Jirel stood before the soldiers who had made it to the end of Basic. “It has been a great eight weeks. You are now prepared to continue your service in the Imperial Military in your chosen specialties. You’ve learned to work as a team, you’ve been stretched beyond your limits, and thrived. You came here boys and girls; you leave here men and women.”
Jirel bit his lip. Some of them the wrong way. They didn’t know it yet, but despite his best efforts to enforce the rules, two of the female recruits were pregnant.
Jirel looked at young Snyder. “Some of you are bound for greatness. Remember the lessons you’ve learned here, and you will do well. You are dismissed.”
Snyder walked over to Jirel. “Thanks for everything, sir.”
“It was my honor. Come on, the bus to Boise will be here soon, and I’m sure your mother will be glad to see you.”
Jirel and Snyder talked as they walked to the bus depot.
Snyder said, “Can I have your address, so I can keep in touch?”
Jirel sighed. “I move around a lot, so that could be hard. I’ll see if I can contact you some time.” The odds were thin, but if he could, he would.
Snyder nodded. “Okay.”
The bus pulled up.
Jirel said, “This is it. Remember, you switch buses in Spokane.”
Snyder walked over to the bus, Jirel turned to walk away.
“Sir!” shouted Snyder.
Jirel turned. Snyder saluted, and Jirel returned his salute.
Once the young man boarded, Jirel watched Snyder’s bus pull out of camp. He spotted Snyder in one window with an odd longing in his eyes. Jirel sighed. Why must he get attached to these humans on these missions?
Jirel stood still, waiting for the Spirit to carry him away, preferably up to the throne. His assignment was over. He’d gotten the boy through basic. What else was there?
After half an hour, he walked to a public phone and pulled out the business card Smith had put in his pocket. Jirel dialed the number.
It rang. Smith answered. “Hello.”
Jirel said, “It’s Jirel. Snyder finished basic training. After two weeks off in Boise, he moves on to Advanced Training in New Mexico. Why am I still here?”
“Why, because your assignment’s not over, of course.”
Why are you doing it this way? Why all the second hand instructions?
Jirel sighed. “Where do I go next?”
“Report to Captain Rogers. You’ll be on a plane from Spokane to Las Vegas tonight. You’ve been promoted to First Sergeant and re-assigned to the Chic Hecht Listening post outside Las Vegas. Snyder will join you there in six weeks. He has many more vital decisions ahead, and he needs you.”
What had he done wrong? Why wasn’t he hearing from God himself?
Perhaps, I’m being trained in a way I can’t understand. Many times had he been sent to speak a word to humans that, “His ways are not your ways.”
It was hard on the other end of that advice, but it was time to take it and stop wavering. “I’m on my way.”
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