Sub-General Tarr stood in the bitingly chill morning air momentarily and watched a construction crane lift a massive I beam up into the sky. It was another office space built in the ‘Albook Post Parvenu’ style, a modern brutalist homunculus of cold colossal cement surfaces, metal girders and transparent shear aluminum panels encapsulating sky. It felt much like the ‘‘Albook Brut Deco’ he was raised with, but very modular and simplistic without any essence of being the cement and iron behemoths of the past. It was grand without the grandeur.
Tarr was waiting for the eastbound 207 to the subway connector. He used to have a car, but found it more cost effective and a better use of his time to take mass transit instead. He stood at the bust stop, holding his briefcase with two paws, appearing annoyed with life to passerbys. The neko held some xsian influences to his pattern which made him appear exhausted as his mocha colored coat faded to black coffee around his blue eyes.
Every now and again, someone who Honk and wave at Tarr. He would stare back blankly, bemused. The people in the neighborhood knew who he was, and saw him as a local icon. This was good, thought Sub-General Tarr. Local neighborhood hero was about the level of fame he felt comfortable with.
He had paperartzi for a few months during and after the post White Cell War inquiries as the web of worlds media hivemind took its spastic attempt at understanding what caused the massacre. At first, they painted the Sub-General as incompetent.
The Sub-General took a deep breath of cold Albrook spring. When word of the schism came across Tarr’s desk, immediately his stomach sank, but all the while the mechanisms of his mind began to prattle and scurry about trying to resolve the best approach for his department.
The face of one of his subordinates came to mind as he reflected upon that sinking feeling. The bus pulled up the the street curb and he stepped board. He swiped his monthly pass.
“Where does our department stand on this, sir?” spoke a pasty faced esperian boy, still riddled with acne and the fear carved into his sunken cheeks.
“For now, we treat it like at face value, a military exercise. We will do what we normally do. Our job will be to establish what resources have been allocated to either side at the start, and we shall keep record of the losses and gains, and evaluate the outcome at the end.”
Tarr usually sat at the back of the bus, the subway was at the end of the route and he felt that it was better for him to give room to some of the younger people heading to school or the elderly out to do their morning shopping.
An older man in a faded brain suit stepped onto the bus and sat in front of the Sub-General. “Morning.” he muttered with a thin smile pressed to his lips.
“Morning.” muttered Tarr. He knew the man’s face some someplace, but the old neko couldn’t quite place where. He thought he knew him from the hearings–he looked like one of the faces he had appeared before several times–and it was at a point in time that the narrative of the incompetent officer who “thought it was a military exercise” was rewritten.
“First off General Tarr, I think we need to validate your credibility. Is it true that during the incidents that have brought us here today, you operated independently as if the whole thing was not real? I’m told you told several subordinates to treat it as a field exercise?”
Tarr learned towards the small metal microphone on the oak desk.
“Did you perceive it to be a field exercise?”
“No, I did not.”
“Well,” asked one of the officials at the long table across from him, “what did you think was happening?”
“I knew there was unknown event occuring. I didn’t have enough information to make an appropriate assessment at the time. I act on the information available to me.”
“So you acted as if nothing was wrong? Could you elaborate why you would take this position?”
Tarr leaned back in his char, and rubbed the scruff of fur on his chin. His sunken blue eyes looked down at the floor.
“In my tenure as a officer, there are two imperatives that I’ve always followed.” the neko began to speak after a pause, “I must always minimise conflict and I must always maximize productivity. You do this by reducing tension and promoting routine. Do you have any children, sir?”
“Well, you’d understand then that you don’t share with your children every argument you have with your spouse. As a logistics officer, in a sense, it’s my duty to make sure the kids get to school on time and behave in class.”
“I’d hardly see what transpired as a family spat, General Tarr.”
The man tapped the table, bemused. “Your words, not mine.”
After a transfer to the subway, it was only ten minutes until his exit at the GAHQ plaza. The tall beacon of Grand Army might had remained standing past the White Cell war, but it was never the place for him. He walked across the plaza to the Albrook Administrative Defense building, a smaller cement cube of a building that’s greatest flourish was its name.
He scanned a bracelet on his arm to enter the facility, passing two pillars of security cameras and three body scanning gates. The metallic sheen of the security scanners stood out from the faded inner facade of the building itself–its sun bleached veneer on the limestone panel walls peeled at the corners and the vinyl faux wood inlets had been torn and scraped away in paces.
On the wall of his office were several newspaper clippings, letters, and assorted printouts, some framed, others simply stabled to the wall. One headline was highlighted in faded marker, “SUB-GENERAL TARR: COLE PLAYED CHESS, I PLAY BINGO”.
Next t this, frame in black and with a gold plate mentioning the date and authenticity, was a letter from the Generalissimo:
I must admit that upon my first reading of your postmortem of the Omnicent conflict, I found it to be a procedural documentation that highlighted common criticisms of my decisiveness.
However, after a brief hiatus from the office, I reapproached your assessment with an open mind. On a second examination of your report, I have found a new appreciation for your strategic perceptions. I must concede that my actions are often zero-sum, and perhaps a non-zero-sum approach accounting for the benefit of all parties would have been more appropriate.
It is officers like you who keep this organization working as smooth and as efficient as it does. I was continue to follow and support your progress moving forward.
Grand Army Charter Alliance
He looked over at the letter on the wall before sitting down. Sanding behind his desk, the somewhat dusty office was silent for the first morning hours. The old neko would sometimes stand and stare at the items on his wall, each item a reminder of a decision once made that lead him to a new morning.
Curtis Tarr gave out a small groan as he sat down in his pleather chair and booted up his computer. He rubbed his eyes as the screen flickered on. He moused over to the communication icon and double clicked it. Nothing happened. He clicked it once, slowly.