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Chapter Fourteen

 “It’s good to see the Skipper back home,” Ginger Lewis said as she and Ansten FitzGerald found themselves in a quiet corner of the spacious ballroom in the Landing townhouse. That townhouse, known as Three Oaks in honor of the Old Earth oak trees which had been planted on its grounds within the first decade after the shuttle Jason touched down (and which were green and standing to this day), had been a wedding present from Sinead Terekhov’s father and mother.

“Yes, it is,” FitzGerald agreed. “And it’s not exactly a hovel, either, is it?” he added.

He swept the flute of champagne in his right hand in a slight arc, taking in the entire ballroom which had been transformed into a banquet hall for the evening, and Ginger had to agree he had a point. The Terekhovs weren’t exactly paupers, but Sinead Patricia O’Daley’s family had been around a long, long time. During that time, it had long since passed from the “not-exactly-paupers” into the “next-best-thing-to-stinking-rich” category. And that, she conceded, was saying quite a bit, given Manticoran standards for wealth.

The ballroom, for example, measured the next best thing to forty meters on a side, and Three Oaks was located less than four kilometers from Mount Royal Palace on one of the most expensive parcels of real estate in the entire Manticoran Binary System. She didn’t even want to think what the townhouse’s beautifully landscaped, modest little six-hectare lot was worth on a square-meter basis. As for the house itself—!

She sipped from the champagne in her own hand and watched Aivars and Sinead Terekhov circulating gracefully through the throng. The dinner party had been Sinead’s idea. Ginger was pretty sure it had, anyway. And it constituted a significant sacrifice on her part, too. They’d arrived in system only late the previous afternoon, and the captain had been whisked straight off to Mount Royal Palace for a special audience with the Queen. Then there’d been the state banquet—and the endless speeches—afterward. They couldn’t possibly have gotten home before the wee hours of the morning! After all that, she wondered, how many women who so obviously loved their husbands would have given up their second night after his return from a year-long deployment for a chance to meet his officers and senior enlisted?

I’m astonished she didn’t just drag him off to bed and keep him there for at least a week, she thought with an inner grin. Don’t think she’d have gotten much resistance from him for that notion, either! Just look at the way they’re glued to each other’s sides. But if she’s faking all this happiness to see us, she’s an even better actor than she is a painter!

“No, not a hovel,” she acknowledged. “But I can’t think of anyone who’s done more to deserve it.”

“No argument from me,” FitzGerald said. “No argument at all.”

* * *

“You have a wonderful crew, darling,” Sinead Terekhov said when his subordinates granted her and her husband a fleeting eye of calm. “And I especially like young Helen…and Ginger.” He looked down at her, and she laid her left hand on his elbow. “She reminds me quite a bit of Nast’ka.”

“And me, of course,” he agreed quietly, covering her hand with his own. “They’re both quite extraordinary young women on their own, though.”

“Oh, I’ve already realized that.” She raised the empty champagne flute in her right hand, catching the eye of a liveried server, and smiled up at him. Perhaps there were shadows behind those eyes, but the hand on his arm squeezed gently. “And I doubt I could ever tell them, and all the rest of your people, how grateful I am to them for bringing you home to me,” she said very softly.

“Best crew God ever gave a captain,” Terekhov said, his smile only slightly crooked. “I guess you’ve heard me say that a time or two, but every time it’s been the truth. At least this time I brought more of them home, too.”

Her hand tightened on his elbow, and he made his smile relax. Then he bent to brush a kiss across her lips.

“Sorry,” he said. “And I really am in a lot better place than I was after Hyacinth, sweetheart. It’s just…hard. When I look at them, I can’t help thinking about all the faces I won’t be seeing again.” He shook his head. “I really wish you could’ve known Ragnhild Pavletic, for example.” Sadness touched his eyes. “She was special. But then, they were all special.”

Sinead started to reply, then stopped herself. The server had arrived, standing one diplomatic meter away until Sinead handed her the empty flute. The woman offered a refill, but Sinead shook her head with a smile. She watched the other woman filter away through the crowd with the seeming effortlessness of her profession, then looked back up at her husband.

“I know they were. I viewed every one of your letters about them at least half a dozen times, Aivars. And I only have to look at these people—” the hand which had held her champagne swept a brief arc “—to know how special they are. How could their shipmates have been anything else? Did you think someone who was born an O’Daley wouldn’t recognize that?”

