Part 45: Interview 22 BonusBarracks 22 - Truth of the Matter
The door to Sonja’s office seems unfriendly, firmly closed as Talora, Rose and Vanessa approach it. At first, Vanessa simply stands and stares at it, but Talora gives her a friendly pat on the shoulder.
“You can do this. Go and talk to her.”
“I…” Vanessa says, but she has no argument.
Rose nods. “She is in an excellent mood, having won the battle so easily. If there was ever a time to discuss this with her, it is most definitely now.”
Vanessa sighs, and takes a step forward. “Right. I will.”
She knocks twice on the door, and as she hears a brisk “Come in.”, she turns to see that Talora and Rose have disappeared. Taking a deep breath, she enters and greets her longtime rival, Sonja.
“Ah, Vanessa. Forgive me for not getting in touch with you before now. I wanted to congratulate you on your performance in that previous battle.”
“Oh, forget it. That’s not what I’m here for.” grumbles Vanessa, sitting down opposite Sonja. She gestures to Sonja. “I want to talk about graduation.”
“It was a couple of years ago now, but I still remember. We graduated at the same time, and our grades were great. But I got better grades, you remember?”
Sonja nods. “I do, yes.”
“My strategies were better, I made better use of intel, and what happened? You became a CO, and I was relegated to being an ordinary soldier!”
“You were offered an ACO position, if I remember correctly. But you caused a scene at HQ and were demoted.” murmurs Sonja, but Vanessa sighs.
“I didn’t want to work under you anyway! I was better than you. I should’ve been the CO - and it’s all because of Kanbei’s nepotism!”
At this, Sonja whirls around and fixes Vanessa with a furious glance.
“Ooh! Are you saying that I can’t be a CO on my own? Father’s decision had nothing to do with it. I don’t need his support to be a capable CO!”
“Don’t be ridiculous! If the military had based their decision on pure grades, I should’ve been the CO, but that’s not what happened!”
“Yes, but-” Sonja says, then falls silent.
Vanessa stares at her.
“Well, I was curious about why you were passed up in favour of me all those years ago.” says Sonja. “Right after I became a CO, I looked into it, and… I discovered why.”
“Go on. Spit it out.”
“You were right - your tactical abilities were better than mine. But that’s not why you weren’t chosen. It wasn’t your abilities at all, Vanessa…” Sonja replies, looking up and staring into the fury of Vanessa’s eyes. “...It was your attitude.”
The words sound like a gunshot, and Vanessa feels a constriction in her chest as she deflates in her chair. “My…”
“Kanbei and the others felt that you wouldn’t work well with the other soldiers, or inspire confidence in them. They needed someone who was a little kinder, more understanding. Someone who didn’t cause a scene at HQ. Someone who could keep a lid on their temper. ...That was me.”
“My attitude…” whispers Vanessa. Barely taking in what Sonja is saying, she gets up and takes slow, ponderous steps over to the door. As she reaches for the doorknob, Sonja extends her hand.
“It’s not too late to work on it. Your talents are useful, Vanessa. I specifically requested you on that mission because I wanted to see if you’d grown. And I think you’re getting there. So, please-”
Her words are falling on deaf ears. The office door shuts with an air of finality, and Sonja sits in her seat, letting out a long and disappointed sigh.
“That could have gone better…”