The Kraken and the Dark Sea, Chapter 3-4

Various folk return to the Empire. Diligent’s crew assembles.

Chapter 3.

House Qinvaris.

“I’m home!”

 Rosa ran out into the hall to greet her daughter. “You have returned, Alinis. Where is Fire?”

“He went to the Faery kingdom. He wants to drop his things off and check in with Charlie and Ayen.”

“I understand that you had some interesting things happen.”

“We weren’t on the Plateau.”

“That wasn’t the only thing that was interesting. Did you make progress on your quest?”
“Mother do you have spies watching my every move? Yes I did. Not as much as I wanted, but I did find some things. The biggest issue was getting the books in order and the fact that the words for things are different.”

“Tell me what you and your study group got up to. I do hope that you invited them to come up.”
“I did, at least to Ishendell. I will set up a five day at the villa.”

“You will have to schedule that with Hagre. Your father is having a big meeting, since the seeding is done and there are other things going on. Right now, we have the Conclave.”
“Don’t remind me. I’m stuck, aren’t I?”

“Yes. We don’t have the park this time and I’m not expecting you to go all out, since we aren’t making a statement this time.”

“I did send some things that should get here soon. What are Uncle Denny’s kids doing?”
“They were all busy and the Conclave just came up. Why don’t you get together in the morning and see what you can do.”

“Who took the park?”
“The Umevan did. Naertho is setting up that circus that Jorge put together and some other things that he uses to sell electricity to places that don’t have it. There is a House that has returned, the Silverin as well.”

“A House returned?”
“They were cast down. You know some of the principles already, that being Tad and Immianthe.”

“Was that something the Empress did?”
“Somewhat. The large need was to have a House responsible for the Sanctuary, now that it was part of the Empire again.”

“I’m not sure that putting Tad and Immianthe in charge is a good idea.”

Rosa laughed. “The same could be said for you all.”

Alinis’s father came in and said “I thought that heard a familiar voice. Where is Fire?”
“At the faery kingdom, daddy.”

“You stirred up a storm here when you came up and told us about the Scourging of Luggergate. Fortunately, things are starting to recover.”

“I hope so. The city burned for almost three five days. Fortunately Jorge and you sent protected fire equipment to the navy and they could deal with the worst fires. They are moving the camps used to house the evacuees from Chatsrey to near Luggergate to house the people that were evacuated.”

“How many people were evacuated?”
“Almost half. Captain Bronzerock’s brother managed it. He was in the city when the devise went off.”

“Then he is gone, then.”
“Yes. He was a hero and pushed people out when the devise was discovered. The FSA messed up.”

“Did my brothers give you reports?”
Alinis reached into the shoulder bag she was carrying and pulled them out. “Here are Uncle Tom and Uncle Bob’s reports.”

“Ok, I’ll go over them after we have our chat. How did your quest go?”
“I have some things I found.”

“We planted all the feral wheat you found, not just the plants you thought were Lyrei’s.”

“In Dan’s greenhouses?”
“In those, at the university’s farm and some more I had built.”

“New greenhouses? The university’s farm? ”
“Yes. I wanted the ability to do some of the things I was doing back in the Republic and since I could, I did. So tell us about the battle that Jorge and that termite mound character were having. Is it over?”
“Daddy, I think so. I didn’t see a lot of the battle because I was busy. I told you about the party down in Desert Howl over Winterfaire. Once the flap over the paper died down, the thing with the villas in Ishendell started. You would know more about that than I would.”

“How did Miss Gilders become involved?”
“That had to do with her getting an expensive Fylson toy for her birthday, Fylson cutting the family off and Suzy chasing Jorge down to talk with him about that. Somebody on the Plateau spotted Suzy leaving, arranged to have her picked up by some procurers and Swifty rescued her. Swifty told us the story the night he did that when Jorge dropped him off at grandmother’s. Uncle Bob took Swifty to school the next morning and scared a FSA agent.”

Tarranth came in and said, “There you are, Alinis. Couldn’t you have come a bit earlier?”

“Why?”
“Renna and I have been stuck with the Conclave.”
“Where are Nalaea and Jhaerithe?”
“Jhaerithe is at the Hidden City with Gar. Dan and Rene are getting married at the reunion, and Nalaea and Roger are having their wedding at the end of the reunion. They are not back from the Fellowship either.”