“You know, I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you. Other than your good looks, money, and decadent aristocratic sensuality, that is.”

“‘Decadent aristocratic sensuality,’ is it?” She gave a delighted gurgle of laughter and her eyes sparkled, shadows banished. “This from the spacer who only comes planet-side once a year…unless it’s raining! Just where did you think all of that ‘decadent sensuality’ comes from, stranger? The heart isn’t the only thing absence makes grow fonder!”

“Odd.” He rubbed his chin, squinting his eyes in contemplation. “I never really thought absence had that much to do with it. Unless memory fails, back when I was a Foreign Office wonk with an office three doors down from your brother’s—you remember, back when I came home every single night?—there was the time you’d spent the entire day at Genevieve’s and gotten your hands on that pheremone-laced perfume. Not to mention that teeny tiny, lacy little—”

“Oh, shut up!” She smacked him across the chest. “You know perfectly well that was our anniversary! And don’t pretend you weren’t just as enthusiastic when there weren’t any pheremones involved!”

“Excuse me, young lady, but I never implied for an instant that I wasn’t just as decadently sensual. I only said that was one of the things that attracted me to you in the first place. Well, that and the fact that you’re as smart and talented as you are beautiful.”

“No wonder you were so successful on the diplomatic circuit!”

“No, not really. I was never able to tell straight-faced lies. It’s much easier when you can fall back on just telling the truth.”

He captured the slender hand which had smacked his chest and carried it to his lips. He pressed a quick kiss to its back, smiled deep into her eyes for a moment, then thought about how very much he loved her as he looked back out across the ballroom.

He would never in a million years have asked her to sacrifice his second night home to anything except the two of them, but she’d insisted. For that matter, she’d started planning it the moment the Navy gave her a definite arrival time for the ship.

The rush to assume command and get Hexapuma deployed on such short notice had prevented Sinead from hosting the traditional pre-deployment party, and she’d hated that. As the daughter of generations of naval officers, she understood the responsibilities of a Queen’s officer’s spouse only too well. Civilians generally failed to understand that for any married naval officer, his or her career was a partnership. That was true for any officer, but especially for any commanding officer. A captain wasn’t responsible solely for the men and women under her command. She was responsible for their families, as well. And because she—or, in Aivars’ case, he—couldn’t be there to tackle those other responsibilities, she had to rely on someone else, which was where her spouse came into it.

Sinead had never had time to meet the families of Hexapuma’s officers and enlisted personnel before she deployed, but she’d met all of them since. As the captain’s wife, she was the head of the Hexapuma Support Group, the network of family members which the RMN officially recognized. She was the one in charge of interfacing between the support group and the Navy in general…and BuPers and BuMed in particular. The one who arranged periodic gatherings and dinners for the ship’s dependents. The one who saw to doctors’ appointments, birthdays, kids’ school holidays, and all the thousand and one other details which inevitably cropped up as soon as a father or mother or a husband or a wife deployed. The fact that Hexapuma was such a new ship, with the reduced personnel made possible by the Navy’s adoption of far more automation—and far less manpower redundancy—than in any prewar design, had helped. In fact, Hexapuma’s crew had actually been smaller than Terekhov’s last ship, the light cruiser Defiant.

Which meant I had fewer condolence calls to make this time, she thought, her mood darkening again. God, why do you do this to him?! Wasn’t Hyacinth bad enough?

But then she gave herself a mental shake, reminding herself of how much she had to be grateful for. Unlike HMS Defiant, Hexapuma had survived, and this time the man she loved had come back to her without the bleeding wounds the Battle of Hyacinth and the brutality of a Peep POW camp had left in mind, heart, and soul. They were guaranteed a minimum of two weeks’ survivor’s leave before he had to report back to duty, too, and she intended to make him take every second of that leave, no matter how much he itched to get back to his ship to heal her wounds. And they were going to be a wonderful two weeks, because despite Monica, despite everything the universe had done to him, he’d come home whole and complete, with the demons of Hyacinth laid at last. And these were the people who’d brought him back to her.

Nothing she ever did could repay the men and women of his crew who’d survived with him and given him back to her. She knew none of them would ever think of it in those terms, any more than Aivars himself did, but that didn’t change what they’d done, where they’d been with him, and her eyes burned for a moment as she looked around the ballroom at the dress uniforms and the comfortable conversational knots.

