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The Empire’s war machine consumes lives like nerfs consume grass – whatever doesn’t get regurgitated for a second (or third) round of chewing gets shat out the other end.

Working in academy recruitment is comparatively safe, and it’s blissfully easy. Refined talent-spotting abilities aren’t required.

Are you a human with a pulse? Superb! You’re in. (We shan’t mention the “out” part.)

I’m not completely thick, and I’m from a good Core family. But I have no grand ambitions. Perhaps that’s why I’ve got on in the Imperial bureaucracy better than most.

Look, here comes the next applicant now. He’s travelling alone.