Chapter Four: Story Ten

16 May

Christopher rose before the sun after an impressive round of half-remembered nightmares. He did some basic exercises, washed up, and read over the ray gun specifications Mary had asked him to review, writing suggestions for her in the margins.

Finishing that, he took a thick stack of papers to the common study. Personnel evaluations. Albert’s absence didn’t change the fact that he had to fill them out, but it certainly made it harder to get them done. He normally split training supervision with Michael, but with Michael replacing Albert, a lot more had fallen on his shoulders.

He had only arrived in the study when Michael joined him. “Good evening,” Michael greeted him.

“Evening? You mean you haven’t slept?” Christopher asked, setting down his pen.

“Not a wink. What about you?”

“I slept, but I wouldn’t call it quality. Still, it seems I’m faring better than you, my friend.”

“I’ll manage. So are those evals?” Michael gestured at the pile.

“Yes. Terribly overdue, I know, but I just haven’t had a moment.”

“I’m afraid I’m about to compound that. I was here to ask a favor.”

“What’s needed then?”

“I was wondering if you could give Eudora some coaching on self-defense. She hasn’t been in regular training long, and if something goes wrong on her side-mission, I don’t want her to be helpless.”

“I can do that. But she’ll be with Gideon—surely he could deter any drunken party guests or other such ruffians?”

“Eh,” Michael shrugged. “I think it would be best that she be able to handle herself.”

Christopher nodded, while noting the expression on Michael’s face and filing it away for future reference. He seems a bit preoccupied, Christopher thought with an arch of his brow.

“Well, if you’re to have any time to train her, I’d best leave you to these,” Michael said, once again indicating Christopher’s nagging stack of papers. “Good luck…and thanks.”

“Think nothing of it,” Christopher said. “But perhaps you’d better think of some rest, hm?”

“Don’t worry,” Michael said, waving his hand dismissively. “I’ve just been busy. Talk to you later.”

“Until then.” Christopher turned back to his evaluations as Michael left. Soon, though, there was another presence in the study. Sky, Brian’s tentaclebeast counterpart, wandered into the room, trailing dozens and dozens of thin, translucent, fuschia-tinged tentacles under his blue body.

“Good day, Sky,” Christopher said as Sky came near. Sky bobbed in the air but continued on.

I wonder why he’s about, Christopher thought. He supposed he could request an Interfacing to ask, but it seemed somehow a faux pas to Interface with “someone else’s” tentaclebeast. Before he’d had long to consider the matter, Sky was on his way, and Christopher attempted once again to return to the evaluations.

It was not to last. Richard entered the study. “Good morning, sir.”

“Good morning.” Christopher noticed to his surprise that Richard was already in his training uniform. We don’t usually suit up before breakfast, Christopher thought, as a rumble in his stomach reminded him he had not broken his own fast. He was about to read the first evaluation when he realized Richard was still standing by him.

“Something I can do for you, Livingston?” Christopher asked.

“Sir, we’re assembled and awaiting your pleasure in the gymnasium. The uh, morning archery session you ordered, sir,” Richard added by way of reminding him.

“Damn, right, archery. Head back; I’ll be there directly, Livingston, thank you.”

“Sir, thank you, sir,” Richard replied.

Damn, forgetting my own trainings, Christopher thought, rubbing the bridge of his nose. When did that get its start? Sighing, he pulled the evaluation papers together to take back to his quarters, untouched. They’ll just have to wait again, he thought. There’s work to be done.


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