“I brought some things up and Uncle Taeren is coming. Thanks to Luggergate, I couldn’t convince Uncle Tom to loan us an airship.”

Richard looked at his daughter and said, “What were you planning with the airship?”
“I was thinking of having us jump out and perform the Phoenix dance. We could still do it with airplanes, but we haven’t had a chance to practice for a long time.”

“We could find dancers to do that, dear,” Rosa said. “I like the idea. I would take it to Resod first.”

“I will. I thought that this would probably be the last time that we could do the dance since we all are either already married or have weddings coming up.”

“Nimue and Sylvar are coming, so why don’t you dress for dinner, Alinis. We want to hear all about the things going on.”

The Umevan Estate.

Fylson was waiting as Jorge and Shael came into the great hall. “You have returned, Jorge. How did things go at the end?”
“I think that I did ok. I probably overdid things at school. On the other hand the portal classes went well and I made some friends.”
“The friends are the important thing.”

“Why are you here, father?”

“My father suggested that I come up from time to time, I think that since the estate is already here, that I should build a manufactory here and keep the shop in the Lower City dedicated to the more expensive things. The Beinan’s have been talking about a foundry, Freywick with the railroad is next door, some people need work and I have the folk here as well.”

A man walked up and Fylson said, “Jorge this is Renald Tincutter. Renald, this is my son, Jorge.”

“Lord Umevan that is. Your reputation precedes you.”

Jorge grinned. “I made that big an impression?”

Fylson looked at them and said, “You know each other, don’t you?”

“Renald is a graduate of Ironton and was an advisor to the prank committee, since he was on last year’s prank committee. He was also recommended by some friends when I was putting something together.”
“I don’t think that I want to know.”

“I didn’t involve you at all, father, directly.”

“I think that it did, and that you were almost as bad as Derry where that was concerned.”
Renald looked at them and said, “What’s going on?”
“Dad must have been talking to Susan Gilders more than I thought. Derry Gilders was going after people over a paper that I wrote and he plagiarized and I pulled that prank that you know about. Father is taking me to task because I could have hurt your family’s business, my father’s business and perhaps the family’s business.”

“Just so that you understand some things, Jorge,” Fylson said.

“Father, I did not do that lightly. If the termite mound types were looking at me, then they were not messing Rob and Admiral Harper up. I could just leave and that would have been the end of it. In any case, the termites don’t like the family anyway.”

“I know some of that. My brother ran for Senate and almost upset some things.”
“Yes he did. Jhaan and I had a long conversation about that. Renald, you must have convinced your mother that the Empire was safe.”

Renald laughed. “I’m supposed to be on the beach in Ishendell right now. I went to the Lower City and wanted to see the shop. Then your father wanted my advice on a place up here.”

“My grandfather will like that. We have a lot of trained people here now and need things for them to do.”

“They aren’t just slaves?”
“Most of them are, but that doesn’t mean that they can just work in the grape vines and fields. Fortunately we have enough things for them for a very long time.”

“I think that a lot of people want the folk here to work in the grapes.”

“There is that. Fortunately I can leave that to the experts. Shael will set you up, more than likely.”

“What are you going to be doing now that you are home, Jorge?” Fylson asked.

“Against my better judgment, Shael and grandmother are arranging for some recent graduates to come up here for a hunt and I am forced to go along.”

“Renald, you are invited,” Shael said.

“I did not bring a rifle.”
“Arrangements can be made for that. Jorge does not have one either.”

“You don’t, Jorge?”
“Renald, up until recently I was a city boy in the Lower City, then I was working for the Portal Service and while Adiun made sure that we could shoot, I was not in a position to purchase a rifle of my own. Then I have been here, at the Portal Service and keeping people from killing cities or inflicting Innanimates on villages and farms. None of which required me obtaining a rifle. I probably should have mentioned that I did not have one before Winterfaire, but the matter never came up. So I do not have a rifle of my own. We could pop down to Innshys and shop.”

“Where is Innshys?”
Fylson laughed. Jorge said, “It is a town right on the border with the Fellowship. Through a series of accidents, the town became the gateway town to the Empire from the Fellowship and the portal gateway to the Sanctuary. It’s next door to Fayspire in the Fellowship and has a market where you can get just about anything. I’m probably going to regret this a bit, but Shael, why don’t we go there for lunch and show Renald around.”

Shael smiled. “That sounds like a wonderful idea. Renald, we must find some things for your mother.”

