A Sword of Ivy, Part 5

As soon as Hana was done speaking to the squad leader, she took a deep breath, and then said, “Okay, Echo Team. Let’s do this.” Immediately, she hoisted herself up on top of the cliff, pulled her silenced assault rifle out of its holster on her back, and crept forward until she was behind a nearby outcropping of rock. Lifting up the assault rifle and resting it on the outcropping, she peered through the rifle’s scope, and sized up the opposition.

It looked like Moratino had been right. There were at least 250 troops on top of the ridge, possibly more. They’d set up a nice, tidy camp right at the top, but they clearly hadn’t expected anybody to scale the cliff, because there were no fortifications facing it, and all of the troops had their attention trained on the battle on the slope leading up to the top of the ridge.

She trained her rifle on the nearest target and fired. The soldier dropped without a sound, but before his body hit the ground, she had already shifted targets and fired again. The targets she was selecting were out of the line of sight of the rest of the soldiers on the ridge, and the five assassins with her were also doing the same with almost superhuman efficiency, so nearly 50 Imperial soldiers had been eliminated before the rest of them even suspected that there were enemy troops behind them.

Once they’d figured out what was going on, it didn’t help them much. As soon as more than a handful of Imperial troops had turned around and started drawing their fellows’ attention to Starfengt, Hana and her squad quickly holstered their assault rifles and pulled out the other weapon strapped to their backs, a light grenade launcher. Before the Imperial troops could even open fire on Starfengt, their ranks were decimated by a dozen lightweight, but high-powered, grenades ripping through them. There were still almost 150 of them left at this point, but they were scattered and demoralized. And Starfengt still had a few more tricks left.

Dropping her grenade launcher, Hana pressed a button on her forearm, and it was as if she had disappeared. The rest of her squad followed suit. They had activated their active camouflage, which analyzed their surroundings and automatically adjusted the color of their body armor to match the color of their surroundings, thus making them virtually invisible. Once they’d disappeared they each drew long, curved mylium swords and crept forward towards the Imperial troops.

One of the most important things Arcten had ever taught her was that fear was more important than firepower. No matter how many more troops and guns and bullets your enemy had than you, if they were afraid of you, all of those advantages were nullified. And turning invisible and cutting them down one by one was an extremely effective way to terrify them.

Quickly but methodically, Hana and her five fellow assassins swept through the Imperial camp, striking down soldiers and disappearing before their companions could react. Meanwhile, the two regular army squads had turned back and were pressing toward the Imperial troops again. Slowly but surely, the number of Imperial troops on the ridge was dwindling.

Hana had to admit that, despite their fear, the Imperial troops fought hard. They knew that they had no defense against the shadows harrying them from all sides, but they didn’t give up. She almost felt bad about killing them, except that she knew they would kill her in a heartbeat if they got the chance. Besides, whether or not these individual soldiers were good people or not, they served an Empire that was corrupt and dying. They could have defected to Fangalin and joined the side of justice and truth. Instead, they chose to stay with the Empire. Hana had no compassion for fools who refused to see the direction that history was heading.

Almost as soon as the battle had begun, it was over. Less than two dozen Imperial soldiers were left, and they had surrendered, as it was painfully obvious that they were not going to win this fight. Only two of the regular Fangalin soldiers had been killed, and one more had been wounded and was currently being evaced. The rest of the regular soldiers were herding the disarmed Imperial soldiers down the ridge, while Hana and her team members set up their positions facing the main Imperial army camp. They hadn’t been able to bring their sniper rifles up the ridge with them, so they were collecting their grenade launchers and preparing to rain death down upon the clustered Imperials, while their assistants brought their snipers rifles up the ridge.

“That was spectacular, Captain,” said Vedregela with a grin as she knelt down beside Hana and set her grenade launcher on a rock outcropping to stabilize it.

“I suppose it was pretty good,” Hana allowed with a small smile. “Of course, we’re not done yet.”

“Of course,” Vedregela said, her grin broadening. She adjusted her grenade launcher, made sure it was fully secure, and then turned to look at Hana. A serious look had replaced the grin, although her eyes still twinkled with delight. “Welcome back, Captain,” she said. Hana turned to look at her, her own eyes somber but grateful.

“Thanks, Ved,” Hana replied. “Let’s kick some more Imperial ass, shall we?”

