CROWN OF STARS, Solace of Manticore Book 2
Part 4: Basilisk on Station, Chapter 1
Previously: Cat and Mouse
Timestamp: 2nd October 1904 PD
“Oh god, Honor… you look good!” Solace lied. It had been nine months since the events of Second Yeltsin, and Honor’s face was still healing from the latest batch of microsurgeries to replace the nerves that had been destroyed in the Maccabean Coup attempt on the life of Protector Benjamin and his wives. Honor had lost an eye and half the nerves in her face and was still months away from being able to return to active duty… and that was just the physical wounds. The psychological fallout of losing so much of her crew, of losing Admiral Courvoisier, of what had happened on Blackbird… A lesser woman would have broken.
But Honor Harrington was not a lesser woman. She would endure. The smile she gave Solace told her that. “Thaanks,” she said. “You look ridiculously good, as always.”
“Lies,” Solace shot back. She looked half blown up… which was fair because she’d been very nearly blown up when her shuttle down to Landing from Hephaestus was sabotaged. Only the fact that she was wearing an emergency grav-belt had saved her and her treecats when the shuttle had ripped apart at 18,600 meters. No one else had survived, including two of her Andermani bodyguards. “I’d been planning on visiting you… and here you are visiting me.” She patted the side of her bed with her left hand.
“No,” Honor said, “Really. You look amazingly good for what happened. Good thing you regenerate…” she touched the side of her face. “How long do they think you’ll be in for?”
“They have to regrow both my legs and my right arm. The bomb was on the wing outside my window. If Ruth and Naomi hadn’t been asleep in their case…” she shook her head, then winced. “And my hair.”
“Hair grows back,” Honor said. “You know the worst of it?”
“They’re going to give me another medal?” Solace groaned.
Honor shook her head, “They probably will, but I meant that your body guards are going to try and make you take your own shuttles everywhere.”
Solace looked at the other woman, then asked, “I take it yours are demanding the same?”
“Something like that. Either private shuttles or military ones. Why were you even on a civilian shuttle?”
“It was a Coswell Passenger Services shuttle,” Solace said, then (seeing the look of incomprehension on Honor’s face) explained. “New Temple owns Coswell.”
“So… you figured it was as good as a private shuttle? Or just free?” Honor frowned.
“Yes yes. I’m cheap… And I can’t help thinking I got a hundred and eighty-four people killed because of it,” Solace leaned back into her pillows.
“Has Gilly been told?”
“What? No. No. We’re going to wait until I’m back on my feet before sending her word. No reason for her to rush back in a panic… oh just a question I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
Honor sat on the edge of the bed and Nimitz hopped down to annoy Ruth. Naomi sniffed from a nearby shelf but didn’t join the other two. “Shoot,” Honor said.
“Do you remember your promise?” Solace asked, eyes twinkling despite the pain. She was on the lowest possible dose of painkillers, just enough to keep the inflammation down. She’d take more before she slept, but when she was groggy it bothered the ‘cats.
“Promise? Which… oh my god… have you really been waiting all this time just to bring that up?” Honor frowned with half her face. A moment later, the other half twitched a little, but didn’t move much.
Solace grinned, trying not to stare. “Now now… you did say you’d remember when the time came.”
“The fact that I’m technically a Lady now is a source of far too much amusement on your part, Grand Duchess,” Honor said, frowning.
“Hey. I’m only a great noble in one nation. You’re a great noble in two,” Solace pointed out.
“I’m only a great noble in one kingdom. A countess is hardly a great noble,” Honor corrected. “And you were all but empress of your own little empire that dwarfs both Manticore and Grayson combined.”
“I gave it up. Way more effort than it was worth.”
“I hear they’ve dissolved the government again. What is that, three times in eight years?”
“Four. The first two governments failed within five months each. The third government lasted almost two years. This one lasted just over four.”
“And there’s a push to balkanize?”
“Of course there is,” Solace sighed. “It’s a big area and the outer worlds have had to shoulder the burden of multiple failed wars. That’s the problem with how spread out they are. And the way their government is structured means that three planets have more than half the combined votes… and the smaller colonies don’t get any say in the government at all.”
“Glad to be out of there?”
“You’re changing the subject,” Solace waggled her finger at Honor.
“Fine… yes. I remember saying that I’d do my best to serve others, not my own ego. Now…” Honor paused, caught off guard by something and Solace’s eyes widened.
