Chapter Four: Zarik

I was in the process of modifying a separate datapad to look even deeper into missing persons reports when I got a ping on my primary.

There was a report of a girl that had been found, complaining of memory loss.

If I could help this young girl, that would be a step in the right direction to redeem my honor.

To redeem myself.

And maybe, just maybe, I could become something other than a nameless shadow in the general’s ranks. 

Heading out of my room, I made my way straight to the general’s office. As usual, nobody paid me any heed as I strolled through the maze of corridors.

I hesitated for a second as I stood before the general’s door, but then sucked in a deep breath and rapped my knuckles against it.

“Come in,” he called, and I stepped inside the office, careful to keep my back straight and my posture perfect. I saluted the general and he gave me a slight nod. “At ease. What brings you here, Zarik?”

“Sir, I was made aware of a situation in a nearby settlement, and I’d like to help out.”

He narrowed his eyes at me, almost as if he was weighing each one of my words, and then he drummed his fingers against the desk’s surface. Pushing the stack of reports he was reading to the side, he gave me his full attention.

“A situation, huh? What are we talking about here?”

“Apparently a girl has been found close by, and she is suffering from memory loss. There might be a connection to a missing person case I’ve come across. I think you’re aware of it, as well, sir.”

“I am,” he sighed. “A common occurrence these days, unfortunately. But I don’t get it. Why the sudden interest in this situation, Zarik?”

“I want to help this girl recover her memory, and that means that I want to help her,” I explained.

He sat back and folded his arms over his chest. He was bewildered by my offer. “Why you?”

I threw my hands in the air and started pacing his office. “You know why, sir,” I said. “You know that I need to atone for what happened in my past, and this is a step in that direction. Please, sir. You have to let me help this woman.”

He shook his head. “And that’s the reason why I shouldn’t let you go. You’re trying to use this for your own advantage instead of legitimately helping this young lady.”

“No, sir,” I said. I was frustrated. How could I show him that I deserved to do this?

“I admit that this request is a bit selfish, but I honestly wish to help her. I may not have an understanding of what life is like when you lose your memory, but I do know what it is like to have your life turned upside down. That makes me uniquely equipped to help her.”

He shook his head. “You’ve always taken that job too hard to heart. You made a mistake, and it’s something you’re going to have to live with, but it’s not something that defines who you are. Trust me, I’ve made many mistakes that have led to people’s deaths.”

He uncrossed his arms, stood up, and walked up to me. “You can’t let it define you. If you do, you’ll end up doing something rash, like hacking into a secure system and using that information to get yourself a mission.”


I put my head down. “My apologies, sir.” Then, I picked up my head and looked him in the eye. “But I don’t regret my decision. I can do this, sir.”

He sighed. “You know, I was planning on sending one of the teams to go get her,” he said.

“Why would you do that, sir?” I asked. “Isn’t that overkill?”

“What do you mean?” 

I saw his grin, but answered his question nonetheless. “You would be sending five fully-armed, fully-trained commandos to go pick up one girl with memory loss. Imagine how confused she would be, how scared she would be, and how bad that would look. How long do you think it would take for her, or anyone else, to start thinking that she was some sort of criminal?”

I had to give him credit for holding back his smile. “I hadn’t thought of it that way,” he lied. He had to have lied. There was no way my explanation actually worked. “But, what if there’s someone, or some number, of the anti-alien group around and they decide to get hostile?”

I looked at him like he had lost his mind, if only for a brief second.

“Sir. Really? I have had training while in your service. While I’m not as highly trained as the strike teams, you know that I can handle a weapon. Besides, look at me,” I said as I stepped back, giving him full view of the improved me. “I’m not exactly defenseless.”

He graced me with a nod. “Okay.”

“I’m sorry?”

He nodded again. “I said, okay. The job is yours. I’ll give you the location and you can go get her. Make sure you’re prepared, just in case.”

“Thank you, sir,” I said. I couldn’t believe he was letting me do this. I turned to leave.

“Zarik?” he asked.

“Yes, General?” I asked, swinging back around.

“You’ll be taking the rift,” he added.

“Yes, sir.”

He shook his head and dismissed me. I quickly went back to my quarters, put on my body armor that I used in place of my scales, and gathered my electronics and my personal weapon, an oversized double-barreled blaster.

I went to the armory to get some additional ammunition and a go-pack – a small pack with rations and an emergency shelter and other emergency supplies – and went outside the office, waiting for Rouhr to order the rift for me.

He sent me the location coordinates, ordered the rift, and wished me luck.

As the rift opened, I felt a bit of excitement that I hadn’t felt in quite some time.

And maybe, just maybe, something like hope.

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