In a sterile office, I stare out a large window at the bustling cityscape before me. I try to focus on the blinking lights of the hover cars that whiz by. Chief always leaves us alone to mess with our minds before an especially good reaming. I check my chronotile, I must be in for an especially good ass chewing; this is the longest I've been left alone in Chief's office. I tug at my starched blue uniform trimmed in silver. The official uniform has never been my taste, but when preparing for an ass chewing, a crisp uniform and fresh haircut and shave never hurt.
As the door opens with a whoosh, I stand up and salute the sandy haired woman who barrels in the room. She barely meets my gaze when she says, "Sit your ass down, Barstow."
She sits in the desk across from me not speaking for what seems like minutes. I have to say the Chief could make even the most stone cold Agent rethink their life choices. It's not so much in what she says, but the silence, the cold stares, and the subtle hints of her disappointment. She sets her jaw and stares me straight in the eye then says simply, "Well..."
"Ma'am, I can explain."
She looks down at her desk as she bites her lip. "You, know, Wil, maybe I don't want to hear your explanation. I'm tired of it all. I've defended you to the higher ups, because even though your ways are unorthodox, your career has been incomparable, but lately-" she drifts off with a sigh.
I run my hands through my hair. She's right I haven't been myself lately. The fact is that I don't care. This life is wearing on me and I have nothing to show for my service except chronic pain and things I've seen that I can't unsee. I look at Chief wanting desperately to make her shame go away, but I can't find the words.
She continues. "Wil, you've put your whole life in this job, like a lot of people here at the Agency. The only difference is that a lot of us have lives to go home to, but not you. You cannot live and breathe this job. It will eat you alive." She pauses, as she looks at me her mouth turns down in a slight frown. "I blame myself. I should've had this talk with you years ago, but you were good for the Agency. It wasn't fair to you."
"Ma'am, look, I'm sorry. Next time-"
She shakes her head. "I don't think you understand. You pissed off a lot of very important people. That Spike dealer you were supposed to get, sold a dirty batch to an influential legislator's daughter. That dose killed his daughter. That same legislator is in charge of our budget allocations." I let out a groan and Chief nods. "I think you see where I'm going with this. I can't sweet talk my way out of this one. Coupled with the fact that you made a totally illegal raid of LaSaber's. Wil, I'm sorry."
I steel myself for the oncoming declaration. The Agency is all I've known for more than a decade. I've made a life as an agent with no ties to anyone. There is no life after this.
"You're being reassigned, Barstow."
I knit my brows. "Say again, ma'am?"
"The Outer Cluster. Specifically on a planet called, Bounty. As I understand it, that's where you're from. Right?"
I feel as though the air has been stolen from my lungs. I cannot be hearing her right. "Say again, ma'am."
"It's best I could do. They wanted to fire your ass, but you're too good of an agent to let go, after they cooled down they agreed. However, you need time away from these high profile cases. You need time away from chasing LaSaber. Surely, you have friends or family still on Bounty," she says as she gives me a hopeful look.
Silence fills the air as a million things rush through my mind. Do I have friends there? It's been so long. I'm sure anyone I would've called a friend wrote me off a long time ago. "Ma'am. Wh-wh-why are you sending me there? Nothing happens in the Outer Cluster. It's way below my skill level. This is like sending a kid to time out. I'm not a kid."
Her expression turns ice cold. "Not a kid? So when was it you were acting like an adult? When you left your partner to a case on her own so you could pursue a man you were expressly forbidden to go after? How about when you recklessly raided a nightclub on your own without doing the proper research?" I start to reply but I'm stopped when she holds up her hand. "Listen, Wil, you've been given a second chance. Not a lot of people in your situation are given this chance. God knows, this job will show you the absolute lowest levels that humans can go. If that's all you fill your days with, it will drag you down. Wil, you're being dragged down. Take this chance to see some old friends, take life a little slower." She walks from behind her desk to my side. She puts her hand on my shoulder and says, "You're one of the best agents we have, but you put your life on hold for that. Don't worry there are still plenty of baddies for you to rough up on the Outer Cluster. I served with your soon to be commanding officer. You're going to like him."
I'm not sure if this is better than being let go or not. My stomach churns at the thought of going back there. "Yes, ma'am."
"Don't make me sorry that I went to bat for you on this. You're due on Bounty Universal Day 35. You better get packing if you're going to make it on time. You're dismissed."
"Ma'am, yes, ma'am."
Without another word I head out of the office to my fate.