Bitter Sojourn/Exit Interview

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Serina (Bitter Sojourn) is given a second chance and meets the infamous Maj. Gary Woodward (although she doesn't know it at the time.)

Exit Interview

The room was well lit but somehow still managed to seem dim. It was also nearly entirely empty except for a small rectangular interview table, a few comfortable chairs and Serina. The straw haired woman sat listlessly at the table, giving the impression of being a prisoner of war even without any restraints. Her eyes were shut, frozen in a face that would be considered not just pretty but somehow very appealing were it not so haggard. It was the look of a dejected woman, defeated and lost.

Outside in the sterile hall the Officer in Charge stood beside the two security officers guarding the door. She dutifully prepared the paperwork regarding the young woman inside. There were two sets of paper work. Depending on the result of the last of these interviews, her fate would be decided. The Officer in Charge sighed; this was never a pleasant procedure. At the echoing sound of boot steps from down the hall, she looked up from her clipboard to nod at the approaching man. A grizzled looking veteran from the Vanguard arrived dressed immaculately but plainly, it seemed as if everyone was wearing more than one hat these days. His face was one that had it been set in a kindly smile, would belong on a doting grandfather. His stubble was shot through with grey, his hair a similar iron grey in color, cut short in a military manner. Instead, his mien was fierce and intimidating, giving hint to the man’s lack of patience for anything silly.

“What’s the situation then?” he growled as he took the proffered clipboard from the young officer.

“A referral from Portal Corp, Sir. Serina Nolan Maze, a combat medic ranked Lt. Col according to her statement. Sole potential recoverable of an incident at the Portal Corps facility on Peregrine Island as described by the Officer of the Watch on page 3, sir,” She stated in an efficient but friendly manner.

He grunted as his eyes scanned through the incident description, holding up the first two pages in one hand as his mouth shifted and ground as if used to having something there. “Why is she here?” he rumbled as he kept reading, his eyes widening once, barely.

“She...” the woman fell silent as he read, chewing her lip as if uncertain.

His hard grey eyes flicked up and then hardened as he saw her vacillating, “What? Spit it out woman.”

“She’s been through a lot sir. From her psych profile and documented interviews… I don’t think, I mean, she’s not even fully recovered after two weeks. The regenerators can only heal so much, her body is only just now recovering from extended trauma and stress, not to mention her mental health. And sir, the stories-“ she shuddered as she impulsively spoke.

“That an official recommendation then –Lieutenant-?” He growled, his voice low and dangerously mild.

She stood to attention suddenly, “No sir. I have no official stance on this. Only my personal opinion, sir.”

He paused as a moment as if weighing her up and then nodded as he tucked the clipboard under his arm and said, “Understood Lieutenant.” She reached forward, keying and swiping her passcard and opened the door for him. He paused halfway through and said quietly, “Wait a while and bring me the box at the front desk Lieutenant.”

She looked at him curiously but slowly nodded, “Yes sir.”

He strode over to the table and dropped the clipboard onto it, watching her reaction. Her eyes opened slowly and stared dazedly at the clipboard before turning to regard him. He paused at the look, her eyes were green in the center, turning and becoming yellow on the outside. At first glance, they revealed a broken young woman, nearly lifeless, the look of someone who’d given up. He’d seen the same before in the eyes of men and women on the battlefield. Too much combat time with too little rest. Here was someone who had been driven to the edge and then forced over. He would normally have marked her a lost cause immediately but there was something still there. He almost didn’t catch it, lost in the glints and reflections of the lights of those startling eyes. He rumbled, “You know why I’m here?”

“You’re trying to decide whether you want to lock me up or let me go,” She said quietly. Her voice was hoarse, still raw, absent the emotion that her hoarseness proclaimed should have been there.

“That’s right,” He nodded as he replied quietly, one of his thick fingers tapping the papers on the clipboard,” Do you have anything to say to me in favor of letting you go?”

She found she couldn’t stop staring at the finger as it tapped, “N-no.”

His voice hardened and his fingers stilled, becoming more like a drill sergeant dressing down an incompetent private, “And I suppose you have nothing to say about the lives your friends took? And nothing about the innocents that died because of those things that pursued you here?”

A shadow of a flinch that passed across her despondent face was her only reaction but upon seeing it, his flinty grey eyes softened the barest of a bit.

The door opened behind him and Serina actually looked away. Her body finally shifting as her hands crossed across her ample chest, sliding up and down her biceps. The Officer in Charge walked in with her business-like manner and handed the plain grey cardboard box to the gruff man who took it with a nod. He opened it and drew part of a uniform out and dropped it on the table.

Serina stared at it and then flinched visibly when she saw the tears and blood stains.

“Here’s the uniform of a hero, a good person, who wore it and died in it saving people. Just like those people that were doing their jobs the day you and your team showed up here,” He paused, his jaw shifting as if he was looking for something to chew. “I have two options, I can either keep you locked up like one of your buddies…”

At that she looked up at him, lips compressed, her yellow-green eyes finally showing a spark of defiant life for the first time.

“Or, “ he drawled out, rough and harsh, “You can be who I think you are. A soldier, a teammate, and a hero. Something useful and maybe … maybe you can do your part to help save this world.”

At his words, she looked down at the black, red, and white outfit and after a long moment, she reached out and touched it, looking up to lock eyes with him.

Slowly, she nodded.

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