It didn’t feel right.
Of course, it never felt right, to be in the presence of the Commander, much less his desk.
Being behind it was even worse.
Not because it was intimidating to be in Commander Root’s desk, but because of the fear of letting him down.
Even if the Commander was dead, for almost three years now, new Commander Trouble Kelp still felt he had personal responsibilities owed to his former Commander.
Not former, Kelp thought. No matter what, he will always be the greatest Commander the LEP has ever seen.
It was especially difficult to hide emotions when he was elected to take Commander Root’s place.
I will never be as good as him.
Kelp had already decided that he would never amount to his Commander, even if he was now officially the youngest Commander the People have ever seen.
Kelp blinked. He was doing it again. Trying to think about the negatives all at once.
Kelp looked down at the desk again, and shifted uncomfortably in the chair.
“I need to focus on the problem at hand,” Kelp mumbled aloud. He glanced at his wall screen at the side of his office.
It was a live feed at the destination of where the missing island of Hybras was supposed to appear again. On that island, there was Holly, an elf who Kelp suspected he’d never see again. His heart sank. He hoped that she would make it.
Today’s the day. Foaly had promised, with the slightest hint of doubt in his voice. She should be coming home soon.
Go. Kelp had said, unable to think what would happen if she didn’t come home. He turned his back on Foaly as he had boarded the shuttle to the surface.
Oh, and Commander…
Yes? Kelp asked without turning around.
The centaur paused for a moment, a mix of feelings rushing through him.
I’ll bring her home if it’s the last thing I do.
The Commander nodded, and began making his way to the exit of the shuttleport.
“I hope so,” Kelp whispered, jumping back into the present. He looked at the countdown clock. Three hours left.
Kelp took a deep breath. He longed to go to the surface and wait for Holly himself, but it was his duty to stay underground, because so many forces were already deployed up above. It took some serious convincing from the Council to receive permission to have a large chunk of the force out and about, but his winning argument was that the island with the 8th Family of the People could not be lost again.
However, during this time, the Commander himself could not leave the Lower Elements. Howler’s Peak, the goblin prison, went under extreme lock-down, and the city of Haven was on low-power mode, for safety reasons.
He needed a way to distract himself without too much emotional toll.
He looked at the other feeds on his monitor. The prison, the cities power stations, the temperature levels of the tunnels. Everything checked out green.
He leaned back in his- his Commander’s-old chair.
“Computer!” Kelp yelled abruptly. He paused to wait for the computer’s tone; it dinged softly, letting him know it was ready for his command.
“Check all fields of work that need to be completed by Kelp, Trouble.”
The computer idled for a fraction of a second, then brought up a list of actions that needed to be completed by the Commander.
“Priority One,” the computer’s feminine voice calmly began. ” Monitor all feeds that have been specifically assigned by the Council to ensure the safety of Haven City.”
Kelp rolled his eyes. Whoever wrote this must have been an idiot. Ensuring the safety of Haven City was his freaking job, for Frond’s sake.
“Priority Two, manage the Howler’s Peak security lock-down at Sectors 25-09A through 47-73F.”
The computer drawled on, not making Kelp feel any better. Just listing off standard protocol that he knew from the beginning.
“Priority 7, you have received a notification that you are a beneficiary to former Commander Julius Root’s Last Will and Testament. This is the last day to claim any possessions and/or funds granted to you.”
Kelp glanced sharply upwards at the monitor.
“What?” Kelp gritted his teeth. Why wasn’t he informed about this?
“Computer!” Kelp yelled again. “Are there anymore notifications regarding Julius Root’s Last Will and Testament ?”
The computer idled again, retrieving the files.
“Showing 45 of 1,267 results regarding Julius Root’s Last Will and Testament.” The computer said coolly.
Kelp got up out of his chair, and smashed his fist against his-his Commander’s- old desk.
The legal offices had been sending him notifications for almost three years.
“Computer, make a call to the Legal Office of Downtown Haven.”
“Yes, Commander Kelp,” said the computer smoothly.
The speakers rang, as the Commander waited for a secretary to pick up the communicator line.
“Hello! Legal Office of Downtown Haven! My name is Chrys, how may I-”
“My name is Commander Kelp of the Lower Elements Police,” Kelp cut off rudely, not caring. “I would like to claim something from Commander Julius Root’s Last Will and Testament.”
“Okay, one moment sir.” said the secretary, flustered by the Commander’s attitude.
The Commander tapped his toe as he waited for the secretary to verify his identity through the voice identification program.
“Alright sir, We’ll get this package verified and delivered right away. ”
Package? Kelp’s curiosity was now piqued.
“How soon?” The Commander asked.
“No longer than half an hour,” the Secretary said, a bit too cheerily.
“Thank you,” said the Commander, cutting the line off.