“Yes, sir!” Vedregela replied, her grin back and broader than ever.

“Echo One to Echo Two,” Hana said over the radio.

“Echo Two here,” Xeliana replied. “Go ahead.”

“What’s your status, Two?”

“South ridge is secure, One. We’re getting ready to start the second phase.”

“Acknowledged, Two. Begin the second phase at your discretion.”

“Understood, One. Two out.”

Almost as soon as Hana stopped talking, she saw a flash of light from the opposite ridge and then a series of explosions in the Imperial camp below. “Echo Team!” she yelled. “That’s our cue! Let’s light ‘em up!” Immediately, she and the rest of her squad began emptying their grenade launchers into the Imperial camp, unleashing death and destruction and chaos once again.

To be continued…

A Sword of Ivy, Part 4

“Echo One, this is Fox One,” came a voice over Hana’s earpiece suddenly.

“Echo One here, Fox One,” Hana replied. “Go ahead.” Fox One was the commanding officer of Giant Hammer, Colonel Vondamisk Latrafai.

“Captain, I need Echo Team to take up flanking positions on those two ridges to the northwest,” Col. Latrafai said. “You’ll be providing covering fire for our advance up the middle.”

“That’s a pretty good position, Colonel,” Hana replied. “What are the odds the enemy doesn’t already have troops up there?”

“I know they do, Captain,” Latrafai shot back in a slightly condescending tone. If Hana cared about such things any more, she’d be annoyed at the emphasis he put on the word “Captain”, as if her rank was lower than hers. If she had been a captain in the Army, she would be several ranks lower than Latrafai. But she was a Naval Captain, which meant that she was the same rank as Latrafai. But it didn’t really matter what Latrafai thought of her. “That’s why I’m sending four squads with you to secure the position,” he continued.

“Are you sure that will be enough, Colonel?” Hana asked, her brow slightly furrowed.

“My scouts tell me there’s only 50 troops on each ridge,” Latrafai retorted. “General Belvanoi says that your squad is the best in Fangalin. Two squads per ridge ought to be plenty of backup.”

“Understood, Colonel,” Hana said. “Echo One out.” She looked around at her squad. “Okay, Echo Team. We have our assignment. We’re going to be laying down covering fire from those ridges up there,” she said, gesturing to the sweeping ridges stretching out to either side of them. “The main enemy encampment is in between them, so we’ll be perfectly positioned to support the main push up the middle.”

“Too perfectly,” replied Moratino sourly. “The Empire is sure to have those ridges heavily defended.”

“Colonel Latrafai assures me that there are only 50 troops on each ridge,” Hana said. “We’ll be assisted by four squads from Giant Hammer.”

“Which will be plenty, if there really are only 50 troops up there,” Moratino grimaced. “But what if his information is wrong? If I was defending this valley, I’d have ten times as many troops up there. If they lose those ridges, they’re done for. Any commander worth his salt would know that.”

“Maybe we’re lucky and the enemy commander is an idiot,” Hana said in a slightly exasperated tone.

“We’ve made the mistake of underestimating the Empire before,” Vedregela said somberly. Hana gave her a long, searching look, and suddenly something occurred to her. She cared about these people. As much as she tried to make herself stop caring, she couldn’t. Xeliana, Vedregela, Moratino, Retico, and the rest…they belonged to her, and she belonged to them. They could never fill the void in her heart where Arcten was, but they didn’t need to. If she lost any of them, there would be new voids in her heart.

“Okay,” she said softly, and then she repeated it, louder and firmer. “Okay! Here’s what we’re gonna do.” She leaned forward and told the squad her plan, and as she did, grins spread across all of their faces.

***

“Now this, is devious,” said Vedregela in delight as she, Hana, Retico, and three other members of Starfengt stood at the foot of a cliff, looking up at its sheer face.

“I certainly hope so,” Hana said dryly. “Otherwise this is going to be a one-way trip.” She looked around at the members of her team. “Everybody ready?” They all nodded in determination. “Echo Two, this is Echo One,” Hana said over the radio to Xeliana. “Ready to execute?”

“We are in position, Echo One,” came Xeliana’s response. “Ready to go on your mark.”

