Whiskers is a short story written by Timothy S. O'Brien, originally published in Rules of Engagement: The Rebel SpecForce Handbook and later archived on Hyperspace.


"So, Sergeant, when can I shave? This thing's starting to itch"

Jop, a Rebel Alliance trooper newly transferred from drop-camp, queries his sergeant, Rork, about when he may shave his beard. He had grown it as a requirement of unit tradition, which demanded a beard or, if one was unable to grow facial hair, a braid. Rork responds by telling Jop that he will notify the trooper when he may choose to shave. He also tells Jop that it is not the trooper's turn on watch, and as such should get some sleep for the next day's actions. Jop goes to his slithole, conscious of being safe due to an unofficial nocturnal cease-fire between the Rebels and the nearby Imperial base, which they were conducting raids against.

Whilst sleeping, Jop is awoken by something cold against his cheek, and hears a voice tell him everything is fine and he should get back to sleep. He slowly and carefully reached for his rifle and waved it, finding nothing and nobody. Slowly he calmed down and fell back asleep. The next morning, he tells the rest of his squad what happened, and asks who it was, looking pointedly at Hork.

Hork tells the trooper that it was a Rebel infiltrator on his way to the Imperial base, who was checking if Jop was an Imperial forward guard. Due to Imperial regulations, their troopers must be clean-shaven and well groomed. Thus the Rebel tradition of a beard (or braid) indicated the troopers' affiliation.

The Rebels take the Imperial base, taking prisoners and equipment away with them—Alliance military doctrine required their forces not hold a captured base for an extended period of time. That night, Jop struggles to sleep due to the day's combat. He then realizes his beard hasn't itched all day, and promptly falls asleep.


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