Why hadn’t he noticed this before? Did he just put it off, because he didn’t want to deal with the emotions? Kelp took a deep breath to compose himself. He was certain that whatever it was, that he could handle it.
Precisely thirty-seven minutes and forty-four seconds later, the buzzer for the door went off.
“Come in!” Kelp said sharply, mood worsening.
He glared at the delivery sprite with a small package in his hands, his smile withering into a nervous one.
“Package for Mr. Trouble Kelp,” the sprite stuttered nervously. Kelp raised his eyebrow.
“That’s Commander Kelp to you,” said Kelp menacingly, his glare intensifying.
“S-sign h-here please…” said the sprite, wings fluttering nervously.
Commander Kelp snatched the v-clipboard from the sprite and signed his name with the tip of his finger, then forcefully passed it back to the young sprite. The sprite, whose name was Jerry, according to his name tag, set the package on the desk and skipped out of his office, sweat covering his face. He then let out a breath, realizing he had been holding it.
Commander Kelp was officially alone in his office now. He looked down at the package, which was brown and rectangular, no bigger than brick.
He carefully opened it, and pulled out two things: a letter, and box of Bruxby’s Custom Cigars: Limited Edition.
Kelp held the letter in his two hands, trying not to shake. He then proceeded to read the letter.
I’m not one for writing mushy letters, so I’ll cut write to the chase, which is just how you like it, short, sweet, and to the point. I understand that there is so emotional baggage to my death, so I’ll be blunt with you. Cut the crap. If I know me pretty well, I’m pretty sure that I died fighting, or after kicking some tail so hard it caused a blackhole, or whatever the hell they’re called. My point being, I’m gone now. There’s nothing you or I can do about it. I need you to continue the fight. One day, the Mud Men might come knocking at our door, and I need you to be prepared to make some hard decisions if that day comes. You’ve done me proud so far, Kelp, and there’s no reason you should stop. Don’t do it for me, do it for the People. The People might not show it, but in reality, the LEP are looked up to by everyone who knows about them. I’m pretty sure that big-headed Mud Boy has respect for us too. If not, then I’m counting on you to shove your foot up his rear and tell him it was from me.
I left you some of my cigars for you. I knew everyone hated how the smelled, hell, I hated it too, but there’s a reason I smoked them. Inside that case of Bruxby’s Custom Cigars: Limited Edition are not, in fact, a case of Bruxby’s, but instead, a half dozen of hand-rolled, homemade fungal cigars. It’s actually a recipe that my old Commander passed down to me , that his Commander passed down to him, and so on, dating back to the first Commander ever of the Lower Elements Police. These cigars are not your ordinary cigars. They contain a rare fungus that keep your magic reserves full for a while. Now, I know some goblin-of-a-priest will tell you that it’s taboo, but as a field Commander, those cigars have saved my ass on several occasions. It’s an old trade secret. It’s why I still had my magic brimming full after all those years. Sometimes, you have to NOT go by the Book.
Finally, I want to end this letter with something a little more heartfelt. It’s not like me to express these kinds of things, but I needed you to know. You were a great a Captain, and an even better individual. I’m…proud of you. There, I said it. Don’t get your head swelled for a simple pat on the back. About the cigars, use them, don’t use them, save them for emergencies, it’s your choice. I’d suggest bringing one whenever you need to go out on on the surface. Well, this should about do it. Right now, you just violated standard protocol at the shuttleports. Looks like I have a Captain to discipline. You still have a lot to learn. And you’re probably just sitting there on your rump reading this. You’re wasting time. Out there, Trouble is afoot. Trouble is always out there, Trouble will never stop. Get back to work, Commander.
Commander Julius Root
Kelp wiped a tear from his eye, smiling. He glanced at the cigar box. He could smell it’s noxious smell, even when it was closed. He opened the box, put one of the cigars in his jumpsuit, and tucked the rest in his –his- desk.
The monitor beside him beeped, getting his attention to the live feeds.
It was the one for Hybras.
“Commander,” said Foaly, voice neighing with excitement. “We have a visual on an island that matches references to the island of Hybras. It appeared several hundred meters off course and a bit late, but it’s here.”
Kelp was on the verge of hyperventilating now.
“Any signs of Holly?” asked the Commander, struggling to maintain his composure.
“We picked up readings from her helmet, which is why we found the island in the first place. Her vitals seem okay, though with a slight eye injury and almost empty on her magic,” replied Foaly.
“Can you confirm a visual?” asked Kelp, walking swiftly around his desk to get closer to the monitor.
Kelp waited, throat dry, heart racing.
“Visual confirmed. Captain Short is alive and well. We did it,” said Foaly, with a breath of relief.
Commander Kelp put the cigar from his jumpsuit in his mouth, chewing on it. It was bitter and sour, but today, he didn’t mind at all.
“I’m on my way,” said the Commander, cutting the line and striding out of his office.