That… was new. “You can hear them,” Solace said. It wasn’t a question.
Honor twitched, then looked at Solace wide eyed. “That… they…” she was looking at where Naomi had just sent a complex bolus of annoyance that had to be the treecat equivalent of a lecture on interrupting her nap to Nimitz and Ruth. Solace, who had to deal with that kind of interplay between Naomi and Ruth all the time, and between her cats and Barnabie when he was around, was used to the sensation. Clearly Honor wasn’t.
“Yes,” Solace confirmed. “They really are telepaths.” It had been long suspected that that was the case, but proving it was all but impossible Humanity simply had no such thing as a telepathic communication detector. Honor’s family, which had had more contact with the treecats than any two other families, had done much to discourage too close a look into the treecats’ abilities out of a desire to protect the fuzzy weirdos, but their private records, shared only with those they most trusted to have the ‘cats’ best interests at heart, had hints and supposition to spare.
“H… how long have you… it’s been from the beginning with you, hasn’t it? That’s how you bonded two?”
Solace shrugged, then flinched at the pain of her broken ribs and cracked collarbone. “Maybe? I don’t know exactly. But yes. I’ve been able to ‘hear’ them communicating… and I can feel other people’s emotions… I assume you can too?”
Honor breathed out slowly. “Okay… I guess it’s good to know that I’m not crazy. Can you send thoughts to them?”
“Not really? I can project emotions to them, and I’ve gotten pretty good… I think… at making them understand what I’m trying to project… but I suspect it’s the equivalent of yelling at someone in a language you barely speak? Know what I mean?”
Honor laughed. “I… yeah. I do… I’d love to talk more… but mostly I just came to check that you were still alive… I can’t believe your luck.”
“My luck? Miss I fought a Battle Cruiser with a Heavy Cruiser?”
“You did it with a LAC!”
“I didn’t fight the Wotan! That doesn’t count. And all the other times I did something one-sided, it was pretty much an ambush. I never did a head to head slugfest with a ship many times my size… and you’ve done it twice now!”
Honor sighed. “And I’ve paid the price… or at least my people have.”
“Maybe,” Solace said, “But both times you did what needed to be done and the fact that any of your people survived is amazing, frankly. And a testament to your skill… and the kind of loyalty and skill you inspire in your people.”
The other woman slowly exhaled. “I try to remember that… remember that I would have been willing to give the last full measure to stop either Sirius or Saladin… So I can hardly complain that it wasn’t necessary… but I still wonder if I could have paid less of a butcher’s bill.”
“I do know,” Solace patted the other woman’s hand.
“I know you do… I should go. Let you sleep. Oh. and congratulations.”
“Yes yes,” Solace sighed. “The irony of the assignment does not escape me.”
Honor smiled, then reached down into a bag she’d brought with her, pulling out a small cardboard box. It was just large enough for an individual pizza. “It’s about time.”
Solace opened the box as Honor set it on her chest, already suspecting what would be inside. Indeed, the white wool practically gleamed and Solace felt a tear come to her eyes as she carefully lifted it out. She’d had two others like it, but it had been thirteen very long years and she’d begun to doubt she’d ever get another. The first, for the light cruiser Orlando, had been a brevet command, made possible by the exigencies of war and taken away as soon as the war was over. The second had been for the courier ship Atalanta, as swift a craft as could be desired, but hardly the dream command of any Naval Captain.
The patch on this beret was entirely different. No mere cruiser this time. No. The patch depicted a crowned serpent and the name “HMS BASILISK” and below that the hull number “SD-105”.
“Thank you,” Solace said, meaning it.
“I’m consumed with envy, you know?”
“Says the woman getting Nike?”
“Wait… What?” Honor’s living eye went wide.
“I’m the former chief of staff of the Fifth Space Lord. you think the new Fifth Space Lord wouldn’t tell me something like that my dear friend Honor was getting the finest battle cruiser in the entire fleet?”
“I’m not even back on duty yet!” Honor protested.
“And I’m in any condition to accept command of Bessy?”
“What a terrible nickname,” Honor groaned. “Anyway, you’ll be back on your feet before I will at this rate.”
“Nonsense. Your feet are just fine, Miss Harrington. You’ve proven you can command a ship just fine with one eye. And Nike won’t be finished for at least five months, so you’ve got plenty of time.”
“Sooo… do your spies at BuPers know who my XO is going to be?”
