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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Imperial Destiny Page 20

     When Prallan returned to his quarters, the lights were all out and Lily was in bed.  He apparently was not quiet enough entering the room, because she spoke without moving from the bed.  "I'm so angry at you."

     "This situation has put me in a bad position.  If I do nothing, then discipline breaks down.  This is an alternative."

     She turned on the light and glared at him. "You could have ignored it.  You could have let this slide."  Her face was red and puffy, showing that she had been crying.  "You chose to treat your wife like this instead of considering the alternatives."  She shut the light off.  "Maybe you should sleep somewhere else.  I wouldn't want you to associate with an insubordinate crewman like me."

     "Lily...."  Prallan said.  "I can't go back on it now.  I had no idea what to do.  I'm so unprepared to handle this situation."  He sat on the bed.  "We can work through this.  We can figure out how this needs to be handled."  He touched her thigh, and she shifted away from him.

     "Go away."  She said.

-----------

     Prallan sat in the officer's mess, staring out the viewport at the barren planetoid.  "Trouble sleeping?"  A voice said from behind him.  He turned, and saw Itran standing in the doorway.

     "This is a bad situation.  I will be able to sleep in about ten hours, when we are clear of this rock."

     Itran sat down in a chair across from him.  "Assuming the inducers work, yes."

     "Why wouldn't they?  Its sound engineering."

     "Sir, we both know what is going on here.  I'm not certain the Captain knows, but I do.  The fact you confined your wife to quarters and are here instead of there means you know it too."

     "Lieutenant, I'm not certain what you mean."

     "Your wife's father is a lead scientist in a field of study that interests me.  It so happens that the theoretical work that is the building block of the experimental piece of equipment being hooked up and tested right now is a frontier of propulsion.  In the standard testing and production cycle, even assuming a full out war was in effect, it would be five years before the first prototypes would be put together.  Ten years before something workable was in production.  Triple that timeframe for a peaceful era."

    "I'm going to tell the Captain exactly what has happened once we are safely off this planetoid.  Until then, there's no point."

     "You should release your wife from her confinement.  Release her to her duties at least, Engineering could use her expertise to ensure we do get off this planetoid."

     "I'm going to recommend Engineering for the Silver Technician's Badge.  Everyone who worked on the inducer idea except Lily.  I cannot recommend her, because it is a conflict of interest."

     "I will recommend her, then.  I have no such conflict."

     "She doesn't report to you, except through the default chain of command.  I can do it, and her department head can, but nobody else except the Captain.  I doubt he will be pleased with me, or willing to reward anyone on the team that deceived him like this."

     Itran smiled.  "Things will work out, sir."  He stood.  "I should get to the bridge."

     "Unless there's a subordinate around, just call me Prallan.  You only have to call me sir by a freak accident of timing.  In another universe, I'd be calling you sir for the rest of my career."

     "Si....Prallan, I don't think for a minute you wouldn't have surpassed me at some point.  I'd rather it be by a freak accident than by clear differences in skill.  Nothing is worse for a superior than to have a junior officer surpass them, especially through a test of combat."  He walked to the door.  "It's Jules Itran, sir, in case you did not recall from my file."


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