it take to realize that our ship can’t function without a psi-pilot these days?  Until your sister is old enough to take the helm, we’re vulnerable to attack without you.  Hell, a simple asteroid field is now enough to threaten us.  Hurting yourself is hurting the ship, Gabriel.  And don’t even try to tell me you haven’t been deliberately self-destructive.  Olivia told me about your overdose this week.”

“Ugh, okay,” he sounded genuinely embarrassed this time and I was actually rather encouraged by that response.  If he had the self-awareness to be ashamed, maybe he realized just how dangerous this illness of his had gotten.  “Look, my head has been in a really bad place lately.  I made some seriously poor decisions and I am sorry for them.  I wasn’t thinking straight and that’s the honest truth.”

“So are things going to change?  Or do I have to tell Gloria that the entire ship has to go without morphine for the next six months?”

He lost a touch of color at that one.  “You’d do that to the Med Bay?  I mean, anyone could have an accident.  It’s really the only strong painkiller we have on board.”

“I know.  Which is why I haven’t done it up until this point.  But mark me, Gabriel Usuriel, I will not let your addiction continue to threaten this ship.  If it is between causing people some discomfort or letting the Inspiration be captured by Terrans or Cat-Mantis, I will choose discomfort every time.”  I leaned forward to let him see the seriousness on my face.  “Read my mind, Mr. Telepath, and know that I will jettison every syringe we have on board the next time I so much as suspect you’ve been using again.”

He held up a hand, face grim though he was still avoiding my gaze.  “I get it.  But you don’t need to worry about it.  I made Liv a promise and I intend to keep it.  I’ve screwed up enough relationships to know when I’m on my last chance.  If I mess up on her again it’s over,” he sighed again and ducked his head before quietly adding, “And I really don’t want it to be over.”

I found myself softening despite myself.  I had loved him once and it was a strangely painful thing to watch him pine and tear himself apart over what had happened between him and Olivia.  Admittedly, it had been quite a bit more complicated and traumatic then a simple bad break-up.  Even so, it had painful echoes of what we’d gone through all those years ago.

“Well, just in case love isn’t enough,” I found myself saying, “Keep my words in mind.  We’ve known each other a long time.  You know I don’t make idle threats.”

He nodded, eyes distant and face a bit drawn.  He looked tired, I thought.

“Anything else, Captain?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, “The next time you’re deathly ill, don’t volunteer for a rescue mission.  I appreciate that you’re willing but I don’t need you collapsing half-way through. You could have gotten Olivia and everyone else on that mission killed. I hope you know that.”

He gave me a small scowl at that one.  “I seem to remember someone disregarding my mother’s medical advice to ask me to go on this particular mission.”

I matched his dark frown with one of my own.  “If you’d been honest with me and told me you’d had a relapse, I wouldn’t have sent you.”

Gabriel shook his head, his eyes narrowed with far more shrewd intelligence than I remembered him displaying recently.  He really was feeling better.  The thought was comforting even if his insight was likely about to be rather inconvenient.  “No, you took calculated risk.  You knew I was the only option and if I was on my feet, there was no way you couldn’t at least ask me to save the mining ship.  It was the same reason I went.  You and I both took the same gamble and nearly lost.  We both got incredibly lucky that Liv insisted on coming along. Though, in hind sight, that’s the part I regret the most.  I could have gotten her killed and that is unacceptable,” his voice trailed off, face solemn.  Then he met my gaze.  “Consider me officially scared straight.  I almost died and took Olivia with me.  That will not be happening again, not if I can help it.  You can mark me on that.”

I looked into his ageless eyes and decided he meant it.  Slowly, I nodded.  

“Okay,” I said after a long moment, “I’ll take your word one last time.  But after this, no more promises or excuses.  Mess up again and you’ll lose more than your girlfriend.  Am I clear?”


“Good.  Dismissed,” I snapped.

