Broken Soldier by Orin Drake
A Novel In Progress.

        Chapter 1

        "Well?" he asked with a grin, chin resting in his hand.
glared at the captain. "Well, what?"
        "You're still alive, obviously." Demi pointed out, gesturing at his friend.

        "How kind of you to notice." He responded deadpan, taking a bite out of his sandwich and for the first time being
glad that the bread took a little work to chew through.
        Captain Dulce rolled his eyes, but the grin remained. "I guess you must be 'acceptable' if she hasn't sent you off in fear of your life by now. Or sobbing."

        "Just how many assistants has she
had before me?" Rean couldn't help his curiosity.
        Demi made a show out of counting on his fingers. "Let's see, as far as I know... one, two, three... four. You're the fourth."

        Raising an eyebrow, the brunet wasn't necessarily finding that hard to
believe, but... "And why am I one of them, again?"
        "You were recommended." The captain responded, grin unfading. "You had to do
something, right?"
        It was the same answer that Rean had
been getting from him. Taking another bite of his sandwich, even after his first week he could understand why people tended to avoid being around the woman, let alone being her assistant. It was widely understood that General Rakashi Vrunau personified the word "bitch". No one said as much, clearly--as she also had a habit of personifying another important concept: the punishing hand of god. Maybe not literally... but enough. Even taking care of the paperwork had allowed him a certain degree of listening to conversations, and... yeah. Definitely not a woman made for a steady relationship.
        For some inexplicable reason that he was
still trying to get out of his friend, Rean had been assigned as the general's assistant. Just while she was there at the Tower, but considering that might be several months... it was kind of a frightening thought even knowing he hadn't been sent to his quarters under the threat of death or a bad evaluation. He wasn't really looking forward to the possibility of being knocked back down to cleaning duty. Particularly not around the galley.
        "She doesn't eat in here, you know." Demi's non sequitur made Rean blink. The raven-haired man made a quick gesture as he took a sip of his drink, finally getting to his own lunch. "Rakashi. She doesn't eat in the galley. She's always in her office."

        "Do you really think she'd appreciate you using her first name?" was his only response, not having a
clue what Demi was getting at... as usual.
        The captain made a vaguely rude dismissive sound before unwrapping his sandwich. "She's not here. I know she sees all and hears all, but no one listens to
me, do they?" Seeing that his point was made, he continued. "I just mean, dear Mr. Coi, that she may be expecting you to bring her food before long."
        "This clarifies nothing." Rean responded, tone dry. "I already have to make her coffee in the morning, so..?"

        "Oh you poor boy." Demi sighed over-dramatically. "Soon it'll be breakfast. Then lunch. Then she'll be wanting you to bring her
dinner and you'll be so exhausted from your day that you won't be able to help yourself and--"
        A cherry tomato
bounced off of the captain's forehead. "Not everyone is you, idiot." Rean absolutely assured before going back to his sandwich.
        Rubbing his forehead and attempting a hurt look, Demi whined, "Well maybe they
should be."


        Rean hadn't even closed the door behind him when Rakashi began speaking. "Mr. Coi, I'm afraid I have to add something else to your duties."
        Realizing that the woman wasn't even looking up from her papers, he didn't actually bother to
fully close the door behind himself. "Yes, General?"
        "I haven't had anything to eat yet. Since it's--" she finally looked up, glancing around for a clock... and finding none. "Since
I imagine it's later than it ought to be, might you mind grabbing whatever packaged filth is left in the galley before I realize how low my blood sugar has become?"
        He blinked. Fucking Demi. "No problem, General." And with that, he sort of had to ponder just
why Rakashi might avoid the galley. Particularly with her description of the food.


        "Okay, I'll bite." Rean walked up behind the captain, who was still at the table--that time having dessert. "Why doesn't Rakashi eat in the galley?"
Ha." Was the captain's triumphant response at first, grinning like an idiot. "Turning back, he responded much more casually, "Because she's banned from the galley."
        The brunet blinked. "I didn't think it was
possible to get banned."
        "Neither did anyone else." Demi shrugged, turning back to his cake and newspaper. "You know how it is, though. If anyone can do it..."

        Shaking his head, Rean dismissed himself back to the general's office, sandwich in tow. It wasn't exactly something he could
ask about... but it was an interesting little fact nonethless.


        "What's the special of the day?" Rakashi quipped deadpan as soon as her assistant entered--though, again, without bothering to look up at him.
        Rean looked at the wrapped sandwich for several seconds before answering, "Something with meat in it."
        She surprised him by snorting softly. "I'll take it, then. I appreciate it, Mr. Coi."

        Seeing as how that was probably as close to "thank you" as the woman got, he was glad to accept with a nod as he placed the sandwich on the corner of her desk
not covered in papers. "Of course, General." Turning to get back to rearranging the filing cabinets, he paused for a moment. Either it was a fit of courage or a fit of stupidity straight from Demi, but... "May I ask you something, General?"
        "If it's about the galley, no." She responded immediately, turning a page to jot something down. "If it's about how I know it's always you entering and exiting my office, you have a particular cadence to your walk. If it's about anything else... no."
        Rean's jaw loosened slightly. After a short pause, he could only think to respond, "Thank you, General."
        "Not a problem." Rakashi answered, all the while seeming to pay full attention to her papers.

Content copyright Orin Drake 2011.
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