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…

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