Chapter 4.

RNS Diligent

Roger had all ten of the half inch machine guns on deck and was checking all of them to make sure that they functioned and had double spares for all parts. He had started a list of the things that were not already there with the chief, as they tore down each gun and made sure that they worked. The chief was looking over Roger’s shoulder and said, “Our adjuncts have arrived.”

“What?”
“We take adjuncts on our voyages over the summer. These are boys that have already been accepted to the academy and are getting a taste of the navy before induction. They will be your responsibility.”

Roger groaned. “As junior officer and gunnery.”

“That’s about it. We get the adjuncts and not the middies, since we fly canvas. I think that the old salts want the boys to learn the real navy.”

Wearing a rather rumpled uniform, the captain joined them and said, “I see that the chief has told you of one of your other jobs, Ensign.”
“I wasn’t told about this.”
“You have been busy doing your primary job.”
“Do you have their folders?”
“I do. Some of them are rather strange. Most of them are, actually. Why don’t we greet them?”

Roger followed the captain and seeing two of them, he groaned. The two looked sixteen or seventeen and both of them had the same look that Tim Wavechaser did, including the marine uniforms. At least they didn’t have the buttons he was sure they had on their everyday uniforms. Both boys were grinning at him. Three more were dragonkin. The other five were probably from the bowers. The grinning captain took their salutes, and said, “Ensign Seachaser will handle your boarding details. Ensign, you have your charges.”

  Roger saluted, turned to the adjuncts and said, “I am Ensign Roger Seachaser. If you say here, as I call out your names, we can get you settled in quarters. Swiftfire Cutflame!”

“Here, sir!”

“Marlin Delphine!”

“Here, sir!”

Ediarc Eastsky!

“Here, sir!”

Brilbun Flamefire

“Here, sir!”

Teonag Flamefire

“Here, sir!”

Jon Goldfinder!”

“Here, sir!”

“Gar Huttins!”

“Here, sir!”

“Barral Ironshield!”

“Here, sir!”

“Jaral Tollings!”

“Here, sir!”

“Jim Wavechaser.”

“Here, sir!”

“Welcome to RNS Diligent. This is a research and survey vessel for the navy perfoming survey and charting duties as well as collecting weather and sea life information. I can be easy to deal with. I just have one rule. Don’t be an idiot. As an ensign that is my job. Now let’s get you to quarters and then I will hand you over to the chief for some tasks that will probably be rather boring, but necessary to get us to sea.”

Roger got the adnjuncts settled, handed them over to the bosun, finished the machine gun inventory list and then went to the captain’s office. He knocked and said, “Ensign Seachaser sir.”

“Come in, Ensign. You seemed to have a clue what was going on. Take a look at the folders and tell me if you see any surprises.”
The captain handed the folders to Roger and Wavechaser’s and Goldfinder’s were what he expected. He looked at the captain and said, “I really shouldn’t say anything, but the two sand rats were part of Major Tolling’s unit. I had a rather embarrassing encounter with Mr. Wavechaser’s brother.”
“Is that what put you on my deck?”

“Probably, sir. I screwed up badly.”

“You apparently resolved things.”

“Tim and I had a common enemy in the bladderball fun and games and we talked a bit about some things. In any case, the boys will be good marines.”

“What about the two Flamefire boys?”
“I don’t know, other than they apparently served in airships.”

“So, Major Tollings and Captain Bushbury. Have you met the major?”

“Yes, sir.”

“What do you think?”
“Smart, dedicated, very good to his people and as sneaky as they come.”

“Is his reputation exaggerated?”
“That depends. Is he crooked? I can’t say. Is he good at his job? He’s very good. Mr. Wavechaser calls him the “best marine,” and the major has the tin to back that up. On the other hand, he’s been through a lot. His taking out the Blight factories was a bit of a suicide attempt, I think, but he came out on top. He saved the Queen of Vestia’s life and she was a landdragon at the time.”

The captain grinned. “Mr. Wavechaser’s brother had stories didn’t he?”
“Not just him. The major’s wife does as well. So does his sergeant.”

“How did you run into them?”
“After Luggergate, I had to help set up a birthday party with the Great Captain for Captain Bronzerock’s nephew.”

“Why?”

“That was the deal that the captain made with his brother for a barge that sank. The captain’s brother was killed in Luggergate and I helped Mrs. Bronzerock and Mrs. Tollings set it up.”

