16 February, 2007

Vuldi's Promotion

If you've been following The Saga (see explanation to the right), then you have met Vuldi. He's going to figure as prominently in the story as Michael, although I still do not where we're going with all this. I have seen a snippet of his future, just like I saw a bit of Michael's earlier. I wrote it up as a stand alone short story, but will later rework it once I know where it actually fits in the larger picture. As always, let me know what you think. I want lots of constructive criticism. :)

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Yes, come in.” Vuldi walked into the middle of the tent and came to attention before a large table covered in maps and parchment rolls. The man sitting at the table did not lift his head as he continued to peruse these rolls. His hair was the silver gray of a man long past the time that most put down their sword, and the lines of his face only enhanced the look of great age. His carriage though, belied both. His back was as straight as the two handed sword leaning on the desk next to him, his shoulders still broad and fit to carry the world like the legendary Atlas. His armor currently resided on a stand to the right of the table. Imposing by itself, when worn by the man behind the table, it become the shell of a fearsome warrior, a warrior that had many battles left to fight.

Vuldi was not thinking about any of this as he stood waiting for his commander to speak. His thoughts were of a more practical nature, and turned towards the duties he had left before he could retire to his own tent. He decided he would pay the picket lines a visit and see how well his squad was taking care of their mounts. Battles could turn on a poorly shod horse.

The creaking of the General’s chair as he stood brought Vuldi’s attention back to the man who had called him in. Metallic noises issued from under his robe as he walked slowly around the table to stand a pace in front of Vuldi, betraying the chain mail he still wore.

“I wish to commend you for a job well done last night,” he said at last, “Your efforts will be of great benefit to us.”

“Thank you, sir,” was Vuldi’s succinct reply. As was his wont, he betrayed no emotion when he spoke.

“Hm,” the General said noncommittally. His eyes narrowed as he studied Vuldi for a moment, then moved off to begin a slow circuit of the spacious tent. A few more moments passed in silence, and Vuldi began to grow impatient. He had work to do.

“I had one of my captains come to me earlier with a very odd report, and a very bruised face.” He paused. Vuldi, still standing at attention in the middle of the tent, did not see the General studying him from behind, looking for a reaction. Vuldi did not give him one that the General could see. “He described a group of our soldiers trying to sneak out of camp. When his patrol confronted them, the soldiers attacked.” Still no reaction from Vuldi. “None of the captain’s men were seriously injured, but they were all subdued very quickly.” Still nothing. The General had almost completed his circuit of the tent, and was now almost in front of Vuldi again. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this, would you?”

“Yes, sir,” he promptly replied. The General almost chuckled, but caught himself before he broke his composure. He had expected no less from this one.

“Report, Sergeant!” he commanded tersely.

“The Captain’s report was accurate, with the addition that I did try to explain our orders first, but he refused to listen.”

“I can’t have you attacking my men, Sergeant. We are all on the same side. This little fracas of yours is going to take a lot of effort to clean up. You’re getting sloppy, Sergeant!” At last, the tiniest bit of heat entered Vuldi’s voice.

“With all due respect, sir,” the “sir” was emphasized just the tiniest bit too much, “we had a job to do, and they were in our way. It was quick, efficient, and you yourself said no one was seriously injured.”

The General shook his head and turned back towards his desk. “Vuldi,” he said, “How many of these scuffles have you had with our own men, since I began giving you these assignments?” The General did not expect a reply, and sat down in his chair rather heavily when Vuldi gave him one.

“32 in a year and a half, mostly involving officers on an ego trip.”

“You have a problem with my officers?”

Vuldi broke his pose enough to look down and meet the eyes of the General. Without answering the question, he said, “Why are we having this conversation, sir?”

The General held Vuldi’s gaze for a few moments; Vuldi could almost feel the General weighing him. At length the General left his seat again, and stood before his armor. He turned back to Vuldi, and said, “I’m going to promote you.”

At last, a crack appeared in Vuldi’s composure. “Sir?” he said, “I don’t quite follow.” His voice was wary, and the General’s experienced eye just barely caught the subtle shift in Vuldi’s muscles that made him ready to strike out, or flee. He smelled a trap. The General would have to tread carefully now, and bring all the considerable tact and sagacity at his command to bear in the next few words, if he didn’t want this dangerous animal to flee.

