Captain Chaewon of the Thousand Worlds Space Forces has plenty to juggle these days. Between escorting a very important representative of the Dragon Council to a crucial meeting with her superiors, dealing with a couple of unruly cadets, and fielding irrelevant, time-wasting questions from the current bearer of the Dragon Pearl, Chaewon has a lot on her plate.
How does she manage all the stress and pressure? We’re not entirely sure. Our best guess is that she doesn’t allow herself the time to consider such questions. Luckily for her, we can think of at least one of her cadets who would be more than happy to pick up the slack and make Chaewon’s job a little easier.
But if Chaewon has taught us one thing, it’s that eagerness will only take you so far up the Space Forces ladder. More important, if you want to reach the rank of captain, you have to be willing to sacrifice. That can mean your free time, your reputation, and even your close personal relationships. In the Space Forces, sometimes the only way to get ahead is to leave something behind.
But not the tacky tourist souvenirs Chaewon bought on vacation. Those are absolutely staying in her office no matter what.
In a universe filled with humans, fox spirits, dragon spirits, tiger spirits, goblins, and ghosts all trying to co-exist, things can descend into chaos quickly. This must be at least part of the reason Captain Chaewon is so dedicated to organization and order.
Yet, while she has the executive skills befitting an admiral, Chaewon is unfortunately still only a captain. We believe it’s just a matter of time before she gets a well-deserved promotion, but for the time being she’s required to play politics and take on escort missions from on high.
Then again, we are on the verge of the most important diplomatic meeting of the decade. So, while delivering a politician to a government function doesn’t sound like our idea of a fun afternoon, Chaewon could be making history here. And there’s a bonus: if peace can finally be secured between the Thousand Worlds and the Sun Clans, maybe everyone will forget about that one minor hiccup that occurred on Chaewon’s ship last year . . .
Stripe that from the Record
For those who don’t watch the news holos, you may not have heard that Chaewon’s ship, the Haetae, was recently hijacked by the renegade Captain Hwan. The situation was eventually resolved, with no small effort from Chaewon’s top cadet, Sebin. But seeing as how Hwan was:
a) a fellow tiger spirit,
b) a once-trusted member of the Space Forces,
and c) the uncle of Cadet Sebin,
Captain Chaewon must be feeling pulled in opposite directions. Cadet Sebin proved their readiness for more responsibility, and yet their family was dishonored.
As a tiger spirit herself, Chaewon can’t change her stripes. But she also can’t play favorites, even if her most competent cadet shares her heritage. So, while Sebin is ready for more action, Chaewon may need time to consider the ramifications of assigning them to a critical mission.
At least, a slightly more critical mission than scrubbing toilets or chopping vegetables.
But who are we kidding? Even if Chaewon feels some kinship to her fellow tiger spirits, we all know where her true loyalties lie. Not to her homeworld. Not to her heritage. Not even to her succulents (except when they need to be watered every other week).
No, Chaewon is fully committed to the Thousand Worlds. And she expects no less from each of her cadets, no matter their background.
Let’s be honest. If we were in Chaewon’s position, most of us would have looked for a new job immediately after that incident with Captain Hwan. But Chaewon has no time to dwell on the pain of the past. Not when there’s a job to do. Besides, what are the odds of a second massive security breach related to the Dragon Pearl occurring so soon after the last one?
Hmm . . . maybe it is time for Chaewon to start using the rest of those vacation days.
Want to see what the future has in store for Captain Chaewon? You can catch her in Fox Snare: A Thousand Worlds Novel by New York Times best-selling author, Yoon Ha Lee. On sale now!