“You could have ignored that.”

“Yes we could, but the major insisted and so did the captain.”

“How did you get the Great Captain to cooperate?”
“Mrs. Tollings knows some ladies that have connections to the Great Captain. It wasn’t very hard, because the Great Captain likes kids and showing off anyway.”

“Where does he live?”
“That I am not going to tell you. First of all the people there like the Great Captain and two, there are people I do not want mad at me. The Great Captain is on that list.”

“He doesn’t have a ship.”

“His brother does, and his brother is where we are going.”

“I think that you should get back to your duties, ensign. Dismissed.”

“Leaving, sir.”

As Roger returned to the deck, the bosun said as he passed, “And here come the other problems.”

Roger looked up the dock and there were cabs and three trucks. He turned and said, quietly, “The contractors?”
“Yes. It looks like three from Beinan’s and two from Chatsrey. The other five are probably from Beltain again, unfortunately.”

“So what are they doing?”
“There’s Lieutenant Fishchaser, so why don’t we join him and find out.”

Lieutenant Fishchaser had a clipboard in his hand and said, “I have your cabin assignments here.”

That started a squabble as the botanist and marine biologist were insisting on cabins of their own and the botanist’s assistant did not want to share with young Wavechaser from Beinan’s. Folas Bronzecaster looked at the four from Beltain and said, “What is your problem? Balthasar and I are doubling up and we are going to have to maintain the RDR. So we have to share space with our spares, at least some of them.”

“I don’t have a problem doubling up,” Alre Ironaxe said with a grin, looking at Bill. “Mr. Wavechaser looks like good company.”

 Lieutenant Fishchaser looked at him with thanks and said, “That still leaves two bunks short if Ironforge and Cutter insist on having cabins to themselves. Can’t your assistants share cabins with you?”
“Absolutely not!” Ironforge bellowed.

Roger pulled Wavechaser and Ironaxe over and said, “I have two spare bunks with the adjuncts. Mr. Wavechaser, do you Swim?”
“Unfortunately I do not.”

“How did you manage that?”
“With some effort and a plane trip. If it will keep these idiots happy, I will take the bunk with the adjuncts.”

“I will as well, if I can have space for a bench,” Ironaxe said.

“I will see what I can do for you two. You two are getting the short end of things.”

Roger went to Fishchaser and said quietly, “I have two spare bunks with the adjuncts and Wavechaser and Ironaxe are willing to take them, sir. They do want bench space.”

 Fishchaser looked at the pair in thanks and said, “I shouldn’t make this concession and quarters may change in the future, but Scholars Ironforge and Cutter can have individual cabins for the time being. Wavechaser and Ironaxe have agreed to share the adjuncts’ cabin with them. Of course that means that Scholars Ironforge and Cutter, we are going to have to make accommodation for Wavechaser’s and Ironaxes’s needs in the lab space and you will have to make do.”

Ironforge looked at the lieutenant and said, “You are cutting my space?”
“I have to. Wavechaser and Ironaxe need space for their work and they will not have that in their cabin like I had planned.”

“Why is that boy coming anyway? He can’t make a real contribution.”

Folas looked at Ironforge and said with a sneer, “That boy has patents already in RDR development and more pending for other work. He knows all the various RDR sets backwards and forwards. He has done much of the work on the Mark IV RDR. I doubt that his contributions will be insignificant. In any case, he is in charge of fabrication and the bench.”

“That boy knows that much about classified equipment?”
“He grew up with it. His father is responsible for discovering RDR in the first place. So he has a deep background in RDR.”

The squabbling continued as six sailors marched down the dock. Chief Mattinger said quietly, “There’s my bunch.”

He stepped forward and a sailor with petty officer’s stripes and a Coxswain’s badge stepped forward and said, “Petty officer Wavechaser and party reporting chief!”

“Hand me your orders.”

Wavechaser did and the chief looked at them. He handed them to Roger and said, “The captain will want to see this.”

“What is it?”
“I hope that you cleared things up with your friend at the Academy.”
“Why?”
“We have two cousins and his brother aboard.”

Roger looked at the sheet, at the chief and said, “Are you sure?”

“I served under Captain Wavechaser a while back when they were first starting to get a hand on RDR before mounting it on the cruisers. He had three kids and two of them are here. You know about the other Wavechaser on board.”