“Very good, Echo Two,” Hana said. “Execute.” As soon as she said this, she grasped the wall of rock directly in front of her and began climbing. The plan was simple. If Colonel Latrafai’s scouts were wrong, and the Imperial commander wasn’t an idiot, then a frontal assault on the ridges with the number of troops at Hana’s disposal would be suicide. Instead, Hana was just sending the squad that Latrafai had loaned her up the slopes of the ridges, but their attack was simply a diversion. Their objective was to engage the enemy, and then fall back and draw as many enemey troops with them as possible. Meanwhile, Starfengt would scale the cliffs on the sides of the ridges and assault the enemy encampments from behind. Once Starfengt began their attack, the regular squads would turn and push back, catching the Imperial troops in a vice.

Of course, if Moratino was right, there would be 250 Imperial soldiers waiting for them at the top. 250 Imperial soldiers versus 20 regular Fangalin troops and 6 Starfengt assassins. But at least this was a challenge worthy of Starfengt’s skills.

Climbing the cliff meant that they couldn’t carry as much gear into this battle as they usually would. In theory, they could have used floatpacks to hover up to the top of the cliff, but floatpacks gave off an energy signal that could be detected by anyone paying attention, and if Hana’s plan was going to work, they needed to catch the enemy completely by surprise. They were wearing special gloves and boots that attached themselves to the surface of the cliff face, so they didn’t have to worry about losing their grip, but they still had to use their own muscles to pull themselves up. This meant carrying a light load, but a light load for a Starfengt assassin still meant that they were bristling with weaponry compared to a regular soldier.

As soon as they reached the lip of the cliff, Hana signaled a halt. “Echo Two, what’s your status?” she said over the radio.

“We’re in position, Echo One,” Xeliana replied. “Waiting on your signal.”

“Sigma One,” Hana said again, this time contacting the leader of the squads assaulting the ridge, “give me an update.”

“We have made contact with the enemy and have begun falling back!” yelled the squad leader over the sounds of battle. “You were right, Echo One! There’s a lot more guys up here than we thought!”

“Hold tight, Sigma One,” Hana said reassuringly. “We’re coming.”

To be continued…

A Sword of Ivy, Part 3

Hana supposed that there must have been parts of Weblish that were nice to look at. After all, it was a habitable world with millions of people living on it. There must have been plants growing on the planet somewhere. But every area she’d seen in the three weeks she’d been there had been more desolate than the last. Sector Bravo Seven, or, as it was known by the locals, the Arabesh Wastes, was no exception to that rule. Long stretches of flat, dry, brown land were periodically broken by massive spikes of dirt and rock that soared thousands of feet into the bright blue sky.

The Arabesh Wastes weren’t just harsh to look at, either. They were also treacherous to traverse. The seemingly unbroken flatlands hid deep, jagged chasms that were nearly invisible until you were right on top of them. For that reason, the vehicles of the 4th Battalion, nicknamed “Giant Hammer”, were creeping along at a snail’s pace. Even though the APCs they were riding in, known as “Groundhogs”, were hover vehicles, they could only hover a few feet above the ground. If the distance between a Groundhog and the ground suddenly went from 3 feet to 300 feet, the result would not be pleasant. Hana figured, with a tiny smirk, that their pace fit the unit’s nickname pretty well. It would, after all, be hard to move a giant hammer quickly. Hopefully they also hit as hard as their nickname suggested once they reached their destination.

“Hey, Captain,” said Lt. Velencias Moratino to Hana suddenly, “look at this.” He was sitting across from her in the transport, and he handed her a tablet that she took with a slight frown. She stared at the tablet for a moment, and then rolled her eyes and flung it back at him with an expression that was half disgusted and half amused.

“Very funny, Lieutenant,” she said dryly as Moratino cackled in delight.

“I figured you could use a laugh, Captain,” he said with a broad grin on his tanned face. Moratino was short but thickly muscled, with a shaved head, a thin beard across his jawline and chin, and no mustache. He had always been something of an enigma to Hana. Normally reserved and serious to a fault, every once in a while he’d do something or say something that revealed a surprisingly deep sense of humor. “We haven’t had much to laugh about for awhile,” he continued, his grin fading and his normal somber expression reappearing.

“Hey, cheer up, man,” said the soldier sitting next to him, Master Chief Shalaminas Retico. Retico and Moratino were best friends, and opposite each other in just about every way. Retico was tall and thin, with long, wavy brown hair, no beard, and a thick, ridiculous mustache that he curled up on the ends. Where Moratino was generally somber, Retico almost always had a boyish grin on his face, and he seemed to consider it his life’s mission to get Moratino to laugh. “Things are never as bad as they seem, ya know? I think better days are just around the corner.”

