*Author’s Note: This is a short, unedited snippet of what I’ve been working on since November. The story is early stages and this scene occurs about a third of the way through the story. As background, the Qu’ern (coo-URN) are an elite organization filled with the best of the best, tasked with carrying out “the greatest good for the greatest number.” Setting is a Chapterhead’s office.*
Idrick looked at the man sitting across the desk. He had blood caked into his hair and the tiny outside corner of his left eye. Idrick’s eyes traced the dried flow of blood…down the side of his face, along the corner of his jaw, along the thin muscle line on his long neck, under the edge of his shirt making a stain halfway around the collar, under the armor. Two-day, dense stubble covered his face and what hair wasn’t matted looked unkempt; a deep black made lighter by dust. As he spoke, Idrick dragged his attention back to the report he was supposed to be receiving.
“…that was when I judged it necessary to return and report, sir.” He was finishing.
“Thank you, Kodren. You say two got away towards the south? You didn’t say which two. How injured were they exactly?” Idrick asked.
As Kodren explained the situation, Idrick found his mind divided again as he continued to scan his subordinate. Kodren’s lips were cracked from dehydration; his upper lip had a healing split and his eyes showed his exhaustion but his voice and bearing did not betray anything of the sort.
You are my blessing and my curse. Every Chapterhead would kill for such talent to call theirs. Every time I send you on a mission I know you will exceed my rising expectations and every time, I am terrified you won’t return. If you were a Chapterhead or I were a rank and file Qu’ern, I…
“…probably already dead but I can’t be sure. Unfortunately, the reinforcements made it impossible for me to finish the job. Give me a team, sir, and I know I can put this matter to rest. Send me back there, please. I hate leaving it this way.” Kodren was leaning forward urgently as he spoke.
“I will consider that, Qu’ern. I believe that I have an adequate report. Unless there is anything else you can think of that we haven’t covered?” Idrick asked, leaning back in his chair.
“No, sir. But I will give it more thought in my written report and be sure to bring it to your attention if something comes to mind.” Kodren said, standing.
“Get cleaned up, see the healers, eat something, and for gods’ sake sleep. After you complete those missions, THEN you write your report. I’ll see it on my desk by 12 hours from now. Your verbal should be enough for decisions to be made on the matter.” Idrick said.
Kodren saluted. “Yes, sir!”
Kodren turned on his heel and started to stalk from the room when he staggered. Before Idrick had time to think, he was at Kodren’s side just as the Qu’ern’s knees began to buckle.