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Reconstruction

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Rest, they tell him. Heal. Your testimony's not needed.

They photograph his injuries, record his statement for the evidence chip. Extend his stay at the recuperation centre for another forty days.

Travis knows they just don't want him talking, not in a way that can't be edited. Too awkward, messing up their tidy ready-for-vidcast justice.

Blake's going to be reformed. Not shot with an undercharged plasma rifle so that half his face burns away. Not even sent to Cygnus Alpha.

Blake's going to be healed, just like him.

Travis swears he won't watch the vidcast, but he does. Blake confesses, says he's sorry, even mentions Travis by name. Rebellion is selfishness, he says, calling on Bran Foster to give himself up. No one's above the law; no one has the right to maim and kill. But the Federation forgives. Tears roll down his face, and Travis can see he means every word.

It's the end of Blake. Less remains of him than of Travis. And that's before the total reconditioning the man's been granted, that he thanks the judge for in a shaking voice. A new start, with his memories wiped clean.

There's more than one way to kill a man. And judges and politicians, all those smiling preaching hypocrites, they dare to turn their noses up at soldiers.

The next day, Travis cancels all the plastic surgeries he's agreed to. Maybe he can't speak, but he can be. He is the face of war, which they want prettified. He is the ugly truth, and he will make them see him.