“You always think better days are just around the corner,” Moratino grunted sourly. “And yet, here we are, riding in a Groundhog across the ugliest desert I’ve ever had the misfortune of laying eyes on.”

“Well, yeah,” replied Retico, “but at least we’re in a Groundhog and not an Adralack.”

“An Adralack would be pretty terrible out here,” Moratino admitted, “but it sure wouldn’t make our surroundings any uglier.”

“Oh, but just think about all the arvinium that’s under our feet!” Retico exclaimed. “Enough to make us wealthy beyond our wildest dreams!”

“I’d rather not think about it,” Moratino sighed. “If there wasn’t arvinium out here, we wouldn’t be bothering to conquer this pitiful rock.”

“Okay, enough!” Hana ordered as Retico opened his mouth to reply. He snapped his mouth shut with a frown, but even frowning, he had a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Hana glared at him and said, “Don’t even think about it, Master Chief. I’m not in the mood.” Retico sighed dramatically and turned his twinkling eyes on Vedregela, who was sitting next to him, on the opposite side as Moratino.

Hana almost smiled at the way Vedregela rolled her eyes when Retico began chattering away at her in his enthusiastic manner, but it was hard to really smile about anything these days. She sighed and turned so she could look out at the Arabesh Wastes as they crawled by. The unbroken expanse of brown and gray fit her mood perfectly. She wished it was cloudy, so the sky would match the ground. The bright blue of the Weblish sky was the only cheery thing she’d seen in the past three weeks, and she hated it. She wanted it to rain, to pour even, but she got the impression that it rarely rained on Weblish.

“Not much to look at, is it, sir?” said a voice near Hana’s ear. Hana turned and saw Sergeant Cadalar Veska sitting next to her. Sgt. Veska was a member of the 4th Battalion, in charge of the particular Groundhog that Starfengt was riding in. He was a grizzled veteran, with hard, dark blue eyes, a shaved head, a long scar across his left cheek and a short one across his chin.

“That, Sergeant, is the biggest understatement I’ve heard all day,” Hana replied dryly. Veska smiled slightly.

“I forget, sometimes, what this place must look like to outsiders,” he said in a somewhat melancholy tone.

“You’re from Weblish?” Hana asked in surprise.

“Not just Weblish, sir,” Veska replied. “The Arabesh Wastes. I was a miner before the war started. Imperial Army rounded a bunch of us up and forced us into service. I fought for them for a few years, but then I wised up and came over to Fangalin. Never regretted it.”

“No, I can’t imagine why you would,” Hana murmured.

“It’s good to be home,” Veska said, gazing out at the desolate landscape. “I never realized how much I missed this place. Being an arvinium miner was a hard life, but it was a good life. It’ll be satisfying once this planet is firmly under Fangalin control.”

“I bet,” Hana said, thinking. Home. She hadn’t been home in so long. She barely remembered what Bliddle was like. Maybe reconnecting with her roots would help her gain some clarity.

To be continued…

A Sword of Ivy, Part 2

Hana Lodimeur’s expression was carefully blank and never changed as she pulled the trigger on her sniper rifle and obliterated the head of her target. Her expression stayed blank as she swept the battlefield through the scope of her rifle, selected another target, and did it again. Every time she pulled the trigger, she saw the head of Emperor Neminatrix IV explode, but she kept doing it anyway, because she did it better than anyone else in Fangalin. Maybe she should have allowed her memories of Neminatrix’s death to affect her, but why? She didn’t have any regrets about killing him. Yes, she had regrets about other things that happened that day. But that specific act did not dismay her in the least. And yet she saw Neminatrix’s face every time she killed an anonymous Imperial soldier.

“Echo One, this is Echo Two,” came a female voice over her in-ear radio. “Please respond.”

“Echo One here,” Hana replied. “Go ahead, Xeliana.”

“Command is ordering us to relocate to Sector Bravo Seven,” Commander Xeliana Merane replied, just barely keeping the irritation out of her voice at the fact that her CO had called her by her name instead of her code number, even if this was a secure channel. “We’re needed to support the 4th Battalion.”

