The Brigadier draws the curtains of his window, allowing a bit of dusty afternoon sunlight to stream into his office. With heavily-veined hands he rakes his hair, now sparse and silver. He watches the men outside running and sparring, some wearing weight vests and others an odd type of shoe with a little compartment for each toe. Sometimes the Brigadier thinks these modern times will be the death of him. He used to be so good with technology, always on the cutting edge. He used to bring cold metal to life with his own hands. Now, he thinks as he chuckles to himself, he marvels at rubber slippers.
He gazes at the placards adorning one wall of his office. They tell of a storied career spanning four decades, full of action and commendation, responsibility and honor. There’s a row of placards reserved for units he’s commanded, from his early years as a young company commander to the retirement plaque of the battalion whose leadership he’d been relieved of just last year. It was at that time he knew, beyond shadow of doubt, he’d never be awarded the rank of Major General.
It’s not that he’s not good at his job. He’s the best at whatever he attempts, if not at first then certainly before long. He throws himself at tasks to the exclusion of all distractions; his body is a finely-honed vessel for the unstoppable machine that is his will. As a soldier he’s earned distinction for his combat skills and as a commander he’s gained notoriety for turning out regiments of the most finely-disciplined special-operations operatives in the world. He doesn’t expect anyone to kiss his ass just because of his rank or position; he earns people’s respect the old-fashioned way. Of course, this also means he’s never been one to kiss ass himself. This might be why ranking officers have gone to bat for him to get him promoted at every stage of his career-- until he hit Brigadier, and then when the generals noticed he wasn’t about to stroke their egos undeservedly, their support dried up.
The Brigadier’s sharp, pale eyes trace along the wall, from his athletic trophies to his marksmanship ribbons to his very first tan beret; along the rows of formation photographs, the thousands of men he’s led into battle. His gaze lingers on his SAS flag, from the downward-pointed Excalibur, the Wings, and of course, the SAS’ well-known motto “Who Dares Wins”. He frowns. Why should looking at the emblem of his beloved corps fill him with such ennui? He’s tried his whole career to exemplify everything Sir David Stirling envisioned in a British regimental officer. But without action to stir his blood, he fears, he’s simply wasting away.
Outside his door he can hear his phone ring. His secretary, a lieutenant by the name of Lois Pettigrew, picks it up and says something that is muffled by the thick oaken door. By the rhythm of her words, he deduces whomever she’s speaking to is in a hurry. The Brigadier’s frown becomes a thin smile. Maybe something will finally come up that will make him feel alive again. Something that will test him, as he used to love being tested, being pushed to his very limits and emerging victorious.
Pettigrew stops talking and a second later the phone on his desk rings. He picks it up, his chest swelling slightly with excitement and hope beyond hope for just one taste of the adventures he used to have. “This is Brigadier Dirk Strider.”
He’d recognize the voice on the other line anywhere. “Bro? It’s me. Something big is about to go down. How fast can you get to London?”