“I cleared things up. Do you think that this was deliberate?”
“I’m not sure. Take this to the captain and let him know.”
Roger returned to the captain’s cabin and knocked. “Ensign Seachaser, sir. The bosun sent me.”

“Come in, Ensign. What did the chief want?”
“He wanted me to tell you that we have two more Wavechasers aboard.”

“Who are they?”

“William and Rodairc.”
“Those are probably Terrel’s boys. What did you think of them?”

“That is hard to tell sir? Bill seemed to be willing to not make waves very much. He and the Beltain astronomer accepted my offer of the two spare bunks in the adjunct’s cabin.”

“Why was that necessary?”
“The Beltain marine biologist and botanist insisted on having individual cabins.”
“This isn’t a luxury cruise, ensign.”

“Sir, my part was mentioning the available space in the adjunct’s cabin. Lieutenant Fishchaser made it clear that if Wavechaser and Ironaxe did not have bench space in their cabin, then they would have to take lab space to compensate.”

The captain grinned a rather evil grin. “Ensign, get together with Ironaxe, the Beinan people and our two meteorologists. They get lab 1 for everything they need. The others will have to share lab 2.”

“What are the differences?”
“Lab 1 is on the port side with the galley. Lab 2 is on the starboard with the mess.

 “Significantly smaller.”

“Yes.”

“What about the three Wavechasers?”
“I think that we will survive.”

“I will take that back to the lieutenant.”

“If you would.”

Roger returned to the squabbling as the Lieutenant was assigning equipment stowage. He quietly said, “Our elvish ladies get lab 2, everyone else gets lab 1. Captain’s orders.”

The lieutenant grinned. “We’ve been through this before. Are you done with ordnance?”
“Until we get to Ishendell, yes.”

“You found the stash.”

“Yes. I even have some people to make off with it. At least enough to fill our magazine.”

“That will make me more comfortable. Why don’t you help me with the circus?”

“Has any of this crew been with you before?”
“No. Our last group has decided not to return.”

Roger laughed. “Was it because of the fact that they were on the dinner table?”
“Actually, I think it was the fact that we opened fire on the monsters trying to eat us. The captain has told command that we will not be taking anthropologists on voyages going forward.”

Adjuncts Wavechaser and Goldfinder appeared and Wavechaser said, “Ensign, we asked around and you are in charge of weapons stowage. We need to have some guns stowed.”

“Personal firearms are not allowed aboard ship.”

“According to regs, marines can have personal firearms if they use service ammunition. Ours do.”

“Just what are we talking about?”
“We both have SR5s, I have a RS2 and Jonny a SC4.”

“SR5s? I didn’t think that those had been issued to troops.”

“These were special issue, sir. Mrs. Tollings arranged them through Ironaxe.”

“Why both a rifle and a submachine gun or carbine?”
“Sir, that is classified. “

“I think that we can fit them in the arms locker. Anything else?”

“We checked the arms locker and I’m hoping that you can sign this request.”

Wavechaser handed the request to Roger and he looked at it. “I’m not sure what half this stuff is.”

“It’s all in inventory, sir. We don’t have a lot of time, so the sooner the request gets going, the better. We can go through it when the things get here.”

“Why do you think that we need these things?”
“Sir, we heard a lot of scuttlebutt about the last voyage this ship made. I don’t think that we will run into enhanced or Transformed, but if we do and aren’t ready, things could get ugly. I’ve been through ugly and it isn’t fun.”

“Ishendell.”

“I’m not going to say that here, sir. You know my brother. I was there too, though I didn’t see the Darkmage eat Suzy. I would also tell the captain to make sure that he sends a copy of the report to the major. Transformed cannibals are a tell.”

“A tell of what?”
“The captain can get the report from the admiral if he doesn’t have it already. When we get to Ishendell, I will talk to the major about what happened.”

“Come with me and let’s get your things stowed.”

 Chief Flamechaser had already spotted the crate that had arrived with the two boys and taken it to the arms locker. Inside were the rifles, cased, the carbine and the submachine gun, also cased, along with two service pistols. The Chief had opened one of the rifle cases and said, “Ensign, these are things of beauty. Boys, who did you save to rate these, the President?”
“We haven’t done that yet,” Jimmy said. “We did save the queen of Vestia.”

