Imagine waking up one day unable to recall who you are or where you came from – only to find you are serving a sentence as a convict conscript for crimes you have no memory of ever committing…
Vane thought for a moment. This man being considered for release would bring a huge public outcry – from both sides. It would unearth all the old arguments about human rights and the extremes of compulsory military service. Suddenly he understood why the CSF were involved and why he was being so heavily pressured to give on this.
“This is about the future of the Special Legion, isn’t it?”
Var Tyran smiled, like a teacher with a star student in the making.
“So you see,” she told him, “this way he has his chance to see what life is like on the outside – and inevitably reject it. The Coalition is seen to carry through with just policies on clemency for valorous service, even in extreme cases, which will please the more fuzzy-thinking liberal elements. But, in the end, you will get him back under your command, which will satisfy the hard minded realists. So everyone will win. It all ties up very neatly.”
“My command? Not if he re-enlists in the regular way.”
“There is evidence to suggest it may be the more extreme environment of the Special Legion is one he would seek. And as you are well aware all ex-Legionaries have the right to re-enlist with their original unit. Even the Specials.”
Vane felt his credulity stretching. No sane individual would choose to be in the Specials. Then, he reminded himself, hard as it was to accept, this was a man who had ‘grown up’ in the Legion and to whom it must therefore have some strange sense of ‘home.’ It was a very uncomfortable thought.
“And you would be happy with such an outcome?” he asked.
Var Tyran smiled with real warmth, leaning forward, her eyes bright with delight, and Vane found himself smiling back at her.
“Oh I would get to wear a feather in my cap for a while, I suppose – thanks to you.”
Vane nodded, not wanting to point out he had been speaking of her organisation not her personal feelings on the matter. In fact, he liked she took it that way.
“I wish you’d told me all this before the interview, it would have made me view things very differently.”
“So do I,” she said, settling back with an apologetic smile. “I was in a foul mood – very unprofessional of me – personal matters.” Vane waited, his silence encouraging. After a moment of hesitation, in which her cheeks paled visibly, she ploughed on: “My boyfriend left me last night.”
Vane’s second thought was that the man, whoever he might be, had to be a fool. His first was more to do with his own personal benefit.
“I am sure it must have been difficult for you to deal with,” he told her sympathetically.
She nodded and gave him a brief, tooth-press, smile
“Just so long as my boss doesn’t find out I lost it – I’d be reassigned to data crunching if she did. This is my first big break in the department.”
This, her first admission of vulnerability, made Vane feel suddenly protective.
“She won’t hear anything from me,” he promised. “Var Tyran, I – “
“Cista,” she corrected him, interrupting gently. He smiled and was distracted by the need to acknowledge a security message on his link. Then he gave her his full attention.
“Cista, I want you to know when I finished viewing the data you gave me I put through my recommendation for release. I have just now confirmed the discharge. It should all be officially cleared by the end of the day. Revid should be free to go tomorrow.”
The delight and relief in her eyes were reward enough for him.
“Then we have something to celebrate, Commodore.”
“Isvan – I propose we go eat, I know a lovely place downtown from here -” she broke off and her face showed a slight hint of colour. “Sorry, that wasn’t very professional either. I mean –“
He smiled, loving her awkwardness.
“I would be delighted to join you for a meal, Cista – in the interests of inter-agency cooperation and team-building of course.”
From Trust A Few – book one in Haruspex, the second Fortune’s Fools trilogy by E.M. Swift-Hook – which is only 0.99 to buy for a limited period.
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