Your first choice would have been Burgundy, but with her demotion, that simply isn’t possible. So who else is there?
You consider Ash, recently promoted to Sergeant. He’s moved through the ranks rather quickly, and his assessments from the other officers are always quite strong. You’ve generally been impressed with him, as well.
However. He is still young, and has much to learn. You recall the emergency meeting, how he brought up the suggestion of actually stockpiling poison for use against the Marshguards.
Initially, you were shocked. You would have demoted him on the spot if he hadn’t clarified he only meant it as a deterrent.
Of course, he also left the meeting thinking you were angry with him. Giving him temporary command could be helpful in soothing those wounds, and that might make it easier to help him learn what he needs to learn.
It’s not as if he would have discretion to alter your overall strategy. Still, you would be concerned about leaving him in charge for too long.
Then a thought strikes you. You call for Sergeant Ash and Private Burgundy.
“Sergeant Ash,” you say, handing him your staff. “I am not yet prepared to fully resume my duties as commander. I am temporarily placing you in command of the base while I take care of some personal matters.”
You turn to Burgundy.
“And while you were at it, I would like you to supervise Private Burgundy and report on her behavior. She has made a grave mistake, and I wish to know how she is progressing since her demotion.”
“Yes, sir,” Ash says. Burgundy simply salutes; she clearly understands that your request for supervision will be working both ways.
With that dealt with, you head to the interrogation room. This will be difficult.
You step inside, and dismiss the two guards. This is for the two of you alone to deal with.
Before Mudviper can say anything, you begin with what you know you need to say, inadequate as it is.
“You know full well that changes nothing,” she hisses back. “I can’t go back. It’s not even really your damned fault. Oh, you played a role in it, to be sure. But in the end, it wasn’t you who handed down the verdict.”
“What does it even matter if you’re sorry? Are you looking for my forgiveness? My pity? Those things wouldn’t do you any good, even if I were willing to grant them.”
What can you even say in response?
“Well at least you know I sympathize.”
You did what needed to be done.
You testified against her. You knew it wasn’t true. You lied and sent her to prison. Climbing the political ranks had been your focus – but Vic…Viper couldn’t stand the corruption. You wanted to fix things from the inside, she wanted to boot out those in power and tear the whole thing down.
It was easy for her to find dirt on someone…too bad they made it stick on her instead. And you helped.
You also bribed her guard, and slipped her the key to her cell during your last visit. It seemed like the best solution. She’d have to go to the swamp, but you’d stay here and change things. She was tough. She’d survive…
Except in that moment, when passing the key to her as she glared back at you with bitter but shocked eyes, you heard it. The swamp called out to you as well.
It took some favors and pulling some strings but with the recent political clout you gained you swiftly transferred to the knights with a few high ranking recommendations.
Despite all of the fear and self-loathing and anxiety and years you’ve spent to right your wrong, surprisingly one thing is still true.
“It’s good you see you, Vic.”
But Mudviper didn’t call you down here to chit chat. She works for someone else now. Someone who doesn’t reek of corruption.
That someone wants to see your recent recruit, and Mudviper knows its not just for some “family bonding”. That meeting is important. And after hearing her out…you might just be inclined to agree.
Oooh i really like the idea of her being family!
“Even after everything that went down, we’re still [sisters/cousins]. I love you and care about you”