“Mmm… maaaybe,” Solace grinned. “I hear a certain Honorable Commander is bucking for the slot… pulling in a few favors in fact.”
“Was one of those favors calling your mother?” Honor asked wrly.
“You mean did she ask my mother to ask me to ask Admiral Cortez to get her the slot?” Solace asked, then shook her head. “Not so much. She’s more than earned the slot, and Laertes was part of our screen in Endicott. When she heard you’d be getting a Battle Cruiser, she asked me to make certain her name was on the short list. If she did anything else, I don’t know about it. But like I said, if she’s given the post, it won’t be because of family connections. She’s very competent. Even if she hasn’t had a career quite as blessed as either of ours have been.”
“Blessed. Right. Strange definition of blessing, if you ask me.”
“God isn’t always kind to those who he calls upon to serve,” Solace said.
“Is that what this is? Why do you worship him again?”
“The universe isn’t a nice place. Asking God not to put challenges in front of us would leave us terribly prepared, wouldn’t it?”
“You’ve got a very strange relationship with your deity,” Honor said, chuckling drily.
“Hey, I might worship him… but I’ve been known to tell him off a time or five too.”
“Like I said… very strange. Not quite as strange as the Graysons… but then you don’t have the doctrine of the test.”
“True… but that’s only because my faith predates the written exam,” Solace said, smirking.
“That,” Honor sighed. “Was terrible. You should feel bad.”
“If it helps, I can’t feel my toes?”
“The fact that you currently don’t have knees would have something to do with that, I suspect.”
“You’re probably right… did you know that the mythical basilisk feared only one thing?”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“This is another segue into criticizing my ancestress for calling them treecats, isn’t it?”
“They look more like treeweasels!”
“You look more like a treeweasel!”
Both humans shot the two ‘cats who’d climbed up onto the foot of Solace’s sickbed a glare, and (as one) snapped “You stay out of this!”
=====3rd December, 1904=====
“Welcome aboard, ma’am,” Commander Zilwicki said, snapping to attention alongside the sideparty as bossun’s pipes trilled.
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t rise,” Solace said. Her recovery was mostly complete, but her ability to stand unaided had not returned and she’d still need months of physical therapy before she was back in anything like fighting trim. But a Captain only needed a functioning mind and the ability to give orders… everything else was negotiable. “But thank you for the welcome. I’m sorry to hear we’ll be losing you… but congratulations on your new command.” Solace said.
Helen Zilwicki had been the third officer of HMS Basilisk when her former Captain, Antoinette Lemaitre, had been bumped upstairs. Now Commodore Lemaitre had taken Commander Bagworth, her XO with her to CruRon 74 as her new flag captain. That had left Helen as senior officer aboard the superdreadnought as it entered yard hands for a refit with the latest inertial compensators that BuShips was producing thanks to the breakthrough the Graysons had developed as well as the new FTL comms.
While they hadn’t (yet) gotten as great a performance boost out of the new technique as the science said they should be able to get, when Bessy’s refit was done, she’d be the fastest Superdreadnought in the entire galaxy. The yard dogs were fairly certain that Bessy would be able to hit 440 g’s of acceleration at 80% military power… making her a full 36 gees faster than her sisters, and 33 g’s faster than the Havenite DuQuesne Class. Of course, they hadn’t exactly tested her yet… That was Solace’s job, now wasn’t it?
“Thank you, ma’am,” Helen said. “Sorry to leave you shorthanded, as it were.”
“Nonsense. I’d hardly begrudge anyone their first cruiser command. Why I remember mine as if it were a century ago,” she smiled. “But I suppose I should read myself aboard?”
“It’s your ship, Captain,” the commander said.
Solace did, then had Helen accompany her to her new quarters. “We’ve got you for three more weeks, is that right?”
“Yes Captain,” the junior officer agreed. “Any idea who’ll be replacing me?”
“As third or executive?” Solace asked.
“Both, I guess?”
“Ray Chatterjee will be my operations officer. He’s solid. Frances Yeargin will be XO. I’ve heard good things about her. We’ll have to see how she does. I understand your husband is on the refit crew?”
“Anton? Yes. He’s from Gryphon too.”
“Is my accent showing again?” Solace asked, laughing.
“Oh, no ma’am,” Helen rushed to explain. “I’ve studied your record. You’re fairly famous.”
“Infamous, more like,” Solace grumbled. “Don’t see Admiral Alexander getting a silly nickname like ‘The Anvil’.”
