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everything I've been through to get this promotion. It's all I've wanted for the past five years, and you want me to just turn it down?' Vance's voice rose to an embarrassing level. The Colonel looked fleetingly from side to side, fielding the awkward glances being fired in their direction.

A waiter suddenly appeared at Vance's shoulder bearing two plates. 'Calamari marinara,' he said, lovingly laying the plates in front of the two men. Vance didn't have much of an opinion on fine dining, but seafood he hated. He didn't complain, but neither did he eat. The Colonel didn't pick up his starter fork either, and both men simply glared at each other for several seconds.

'I wouldn't ask you to do this unless it was crucial to EarthForce. Even more than that, it's crucial to the future of the entire galaxy.' The Colonel whispered this, but every word was clear and precise.

Vance shook his head, a bitter smile on his lips.

'Would mom think so?' He spat the words with a venom that shocked even himself.

The Colonel leaned back in his chair. 'Do we need to bring this up every time-'

'Every time what, Colonel? Every time we see each other? Which has been what, once in the past five years?' Vance's voice grew louder once more. 'Do you remember that day? Mother's funeral? You only missed her by a couple of days. She died thinking you'd been killed on one of your missions. It wasn't bad enough that you disappeared through the whole of the Minbari War, but you had to volunteer afterward, taking on missions to God knows where.'

'You applied to join the Razvedchiks yourself. Don't you think they'll send you on dangerous missions?'

'I don't have a family!' Vance shouted. The restaurant went silent, all eyes turning their way. This time the Colonel didn't look around
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