I am apparently all official now. So I’ve got an office. Takes getting used to. Paperwork is awkward when you can only read things in braille, but your bosses can’t. I prefer working in the field. Drilling, supervising, plain doing things. Still it has to be done. This also means meetings. Over the last month or so, I’ve gotten to know the recruits pretty well. Some have seen battle before, many haven’t or only know gang fights and the like. The elves and Tephriki are eager. So much of the stuff we take for granted is new to them. It gives you a new perspective on things. Makes you appreciate what you have more.

Sano Tahoka has been difficult. I don’t like using the word problem child. Sounds patronising and makes me feel old. But she was an arrogant brat when the platoon assembled. Strutted around like some entitled peacock who thought she was too good for training and should just be given a commission and a cruiser. Chosen one syndrome. She needed some sense knocked into her. Nyssa helped. But I think she’s started getting her act together.

Hence this meeting. I sense her through the Force before I hear her and remove my feet from the desk. It would not look official if she walked in and I had my combat boots propped up on it. “Private Tahoka here to see you, ma’am,“ she speaks after the knock.
“Enter.“ When people visit Mother, she uses telekinesis to open the door. Show-off. I let people open it themselves. Simple enough. Sano walks in. I cannot read expressions or even really see faces, but auras. Hers shows pride, but also nervousness and some anxiety. I return her salute.
“At ease, sit down. So, Tahoka, I’ve been reviewing your progress over the last couple weeks.“ Not exactly the most inspiring or original start. Am I supposed to make a show out of reviewing and shuffling papers? It seems…silly to me, whatever.
“I’ll be honest, when you came here, I didn’t have a good impression of you. But you’ve improved. Your teamwork’s up, you’ve shown promise in piloting and you’ve got good awareness. I figure your montrals help with that. Vykaris had good things to say about your duelling.“ Nyssa’s assessment was accompanied by a lot of caveats like 'for a Togruta' and 'show-off', but that’s not relevant at the moment.
“I find it…hard to believe that the Sit…,“ she catches herself just before she can spit it out and amends. “Lieutenant Vykaris had anything nice to say about me,“ she responds after a moment. “But it’s nice to be recognised for my efforts. I’ve been…working hard.“ There is a flash of pride.
“Frankly, I thought you’d flunk out. You looked like someone who had her head up her arse. But you’ve turned things around.“ I’m direct. I do not surgarcoat. “I figure you didn’t like me much either.“
I cut her off. “Spit it out.“
“I, uh, thought you got your position because your mother is the boss, ma’am,“ she says, shifting uneasily in her seat. “And you were cold.“
I chuckle. It agitates my throat. “If Lady Kerrigan had her way I’d be somewhere very different. I wonder what her face would look like if someone accused her of showing me favours.“ I can feel fear rising inside her. “I was joking. I’ll give you the cold part though. I’m hard, and I’ll continue to be, because I know what kinda chit’s out there. That’s not me bragging, that’s fact. War’s not what the holos say it is. It’s a grinder. It’s my job to make sure as many of you girls as possible make it through in one piece when you get thrown into it. Which brings me to the point of this meeting. I’ve received a request for you.“ I remove a document from the pile and pass it over to her.
She looks at it. I sense puzzlement. “Uh, ma’am, I can’t read that. What is this?“
Oh, damn. This is so embarrassing. I hope my face is not as red as my hair. Quickly, I rummage in the pile, find the right one and push it over. “Let’s start over and pretend that didn’t happen,“ I declare, taking away the braille version of the document.
“I’ll try to forget, ma’am.“ I bet she won’t. She quickly reads through the paper I sent her, then puts it down. “These are…transfer papers.“ I sense irritation swelling up inside her. “I’m supposed to be Shahbânu Semiramis‘ bodyguard.“
“I’m guessing someone high-up got the idea that this is a dead end assignment and that you should be posted somewhere more glamorous.“
“And away from danger,“ she finishes for me and sighs, annoyed. “Do you know who my mother is?“
“Firemane bigwig. Board member, right?“
“She heads the treasury.“ That explains a lot.
“I can see the logic. You’re her only child, right?“ she nods. “Don’t want the little princess out in the wilderness, running around in the mud and laying down covering fire when she can do something more prestigious. It’s a high exposure gig with little danger.“
“This is what I want. It’s my life. Mine. She has no right to meddle in it,“ she insists.
“She doesn’t want you on the frontlines, does she?“
“She’d like me some place where I hob-nob with diplomats and generals and get a position ‘worthy of someone of my station.‘“ I am quite certain she is not actually making air quotes, but her tone makes me almost see them.

