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Interlude 1: Virel and Attacus
Caption: 17 Orbits ago. Penn-C'efil War XVI
A younger Ambassador, just Attacus at the time, is sitting wide eyed as a gloved C'efil hand presses a white patch over his eye.
MEDIC: It's almost healed but keep the patch on until I tell you. Any other issues?
ATTACUS: Other issues?
They're revealed to be in a small cell with a glass-like wall. Attacus sits on a bed while a C'efil medic speaks to him. Outside the cell is a younger Virel.
MEDIC: We follow the Accords here, let me know if there's any issues with mistreatment. And don't worry about Virel, he can't hear us. You have confidentiality.
ATTACUS: What? Oh no, I've been treated very well, thank you.
The medic smiles.
MEDIC: Excellent. I'll check on you regularly, alright?
The medic turns to the wall, clicking on the sound. Virel lets the medic out.
VIREL: All done?
MEDIC: Yes, thank you, Virel.
Virel and Attacus watch the medic go.
VIREL: How did it go?
ATTACUS: It went well, I think. Though -- I think the medic made a mistake?
Attacus looks up at Virel, concerned.
VIREL: Did she?
ATTACUS: Earlier the medic called you a he. But you said you were female, right? Should I have said something?
Virel rubs the back of her neck and leans against the cell barrier while Attacus listens sympathetically.
VIREL: No, she doesn't know. I haven't transitioned officially, and since I was assigned male, Command still thinks I'm male. I'm not out as female yet.
ATTACUS: That's difficult.
VIREL: I'm filling out the paperwork now. Once I'm done and re-blessed - then I'll correct them.
Attacus looks up at Virel, gesturing to himself. She pinches her fingers together with a little smile.
ATTACUS: But you told me?
VIREL: And my friends. Little paddles help.
Virel looks at Attacus, hands behind her back. He looks deflated.
VIREL: If there's anything I can do for you? I know how hard it must be for you.
ATTACUS: I -
Attacus thinks for a moment, before speaking, looking down.
ATTACUS: I don't think I can say I'm lucky, but... you've been kind - and Flight knows not everyone follows the accords to the letter. Now, at least, no one is asking me to fight anymore.
Virel looks sincere as she talks to him.
VIREL: Do you regret joining up?
ATTACUS: Conscription didn't give me much of a choice.
There's a moment of silence before they start speaking again.
ATTACUS: Something to read might be nice?
VIREL: Oh, yes, sure!
2014, Zoe Maxine