The Bar, Promethean Command, 17218-2237

Terran Stellar Navy Forums Commissioned Officers’ Galley The Bar, Promethean Command, 17218-2237

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    Adele Mundy

    SubKommandant Mundy strides into the Bar. If this were a graphic novel, there’d be a black thundercloud hovering above her head, with occasional flashes of lightning. She is heading straight for the service counter itself, and not paying more attention to her surroundings than absolutely necessary. This proves to be insufficient attention, as an officer suddenly stands up from a nearby table, and steps backwards into her path.

    Hell’s bells! Mundy exclaims, staggering, and turning towards the man who backed into her. Will you…

    She is interrupted, as he turns to face her, bursts into a grin, and says,

    A thousand pardons, Lady Adelaide! He bows, and reaches for her hand. Mundy steps back.

    Do I know this man? She thinks. As he straightens up, she looks at his rank insignia. OverIntendent Wagner, do you…, she begins, thankful for name tags. He looks vaguely familiar, but is certainly not anyone from the 4th.

    Why so formal, all of a sudden, OverIntend… oh, I mean, SubKommandant! He salutes, utterly correctly, then relaxes. Congrats, Dell, I didn’t hear you’d been promoted while you were out there in the back of beyond! This requires a celebration! He offers Mundy his arm. May I escort you to the bar, and make sure no more uncouth junior officers bump into you?

    Mundy takes his arm, because not doing so would probably attract more attention. As things are, the officers who were sitting at OInt. Wagner’s table are all looking at them. Mundy scans their faces quickly: again, vaguely familiar faces, from mess halls and stations. Nobody from 4th Hunter, because 4th Hunter is out on a mission.

    Look who’s talking about being formal, Mundy says as they walk, what was all that about?

    Some of us remember the proper way to greet a noble lady, Wagner replies, somewhere between playful and serious, especially one that has been so meaningful in one’s life.

    Oh, hell’s bells and buckets of blood, Mundy thinks, concentrating hard on walking steadily and not suddenly pulling her arm back, don’t tell me this man is Adelaide’s boyfriend! She looks at him again, trying to place where she knows him from. Tall, brown hair in regulation Navy haircut, brown eyes, nothing particularly distinctive.

    Even, Wagner continues, as his head bows in mock dejection, when she has broken one’s heart not once, but three times… He draws a long, dramatic sigh as they reach the bar. It doesn’t sound like the sigh of a man whose heart is anywhere near broken.

    Three? Now, come on, Wagner! Mundy ventures a reproach.

    Three, Ma’am, Wagner replies, looking earnestly down at her. He is about a foot taller than she is, after all. And I would propose again, this very instant, if I could but for a moment believe that your answer would be any different.

    Have I given you any reason at all for such an unfounded belief? Mundy asks, stern and forbidding. I’m in some kind of Jane Austen in Space game, she thinks, what’s the next move?

    Indeed, Ma’am, you have not. Alas, your Fearsome Great-Aunt, the Admiral Lady Mundy, holds too much sway over your opinion, and you still heed her counsel that I am only after your fortune. He grins, suddenly not at all broken-hearted.

    And would you have me believe that you are not? Adele asks, maintaining the stern look. Where is this going? She asks herself.

    Not at all. Your Fearsome Great-Aunt, the Admiral Lady Mundy, is a perceptive officer, your fortune is conspicuously attractive, and I pride myself on always having been utterly honest with you, Dell, ever since the Academy days.

    Mundy thinks back to the Academy days, ranks and ranks of cadets, physical training, console simulations, history of the United Federation, engineering… stellar cartography classes! Wagner was in one of the stellar cartography courses! At least, the other Wagner was, in the other universe.

    Talking of which, he continues, unaware of her mental search, I owe you more drinks than it would be safe for anyone’s liver to accept, even with the wonders of modern detox; and while I have some pay in my account that I haven’t actually spent yet, let me buy you that celebratory promotion drink. Wagner turns to the bartender.
    A bottle of your finest bubbles, if you would. Unless the SubKommandant would prefer something else?

    Mundy scans the bar shelves. They are, at least, stocked with a variety of bottles, but she can’t see what she’s looking for.

    A cool mug of Hjocoa would be delicious… she begins. The bartender’s eyes widen, and he flinches back. Wagner looks at her without saying a word. Is he shocked? Then, suddenly, Wagner begins to laugh.

    Oh Furies, Dell, for a minute there I thought you meant it!

    The bartender looks relieved. Mundy smiles slowly and triumphantly.

    Got you! she gloats. But still has no idea what was so terrible about ordering Hjocoa. Bubbles would be most welcome, thanks, she adds.

    They sit, as the bartender brings and pours the sparkling… whatever it is. Mundy lifts the glass, and it does not smell exactly like wine. At least, not a wine she’s familiar with.

    Your very good health, SubKommandant! Wagner raises his glass.

    And yours, Mundy replies, and sips. It’s like wine, but not made from grapes. She looks for the label, but it’s turned away from her.

    So, how long have you been back? Wagner asks.

    Only long enough to get out of quarantine and go out to Volantis on a couple of missions.

    Quarantine? Where the Well did you end up?

    I am not at liberty to disclose any details, I’m afraid.

    Oh, come on! Wagner refills his glass, and goes to pour more into Mundy’s, only to find that it’s still full. Mundy shakes her head. You can’t be serious, Mundy.

    I can, Mr. Wagner.

    I hate it when you go all officery on me! he complains. Don’t you have tales of daring exploits?

    If there are, I am not at liberty to disclose them. Mundy takes another sip. Do you?