“The best crew God ever gave a captain, I think you said?” she said now, reaching up to touch the side of his face. “And how did they get that way, Aivars Terekhov? I don’t suppose you had anything to do with it, did you?”

“Well, maybe it has been sort of a joint effort,” he acknowledged. “And I have to admit I’m nervous over how many I’ll be able to keep.” He shook his head. “I’ve been over the damages list with the yard dogs. It’s going to take a long time to complete our repairs, and you know how BuPers is about raiding ships on the binnacle list! They’ve already as good as told me Ginger’s going to be shipped off to Weyland, and God only knows what they’re going to do with Abigail. For that matter, Ansten’s due for his own command, and you know Cortez has to have a ship in mind for him. As soon as they actually let us dock her, they’re going to start poaching my very best people. And on top of that—”

“Aivars, shut up,” she said sweetly. He twitched and looked down at her sharply, and she shook her head. “You and I have been to this dance more than once, dear,” she said then. “You’ll deal with it, they’ll go on to other duties, and they’ll perform them just as splendidly as they did for you, because that’s the kind of people they are. And one day we’ll run into them again, when you and they are all disgustingly senior officers, and look back at this commission while you tell each other splendid lies about everything that’s happened since. It’s the way the Navy works. You know that as well as I do, and if you can’t take a joke—”

“—then I shouldn’t have joined,” he finished for her, and she nodded.

“Exactly. And while you may be the commanding officer of HMS Hexapuma, she’s not going anywhere at the moment and there isn’t a solitary thing you can do to make those repairs go any faster than the Navy’s going to push them anyway. So instead of dwelling on the inscrutable challenges of the future, why don’t you and I invite our guests to be seated so Master Karl’s henchpeople can serve?”

“You do have rather good ideas upon occasion, don’t you?” He smiled. “And this is one of them.”

He linked one arm through hers and led the way out to the center of the huge room. Heads turned and eyes tracked them, and the background murmur of conversation died as he raised his free hand.

“It’s just been pointed out to me by higher command authority,” he said easily into the silence, “that you were all invited here to eat. And those of you who know Chief Steward Agnelli will appreciate that there are certain forces of nature it’s wiser not to resist. If we let Master Karl’s dinner get cold, the consequences will be severe. So, if you’d all be kind enough to find your places, I think we’d better let his minions serve.”

* * *

Karl Koizumi, who’d ruled Sinead O’Daley’s kitchen long before she’d become Sinead Terekhov, wasn’t quite the tyrant her husband had implied. Not quite. He was, however, an absolute despot in his own realm, and given the quality of the meals he produced, there was no threat of any revolutions.

Terekhov had forgotten just how good a chef Koizumi was, and from the expressions of his officers and noncoms, this was a repast they’d spend years recounting over many another table. He remembered a few bull sessions like that of his own, especially when he’d been a junior officer, and it amused him that—

His thoughts broke off as Valentine Manning, Three Oaks’ majordomo, slipped in through a side door and made his discreet way towards the head table.

Oh, shit, he thought, watching Manning’s approach and taking in the majordomo’s expression.

“Aivars,” Sinead said. “Don’t you dare—”

“Don’t tell me,” he replied. “You know Valentine as well as I do. Do you think he’d be interrupting right now if he thought he had a choice?”

“Damn it, I haven’t had you back for two days yet! They can’t—”

She made herself break off, and he smiled crookedly at her.

“Of course they can,” he told her, then turned his head as Manning slipped up behind his left shoulder.

“Yes, Valentine?”

“I’m very sorry to interrupt, Sir, but I’m afraid there’s an Admiralty courier here.”

“A courier?

Despite himself, one of Terekhov’s eyebrows rose. He’d assumed he was about to be called away to an urgent com call, and an icicle went through him. The Admiralty didn’t send couriers on “get back to us when you can” missions.

Damn you, Charlie, he thought, remembering the glance he’d shared with his brother-in-law. Did you see this coming? And if you did, why didn’t you—?

He chopped the thought off, glanced at Sinead, and saw the same understanding in her suddenly taut expression. He squeezed her knee with one hand under the cover of the table, then looked back to Manning.

“Where is he?”

