The last time Alquin had seen a real sunset was the last day of his life on Exoquis. He watched the gradual orange and red cut through the deep blue sky. The clouds added life and mystery to the otherwise dull sky. The hues mixed and danced, slowly. Alquin hummed while watching the masterpiece of daylight.
“Commander,” a voice said, interrupting Alquin’s silence. Alquin sighed, and then he answered the unseen voice.
“What is it?” Alquin asked.
“Sir, the third garrison has collapsed. Your orders?”
“I’ll be there momentarily. Have the remnants of the third, if any, join the second’s flank. I don’t care if they are too damaged, have them join.”
Alquin sighed again. He stood up and watched as the virtual sun made its way over the holographic mountain. He put his hands in his pockets, turned around, and walked down the hill.
“End program.” The simulated sunset disappeared, replaced by the familiar walls of the recreation room. A black and gold uniform replaced his simulated jeans and t-shirt. Crests and adornments were scarce on his jacket, but the ones that had won their way onto his chest were prominent and recognizable from a distance.
Alquin came upon the bridge’s entrance after walking through several corridors. He sucked in some air, puffed-up his chest a bit, and then exhaled.
The sliding bridge door revealed a massive center of noise and commotion. Alquin took a seat in the commander’s chair.
“Sir,” said the voice from earlier. It belonged to a young man, no younger than Alquin, who bore the same air of pride and dignity that Alquin had walked in with.
“Any change, Relos?”
“No sir. It’s becoming a static exchange.”
“Relos, the sir isn’t necessary with us.”
“Alquin,” Relos said, “while on duty, it would be better if the others didn’t think our friendship was getting in the way of work.”
Relos had said it quiet enough for only Alquin to hear. Alquin nodded, and made a mental note to remember Relos’ words.
“Good,” Alquin said. “Our numbers are superior, a one-to-one exchange is fine. Keep at it. Why was I interrupted for this? The third garrison wasn’t so important.”
“That’s not all, sir. The third garrison wasn’t destroyed by the main fleet. A roaming band of ships suddenly attacked them from the flank, destroying them before they could respond.”
“What? Where is the band?”
“I’m sorry sir, they are already gone.”
“Blast. I’ll want a full report later. If nothing else, I’m retiring until the battle is complete.”
Alquin stood up, saluted the dozens of soldiers in the room, and then walked out. He took refuge in his private room, where he discarded his uniform, laid on his bed, and then stared at the ceiling.