Promoted to Exile: part one
Promoted to Exile
His advocate had told him to make the most of his new station. The advice was free, benefit of a passing encounter on Herward’s way out. The promotion had come too close on the heels of the charges’ dismissal, for him to suppose the whole thing had not been brokered. Having transgressed, he must now be exemplary in obedience. Obedience, the signal virtue of a soldier.
But the advocate seemed to think he could risk some act of bravado.
“What would you consider the most I can make, then, sir?”
“Sergeant, you’ve got the wrong attitude. You have to resign yourself to what you get, and you ought to have known it…just because you like the city, or just because you’d be happier if they’d chosen the coast. You’ve been given an assignment. Take it as punishment, you’ve failed already. Keep your eyes open.”
Every day Herward could fail a dozen times more. And yes, he did take it as punishment. His own eyes were little use. The cameras that fed the monitors might pick something up, a moving shape in white against a dead-white field. The border offered, along with boredom…along with blizzard conditions (a visual deprivation, the misery of which he would not have guessed), a perfect chance for the stooge-in-command’s being fooled twice. The Hidtha were here within their element.
He hadn’t been ordered to watch Anton every minute.
The first scuttlebutt to reach his ears, was that Sergeant Herward, brought in from the outside, had effectively blocked the promotions of his two subordinate officers. Corporals Byrnes and Hyde were his go-betweens, and his coaches, until he’d got the personalities down, and a sense of how often and by what gambits the Hidtha stressed this particular outpost. He had to drill the enlisted men, sharp questions every day, making his rounds, so as not to make a fingered informer of any one of them.
“You have to resign yourself to what you get.”
He tried the axiom on Corporal Byrnes.
“Yeah, I think so,” Byrnes said.
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)