“She’s in the Brown Salon, Sir.”

“Very well.” He inhaled deeply, folded his napkin and laid it beside his plate, and leaned across to kiss the lobe of Sinead’s ear. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he promised.

This time,” she replied around an edge of bitterness not even centuries of a naval family could blunt, her green eyes suspiciously brilliant.

“This time,” he agreed unflinchingly. Then he pushed back his chair and stood.

* * *

“Sir Lucien will see you now, Captain Terekhov,” the senior master chief petty officer behind the desk in the outer office said.

“Thank you, Senior Master Chief.”

Terekhov took a final sip from the cup of coffee the uniformed steward had brought him on his arrival. He’d needed it, given the ungodly earliness of the hour. He set the cup on the coffee table, then stood, suppressing a bone-deep reflex to straighten his flawless uniform, and followed the noncom down a short, carpeted hall to a door of beautifully stained and polished ferran wood. His guide rapped once, sharply, on the door, then opened it and stood aside.

“Captain Terekhov, My Lords,” he said, and Terekhov’s nostrils flared as he heard the plural form of address.

That was all the warning he had before he found himself face-to-face not simply with Sir Lucien Cortez, the Fifth Space Lord and head of the Bureau of Personnel, but also with First Space Lord Sir Thomas Caparelli, the RMN’s senior uniformed officer. And First Lord Hamish Alexander, Earl White Haven, who happened to be the Navy’s civilian head.

Not to mention the current prime minister’s older brother.

“Civilian,” my ass, Terekhov thought as he continued into the spacious conference room without missing a stride. He may not be in uniform at the moment, but if the Queen didn’t need him in the Cabinet, he’d probably be commanding Home Fleet right now!

The three monumentally senior officers stood as he approached, and White Haven extended his hand.

“I’m sorry we had to call you in so damned early, Captain Terekhov,” he said. “And I hate the thought of dragging you away from your wife. But we’ve all been Queen’s officers long enough to know that sometimes we just don’t have a choice. And, before we go any further, I should point out that Lucien isn’t the one putting the round pegs in the round holes this time. So if you’re going to blame someone for what’s about to happen, that particular buck stops with me.”

“Not just with you, Hamish,” Caparelli put in, and extended his own hand to Terekhov in turn. “There were several cooks involved in stirring this particular broth, Captain. Unfortunately, all of us came to the same conclusion.”

“I hope you’ll forgive me for saying you’re making me a little…uneasy, Sir Thomas,” Terekhov replied as Caparelli released his hand and Cortez extended his.

“That’s because you have good instincts,” White Haven said, and gestured for all of them to be seated.

He waited until they’d settled around the large table, then leaned back slightly in his chair, and despite his beautifully tailored civilian clothing, it was a senior admiral who looked out of his blue eyes at Terekhov, not a civilian.

“I’ll come straight to the point. ONI, SIS, and the FO have all been through your reports—and more recent ones from Talbott—forward and backward. The consensus is that your analysis and conclusions were spot on, and we rather doubt whoever was pulling the strings behind your Mister ‘Firebrand’ and Roberto Tyler will just fold his tent and disappear. We think he may pause while he reloads, but he’s not going to give up. Not after the amount of time, money, and risk he invested in his first attempt.”

He paused, clearly inviting comment, and Terekhov cocked his head, gazing out the conference room’s crystoplast windows at the Landing skyline etched against the morning sun, while he thought. Then his eyes returned to White Haven.

“If their intent was to prevent the annexation, My Lord, they’ve failed. They might decide not to throw good money after bad.”

“If their intent was solely to prevent the annexation, yes,” White Haven replied. “Unfortunately, we don’t think that was the only thing they had in mind. And neither, if you’ll forgive my saying so, do you, judging from your reports.”

“I wouldn’t say it was so much that I don’t think that was the only thing they had in mind, My Lord.” Terekhov shook his head. “It’s more a matter of instinct—more a feeling than any kind of reasoned conclusion. But, no. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of whoever it was, either.”

“Well, whether we’re all right about that or not,” Caparelli said, “there’s still that little eight-hundred-kilo hexapuma known as the Solarian League in the mix. Between the three of you, you, Admiral Khumalo, and Amanda Corvisart have handed OFS and the League their first real diplomatic black eye—the first one that really counts and can’t just be swept under the carpet—in decades. All three of the admirals in this room fully supported Her Majesty’s decision to approve your actions in Monica. That was incredibly well done in a very difficult position, and all of us know how easy it would’ve been for you to punt it back up the line and let some senior and better paid officer make the hard choices.”

