Tuesday, November 21, 2017

For the Good of the Imperium (interlude)   

309-1106, Narmada, Imperial Autonomy District, Duke Darius Ingersoll’s Residence

-- from the personal journal of Dame Diana Sabatini

Well, I figured something like this would happen sooner or later.  It’s a hazard of being given responsibility, I suppose.  But, that doesn’t mean I’m particularly thrilled by this particular turn of events.

His Grace has made me part of the Imperial bureaucracy.  I’m to be aboard an Imperial Navy frigate in the morning with a full company of Marines heading for Rauma, where I will become the new Imperial Liaison for that world for the next five years.

I’m working through my third cocktail as I write this.  There will be time during the jump space transit to work on what I’ll need to do to clean house in the wake of Sir Richard’s scandalous term there.  Right now, though, I need something to kill the pain of the parting of ways.

Baronet Atopia was nervous when she and I were visited by one of Duke Darius’ aides shortly after the Moot Trial of Brice Caldwell was over.  The meeting wasn’t the usual sort of thing with the Duke, which are typically informal and quite pleasant.  I could tell from his demeanor that he was very upset from the revelations that had come out in the Moot – both Sir Richard’s corruption and the fact that members of the Peerage under His Grace were also part of the problem that had festered there.  I imagine he will get quite the earful when the reports on it all reach Duke Wymark’s desk on Belaya.

As for my part, if I can successfully complete this assignment, I should get a promotion and possibly a fief to go with it.  Given the Duke’s recent demeanor, I might inherit one in the District from one of the nobles implicated in the scandal.  But that’s one possible future, of course.

The present had me dealing with explaining to an eight-year-old girl why another one of her friends has to go away.  Olivia has already been forced to deal with the loss of her birth mother last year, and then Baron Harper’s departure just recently.  However, the idea that the Golden Dawn may be able to drop by for a visit in its travels made things a bit easier for everyone involved – but only a bit.

The good news for Atopia is that the Duke has promised to replace me with someone from his personal guard, so that the ship isn’t short a medic and tactical expert in my abrupt departure.  Whoever he assigns to the job had better be at least as good as me, which will be a difficult task considering all of his people are Army vets instead of Marines.

Okay, three cocktails are enough.  Time to hit the rack because Marine dawns tend to break earlier than most…

310-1106, Narmada, Red Sun City Starport

The dark-skinned woman saluted and bowed when Atopia stepped down the main cargo ramp to greet her.  “Your Grace,” said the woman as she extended her hand, “I am Colonel Cassandra Mutabe of the Autonomy Defense Force.  I have the pleasure of being assigned to your vessel at the request of His Grace, Duke Darius Ingersoll.”

Atopia shook the Colonel’s hand.  She noted that the woman had a strong, but controlled grip.  “With all due respect, Colonel, we don’t use ranks aboard the Golden Dawn.”  Atopia gestured for the woman to accompany her back up the ramp into the cargo hold.  “His Grace was kind enough to send a copy of your personnel file to me this morning.  As the ship’s medic, you’ll be rooming with Tabitha Nole, our missile turret gunner and information technologies expert.”

Cassandra cocked her head to the side at that.  “I wasn’t aware that I-T was an official position aboard a merchant ship, your grace,” she said.

“It isn’t, but with the type of work we have to do on behalf of the Imperium occasionally, it is nonetheless essential,” said Atopia as she turned and started ascending the flight of stairs to the middle deck. “I’m pleased you hold a Class IV rating in tactics – that may also be essential, since you are going to be ship’s tactical and security expert.”

They reached the top of the stairs and turned down a long corridor toward the engineering section.  “I will do my best, Your Grace,” replied Cassandra.

“You may have to do better than that,” said Atopia as she stepped into the engineering, pausing to waive at Hawk and Lisa as she made her way to another stairwell.  “You’re going to have pretty big shoes to fill in that department.  Plus, there’s one other small detail.”

Atopia paused at the top of the stairs.  “Whatever it is,” said Cassandra, who was still in the stairwell, “I’m sure I’m up for the task, Your Grace.”

Cassandra suddenly heard a young girl’s voice.  “Mommy!”  Atopia knelt and caught Olivia as she threw herself headlong into her arms.  Atopia smiled at the look on Cassandra’s face as she pivoted with the child in her arms.

“How are you at babysitting?” asked the baronet.

Army Colonel Cassandra Mutabe   6A77D4  Age 34
4 Terms, Rank 5, Cutlass, Cr 30,000
Tactics-4, SMG-3, Computer-1, Cutlass-1, Gambling-1, Ground Car-1, Leader-1, Medical-1, Revolver-1, Rifle-1, Vacc Suit-0

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