The Crucible: Leap of Faith
– they came here to buy and sell. Most of the trade happened
within the primary towers, not out here with a view which could
distract from proceedings.
    I kept walking, aiming for one of
the primary transport hubs. Sensing I was now alone, I angled
towards the railing to my left. It gave a view of the sheer side of
the building. If you pressed your hands into it and angled your
head over the side, you could see right down through the lines of
traffic to the street far, far below. At night it was a glistening
sea of lights interspersed by the black bodies of
towers.
    I had no interest in the
view.
    I reached the railing, and while
still walking casually tossed the medi-pack over the side of the
building.
    It was small enough that no
sensors would pick it up. It would bounce off the hover traffic
until it shattered on the city streets far below.
    Smoothing my hair behind my ear, I
walked away.
    …
    Lieutenant Commander Nathan
Shepard
    “That’s a hell of a mission,
Admiral,” I managed. I was standing in my quarters on my own ship.
Though I’d been provided with a well-appointed room in the capital,
I didn’t want it.
    I wanted my own bed. Though it was
simple, it was all I needed.
    Despite the fact
I was the Commander of the Godspeed , my quarters were ordinary.
This wasn’t a luxury cruiser; it was a reconnaissance
vessel.
    Still, there was enough room for a
large circular bed, a workbench, a comms station, and a small
bathroom.
    I also had a window. Along the
side of the wall that connected my bed and workbench, it was the
one luxury I’d requested. The one thing I couldn’t live
without.
    I always wanted to know where I
was going. More than that, I needed to know where I was.
    I’d been working before the
Admiral had called. Trying to modify a weapon. Why?
    That was a good
question.
    It was a simple task which helped
calm my nerves.
    You would think rec leave would be
enough to do that, but you’d be wrong. My short visit to the
capital had done nothing but further ignite that slow burning sense
of dread.
    Then the Admiral had
called.
    Admiral Duval was half Baytiq and
half human. It left her with a strange mix of features – three
eyes, pencil like hair, and a thin-lipped mouth.
    It was sometimes hard to read her
emotions, but never hard to understand her words.
    She was one of the most direct
superiors I’d ever dealt with.
    “These are strange times,” she
said, tone quiet. “It is hard to know who we can trust.”
    Even for a straight talker that
comment threw me. I felt my brow press hard into my eyes as my lips
thinned into a frown. “What?”
    She held my gaze and shook her
head. “Never mind, Lieutenant Commander. All we ask you is that you
follow through with your mission. You must travel to the Hari
Sector and track down the leader of the rebellion.”
    “A rebellion we aren’t even sure
is going to happen,” I countered as I crossed my arms. I was
wearing a loose fitting shirt and pants. I’d changed into them
before realizing sleep would be elusive tonight. They felt
distractingly light and free compared to the stiff collar of my
Alliance Star Forces uniform.
    “We have enough information to
suggest that a rebellion is imminent. We must track down those
spreading discontent. At a time like this,” her voice became
unusually quiet, “we cannot afford to be split asunder.”
    Her words left a chill spreading
over my back.
    I had to ground my feet into the
soft carpet of the floor not to shiver.
    My mouth was strangely dry.
Clearing my throat, I took a breath. “This is going to be no easy
task.”
    “That is why we are sending you.”
She held my gaze directly. “With your exemplary record, we know
that we can trust you.”
    I nodded. Not at first. The move
came late. I don’t know why… it just did.
    “Good night, Lieutenant Commander.
I suggest you enjoy your last night of leave – you will be leaving
in the morning.”
    I swallowed and nodded. By the
time I looked up, the
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