The Road Of Danger – Snippet 22


          Daniel grinned slightly. The RCN, and the Princess Cecile in particular, had gained a very useful officer through that turn of events.


          He wasn’t about to discuss brutal suppression of dissent with Cazelet, however. Corder Leary, Daniel’s father, had put down the Three Circles Conspiracy in a thoroughly savage manner, after all; as Adele, also an orphan, could testify.


          Woetjans was shouting triumphant directions to the crew on the cable. They shuffled sternward, bringing the step along with them. The Bosun planned to set the base into its new position on the hull directly; the holes were already drilled, and a senior technician waited with a drift punch the length of her forearm to slide it the last quarter inch into place.


          Cazelet cleared his throat. Looking at the distant horizon rather than Daniel, he said, “Ah, sir?”


          Daniel turned toward him. “Yes, Cazelet?” he said gently.


          “Ah, you may know that Lieutenant Vesey and I have been seeing one another socially,” Cazelet said. The air was bitter and gusts of wind sent snow dancing over the ice sheet, but sweat was beading his forehead and he cheeks were flushed. “When we’re on the ground and off-duty, that is. We’ve tried to be discreet about it.”


          “Go on, Cazelet,” Daniel said. He thought, I’d be a bloody poor commanding officer if I didn’t know that, midshipman.


          “Well, I just wanted you to know that because Elspeth, that’s Lieutenant Vesey, is captain of the, The House of Hrynko now, we decided it wouldn’t be proper that we continue seeing one another,” Cazelet said. He glared at the horizon as though he wanted to eviscerate it with a grappling hook. “Even on the ground. Because the captain isn’t ever off duty, not really.”


          “I’m glad to hear that, Cazelet,” said Daniel, as mildly as he’d spoken before. “Because that means I don’t have to transfer you to becoming the Officer in Charge of Sewage Lagoons on, say, Aristogeiton’s World.”


          “Sir?” Cazelet said in surprise, his face jerking around to meet Daniel’s eyes.


          “I believed you both had good judgment,” Daniel said. Nobody watching them, even with magnification, would imagine they were discussing anything of more emotional significance than the Sissie‘s sail plan. “But if I were wrong about one or both of you, well, I’d correct my mistake. A commanding officer cannot be sleeping with a subordinate on a ship as small as this one.”


          “No sir,” Cazelet said. He swallowed. “Anyway, you weren’t wrong. I–thank you for letting us think it through ourselves, sir.”


          Daniel nodded mildly and returned his attention to the teams beneath. “Got it!” shouted a technician. One, then two, impact drivers began to burr home the bolts anchoring the repositioned mast step.


          Daniel wondered if Cazelet fully understood the risks he’d faced if he hadn’t made the correct decision. The boy was Lady Mundy’s protégé. If he had let his behavior risk the safety of Adele’s new family–the crew of the Princess Cecile–she might have treated the breach as a matter of honor.


          Rene Cazelet would not have survived that decision.




          “Ma’am?” said Cory, rotating his seat at the astrogation console to face Adele. “I’d like you to look at this.”


          He was facing her back, of course. She didn’t bother to turn, and Cory knew her too well to expect that she would. If he was more comfortable looking at her back than he would be speaking to her holographic face, that was his business.


          While Vesey and Cazelet–along with Daniel–were involved on the Sissie‘s exterior with the rerigging, Cory was on watch on the bridge. Because he was a good officer–in part because Adele had trained him–he was using the time for work rather than games or pornography.


          “Yes,” she said aloud, adjusting her display to echo that of the astrogation console.


          Adele didn’t mind being called away from her analysis of rice production–according to official statistics–on Sunbright over the past ten years, broken down by district. All information was potentially valuable, as well as being worthy for its own sake in Adele’s opinion. That said, the practical benefit of these data was yet to be proven.


          Cory had been looking at a pattern rendered in sepia monochrome. Lines ran roughly from top left to bottom right, crossing occasional beads of varied shape. It was unintelligible without context: Adele could imagine it being anything from a graph to a magnified view of the fabric of her trousers.


          She started to follow the current image back through its history to determine what it was. Before–momentarily before–she executed that plan, she caught herself and smiled wryly. She turned to face Cory, punishing herself for so determinedly shutting out the RCN family of which she was–by the gift of fate, because she didn’t believe in gods–a member.


          I don’t really believe in fate either. Well, in luck, then. I certainly believe in luck.


          “Please tell me what we’re looking at, Cory,” she said.


          “Well, ma’am,” Cory said. He turned to his display and highlighted a faceted lump in the flow of lines. “If you’ll take a look here….”


          Adele thankfully returned to her display also. Signals Officer was a junior warrant rank, equivalent to bosun’s mate and several steps below a commissioned lieutenant like Cory. Despite that, he and Cazelet treated Adele as though they were young boys and she was dowager matriarch of their family.