Helen chuckled, “True. But I’ve heard that some people are calling Captain Harrington ‘Hellride Harrington’.”
“Oh… That’s terrible,” Solace said. “I hope that doesn’t get back to Honor.”
“You know Captain Harrington?” the commander asked, evidently intrigued.
“We were at Command School together,” Solace said, although that didn’t come close to explaining. “She’s Sphinxian, but we shan’t hold that against her, yes?”
“Let’s try this again, shall we Frances?” Solace asked, rubbing the bridge of her nose in frustration. Four times they’d tried bringing the ship up above three hundred gravities… and four times the wedge had flickered… and died. At least the last time hadn’t (miraculously) blown a single beta node. After being towed back to HMSS Weyland, the yard dogs had promised that this time they’d finally figured out the problem.
Of course, they’d said the same thing the first three times.
“Yes ma’am,” Commander Yeargin said, crossing her fingers and signalling to helm, “Fifty percent, Mister Chakrabarti.”
Solace wanted to fidget. They’d been at this for six weeks and the new compensators that had been installed in new build construction had worked fine. So why weren’t they working in Bessy’s case. Each test was a monumental pain, what with having to unload everyone non-essential from the massive superdreadnought, and the stress of knowing that those who remained aboard stood an uncomfortably high chance of just turning into paste if the compensators failed instead of the wedge… which was why the wedge had interlocks that took it down instantly if the compensators moved even slightly out of tune.
What made it all the more annoying was that the rep from the Jankowski Cartel, Fitzwalter Comeuppance, was exactly as pompous and supercilious as his name suggested. He’d been on the station for the first three attempts, but the Cartel had, after being yelled at by BuShips for the repeated failures and looking at potentially losing the refit contracts to Andros-Brandyne or Dempsey, demanded that their rep be allowed to oversee the testing personally. Thus she simply couldn’t kick him off her bridge. Not that that would have freed her of pompous gits.
As bad as Fitzwalter was, Lt Commander Simon Chakrabarti was, if anything, the worst human being she’d ever served with… and that was including Edward Janacek, Elvis Santino, and Pavil Young… sometimes all at the same time. He was as conservative as Janacek, as lazy as Santino, and as convinced of his own superiority as Young… and he was a primping popinjay who thought he was god’s gift to humanity. An inveterate name-dropper, he would go on at length to tell you what person X had happened to have said at party Y that he’d been invited to by his good friend Lord Z… and his hair product, technically not against regulations (she’d checked) made Naomi sneeze. Thankfully, human noses couldn’t smell it particularly well (hence why it wasn’t against regs), not even genetically engineered ones like Solace’s (to her it smelled ever so slightly of copper-tainted motor oil). To Ruth, it was unpleasant, but to Naomi it made the ‘cat want to murder her helmsman every time he walked past her command chair.
“Fifty percent aye,” Simon said. “We are at two-seven-zero g’s and holding.”
Solace had all the repeaters that would normally be giving battle-readouts feeding her engineering status reports, and not for the first time, she cursed Sonja Hemphill for stealing Lucas Janacek. Of course, an Admiral outranked a Captain, and a slot on the Weapons Development Board, even as an adjunct, looked a lot better on a CV than tactical officer or assistant chief engineer of an SD. “How do things look on your end, Fitz?” she asked.
“Five-by-five here, Ma’am,” came the report from the civilian at ops, which was normally Simon’s slot. “Recommend we go to fifty-five percent and see how the interface-couplers are holding up.”
“Agreed. Helm? Make it so.”
“Aye ma’am, increasing acceleration… coming up to two-eight-zero g’s… two-nine-zero g’s… two-nine-five… two-nine-six… holding steady at two-nine-six.”
“Fitz?” Solace asked, leaning forward… there was something…
“I’m not seeing any problems,” he said, voice slightly slurred and Solace almost missed it when his emotions flattened out completely. A moment before, he’d been hyper focused… now he was too calm. “Recommend we go to Fifty-Six percent.”
“Fifty-six percent, aye,” Simon replied without waiting for her order.
Without knowing why she did so, she instinctively snapped “Belay that order, helm!” She was staring at the readouts… what had she seen… what?
“Captain?” Commander Yeargin asked, but Solace ignored her.
