Department of the Army
Headquarters, Militia Army Support Command
Ms. Sarah H. Gallagher,
I extend my most profound condolence to you on the loss of your daughter, Cadet Sergeant Emma G. Gallagher, 112th Conscription Division, who died as a result of a tragic airline accident on her way home for the holiday.
News of your daughter's death comes as a great shock to all who knew her, and her loss will be felt keenly in this organization. I sincerely hope the knowledge that Emma was an exemplary soldier and was the pride of this training camp will comfort you in this hour of great sorrow.
Personally and for the officers, men and women of this command please accept our deepest sympathy.
Casey G. O'Callahan
General of the People's Militia
Emma looked over the letter one last time, then nodded and started to hand it to the officer; but something stayed her hand. Like all the others, the officer wore black uniform with no insignia, no name tag. So did the woman. It made her skin look more pale, which in turn only made her features more striking. Brilliant green eyes, and red hair that could have been spun from fire.
A door opened behind her, and the blinding morning sun rushed into the room eagerly. Silhouetted in the doorway was a large man's frame, tall and imposing. When he spoke, his voice echoed into the room, each syllable a rumbling storm, "It's time, Emma. Or Megan, rather. Isn't that the new name they gave you?"
She examined the envelope again. She saw her mother's name, her address, and knew this was what she was leaving behind. If she handed over this letter, there was no turning back. She would be no one. A shadow's dream. She would be protecting more lives than she could count, saving more innocent people than she could hope to ever meet, and all she had to pay was her life. Slowly she handed the letter to the officer. As he reached out to take it, her hand flinched once. Only once. Then she let the letter go. She watched the letter, saw it get dropped without care into a bin full of various correspondence. Another officer walked by and took the cart away. Took Emma away.
"Megan. Now." The storm rumbled.
She wiped away the threat of tears, reciting a few lines of poetry her sister used to read her. It helped calm her. Once gathered, she turned to face the tempest, and started walking to meet her destiny. And if every word he spoke was a storm, every step she took was a thunderclap.
"Call me Meg."