He nodded and stood, head down as if his cocky personality had actually taken a bruising.  I was a little glad to see him taken down a notch if it meant he might be a little more careful in the future.

His hand reached for the doorplate and I suddenly found myself unable to hold my tongue.


He turned, eyes a bit more vulnerable than I’d seen them in a while.  I gave him a sad smile.

“Do yourself a favor and marry this one, huh?”

A small smile lit his face and I could see that love-sick look in his eye.  I was pretty sure I hadn’t seen that look since we broke up.

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said softly, “I intend to.”

© 2017 Octavia

Author's Note

This is a strange little piece. In the middle of a novel, I had this debriefing that the main character (Olivia) was not in the room for. For years, I had a general idea of what might have happened during it, I just never wrote it down. Then, one day, I guess I got kind of bored because this fell out into my writing journal. So, I realize it is out of context and all, but hopefully you find some of the characters and interactions interesting.

My Review

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Octavia Hi. You said elsewhere that sci-fi fantasy was your usual genre. I have to confess to opening pieces like this dozens of times and closing them without comment after a couple of sentences show me what it is. Frankly, I can't be bothered to understand the 'rules' of the different alien races. So I need to put that 'out there'. Sorry - that's me. OK, now to provide some more hopefully helpful feedback!

Your dialogue, the exchanges, the helpful descriptive sentences (e.g. Then he met my gaze). It's a pretty hard balance to get right, and I think you managed it well. I never found myself wondering who's speaking, why are they saying X or Y, or how are they feeling behind what they're saying or listening to. AND it also maintained pace. This is quite tough juggling. Many of us get bogged down, but this works well. I did spot a 'seemed' where you meant 'seem' (and there's an 'aught' where it should be 'ought' in one of the other stories) but hey, it's pretty darn perfectly written!

One section that slightly gave me pause because of its focus on whether the addict was really over it, was the Med Bay morphine part. The Captain, especially one who knows the person inside out, would be deeply sceptical. Gabriel (I like the 'lost a touch of color' bit) 'gives up' his argument suspiciously easily. I'm not sure - there's just something about that part that perhaps skims over whether an addict is ever really truly over it and can ever be trusted. Genuinely not sure. (Does he have a hidden stash? Should she order a search of his quarters?) Maybe it is there, but could perhaps have had more tension and doubt and challenge painted into it. I think it's the only section I'd suggest re-looking at.

Best regards

Posted 4 Years Ago


4 Years Ago

Hello Nigel-

Thanks for looking at my work. I really do appreciate the fact that you.. read more
Nigel Newman

4 Years Ago

The 'seemed' I had in mind .... He gave me a small scowl at that one. “I seemed to r...
Great! You are really good at fleshing these characters out through dialogue. Something that I have trouble with. Most of my characters are in their own heads. I am again intrigued by your world. Definitely something I am looking forward to reading more about.

Posted 4 Years Ago


4 Years Ago

So glad you enjoyed it! I do use dialog a lot, now that I think on it. I have noticed that about y.. read more

4 Years Ago

Hmmm, yea I think its partbof my style because I myself tend to be in my own head and when I think a.. read more

4 Years Ago

Its really hurting how younger ones spoil things off and cannot get out, it is then that we need our.. read more
Incredibly imaginative and more than a little well written. This is some serious talent. Blown away. Really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing.

Posted 4 Years Ago


4 Years Ago

Thanks so much for the kind words! It means a lot. Thanks for taking the time to read my work.

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4 Reviews
Added on January 18, 2017
Last Updated on February 2, 2017
Tags: angel, fiction, fantasy, drug, drugs, morphine, substance abuse, space, spaceship, romance, love, couples, generation ship, science fiction, sci-fi, addiction



Charlotte, NC

Hello All! Writing for me is a combination of mental escape and closet ambition. One of these days I'd love to see some of my work in print, so if any of you have feedback I would appreciate it... more..

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A Story by Octavia