"I don't regret why I'm in here. They can starve me, beat me. Call me a traitor. I'm not one. What I did was for the good. I was a General in name only, put in charge of the children and the lame. A sea of starving, helpless people, with less than a dozen armed guards, all of whom were routinely called away for more glorious service. I couldn't lead my charges to safety. The raiders would find us in any cave or stronghold I managed to reach. We were ransacked weekly. We lost our supplies and the youngest starved. When the raiders returned to find no more food, they took the near-pubescent girls as slaves. No number of missing or dead on a report changed the minds of those in command.
"I remember the fifth attack most clearly. The smoke from tents they burned out of malice. The lamentations of young and feeble. A crippled mother crawling after them escaping raiders, barking for them to return her daughter. I watched her legs drag in the sand behind her, like a split fishtail. It didn’t even flop around. Other men would have found it heartbreaking. I found it inspiring, and I am not sorry for the idea it gave me.
"I took arms. Only one per child. I took a couple of hands, but that wouldn’t be enough. I took no legs – every one of those children would grow up to walk. I even mailed them one of the limbs along with the reports and testimonials from children who could no longer write themselves. I packed it in salt. Six mutilated children and one arm were somehow harder to ignore than thirty dead parents.
"The next week we had a brigade defending our camp. The raiders were rebuffed by bronze shields and long lances. Able-bodied men did their duty by the meekest.
"Which of them gave me away? I don’t know. From the looks, I think it was some of the same children who had sworn by my testimonials. You can’t trust children, even parentless ones, to keep up your stories. I can understand the juvenile mind begrudging me my work. I don’t blame them. But I’m not sorry. Those one-armed children will live behind shielded camps because of me. If my story is spoiled and Command withdraws the brigade, then I’m still here, in a prison twenty days away from whatever carnage happens, with nothing but the story that they are safe. I have no regrets."