Promoted to Exile: conclusion
Promoted to Exile
If he liked looking at it as his advocate would have him do, Herward could say the affair had served to call attention to his availability. They wouldn’t like him entrenched in his work, proprietary in mood, growing secretive because he liked his reputation, lying, at length, to protect it. He wondered then, whether he could make Major Wrik appreciate his sergeant…if he could say these things to Byrnes, and she repeat them.
She was not the offender, but Kent and Hyde needed it.
They were all, therefore, digging holes in shifts—her squadron and Hyde’s. Whoever could get deepest in thirty seconds set the bar for the next exercise. He let them control that, the punishment they laid on their rivals. He’d give them a couple of weeks; then have them do some night tunneling.
They would have to violate the border. This was exactly Herward’s calculation…and keeping boldness in mind, he was giving the order without Wrik’s okay. It would teach a couple of things. If he saw his people sly or reluctant, he’d feel confirmed, in that the tunneling stories were malarkey. He thought their sergeant’s wholehearted gullibility confounded expectations, at the least. They could laugh if they liked. Herward credited the Hidtha with drawing the obvious conclusion from all this digging. If tunnels of their own were in danger, or they were affronted, merely, by an aggression they could not understand, he would see them act.
Even that act, he meant to choose for them. It must be the taking of a prisoner, Herward’s plan refined to a reversal. He was confident he could escape.
His orderly brought a stack of letters. The G.R.A. had established paper mail as the official communication. This put eyes on the streets and took the unemployed off them. The G.R.A. slowed society down, enacting short shifts and telephone switchboards, so that again people depended on what they could not personally control. Their minds dwelt on their place in the queue, the amount of time they’d spent there; decimeters of space being the possession that ordered the new hierarchy.
One letter that was not official, but had been stamped over three times to pass this channel, asked to be returned if it had not reached his desk. To Mary Wainwright. The woman got currency from the interest the Hidtha Ftheorde took in her. She’d been a nuisance to Anton. He’d gone to live in her room because of her persistence…because she romanticized his scratchpads of verse, extravagantly.
A knock at the open door. “Sergeant Herward, you have a visitor.”
(copyright 2017 Stephanie Foster)