Penrif sighed into his hands.
There was simply no other way. He had spent the entire night trying to find another way. But no matter how he looked at it, whichever way he cut it, it was just not going to end well.
They’d want his feedback in the morning meeting. The admirals and the generals, all waiting on him, the head strategist, to discern what their options where. That was his job, to show them each possible option and then let them decide which was best.
The problem was that he was talking to morons. Morons who wanted power and glory and would do anything to achieve their own merciless ends.
So Penrif would give them carefully selected options. Oh, he would explain that it was due to the lack of time in these situations, the pressures meant he had selected the top five options for them to review and decide upon. And, given his position, they trusted him, they believed him, and most importantly they did not try to investigate him.
The discarded plans lay in crumpled pieces of paper on the floor. Penrif could feel the stress headache start to form, growing from the side of his temple and flowering across the nape of his neck.
He had tried so hard to find another way. He had gone through every permutation.
But the top five plans that he could present all ended in death or destruction. There was no other option not to present these, the Council were basically foaming at the mouth for something to go and fight for. If he presented a peaceful option, like option 145 that was currently being chewed up by the flames in the fireplace, the Council would suspect him of trying to manipulate them.
So he had to present them with options that he did not like, that he did not believe in, because if he did anything else-
No, don’t think about it, Penrif thought. His family, they were too precious to him. He could not place their lives over the lives of the Enemy, no matter how much it hurt him to do so.
I have no choice, Penrif thought, sighing at the final list of options.
Knuckles banged against the door.
“Strategist Penrif,” a voice called, “the Council are asking for you.”
Let this be over with, Penrif thought, as he picked up the piece of paper and strode across the room. He gestured with his hand, making the remaining plans all fly towards the fireplace.
At least he could cover up his attempts of treachery, that was at least something.
This flashfiction was first posted in 2019
Featured Image by Alice Hampson on Unsplash
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