Donovackia Board Member Ionia Villegas sat comfortably in the chair in General Swinton Chaldea’s office with a gracious smile on her face. “My dear General, you are a man of my own heart,” she began. The General focused all of his energy on not leaping across his desk and strangling the overbearing, liberal woman with his bare hands. “I am here to personally thank you for working with me on my pilot projects to help troubled youths find direction in the wonderful military organization of our Corporation.”

“Of course, ma’am,” the General managed through partially clenched teeth. He was working as hard as he could to sound friendly and not let Ionia Villegas know how he really felt about her. He hated her. He hated all her social and environmental causes. He wished she were dead.

“In particular, I wanted to thank you for accepting Kadamba Vorhoor into the program. It means so much to me that I could honor my murdered nephew, by helping a young man that he believed deserved a second chance.”

The General’s face continued to show calm, but at the mention of that person, he could feel his blood pressure rising. He would just have to keep his cool, at least, until after she left. “Of course, ma’am, I’ve heard your nephew was a true humanitarian. His death was a tragedy. May the Lords of the Fourth System have mercy on his soul.”

“Thank you, General. He was a good man. Kudos to you for continuing and building upon what very well may become his legacy. I will be presenting these pilot programs to the board of directors of the Donovackia Corporation in the coming year. All twenty of the youths that we placed in various training camps have successfully completed and passed their initial military training. It’s very encouraging, wouldn’t you say?”

“Of course, ma’am,” affirmed the General, hoping his face wasn’t turning red.

“Once each of them has completed the next round of training and has been placed in active roles in the military, we shall declare this pilot program a complete success!” declared Ionia Villegas.

Standing, the General showed the Minster to the door. The entire time he’d held back a nearly overwhelming desire to pick her up and smash her into the ground. It would be so easy. She was old and just becoming slightly frail. He could crush the life out of her, and the whole universe would be better off.

Sealing the door behind her, he strode over to his bookshelf. He opened the secret compartment and pulled out one of the bottles, unscrewing the top quickly and putting the bottle to his lips. The liquid had a slight burn as it went down. He plopped in his chair and pulled up Kadamba Vorhoor’s record. The little bastard had scored above average in his initial training. He took another long draw from the bottle.

The record contained scant useful information for the General’s plans. There was nothing that really stood out one way or another. In some respects that was good. The General still intended to get rid of Kadamba, and that absolutely nothing was amiss in the records was positive. He sat back in his chair to finish the bottle.

It was time for an ass-chewing. Someone needed to feel his fury. He slammed his hand into the desk, and his secretary’s voice came through. “Sir?”

“Run your cute little butt down to Colonel Jecamiah Agastya’s office and bring his lazy, worthless ass back here, NOW!” commanded the General.

The General smiled and laughed as he threw the bottle into the trash. He grabbed another from the secret compartment and took a long drink. He was going to enjoy this.

As usual, the Colonel made the General’s secretary sit down and get a drink before heading back to the General’s office. This time, he told her that when she caught her breath, that she was dismissed for the day. She should go home. He would inform the General that he had sent her to train a new secretary and that she wouldn’t be returning until tomorrow.

Colonel Agastya took his time walking to the General’s offices. From the look in the General’s secretary’s eyes, the Colonel could tell that the General was very likely to be in a monstrously foul mood. “Let him stew a little and get himself really worked up,” thought the grinning Colonel as he walked to the General’s office.

“Are you the MOST incompetent second-in-command this military has ever had to suffer through?” yelled the General as Colonel Agastya walked into his office. “I ordered you to get that drug-dealing, child-murdering son of a bitch out of my military during his initial training! You failed!”

“Sir, with respect, your orders were followed, as were mine,” replied the Colonel. “It was kept completely under the radar, and no one could suspect that we sabotaged his training. He had the hardest tasks, the dirtiest assignments, the worst opportunities. The kid made it through the training in spite of our covert attempts to run him out. He passed.”

The Colonel met the General’s icy gaze with stoic coldness in his own eyes. The General would never behave like this around others. It was only those who were close who got to see the real person that he was. He was a bully. He was a genuine jerk of a human being. He liked to intimidate others with his rank, making them feel small. It made the General feel better to tear others down.

“That wretched woman was here again today,” stated the General with disdain, “gloating over the success of these damn criminals she wants to save with my military. She wants to turn my military into her personal social cause. She’ll have us all overrun with gangsters, murders, and rapists if the likes of you can’t do your damn job!”

“Sir, I am very familiar with her program. It is very selective. Kadamba Vorhoor may be an unlikely candidate, but he passed initial military training, even with obstacles that should have stopped him,” Colonel Agastya responded.

“If you can’t do your damn job, then I will!” The General sat back down at his desk and started thumping buttons, bringing up a screen with the testing results from Kadamba’s initial training. It was actually impressive that he had done as well as he did. The Colonel’s orders were clear. Make him miserable, and make him wash out. The cadet had been mostly ostracized and hadn’t even known that he had it harder than anyone else, but he still had passed.

The General began changing the scores in Kadamba’s record.

“What are you doing, sir?” asked the Colonel.

“If this little fucker wants to be in the military, I’m going to show him what it is really like,” chuckled the General.

The Colonel watched as the General upped all of Kadamba’s scores. He moved the cadet from above average to excellent. The General flipped to the next screen, which held Kadamba’s post-initial training camp assignment. He changed it to Elite Forces Training.

“Sir, what the hell are you doing? He’s not good enough for Elite Forces,” asserted Colonel Agastya, stunned at what he was seeing.

“You and I know that, you dumb son of a bitch. Tell Captain Tristanidad Luciano that a new cadet has been assigned to his command. And make sure he understands that this little fucking shitbag is to fail, or better yet, die!”

Glancing at the trashcan, Colonel Agastya was unsurprised to see the bottle. The secret compartment in the General’s bookshelf was obviously getting lots of use, as scratches now showed where the door opened. Today was just another episode in the twisted thinking of a man completely hooked on rodka. As he walked back to his office, he began to think about the General and his secret problem. Agastya had attributed part of the General’s thinking and behavior to the addiction, but that was only a small part of the truth. The man was simply a complete asshole. The rodka just helped him cope with those around him who were disgusted with his being an asshole while, at the same time, it gave him the courage to be the asshole that he truly was.

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Chapter 20 Chapter 22