“You’ve served me well as a sergeant, and have performed every duty given you admirably. You have led men where no one else could lead them, and brought them back. You are intelligent enough to be flexible when plans go awry, as they always do, and have shown an enviable aptitude for overall strategy, field tactics, and logistics. And finally, I need all my officers to respect you.” A dark cloud made of a strange mixture of anger and trepidation grew on Vuldi’s face as the General spoke.

“Sir, promoting me to Lieutenant isn’t going to make the officers listen to me any more then they do now, there are too many Captains…,” he trailed off as a look of horrified comprehension dawned on his face. The General was impressed by the level of emotion exhibited. He must be really shaken.

“I’m making you a Colonel.”

“A Colonel!” A hand went to his face as he completely broke his soldier’s pose.

“Why don’t you have a seat,” the General said, gesturing at a simple chair in front of his desk, “and give yourself a moment to think about this. I’m sorry to hit you with this, but I believe it is necessary.” A dazed Vuldi took the proffered chair without even a nod at military courtesy. The General wisely overlooked this error as he went back to his own chair.

Minutes ticked by as Vuldi absorbed the shock. The General had nearly finished reading another report when Vuldi finally spoke. He was definitely intelligent, but it sometimes took him a while to get there. “I’m not sure that this is such a good plan, sir.” He had regained his composure.

“Oh? Why’s that?” The General tried to keep his tone light. He had expected objections, he just wasn’t sure how serious they would be, or how stubborn Vuldi would be.

“Sir, I understand the need for the other officers to respect my unique position, and to stop hindering me and my work, but that is easily accomplished by a single word from you. I have understood that you haven’t given that word because you wanted me to remain relatively anonymous. If you wish me to be a colonel, then I assume that is no longer the case.” Vuldi paused, expecting the General to interject at this point. The General remained silent, so Vuldi forged ahead. “Sir, I am good in my current post because of the qualities you mentioned, among a few others. The officers on your staff already possess the qualities needed for that sort of post. My more unique talents are not needed for the sort of duties required of a colonel.” Another short pause filled with silence. Vuldi took a breath. “I am a killer, sir. Not just a killer, but an invisible one. The few men I lead in this job have highly specialized skills, all used to maximize that one particular skill of mine. We are a death squad, sir.” Emotion began to creep into his deep baritone at the last.

“I am aware of the duties I have given you,” the General said dryly, “What is your point?”

“My point is, sir,” again, the just barely respectful emphasis on the address, “that just because I’m good at killing, and leading a few men to do the same, doesn’t mean I will make a good senior officer. I also believe it would be a misallocation of resources to remove me from my current duties.”

“I see,” said the General, “You believe I would be foolish enough to make you just another Colonel with no other assignments any other Colonel wouldn’t have.” The corner of the General’s mouth twitched ever so slightly. Vuldi did not respond, he simply maintained his flat gaze. The General correctly read this as chagrin as Vuldi realized the full scope of his plan. After a moment the General said, “You will retain your current team, but you will be able to recruit at your own discretion from now on. Only a General would dare question your actions, and they are all privy to your orders. Beyond that, your only additional duty will be as a member of my personal staff, which means I want you in attendance at my meetings with the other Generals, and to participate when asked. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir.” Crisp, emotionless, and respectful. Vuldi was back in line with the General.

“You are dismissed, Colonel.”

“Yes, sir.”

“On your way out, see my tailor about your new dress uniform.”

“Oh, ****.” The General couldn’t hold back the laugh.

Footnote: I need a word (or words) that's meaningless and just slightly absurd, but works in place of an expletive. Any ideas?


Heather Moss said...

I hope that the long gap in posts on your blog is because you are so busy writing more on the saga. I have enjoyed reading your stories. I hope you haven't given up on the blog.

Janet said...

Wow, you're right... he hasn't written in some time... maybe I won't feed him Sunday Dinner until he posts again! LOL! He IS working hard, and I do know that writing is something that will always be too big a part of him to just stop, and I also know for a fact he's been having too much fun with this blog! I'm sure it's a combination of work and fatigue (and some fun thrown in)!

Janet, more commonly known as Adam's Mom

Geilshaif said...

I did not have regular access to a computer for a while, so I hand wrote a lot of stuff. Now I'm stuck between typing new material and what I've already written. Since I am a "two-fingered" typist, this could take a while. :)