“What? Why did they send that order to you?” Hana exclaimed in exasperation. “What happened to chain of command!”

“They’ve been trying to get ahold of you for the past 10 minutes,” Xeliana said, more patiently than she felt. “You haven’t been responding.”

Hana frowned silently in response to this, thinking, but then she shook her head and dismissed her thoughts. There was probably just a glitch in the radio system. It happened from time to time. “Understood, Echo Two.” She paused for a moment, and then said, “Echo One to Echo Team. We’re relocating to Sector Bravo Seven. Acknowledge.” She nodded in satisfaction as all 12 members of Starfengt voiced their acknowledgment, and then she picked up her sniper rifle and crept down off the ridge she’d been hiding on.

Her gaze swept across the desolate wasteland around her as she picked her way down the slope back to the base camp for the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Division of the Grand and Invincible Army of Fangalin. Although Starfengt wasn’t part of the Army, they’d been ordered to assist the 9th Brigade in their invasion of Weblish by the Supreme Commander himself. Once Hana would have been offended that Starfengt’s skills were being wasted on such a mundane battlefield, but now she didn’t care. She couldn’t make herself care about much of anything these days.

As she reached the foot of the slope, she handed her sniper rifle to her assistant and took off her helmet. Her short, brown hair was slicked down with sweat, and she ran a dirty hand through it, making it stand up on end. She looked around at the bustle of activity in the base camp, and spied Starfengt’s number three, Lt. Commander Vedregela Holomein, jogging toward her. Vedregela’s wavy red hair was streaming out behind her as ran, but the cheery glint that usually lit up her green eyes was missing as she glared at her commanding officer.

“What in Nerzaga were you doing up there?” Vedregela barked as Hana turned her emotionless eyes toward her. “Sir?” she added belatedly.

“There must have been a glitch in the radio system,” Hana replied coolly.

“That’s garbage and you know it, sir,” Vedregela snarled. She glared at Hana silently for a few minutes, while Hana gazed back at her impassively. Finally, Vedregela took a long, deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Look,” she said firmly, “we all miss Arcten. And I know you were closer to him than any of us. But you need to let him go, okay? You know better than anybody how pissed he’d be if he knew you were letting your grief for him get in the way of your job. He built Starfengt for you, and he’d be furious if he knew you were letting it fall apart because of him.”

“You and Xeliana give me this lecture at least once a week,” Hana replied, rolling her eyes. “And I’ll tell you the same thing I tell you every time. I’m done grieving Arcten, and Starfengt is not falling apart. The Supreme Commander wants us to shore up the war effort. It’s our duty to go where the Supreme Commander sends us.”

“The Supreme Commander knows you can’t handle anything tough, so he’s sending us to backwater worlds where you can sit on a mountain, pick off greenhorns from 3 miles away, and pretend you’re doing something important,” Vedregela shot back.

“That’s quite enough, Commander,” Hana said in a soft, dangerous voice, the color draining from her face. Vedregela’s face turned as red as her hair, and she dropped her eyes to the ground.

“I’m sorry, sir,” she whispered. Hana glared at her for a moment, and then the expression on her face softened.

“I know, Ved,” she said quietly. “And I know you’re frustrated. I’m trying my best, I really am. I hope, deep down inside, you realize that.”

“I know, sir,” Vedregela replied, still looking at the ground. “And I hope you realize that I care about you. I don’t want to see you destroyed by grief.” Hana just looked at her appraisingly for a moment, and then sighed deeply.

“Come on, Ved,” she said, starting to walk toward the center of the camp. “Let’s gather up the rest of the team and figure out what’s happening in Sector Bravo Seven.”

“Yes, sir,” Vedregela said with a resigned sigh, trotting after her CO. As they walked, Hana thought for a moment about what Vedregela had said. Was she being destroyed by grief? That was probably a pretty good assessment. But what could she do about it? Everytime she cared about someone or something, the universe stole it away from her. It seemed the only solution was to just stop caring entirely.

To be continued…

A Sword of Ivy, Part 1

Morken Velenoth grimaced as his alarm went off at 5 o’clock in the morning. He hated having to get up this early, but he shut the alarm off and crawled out of bed anyway. If he wanted to get to work on time, then he couldn’t laze around and sleep in, and he definitely wanted to get to work on time. For one, his job paid well, and he liked money. But, more importantly, his employer was the type to get…angry, if his employees didn’t show up on time. If there was one thing Morken Velenoth liked more than money, it was making sure that his employer wasn’t angry.

