The people of this new planet were strong. They endured hardship well. They also had a genetic stock that, while still around, had been reduced to a mere fraction of its original amount since First Contact. He'd had little success with the rank and file found aboard The Avalon. Perhaps if nothing else, a change of scenery would improve his work. At best, access to a new donor pool might grant him some insight he had been missing.
Regardless, he signaled his secretary to begin the paperwork for his departure. The experiments here could run without him for some time. In the meantime, he would investigate this new world and see if it met his needs.
It would be an understatement to say that Commander Keith Walsh, Governor Pro Tempore, was pleased. The world he stood upon that had previously been nothing more than a string of digits and letters now had a true name. He was surprised that no one had thought to name it before, given the glaring obviousness of it. He had named it Hephaestus in honor of that ancient god who forged the armor and weapons of gods amid the sulphur and heat of a volcano. Few planets outside of Sol had been named for any of the Greek or Roman gods, but for every rule, there had to be exceptions.
He thought it fitting that this world have that particular name as he watched the new manufacturing dome slowly descend towards the planet. Beside him stood Specialist Rahul Bava, who was doing a poor job of concealing his nervousness. He slapped the man on the back and pointed towards the dome as it settled onto the ground and began burrowing into the rocky surface of the planet. "That is what progress looks like young man. And without your heroics, it wouldn't have happened," he said.
Rahul nodded, "It's certainly a sight to see," he said. They continued to watch as it partially buried itself and then stopped. A powerful screen of pure energy lightly shimmered over the armored dome as it came online. Shuttlecraft filled with workers, skilled and unskilled alike, were already on their way to the new dome, their new home, and place of work.
Rahul continued to look out from the observation deck of the small pinnance they were aboard, taking in the sight. He chose to break their silent reverie with a question. "I take it you didn't just want to meet with me to watch the new dome break ground sir?"
Keith smiled and turned away from the high-resolution viewscreen that served as a window and sat down in an exceptionally comfortable lounge chair. "No, I did not, I will admit I allowed myself to be somewhat enraptured by the scene longer than I intended. That being said we should get to business, please sit." he said, indicating the seat opposite his own.
Rahul took the seat, noticing that apart from the very nice lounge chairs and a couch that the room was sparsely furnished. It seemed odd for the Pinnance of a Governor to be so spartan, but it wasn't really his place to judge. The Governor was also a Commander, so perhaps he just felt more at home in a setting that reminded him of a military ship.
As Rahul finished settling into the chair, Keith began speaking, "As you know, we've only just recently reclaimed this system. It had been left to it's own devices to rot when the support infrastructure of the Old United Systems Alliance fell apart. In the long term The Avalon seeks to steer us away from that kind of system. At the moment we maintain a firm grip upon the worlds of humanity, but that is for the sake of all concerned. In the long term the goal, when we're safer from external threats, is to more heavily decentralize all trade."
Keith paused to fill a water glass from the pitcher on the table, offering a glass to Rahul. Rahul took the glass sipping from it as Keith poured and drank from his own. "Well I'm not sure what all that has to do with me sir. I'm just a lowly Specialist, even after five years in the military." Rahul said, somewhat sheepishly.
Keith nodded, "I haven't quite gotten to that part yet. See we want to get the ball rolling on self governance as soon as possible for this planet. An outline for a Democratic Republic has been drafted. Representatives for each of the domes to make a congress, judicial system and all that. And that is all well and good, but The Avalon needs to make sure things are progressing in a manner that is favorable to it's needs, at least for the immediate future." he said evenly.
Rahul's eyebrows raised as Keith continued, "To that end, we want someone who we know is loyal to The Avalon installed as Governor once elections begin. To that end you will be honourably discharged effective immediately." Rahul nearly choked on his drink upon hearing that. Keith continued on as if he was oblivious to Rahul's reaction. "You will of course elect to retire to the world that you saved with your heroics. We have already begun running propaganda campaigns about your exploits."
Rahul's eyes were like dinner plates as he stared at The Governor, who sat before him as if he were the devil himself. "What? Wait, hold up. I've been discharged? I'm going to retire here? What are you talking about?" Rahul's mind raced, struggling to align itself with the startling information he'd just received.
Keith smiled, amused at the reaction of the poor unsuspecting enlisted man, become hero, before him. "Indeed, you are now a local legend, a hero if you will. And you will use that reputation to win the upcoming election." he said.
Rahul gulped down some water, the thought of 'why me?' ringing through his mind. "Wait, I'm a hero?" he asked. That couldn't be right, he thought to himself.
Keith smiled as his implant linked to the room's network and changed the contents of the viewscreen on the wall. Pictures of Rahul being recovered from the enemy ship, tired and sweaty, stood alongside images of the Slug's ships lying dead in space. Hallways filled with dead aliens propagated another image with the caption, 'Strength in wits, saves Hephaestus from certain Doom.' There was another image of Rahul, posed with his hands on his hips, looking off to the skyline captioned 'The Hero of Hephaestus.'
Rahul just gawped, that last image was definitely manufactured, but it might as well have been real. If he hadn't known that he'd never posed for that image, he'd definitely say it was real. They really were setting him up to be a war hero, he thought. His dreams of quietly retiring in a year and fading into obscurity as a back-end developer at some software company were disappearing before his eyes.
Rahul looked at Keith, his eyes pleading as he said, "Please don't make me do this. I don't want this."
Keith stared back, replying, "We do not often choose our burdens, but when you signed up for the military you also signed up for the burden of Citizenship. And Citizenship, is a heavy burden indeed." his words seemed to pierce Rahul as he crumpled in the lounge chair.
Rahul shook his head and collected himself after a few moments. He pulled himself back up and looked at the viewscreen again. "It is indeed that," he said somberly.