    Oh, I could make something up… but no, not really. He lowers his voice, continuing, What do you expect, from 1st Battle Command? He empties his glass. Mundy refills it. She raises an eyebrow and, also lowering her voice, asks,

    Is it that bad?

    Yes. Wagner’s reply is quiet, but definite. I don’t know what the Group Leader’s done to annoy… someone, Furies alone know who. We get escort mission after escort mission, plodding transports crawling through the most dead-end of dead-end sectors, and the scrawniest, rustiest, most deadbeat excuses for pirates to guard them from, if anything. And then, all of a sudden, we get sent to Volantis, and told to retake bases from Well-damned Kraliens…

    I take it it did not go well? Mundy asks.

    You might say that. He empties his glass again. We’re hardly a finely honed fighting force. Group Leader’s been called before Command top brass, we’re waiting to hear what they have to say about it… drinking to cushion the shock. Made worse by the news that 4th Hunter just came back with that intel we failed to get. Damn you, Mundy. He sounds dejected, rather than hostile.

    We go where we’re sent and we do what we’re told, remember? Mundy says, harking back to an Academy mantra, and then wondering if the cadets in this universe used it too.

    Aye, Ma’am, he says. You aren’t drinking, Ma’am, he points out, reaching for the bottle, refilling his glass and pouring a small amount into Mundy’s, since that is all there is room for. And anyway, what are you doing drinking with a junior officer from 1st Battle Command, when 4th Hunter are out there doing… whatever high stakes mission they’ve been given this time?

    I’m on medical leave. Mundy doesn’t want to talk about it, but he asked. A Strict Regard For Truth, dammit. A small thing like a different universe doesn’t alter that.

    You look just fine to me.

    Is that a compliment, or is the bubbly blurring your eyesight? Mundy asks, hoping to steer the conversation away.

    It takes a lot more than that to blur my eyesight. And you know I meant that you look fit for duty. Ma’am.

    Dammit, Wagner. Mundy pauses, considers taking a drink to delay the answer, as she thinks Why is ordering Hjocoa so shocking, dammit? I could do with the boost to awareness, I’m steering through a minefield, and we all know my helm skills… She says, Excision was jumped by four Skaarans last shift. `We had to abandon ship. I hate life pods.

    It would be worse if there weren’t any.

    I suppose you’re right. Mundy sighs. And she does take a drink.

    Don’t take it so hard. After all, if the brass decides to, shall we say, discipline her commanding officer, you’re in line for another promotion, right?

    Except that OverKommandant Jemel wasn’t on board, and I was in command.

    Oh…oops. That was not well managed on your part. So, they grounded you, is that it?

    Medical leave. She is not going to go into details. The CMO on Oblivion recommended precautionary leave to moderate her symptoms of stress, but Wagner doesn’t need to know that.

    Hmm, very diplomatic. Just watch it, Mundy, the brass know what “medical leave” can stand for, in anyone’s record, but in yours… Even your Fearsome Great Aunt, Admiral Lady Mundy, can’t make some things go away.

    I don’t expect her to. Mundy replies, with some indignation. And what’s wrong with her record, Voiddammit? She has only searched the general access details for now, not wanting to leave signs that might arouse suspicion. Wagner smiles and nods, and clearly does not believe her. Hell’s bells, Mundy thinks, is this the kind of officer Adelaide is? She adds, Do you have to refer to her like that every time? choosing to focus on a minor detail to hide her disappointment at her Mirror-self.

    It is the Immemorial Custom of the Service, Wagner replies with great dignity. To the Immemorial Custom of the Service! He raises his glass in a toast, and drains it again.

    The Immemorial Custom of the Service, Mundy joins in, and sips. The stuff isn’t bad, it’s just not wine.

    Is this a private celebration, or can anyone join in, Sir? a voice behind them asks. Mundy turns to see one of the people who had been sitting at the table with Wagner: a SubIntendent, young, thin face, dark hair. Ma’am, he adds, saluting smartly. So, ranks in the Bar don’t entirely vanish, in this universe.

    Please do, Mundy replies, gesturing to the next bar stool, just as Wagner says,

    Clear off, Petrescu. He stops, looks at Mundy. As you wish, Ma’am… as you were, Petrescu. He stands, straight and formal. SubKommandant, may I introduce Alex Petrescu, alterday Tactical on ISN Bane of Malefactors.

    Petrescu stands and salutes again, then grins and adds, Also known as Bane of Our Existence… Honoured to make your acquaintance, Ma’am.

    My pleasure, Petrescu. What will you have to drink? Mundy nods at the bartender, who approaches. As drinks are ordered and poured, another officer approaches. She had been at Wagner’s table too.

    Is Petrescu bothering you, Sir, Ma’am? She asks after saluting.

    He is, Wagner replies. He is interrupting a perfectly friendly chat, and so are you.

    I do apologise, Sir, I shall take the SubIntendent away immediately. She glances from Wagner to Mundy and back, clearly curious.

    Not at all, Subaltern… Mundy pauses to read the name tag, Ishimura, you could join us instead.

    Wagner’s face shows a flicker of annoyance that grows into a frown as the rest of the officers at his former table follow, more introductions are made, more seats are pulled up, and more drinks appear. The conversation keeps to non-controversial topics: drinks and the alcohol contents therein, food, or what passes for such in the food dispensers, sim entertainment programs, the witticisms in the last round of Cards Against the Hegemony.

    Eventually, Mundy settles her bill and rises to leave. All the junior officers immediately stand and salute. As she turns away, and as they return to their drinks, she hears someone whisper,

    You sure she’s a xenophile? Seemed ok to me…

    But she doesn’t turn to look who might have said it.

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by Adele Mundy.
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