Thursday, September 20, 2012
Here's another chunk of A Terrible Majesty:
Kit caught up with her and took her hand. Vari looked down at their interlaced hands and back up at him.
“I'm with you all the way. You don't need to freak.”
“Thanks. How did you know?”
“You're kind of intense about this. It's not a bad thing—just remember to breathe. He isn't an ogre.”
“I don't know how to turn it all off. I feel in my gut that I'm right, but I still worry that it's possible people won't believe us.”
“Breathe. It'll work. Let's go.”
As they walked down the hall, Vari looked over at her brown-haired friend. “I could actually get to appreciate Aolian fungus if you're sharing it with me. Otherwise it tastes like iodine and rust.”
Kit laughed. “Now I'll make sure to bring it every time.”
“You really know how to win a girl's heart.”
“Yup. I'm cool like that.”
The captain was in his ready room, sprucing up. His orderly wasn't going to let them in, but the captain went around him. They all snapped to attention.
The captain lowered his bushy white eyebrows. “What can I do for you?”
Aairie and Treve hung back in the shadows of the hall. Probably hoping nobody notices they're with me. At least they came.
Kit looked a question at Vari and then spoke up. “Sir, Ensign Faro has discovered an interesting anomaly that we, Ensigns Faro, Borchart, Allison, and I, feel needs to be addressed.”
The captain looked confused. “Isn't that a matter for Astrogation?”
Vari smiled at Kit and broke in. “Sir, we have gone to everybody we can think of in our various chains of command and no one will listen.”
“What makes you so certain you can come bend my ear, then?”
Vari gulped and plunged ahead. “Sir, we know that you would not want to risk your ship and the lives of your crew. We feel this anomaly poses a distinct threat, even though it's so far away. We have combed the read-outs exhaustively and come to some disturbing conclusions.”
The captain was silent for a few minutes, which seemed to drag out into an eternity. Finally, he finished washing his hands and wiped them on a towel. “I'll never let it be said that I don't listen to my crew—even ensigns right out of the Academy. So, I'll see you at 0500 tomorrow in my staff room, if you think it can wait that long. Bring any proof you have accrued. I'll get someone there to prove or disprove your theories. Dress Whites, people. This is a formal inquest. And don't think you can waste my time needlessly. I have a ship to run. Send me a note if you decide to change your minds.”
Vari didn't think it could wait that long, but Kit was already saying, “Thank you, Sir.”
“As you were. I'm certain you have things to do, as do I.” He turned away, effectively releasing them.
Vari felt as if she were about to vomit, and sprang for the outer walkway as if she were back on the dance floor.
“What's your hurry,” Kit asked her with a grin. “You got your audience.”
“Nerves. I need to get to a head. I'll meet you in Holo.” She barged off without waiting for a reply, making it to the head in time to empty all the contents from her stomach. She looked at herself in the mirror, seeing stark eyes staring fixedly out of a chalky face. You look scared to death, Faro. Get a grip. You're going up for an inquest and you have to win. Lives are at stake. She let the water run over her head and finally shook the droplets from her hair. There was almost no time for a shower and shine. You have work to do. Get to it.
“You alright?” Kit asked upon seeing her face outside the Holo room.
“Yeah. Why are you out here?”
“You never booked the room for this time. I've been wondering why you have so many pay chits to spend on this place anyway.”
She grinned dryly. “I don't spend my money on girls.”
“You and the knife in my back...what's that about?”
She laughed. “Someone's got to keep you hopping. Nobody else will tell you the truth.”
Treve and Aairie came up just then, stacks of read-outs in their hands.
“I thought we were meeting inside Holo,” Treve said.
There was a noise further up the passageway. The four looked up to see First Mate Vealit charging down the walk, his eyes full of poison.
“Which one of you do I have to thank for this?” he bellowed.
Kit turned to face him. “Sorry, Sir, to what are you referring?”
“I'm talking about the dressing down I just got for failing to address the concerns of my crew.”
Kit was an ice cube under fire. “I suppose you have yourself to thank for that, Mr. Vealit.”
Vari thought the little worm was going to have an aneurysm. His head turned purple and puffed up like an Orifractian puffer fish.
“How do you figure that, Mr. Beck?” he asked through clenched teeth.
“We, together and separately, tried to go up the chain-of-command to bring this information to the proper attention and it stopped with you every time.”
“That's because ensigns never have anything I need to address. Someone else takes care of their minor squabbles.”
“This is neither minor, nor a squabble, Sir.”
“That remains to be seen. And now you have me tied up in an inquest instead of allowing me to do the job they don't pay me enough to do. I'm going to make you four wish your mothers had sacrificed you at birth. I'm putting a reprimand in your files.”
“With all due respect, Sir, I ask you to withdraw such an action until you at least hear our case.”
Vealit crept right up to Kit's chest and poked him on the sternum. “All due respect? Don't make me laugh. You've got as much respect for me as for a Scaprian pole dancer.”
Kit smiled lazily. “Oh no, Sir. I have a great deal of respect for pole dancers. They at least have some talent for their job.” As soon as he said it, Kit snapped his mouth shut and turned beet red.
You're going down for that one. Stupid Kit! What have you done? He was gunning for you before he even came down this hall! And we need you! Vari stepped imperceptibly in front of him and clenched her teeth.
Vealit's eyes slitted over a feral glint. “Got you.” He quirked a mirthless smile and called over his shoulder, “Security!”
The boys in green must have been waiting just around the bend. They stomped past Vari, bracketed Kit, and hauled him off to the brig, protesting as he went.
Vealit turned back to the remaining three. “I suppose we'll see you three brain-deads at 0500 tomorrow. Until then you've got extra duty. See your respective commands. Spit spot.” He fluttered his hands at them and then turned on his heal and strode off down the passageway the way he'd come.
Treve was chalky with fear. “What have we done? Now we'll never get leave. He'll have us scrubbing heads 'til our children's children are old.”
“I don't think so,” Vari said quietly. “What we bring to this meeting will rock us right out of his tiny brain. Just make sure you have everything and there's nothing wrong with your Whites.”
Aarie was crying softly. “That's if we have any time between now and then. Sounds like Vealit's cooked us.”
“Well I know one thing. I'm going up to Lieutenant Beck's bunk room and getting his Whites squared before I report. He's not going to look like a criminal when we go in, whatever Vealit tries to pull.” Vari clenched her jaw and glanced between the others. “We're already in the thick of this, so don't back out. It'll come right in the end. You'll see.”
“You think we'll have time to gather data later?” Treve asked.
“I don't know. I'd do as much as I can before reporting, if I were you.”
Treve nodded and the two set off to fetch data.