He was still angry, even after landing. That was unusual for him, but he didn’t particularly care. He didn’t speak in debriefing, or in the showers, and he left immediately after stowing his gear in his locker.

He thoroughly enjoyed the reverberations that echoed in the room after he slammed the locker door.

He barely nodded to friends and acquaintances as he stalked through the halls of the base. He paused momentarily to eye a long-legged lieutenant, but dismissed the impulse almost as quickly as he recognized it. He eschewed his personal vehicle, instead setting a punishing pace that had him arriving at his quarters after only a twenty-minute walk.

He didn’t see anyone on the way. He kept his head down and glared at the walkway.

His quarters yielded no traces of dust or disorder when he entered. He covered every available surface in diagrams, blueprints, and arcane bits of flimsi. Assembling bits of wood, plas, and pressboard in the center of a large table, he delved into the intricacies of miniature ballistae from long-forgotten cultures.

Two hours later, a structural support snapped between his thumb and forefinger. He cursed.

He left the table and changed into trainers. A steady, disciplined run and forty-five minutes of cold, precise motion training exhausted him enough to head for the base’s gymnasium. He stepped back from the door to allow another figure to exit. A hand rested heavily on his shoulder, and he looked up. Sweat pasted locks of limp hair to his commander’s face. He frowned.

“It wasn’t fair today.”

“Is it ever?”

Wedge considered. “Sometimes.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Try to do that.”

He shrugged past and began loading weights.