by Joseph H. Ficor -
After the graduation ceremony, Enforcer First Class Shouhei Fiko went away from his classmates clutching the small gray envelope.
He had refused to open it until after the ceremony. His classmates had opened their assignment orders as soon as they received them. Shouhei was afraid that he would jinx his chances if he opened the envelope early. His apprehension eased a little after making the decision to wait.
The night before graduation was spent praying—and pleading—for his desired assignment. He even forsook the traditional congratulatory beetle steak breakfast given to graduates on the morning of the ceremony.
He wanted to join the space division. To be among the emptiness and infinity of space was heaven compared to the dust and heat of Adagio. He loved his family deeply, but he desired to fly in the dark coolness of space. He wanted to feel a closeness to sky from which his ancestors had descended. He desired release from the family’s Eclectian prison.
A millennium of time passed before he made the final tear in the envelope.
He removed the paper and unfolded it carefully.
His dream crashed like a beetle that had been struck in the underside by a meat hunter’s bullet.
His destination was Sheba.