Norm: TrueShield tells me that Glory and Righteous Wrath were close.
Preach: Ye have met TrueShield, then, have ye?
Norm: Yes. How did she come by her handle?
Preach: She holds Truth as a gift and uses it like a shield to protect us, and like a compass to guide us. If ye ever need counsel as to a course of action, ye’d do well to bend True’s ear.
Norm: Personal, or military?
Preach: Aye, both. Centurion relies upon her heavily to assess his situation in the field, and each of us in our own turn as sought her out on matters best left unexplored.
Norm: Do you know if she and Righteous have talked since losing Glory?
Preach: That is not for me to know. Aye, they were as close as brothers, those two.
Brother Righteous took the loss very hard and I darest say, quite personal.
Norm: Personal? In what way?
Preach: He blames himself for losing Glory. They had an unspoken pact, those two, to be the watchguard for each other. He feels he failed in his bond to Glory.
Norm: But surely, there’s nothing he could have done. I’ve read the reports—
Preach: Nay, nary a thing. But this matters not when it comes to looking after another as if they were blood kin.
Norm: Has it affected his performance on missions?
Preach: That is not for I to judge. Perhaps Centurion, perhaps thee in time, which makes thy presence doubly dangerous to him.
Norm: And which is why you are introducing me to him, to keep him on a short leash so he won’t bite.
Preach: (laughs) Verily, thou hast earned thy First Rating in thy field, brother. Thou hast an eye as sharp as an eagle’s.
Norm: Had I your eye, I would have Rated much sooner.
Preach: And who’s to say thou shalt not receive this gifting? Thou thinkest it wast by chance that thou and I are together, each as we are? Our Most High Commander deals not in chance.
Norm: Of that, I don’t know. Tell me, what is his current handle? Righteous or Wrath?
Preach: Ahhh, that is the crux. Proudly he wore Righteous as a badge of honor, but now, methinks he prefer Wrath, which cannot be good; for Wrath when not tempered by Righteousness is a pitfall to be watched – and feared. And here we are.
(SFX: Boots stop)
Preach: Greetings, Brother, Grace and Peace to you.
Wrath: What do you want, Preach?
Preach: Righteous, come meet thy new comrade in arms. Embrace him.
Wrath: I’ll do neither, thanks.
Preach: Be not this way, Brother Righteous. Begrudge him not the courtesy of a greeting.
Wrath: I would’ve respected you, Newbie, had you come on your own instead of hiding behind the skirts of Preach, here.
Norm: It’s all right, Preach, I can handle myself. As I recall, I did present myself to the squad; you were the one who removed yourself. Now you demand that I come to you on your terms. Hardly seems fair, does it?
Wrath: Fair? You want fair? You’ve got a big surprise coming, Noob. There’s nothing fair about anything in this outfit.
Norm: And yet here we are. I’ve got my orders, and you have yours.
Wrath: Yeah, well, I don’t have orders that I have to like you.
Norm: That’s right. And I don’t have orders that I have to be your emotional punching bag, either. So if you can’t cope, suck it up, soldier, or ship it out—
Preach: Brother Norman!
Wrath: Listen, Noob—
Norm: You don’t rank me, we’re all equals in this outfit, and you don’t own me because my transfer is still warm.
Wrath: You’re asking for it, buddy—
Norm: Then bring it on, whatever tantrum you want to display, it’ll just show how weak
you are. I don’t have the luxury to coddle you like the others do.
Preach: Now let’s have peace, brothers—
Norm: Get lost, Preach! If Wrath and I want to mix it up, that’s our business. Now walk!
Preach: Perhaps I misjudged you, Brother—
Norm: You heard me! Now blow!
Preach: As you wish.
(SFX: Preach’s boots receding)
Norm: And you – you call me “Noob” one more time I’ll lay you out. Now are we going to throw down or what?
Wrath: I’ll give you this much, Noob: Not even Brimstone can send Preach packing like that. Maybe you’ll be useful after all.
Norm: We all need to find our place in the Kingdom, Righteous. Right now I’m just trying to find a place in this outfit. And I could use some help.
Wrath: (pause) You’ve got it. You’re still going to need to prove yourself to this unit; we have a very high standard here. And Glory…well, he was irreplaceable.
Norm: I know. Thank you, Righteous. A chance is all I ask. I’ve met everyone now except for Blaze. Where can I find her?
Wrath: (laughs) You ain’t gonna get anything out of Blaze.
Norm: What makes you say that?
Wrath: None of us really talk to Blaze. That is, Blaze doesn’t really talk to us. Not much. And almost nothing that isn’t strictly squad business.
Norm: Why’s that?
Wrath: Word is she came out of Prophecy Ops. No one comes out of Prophecy Ops unchanged. Your mind’s blown by everything you go through, and you’re usually forbidden to speak about anything you’ve experienced… if you could put anything into words, that is. I hear it’s extremely surreal. But it’s all hush-hush, future/past paradoxes, big picture/little picture stuff.
Norm: Did she wash out or something?
Wrath: No one really knows, and she’s not telling. Hardly ever goes on missions with the squad and when she does, it’s on her own agenda.
Norm: I can hardly imagine Centurion tolerating that — She a loose cannon, then?
Wrath: Hardly. Not in the traditional sense, anyways. Whatever she gets mixed up in, she can handle herself, that’s for certain.
Norm: How did she get the handle “Blaze”?
Wrath: I… don’t even think I can describe it. You’ll have to see it for yourself.
Norm: See what?
Wrath: (heh) You’ll know, Noob. You’ll know when you see it. Now we’ve got inspection soon, and I think you’ll find Cap is extremely thorough. I remember my first inspection from Cap. You’re in for a surprise, Newbie.
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