“What happened?”
“The people who Scourged the five cities used the queen’s parents to make Inanimates to draw the queen out. The major stopped the queen, the snipers opened fire, my brother and Jonny shot the snipers and my squad got the ground team with grenades and submachine guns. It wasn’t much of a fight.”
“I hope that once we are at sea, I can beg a chance to shoot one of them.”

Jimmy grinned, “I wouldn’t want to deny you, Chief.”

Roger handed Jimmy’s list to the chief and said, “Chief do you know what this list means?”

The chief looked at it, at Jimmy and said, “Do you have authorization for this?”

“It’s there on the sheet, chief.”

“Some of this is Fellie and Kingdom ordnance.”

“There should be stock of all of it in inventory. If you can’t get something, we can correct that when we get to Ishendell.”

“Why Fellie grenades?”
“They have a bigger bang. That makes them heavier when you throw them, but if you are dealing with transformed or enhanced, that bang gets the job done, or at least makes the thing stop.”

“You have experience.”
“Too much in a very bad place. My brother has nightmares about snakes. Mine are large dogs.”

“Not wolves?”
“Wolves are honest. They don’t let themselves get turned mean. A dog, on the other hand, will. Then they have to be put down.”

“That sounds rather ruthless,” Roger said. “Tim didn’t say much about that.”

“Tim didn’t have the dog in his face. I did. Stormwolf and the rest of his mangy monsters. He didn’t know when to quit and eventually Tim put him down.”

“Let me take that list of yours to the captain.”

Roger knocked on the door and when the captain answered he said, “Ensign Seachaser, captain.”

“What is it this time?”
“Two of the adjuncts have a list and I wanted your opinion before I signed off on it.”

The captain opened the door. “What’s on the list?”
Roger handed it to him. “The chief says that some of the things on the list are Fellie or Kingdom. Adjunct Wavechaser says that everything on the list should be in inventory.”

“What is the adjunct afraid of?”

“Monsters coming to eat him.”
“Sign the list. That is a perfectly reasonable concern to have. Did he say why?”

“Mad dogs in Ishendell.”

“Did he say anything else?”
“He said that you should send the report of your last voyage to Major Tollings. Apparently monsters coming out of the woods is a tell for something bigger.”

“What do you think?”
“Sir, a lot of strange stuff happened in Ishendell and I don’t know what happened to you all. I would talk to the major about it in any case.”

“Since we are porting at Ishendell, handing the report over and maybe arranging a chat with the major is a good idea, since he knows the territory. I will send the report on and see what he says. Is that all?”
“Yes sir. I hope so.”

“I do hope that you are not in the habit of passing the coin.”

“No sir. The first time, I saw you, you wanted to go over the adjuncts’ folders with me, the second time the chief asked me to pass something discreetly and this time I was checking to see what you thought about overstocking the arms locker.”

“That was perfectly understandable. I know that some captains are sticklers for keeping things at what they are supposed to be. Most of them have never been in a tight spot. You don’t have to have me sign off on every little thing.”
“I haven’t sir. I arranged to have our main gun’s magazine and ready rack have their full load outs. We won’t get the munitions until Ishendell, but we will get them.”

“Excellent.”

Thank you sir.”

“Dismissed.”

Roger signed the authorization and sent it off. As he passed the adjunct’s quarters he heard an argument and poked his head in. “What’s going on?”

Bill Wavechaser and Swifty Cutflame looked at him and Swifty said, “I have an upper bunk and put my small portal in the locker that was empty. Bill is using it and needs space for his small portal.”

“You both have small portals?”
“We both took Jorge Umevan’s class and built them. So we both have one. Actually mine was a gift as I gave mine to my girlfriend.”

Roger looked at the rather plain wall in the cabin. “Can you hang them on the wall?”
Bill and Swifty looked at Roger, and then at each other and they both said, “Yes, we can do that?”

“Could you hang them in the shack? I know that you want them for private messages, but they could be an asset in an emergency. Why don’t we take them and see Sparky.”

Sparky looked at the boys, the portals and said, “Do you know how many times I wanted one of these. Who runs the class?”
“Beinan’s does,” Bill said.

“How did both you boys get to take the class?”

“Jorge Umevan taught it first down at Desert Howl where I live and then in Chatsrey where Swifty was keeping an eye on Jorge and taking the class.”

“You apparently know each other,” Roger said.

“We can’t talk about that.” Bill and Swifty said together.