“Engineering… what’s the status of the safety interlocks?” Solace asked, trying to remember… and then it clicked. There was a pattern to gravitic waves, a pulse that flowed through a ship underway. You could feel it if you lived with it for long enough, just at the edge of awareness. It was like the beating of your own heart… and each ship had its own feel at each speed. On Atalanta, with her hugely powerful wedge and tiny hull, Solace had been able to peg the ship’s acceleration to within three gravities. On Bessy, so massive, so ponderous… so new to Solace’s senses? She could barely feel the difference at ten times that range… but 10% military power was nearly twice that again… and the feel was viscerally different… so why had the interlock readings registered almost no change?
“We’re showing green across the board, Captain,” Commander Angelica Collins, her Chief Engineer, replied. “Are you seeing something we’re not?”
Solace opened her mouth to reply, then twitched as a feeling of panic began to radiate from Fitzwalter. She looked over at the man, then saw his face. He looked white as a sheet as he reached towards his control panel. Her eyes focused in almost slow motion as she realized that he was about to override the helm, and, almost languidly, she reached out, grabbing the data tablet out of her XO’s hand and, snapping it forward, frizbee’d it right into the ops console, which, as it was designed to do, sparked and died as the fuses within it registered damage and killed the power before someone could get hurt.
“Collins. Kill the wedge now!” she snapped, leaping from her seat and grabbing the Cartel rep by the neck before he could even finish rising from his seat. He was far too heavy, and she was far from her best, and his wild haymaker came at her too fast for her new muscles to dodge. Still, she was far tougher than he was and she took the blow to her face without flinching, then rammed her left hand, the one that had survived the accident intact, into his solar plexus, driving the wind from him and cracking his breast bone.
“Get security here now!” she commanded… then swore. “Damn it. I know Frances, we don’t have security right now. Well, get me whoever we’ve got and tell them to pull every damned compensator interlock on the ship and go over them with a fine tooth comb… and tell Weyland we need a tow and to get some marines out here ASAP… and someone from BuShips and Jankowski and the Judge Advocate General. Tell them we’ve got a saboteur… and that I’ve got a black eye… and I think I broke my wrist.” She swore as her right hand dropped the wheezing rep to the deck and pain lanced up her arm. “Can someone get me some… oh… good… I’m going to pass out now.”
And she did. Thankfully, Simon Chakrabarti was there for her to land on… but that was only because he’d been too slow to get out of the way, and not because he’d actually tried to catch her.
“Well, that was hideously embarrassing,” she commented six hours later as Patricia Givens, HMSS Weyland’s NavInt Chief, entered her office. “Sorry to drag you out of bed, Admiral… and please excuse my not standing… my medical officer wants me in bed… says I’ve been pushing myself too hard and have a concussion… ridiculous of course.” she could barely see out of her right eye and what she was seeing out of the left was slightly out of focus… and her right hand was in a pressure cast. “Be right as rain in a day or so…”
“You were right. The interlocks were rigged to fail.”
Solace nodded. “I figured. The loss of Bessy would, what? Put the entire refit operation back… a year?”
“At least. Yes. We caught Miss Comeuppance and Commodore Donovan Michaels… he’s Fitzwalter’s counterpart on the navy side, if you can believe that shit… trying to transit to Trevor’s Star on a Solarian Cruiseliner.” Patricia looked royally pissed. “What we can’t figure out is why Fitzwalter was going along with it. It makes no sense. No outstanding debts, pitiful life insurance… he’s not sick. No red-flags for security. Jankowski’s people are having a shit fit.”
“I think he was conditioned,” Solace said.
“What?” Givens asked, eyes narrowing dangerously. “Why do you say that?”
“Civilians aren’t given the same treatments we are. The anti-torture, anti-suborning ones. I know because Andros-Brandyne has been doing just that since right after that attempt was made on my life before I headed off to Midgard. I proposed a bill in the commons to have it be required for all military contractors, but Highridge and his cronies said it was an assault on business, and New Kiev said it was ‘Inhumane’… and that asshole Houseman told the press that I was paranoid and had no eye for business and that I should leave such things to my wife.”
Givens chuckled. “You’re not married… why is that?”
“Dunno… never came up really,” she shrugged, then ground her teeth against the pain. “Never really needed to formalize our relationship that way, I guess.”
“Maybe she’s just waiting for you to ask,” Pat suggested.
“Can we please talk about the saboteur and not the status of my lovelife?”
“Sure. Well… we’ll look into it… this isn’t going away… do you think you can get Bessy back on her feet?”