Terekhov felt his cheeks warm, but he looked back at the First Space Lord steadily, and Caparelli continued in the same level tone.

“You and your people did exactly the right thing, but Frontier Security isn’t going to forgive and forget anytime soon, and it’s a virtual certainty that the SLN’s going to beef up its presence in Talbott’s vicinity. I’d like to think even Sollies are smart enough not to push things at this point, but experience suggests otherwise. In fact, it’s a lot more likely some Solly officer will decide to push back hard to restore Solarian prestige in the Verge.”

Terekhov nodded slowly. Given the fact that Monica had been a long-standing Solarian ally—not to mention a fertile source of mercenaries to break other people’s legs for Frontier Security—Caparelli was almost certainly correct. And if Manpower and whoever else had been involved in the attempt to kill the annexation decided to give the fire another kick or two…

“At the moment, it looks like the situation with the Peeps is in fairly good shape,” White Haven took up the thread of conversation again. His deep voice was as calm as ever, yet Terekhov had an odd feeling that he was less happy about the Peeps than he wanted to sound. Which was odd, given Eighth Fleet’s crushing victory at the Battle of Lovat…which had, after all, been won by his own wife.

“I’m sure we all would’ve preferred for President Pritchart’s offer of negotiations to have been made in good faith,” the First Lord continued. “It’s unfortunate that that doesn’t seem to be what happened, but I’m pretty sure Lovat has to’ve set them back on their heels. On the other hand—and this is classified, Captain—we don’t yet have the new missile control systems as broadly deployed as we’d like. There’s still a window of vulnerability, and we can’t divert large numbers of wallers to Talbott as a show of force until it closes. We will be strengthening Tenth Fleet, and as soon as the situation vis-à-vis the Peeps permits, additional ships of the wall will be added to that list, but we simply can’t do that yet.

“Because we can’t, we’ll be relying on lighter combatants, instead, and ONI’s analysis—backed up in no small part by our examination of the hardware you captured intact at Monica—suggests those lighter combatants have an even bigger edge on any SLN units, especially with the new Mark Sixteen warheads, than we’ve ever been willing to assume. In other words, our more modern cruisers and destroyers should be able to hold their own against about anything the Sollies have below the wall. The problem is that the Sollies may not realize that.”

“The problem,” Caparelli amplified bluntly, “is that the Sollies damned well wouldn’t admit that even if they did.”

“Probably not,” White Haven conceded. “And that, Captain, is the real reason we’ve sent Admiral Henke off to command Tenth Fleet for Admiral Khumalo. Well, that and the fact that she gave her parole when Pritchart sent her home. We can’t deploy her against the Peeps until she’s released from that parole, which happens to make her available someplace we need her even worse.”

Terekhov nodded. He hadn’t learned about Michelle Henke’s survival until his return from Talbott, but from what he knew of her, she’d been an excellent choice for the senior fleet commander on Talbott Station. Much as he’d come to like and even admire Augustus Khumalo, he simply lacked the combat experience—and possibly what people still called the “fire in the belly”—Henke would bring to the job. She’d free Khumalo for the vital administrative duties of a station commander, which was where his true strengths lay, anyway.

The only thing that concerned him was her reputation for aggressiveness—the possibility that she might actually have too much fire in her belly. He supposed an unbiased soul might have made the same observation about him with a fair degree of accuracy, but Henke had made her name in cruisers and battlecruisers. From all accounts, she had a battlecruiser mentality, and from other accounts, she also had an ample share of the famed Winton temper. She was unlikely to tread lightly on any Solarian toes that got in her way, and the fact that she was the Queen’s first cousin—and fifth in the succession, should anything happen to Elizabeth—could make any toe-stamping she did especially painful. Or especially…politically fraught, at least.

