Do you show your last card in poker? You do if you’re an attention-whore writer… The story still has a book or two to go, but the end…? Well, there was no other way for Connor’s story to go:
The place was much cleaner than he’d expected. There was no trash, no crowds, and the smell was little different from a hundred stations.
The uniform didn’t fit right, not yet. It was tight and loose in all the wrong places, and the young man chafed wearing it. He chafed more, it must be said, at his assignment.
All he wanted was to get through the Academy. Join a ship, live a little. The universe was a big place, and he’d seen almost none of it. Quite why people insisted on throwing the father he’d never known into every assignment, every conversation, every word, he didn’t know, but he was getting very tired of being ‘that’ kid.
The whistle blew and he stepped forward, a wreath in his arms.
Why the fuck was he carrying a wreath?
“On this spot died those to whom we owe everything,” the admiral intoned.
Everyone else stood in neat lines, but the boy in the ill-fitting uniform had to step forward, had to present his wreath.
“The chaos and death that overwhelmed so many of our cousins missed us…”
Jesus Christ, just let him put down this heavy fucking wreath!
“…so many lives, and so much blood. More than anyone else, we owe to one man’s sacrifice our peace, and our survival. One very brave, very young man.”
The young man stepped forward, placed the elaborate wreath on the stand in front of the tomb.
Surrounded by trees and simulated sky was that tomb. A simple marble block with an even simpler inscription on its face: a name and a pair of dates. Those the young man understood, but what lay beneath everything else? That still made no sense.
A thousand people snapped to stand erect. Hands over heart, or saluting at the brow, whatever was more appropriate to their own history, all honored the sacrifice of the dead.
Those who knew the truth had defined that inscription, the young man knew. He knew the name, knew the dates – as did any good son – but the two words? What the fuck were they?
2/2/163 – 2/28/183