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“Don’t talk to me, Gardis.”

“General, please. I’m so sorry-”

“And I’m sorry Gardis, that I trusted that you would do your duty. Clearly, I should not have even given you the benefit of the doubt.”

“I know this General, but I-“

“You what? There is nothing you can say that will excuse you from this. You signed up to be my soldier, Gardis. You knew what it would entail. You signed up to protect this town.”

“I signed up to protect you.”

Calista fell silent, and Gardis’ conscience gave a wrench. Calista knew  it; of course, but she didn’t like to hear it. She didn’t want to owe anyone anything, and she didn’t want to be made weak like that.

“And that’s why I’m apologising.” Gardis pushed on, ignoring his guilt. “Because I did let you down, and I haven’t done what I wanted to properly. I’m asking that you will trust me once more. I want to take over training. I want to recruit new soldiers. Will you allow me to do that?”

Calista didn’t reply, only began dressing. Her heavy bullet proof vest, a clean white shirt, her leather jacket, her cloak.

“Calista, please.”

Light trousers.

“General, please.”

“Lieutenant, you’re not expendable. I can replace you, with any one of the protectorate leaders.

“I know. I am asking for one chance to show you that you don’t need to.”

Calista tucked her gun into it’s holster, her knife into it’s sheaf.

“One chance,” she said.

“Thank you,” The Lieutenant started to say, but his General had already left.