“What we have in mind is to send you back to Talbott.” White Haven’s expression was as unflinching as his tone. “It’s not fair. If anybody deserves time at home, it’s you. Unfortunately, sometimes Her Majesty’s Navy can’t afford to worry about ‘fair,’ and you’re an especially valuable resource at this moment for several reasons. First, because you’re a proven combat commander who’s demonstrated he’s willing to act on his own initiative. Second, because at this moment I very much doubt there’s anyone in Manticoran uniform with a more formidable reputation in Solarian eyes. In that sense, we’re sending you back out to be Admiral Henke’s big stick, if it turns out she needs one. In addition to that, your Foreign Office background’s going to be at least as valuable to her as it was to Admiral Khumalo. And, finally, it’s clear from our correspondence with Prime Minister Alquezar and Baroness Medusa that no one has a better reputation—or better personal contacts—in the Quadrant than you do.” He shook his head, his expression regretful. “The truth is, we can’t afford to leave you on the beach, however much you might deserve it.”

“I understand what you’re saying, My Lord.” Terekhov tried very hard not to sound like a man looking for an argument to convince his superiors not to send him. “But Hexapuma still hasn’t been assigned a repair berth. And even after we get her docked and formally slotted into the queue, she’s going to be in yard hands for months. Probably longer.”

“Yes, she is, Captain.” Terekhov’s heart fell at the sympathy in Caparelli’s voice. “That’s why we’re going to give her to Commander FitzGerald—along with his overdue promotion to captain.”

Terekhov’s felt his jaw tighten. It wasn’t a surprise, not really. From the moment they’d told him they were sending him back out, he’d known they wouldn’t be sending him in Hexapuma. And if he had to lose her, she couldn’t possibly be in better hands than Ansten’s. He knew that. And it didn’t make it hurt one bit less.

“And I’m afraid that’s not the worst of it, Captain,” White Haven said quietly, and nodded to Admiral Cortez. Terekhov looked at him, and the Fifth Space Lord touched a key at his station. A holo appeared above the table—the holo of another Saganami-C-class heavy cruiser, sister to his own Hexapuma.

“HMS Quentin Saint-James,” Cortez said. “She’s the flagship of a new heavy cruiser squadron—the Ninety-Fourth—we’ve just stood up.”

Terekhov nodded. Deep inside, a familiar sense of challenge warred with his grief at leaving Hexapuma behind. There was always that edge of excitement when it came time to assume a new command and turn it into a perfectly tempered weapon. It would take months, but the sheer satisfaction would—

But then his thoughts broke off as Cortez continued.

“The bad news, Captain, is that CruRon Ninety-Four leaves for Talbott tomorrow.”

Terekhov stopped nodding and stared at him in shock. Tomorrow? He’d only gotten back from Talbott less than forty hours ago! How could he go home and tell Sinead he was leaving again tomorrow? Besides, he’d already taken command of Hexapuma on virtually no notice. Now they wanted him to take command of a brand-new heavy cruiser without even one full day’s warning?!

“I know it seems insane,” Cortez said, “but I’m afraid the decision to redeploy you—and the need to get CruRon Ninety-Four out to Tenth Fleet absolutely ASAP—doesn’t leave us much choice.”

“Sir, I understand what you’re saying,” Terekhov said again, after a long, ringing fifteen seconds of silence. “I think I do, anyway. But completely aside from the issue of leaving my wife again so quickly, I’m afraid I don’t see any way I could assume command of an entirely new crew on such short notice! If nothing else, it would be totally unfair to them! We managed to get Hexapuma worked up to an acceptable standard on the voyage to Spindle, but we’d had at least a little time to shake down as a crew before we deployed. But less than one day?” He shook his head and looked at all three of the other men seated around the table. “With all due respect, My Lords, I don’t see any way—”

“Excuse me, Captain Terekhov,” Cortez interrupted. “I wasn’t quite done.”

Terekhov shut his mouth, and Cortez grimaced.

“First, you won’t have to work up in Quentin Saint-James. Second, you won’t be her CO; Captain Frederick Carlson’s been with her for the last six months, supervising her completion and working her up. I think you’ll be impressed with how well he’s done that. In fact, every unit of the squadron’s had at least two months’ workup time, although they hadn’t combined as a squadron at the time. In fact, Marconi Williams and Slipstream only joined a week ago.”

Terekhov’s expression was puzzled, and Cortez’s grimace turned into a rueful half-amused and half-apologetic smile.

“We’re not giving you Quentin Saint-James, Captain Terekhov. Or not as your command, anyway. We’re giving you the entire squadron, Commodore Terekhov.”

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