“Can I bring in some of my people from AB?”
“Officially? I’m certain that BuShips would scream bloody murder, and Jankowski would do it double… but if they’ve got the right clearances… and it’s all under the radar, I’ll bet Morris Jankowski and Admiral Danvers will sign off on the… let’s call it a consultation.”
“Great… still can’t believe Jankowski outbid us for the compensator development.”
“Aww… poor dear, ABC doesn’t have enough government contracts?” Givens said, smirking. “Don’t you have enough to do with Ghost Rider?”
“That’s in development. And it’s a long way out.”
“You’ve got the contracts for Grendelsbane… and the FTL comms,” Pat pointed out. “I’m certain you’re not hurting for money… is Hauptmann worried yet?”
“They’re in shipping and consumer goods,” Solace pointed out.
“Yeah. sure… and ABC is just an electronics firm. All the Cartels are in everything these days.” The Admiral rose. “Anyway, get Bessy operational… fast.This isn’t official yet, but we know where you’re being sent.”
“Sent? Not Homefleet then?” Solace asked.
Givens shook her head.
“No. Parks has all the ships he needs… or at least all the ones we can spare. You’re going to Erewhon.”
Solace made a face. “Erewhon? With an SD? We don’t even have basing rights in Erewhon.”
“True… but ONI and the Foreign Office think that the President… or more accurately the heads of the five families… might be willing to sign on to the Alliance. We can’t station a fleet there… but we can station you there.”
“They’re used to backroom deals… and they know you. Officially, you’ll be assigned to the Henesy terminus defense force,” Pat said, and Solace snorted at the humor. The Henesy Terminus of the Manticoran Junction did have SDs. It had four of them, and they were four of the seven Samothrace Class SDs in the entire RMN… including HMS Samothrace herself. The Samothrace had been laid down in 1848, and was the fourth SD ever built by the Star Kingdom (after Manticore, Sphinx, and Gryphon of the Manticore Class). SD-04 (aka Sammy) was more advanced than Manny, Riddler, and Gerry, but they’d been refitted, as befitted the pride of the RMN. The Samothraces had been followed by the Sphinx Class (which had seen Riddler decommissioned so her name could be given to the class ship) which had been followed by the new Gryphon Class… which had laid Gerry to rest. Manny too was being stepped down by the end of the year… which would make Samothrace, Hercules, Theseus, and Perseus (as well as Jason, Daedalus, and Icarus which were stationed at Matapan) the oldest SDs in the entire RMN.
“So my official brief is to guard the backdoor… but my officially unofficial brief is to blow off Admiral Brubaker and take my shiny newish Sphinx Class baby to wow the families with just how much protection they can expect from us in exchange for basing rights?” Solace asked. “And Admiral Brubaker is okay with this?”
“Brubaker is… probably not going to be pleased, to be honest. And there’s going to be a pretty hefty whiff of corruption about the whole thing…”
“What do you mean?” Solace asked, frowning. “This is some underhanded intrigue shit, isn’t it?”
“Well… remember how you bribed Khan Industries?”
Solace frowned, then nodded in understanding. “You want me to hint that Andros-Brandyne might hire a few hundred thousand Erewhonese to build widgets?”
“That is part of the Alliance plan… yes?” Pat said, making it a question only in the rhetorical sense.
“Well then… I guess I’m off to wine and dine?”
“Something like that… oh… and please… take your bodyguards with you… they’re against regulations… but they make you look ever so corruptible.”
“Gee… thanks. Have they decided who’s going to take over Parks at ONI?”
“Not yet… why?”
“For your sins, Pat… I hope you get it.”
“Wow… way to be a friend… what did I ever do to hurt you?”
“You’re the bearer of bad news? You cheat at poker? Your nose is too short? I dunno… pick one. But you’re wasted out here at Weyland.”
Pat sighed. “Good luck… things are going to break here soon… you know that, right?”
“No… because I never get reports from a clandestine and possibly treasonous intelligence gathering apparatus which operates in no less than six star nations… and I never watch the news,” Solace grumbled, rubbing the bridge of her nose… then flinched. “Oww.”
“If it hurts when you do that,” Pat began.
“Yeah yeah… don’t do it… go away… and take Chakrabarti with you as a material witness. I honestly don’t care if I get him back before we leave for Henesy.”
Next: Crown of Stars – Part 4, Chapter 2
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