I lean forward. “The official announcement is to be tomorrow, but you might as well hear it now. Inferno Platoon’s gonna be deployed to the Forge.“
“The Order’s hard course training centre.“
Someone‘s done their homework. “Yeah, part boot camp, part first responder. We drill, and patrol the frontier, and react to local issues. The station’s mobile, so we’ll be on the move. That means we’ll be far away from civilisation. Y’all will get downtime, but it’ll be few and far between, and we’ll only have limited contact with HQ. The station’s got some defences and naval assets, but if things go to hell, we can’t count on HQ bailing us out in time. There’s danger, but little glory on the frontier. That’s where you’re going if you stay.
I pause. “Or you accept a glamorous bodyguard assignment with a lotta chances to network and get a comfy job away from danger. Something many would pay massive amounts of money for.“ Guards regiments tend to stay at home, after all. And it would look good for Firemane. Sending the daughter of one of their leaders to look after the Shahbânu.
“That’s not me. I want to be out there, fighting. I want to…make a difference.“
“You know what you’re getting into?“
“I do,“ she insists, sounding a bit indignant. “I’ve been thoroughly trained. My tutors were…veterans. Rogue Jedi. You just…you just said I scored well.“
“You’ve got a lot of theory. They don’t teach you at the academy what it’s like to climb over the bodies of your dead comrades, hearing the screams of the wounded, while all hell has broken loose around you. How it…feels like to shoot friends when they turn on you. What it’s…what it’s like to feel someone crawl inside your head like worms, and twist your mind until you’re a puppet on strings.“
“Are you…are you trying to discourage me? You don’t want me in the unit, is that it? This is the place I’m meant to be in. I’m a fighter. It is what my people do. I may not have your battlefield experience, but I’ve seen…other things. Bad things,“ she trails off. I do not prod. “I cannot contribute in some palace far away from danger. I am aware we did not have the start, but if I’m given a chance I will not disappoint.“
“‘This ain’t about scaring you away, Private,“ I say evenly. “I’m making sure you know what you’re getting into. I had a friend similar to you once. Bit of a stuck-up attention whore. But brave, kind, noble. Very sheltered. When she was thrown into battle – real battle – she wasn’t ready. It messed her up. No amount of drills can prepare you for the real thing. But I’ll make sure you’re as well-prepared as you can be. But in return, you’ll follow my orders and give your all.“
“Yes, ma’am. And, uh, thank you.“
“Don’t thank me.“ Having said that, I take the transfer request from her and put it in the paper shredder.
“Just like that?“ she sounds incredulous.
“It’s a good paper shredder. I'd burn the paper, but the fire alarm doesn't like that,“ I shrug. Something compels me to try and dole out some…wisdom. That word makes me feel old. I’m not even that much older than her. There’s less than five years between us. “It’s not easy, living in the shadow of a famous mother, huh? We can’t complain about because that would be whining about privilege when billions of girls live in poverty. But the weight of someone else’s expectations can be crushing. They mean well, but you’re still being moulded into someone you’re not. You can go along, or fly on your own strength.“ All this talking is hurting my throat. I gulp down a glass of water. “Anyway, I’ll let the Colonel now. You’re dismissed, Private.“
She gets up. "Order of Fire leads the way, ma'am."
"All the way."