Changing of the guard


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Alone, in the office that once belonged to her Commander, Els Van Raven, a young lieutenant of True Hunters, was silently watching the empty desk at center of the ample, dim lighted, room.

Silence, emptiness, dim light.

These were three things that had never found a place in that room. After all, Els thought, since the day of the attack in which the Commander had lost his own life many things have changed. It was time for her to start accepting it and to move forward.

« Miss Van Raven », a voice behind her took her by surprise, « I figured I’d find you here »
A tall, olive-skinned man was standing near the door. For Els, a look at his fine clothes and his formal air, was enough to label him as a “desk dog”, one of those guys who are perfectly at ease on the board of a big corporation but definitely out of place in the headquarter of a special investigation unit like the True Hunters.
It seemed like the unfriendly gaze of Els had not been unnoticed by the man, « Oh, do not worry, I’m not here to bore you in gobbledygook » he said approaching her, « I suppose that, for a woman of action like you, people like me represent mostly a waste of time »
« I did not mean to be rude » she replied, « I’m just really tired» after all that has happened in the last few days, the last thing that she would have wanted was to have an exhausting conversation about some kind of technicality of some kind of case.
« Why were you looking for me? » she asked, trying to look less annoyed than it was in reality.
« What they say about your pragmatism is true then… but I believe that before coming to the point I should introduce myself. My name is Lucius Alia» he said, holding out his hand, « Our paths have already crossed a couple of meetings ago » Els shook his hand as she was trying in vain to remember.
« I’m sorry..»
« But you don’t remember me » he interrupted her, « I’m not surprised, after all I’m a pretty common face and man… as opposed to you. I had the pleasure to carefully follow you in the recent years » he continued with a firm voice, as he was smoothly moving his fingers along the hinge of his glasses. The vail that had formed on the lenses was for Els a proof that his interlocutor was displaying some documents.
« Perfect knowledge of all areas protected by legislation on intellectual property, excellent technical skills, investigative skills above the average. A small lack of communicative skills… but…»
Els was losing her patience « Can we get to the point, Lucius? I know well my resume, I do not need a summary »

The peremptory of Els seemed to have managed to silence the man’s rambling, who, after clearing his throat bringing his fist to his mouth, explained the real reason behind his visit, « Miss Van Raven… some Council members, including me, would like to propose your nomination as Commander of True Hunters »

And then there was silence.

Lucius moved and went to the window. He was watching the city below them with his hands crossed behind his back. According to Els, this whole movement was exactly what was making him look like a pitiful business man, an appropriate image for a person like him.
« Miss Van Rav-no, Els… we are living hard times, especially for an organization such as ours. The same people we protect, that we defend… are often not aware of the dangers generated from piracy and counterfeiting » he paused, almost like he got troubled by his own words, « Not even the people who sits with me in the Council seems to understand that » he finished, almost talking to himself.

« I do not see how I can help you… not at the moment »
Lucius was now facing her, « This time, as you say, requires an energetic and decisive response and some of us believe that this response is yourself. I am sure that this is what our respected commander would have wanted »
It was probably true. The commander used to joke all the times about how she would have forged ahead, about how she would have been his natural successor the only one able to continue his work in the True Hunters.

Els had never seriously considered the possibility: she loved her work on the field and did not feel ready to end up behind a desk.
« Lucius, your offer flatters me, I do not deny that » she said, « But it is not an easy decision to make. Give me a few days to think about it » a fair request but the man firmly replied, « I understand your hesitation, but the decision must be made now. The team needs a captain. »

Els looked back at the empty desk and realized it was true.

« I will do what must be done for the good of the True Hunters. If the Council sees me as the right person, I will accept… although I do not think that I have the seniority requirements for the promotion »

As he approached the door, the tense expression of Lucius turned into a smirk. Before disappearing into the maze of corridors of the headquarter of True Hunters, the man took his leave with one last comment.
« Miss Van Raven, take care of yourself… and do not worry about anything: leave the rules and the eligibility requirements to “desk dogs” like me. »