He showered, dressed, and went into his kitchen to have a bite to eat. As he ate his breakfast, he perused the morning news on his tablet. Nothing terribly interesting. The war between Fangalin and the Empire was still dragging on, with no end in sight. It had been two years since Valador Mifalis had put an end to his rival, Neminatrix IV, and unified what was left of the Empire under one person for the first time since the war began. Valador had been exceptionally productive over the past two years, winning battles on every front, and even convening the Senate for the first time since the Emergence. Something would have to be done about that, but fortunately, that wasn’t Velenoth’s responsibility.

Finishing his breakfast, he stuffed his tablet into a pocket of his robes, threw on a long overcoat, and went outside. A few minutes later he was on a hovertrain headed into the heart of Crez. He glanced at his tablet again briefly as he began his morning commute, but it didn’t take him long to realize that there wasn’t anything worth looking at on the internet this morning, and he was soon dozing as the hovertrain trundled slowly toward the Grand Hall of Fangalin, at the center of Crez.

The Grand Hall was one of the most magnificent buildings in the entire galaxy, but Velenoth had spent so much time here that he barely noticed its grandeur as he made his way through security and into the vast foyer of the Hall. Weaving through the crowds of bureaucrats making their way to their offices, he bought a coffee from his favorite cafe, and then started up to his own office.

His office was small but prestigious. In the Grand Hall, the closer your office was to the top of the building, the higher your rank in the Fangalin ruling hierarchy, and Velenoth’s office was on the second highest floor. He was the personal assistant to the Supreme Commander, which made him one of the most important people in Fangalin. It also made him one of the hardest working people in Fangalin as well, but there were enough perks to his job that it was worth the work.

He sat down behind his desk, pulled out his tablet, and started going through his daily messages while he drank his coffee. Today seemed like a fairly light day, both for himself and for the Supreme Commander. Of course, even a light day for the ruler of a vast interstellar empire was far busier than even a busy day for a normal person. But again, the perks of the job far outweighed the business of it.

After a few minutes, Velenoth had a schedule drawn up for the Supreme Commander’s day, and he was on his way up in his private elevator to the Commander’s office to present it to him. As usual, the Supreme Commander, Dren Calabane, looked as if he’d been working without a break all night, although Velenoth knew that he probably had arrived at his desk only a few minutes before Velenoth himself did. Dren Calabane was a workaholic. Velenoth knew that if his wife didn’t stop him, he probably would regularly pull multiple all-nighters in a row, even though the man was 68 years old. That was part of the reason the Grand Council had elected him to the post of Supreme Commander.

“Ah, Morken,” Calabane said as he saw Velenoth approach his desk. “Good timing. I need you to go over a report I just received from Hiboranon.”

“Another one, sir?” Velenoth asked, raising an eyebrow skeptically. “I thought I just read one last week.”

“Yes, well, the situation there is fluid,” Calabane replied, rummaging through the vast pile of tablets on his desk. “The pro-Fangalin rebels we were planning to send aid to last week, who were poised to take the provincial capital, just suffered a crushing defeat two days ago. I want your advice on how we should proceed.”

“As in, are they still worth backing, or not?” Velenoth asked.

“Precisely,” Calabane said, “I also need an update on Imperial forces near Teremalin Venir. They appear to be amassing for an assault on Weblish, but I want to get your take on the situation.”

“Of course, sir,” Velenoth said with a nod. “I’ll have that report for you this afternoon.”

“Good to hear,” Calabane said, continuing to search through his pile of tablets. “You are dismissed, Morken.”

“Very good, sir,” Velenoth replied, bowing his head. He immediately turned and went back down the elevator to the penultimate floor. These two reports would be a great deal of work, and he didn’t have a lot of time to do them, but again, it was all part of the job.

He entered his office, sat down, took a sip of coffee, and got to work. Yes, his job was hard. He had to get up obnoxiously early, he had a ridiculously long commute, and he had to work constantly from the moment he entered his office to the moment he left to go back home. But it was worth it. He got paid well, and people all over the galaxy envied him. But that wasn’t even the important part. The important part was that the Supreme Commander trusted him. It was that trust that his employer had hired him for. That trust was all that mattered.

To be continued…