“Is there a book on portals?” Sparky asked. “I’m electrician’s mate first class Harald Fishcatcher by the way. These will have a good home here. Do you have codes that are useful?”
“I have a list,” Bill said. “The admiralty has some small portals and I have a list of them, and some Beinan public portals. I suspect that Swifty has those too. There are some we aren’t going to give you, because they are private.”

“You both have girls.”

“Yes.”

Roger arranged for the Portals’ cases to be stowed and returned to Lieutenant Fishchaser.
 Fishchaser was saying, “Scholar Ironforge, I can’t help it that there is no room for references and office space in lab 2. We can clear out the extra bunk in your cabin and fit the desk and bookshelves in your cabin.”

“The bunk is too small. I was going to have an appropriate bed arranged.”

“This is a ship in the navy, not a bordello. You and Scholar Cutter refused to have your assistants share a cabin with you. That forced Scholar Ironaxe and Mr.Wavechaser to share bunks with the adjuncts. So they needed extra space in the labs and they have it.”

“They can give it up.”
“That isn’t your decision to make. Beinan’s is operating under contract, just as you are and they have given me their minimum requirements. As for Scholar Ironaxe, the navy wants what he is doing and I am not going to shortchange him for your double bed. You accepted the contract and the opportunity to research plant life in the north. We are not the Kugrim Chatsrey liner first class. With the exception of the captain, the rest of us are in tight quarters and doubling up. I made some concessions and now you have to make some adjustments.”

“I will be writing my uncle about this.”
“That’s fine. Maybe your uncle can get the navy new survey ships. But that doesn’t change a thing right now.”

“Why are the spaces so cramped? The ship seems large enough.”

  “The ship is carrying food, ammunition for our guns and other things that keep us alive.”

“Why does a survey ship need guns?”

“Because we sometimes have surprises. Didn’t anyone at Beltain have stories about the last voyage?”

“Unbelievable stories about cannibal monsters.”
“They weren’t lying. In any case, we are a ship in the Republican Navy and we have certain responsibilities that require certain things.”

“Very well, set up the desk and bookshelves.”

Fishchaser turned to Chief Dillings, who was apparently responsible for getting the scientists aboard and said, “Clear the extra bunk out and get a desk and book shelf requisitioned shoreside, chief.”

Bill said quietly, “Lieutenant, you don’t have to worry about Ironforge’s uncle. He has heart issues and isn’t actively voting for anything.”

The lieutenant looked at Bill and said, “We can chat about certain things later. I would get yourself cleared away.”

“Alre and I are done, lieutenant, except for getting his telescope mount fitted, which, since it isn’t here yet, we can’t do.”

“Are you helping Mr. Ironaxe with that?”
“Yes, lieutenant. We’ll get with you later after you deal with the others. I’ll go to my cabin now and catch up with Jimmy.” 

Rod got himself squared away, went over his duties with the bosun and then went looking for his brother. He found him and his cousin in their cabin chatting and said, “Bill, how did you end up here?”
“Hi Rod. Jimmy was asking the same question. Sit down and I will tell you.”

Bill went over the events of the last few moons and said, “Dad and Adiun wanted me out of sight for a while. I think that they don’t want me at risk and if the Chatsrey Radio people can’t find me, they can’t mess with me. So here I am.”

“Does Moonshine know?”

“Yes. She’s going home when we get there.”

“So we can have trips to the Empire. You both have been there, but I haven’t.”

“I think I made the Ensign nervous,” Jimmy said. “He did sign off on my requisition.”

“What was the requisition?”
“Things to make sure that monsters have a bad time.”
“That’s a good thing,” Bill said. “The Darkmage launched armies of them from the Sanctuary and there may be more places hidden where we are going.”

“What was the Plateau like?”
“Stifling. I can’t imagine what it takes to live there and the people are twisted. Our Senator is trying to steal my solid state technology for a consortium of radio companies.”
“What are you doing about that?”
“Grandfather and dad are handling it. I think I poked them a bit again at the science faire, but before that stuff was seen by anyone, I had grandpa file the patent. Actually it’s three patents. So they can’t just steal it and I broke things down anyway.”

“I just want a nice easy trip,” Jimmy said. “I won’t even bug the Ensign very much.”

“Why is that important,” Rod asked.

“When Tim started at the Academy, the Ensign was midshipman captain and started to go after Tim. Tim wasn’t bothered, but some other people were and someone inflicted Jorge on the Ensign.”

Rod laughed. “Then he will enjoy the trip too.”
 

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