It could be worse, you remind yourself yet again as the shuttle begins decelerating for the approach to your new posting. It could be a lot worse. The court-martial had absolved you of any wrongdoing. Your direct and deliberate disobedience of a lawful order was rendered excusable under some obscure subclause that could be bent to fit, because the court was well aware your CO's order had been blatantly stupid. They understood that you had gone on to win the battle despite your CO rather than because of him, and his convenient death due to an overlooked enemy sniper was just the fortunes of war and not your fault at all. Rather than punishing you, they promoted you two ranks -- into a different service. Your days of leading ground troops are over; it's the recycled air of a starship for you henceforth. And then they assigned you to the Captain-Killer. Because a high-profile young upstart like you couldn't be allowed to really benefit from disobedience. Not with your record of suspiciously egalitarian views, not with your habit of turning in buckets with lowblood friends at drone time rather than forming lifelong alliance quadrants with other highbloods. Others might imitate you! You understand it. You expected it. It's a neat bit of political tidying, and it leaves you comfortable for life if you can survive the Sunslammer's cursed Helmsman, mad captain, and slapdash crew. It's a carrier, it doesn't participate in battles, it just brings hardware to their vicinity. Maybe as little as a sweep ago, you would've been full of determination to shape the place up and earn back the Empire's respect, but you're a jaded thirteen now and you understand that that would only make things worse. If a dead-end posting stops being a dead-end, the embarrassments stowed there might have to be rendered simply dead. But you're damned if you're going to let the sloppy attitude you've heard about infect you. You are a Planetary Marine, damn them all, and even in a dead-end posting your buttons will shine. You check in the darkened shuttle window once again to make sure your buttons are shining. They are, of course. Your uniform is perfectly pressed and spotless, and fits your broad-shouldered blueblood frame in ways that make trolls swoon if they're the swooning type. Your horns shine, your hair shines, your boots shine. Only your future looks dull. And, you note as it rolls into view, badly in need of a paint job. Stone-faced, you note every instance of neglected maintenance as you go through the formal procedure of being bunged aboard, and then you go to present yourself to your captain. Who outranks you, you have to remember, even though your rank was Captain before you were promoted, because ground troops' ranks are different, and your new rank of Commander is equivalent to Major in your old service. It's a headache. When you tried to research Captain Aspera, you could only find out a few pertinent things: 1) he's batshit crazy; 2) he's easygoing; 3) he has somehow survived the Captain-Killer for three sweeps. You resolve not to underestimate him.