November is over, but my novel is not. Still.
So I guess I’ll keep up with the best/worst of the week thing because I’ve got nothin’ better to do.
Also, I’ve gotta take a minute and say this: This thing is getting lamer every time I look at it. I thought it was picking up for a sec a couple chapters ago, but I think that was a convenient lie I was telling myself.
But I’m going to stick it out. No matter how much I hate it!
Here Lieutenant Aldridge is waiting around to be questioned by the Mission Review Board directly after Captain Martel. Note: Captain Derek Martel = Captain Vera Martel’s ex-husband; oh, and our lady captain has a cybernetic eye that Aldridge can always hear making cybernetic noises; hippoid = a Martian horse
I arrived at 10:30 for no other reason than to pace outside the conference room. My skirt looked all right, I supposed, but I still felt the residual effects of the panic attack thing I had had. I thought I might still puke if provoked. I didn’t know what exactly might provoke me, but I was sure I would know it if I saw it.
At 10:37 Captain Martel walked out of the conference room looking as casual as if she had just been in having brunch with a few old friends. She saw me and walked over, taking off her gloves and smiling as she crossed into my personal space slightly.
“Don’t look so tense, Blondie. They don’t bite,” she said.
“Or at least not if you don’t request that specifically,” I heard a silky and leering male voice say behind me. From the leeringness of it and the change of direction of Martel’s eye’s whirring, I knew it must have been Derek Martel. I turned slightly, and sure enough, there he was, smiling unctuously.
“What are you doing on this floor, Captain?” she said to him, ice lining her voice, which had dropped to one of its lowest registers. It was the tone she used on hippoid thieves and cheaters at cards.
“Just taking a stroll,” he said. “Seeing if I could find any pretty girls in skirts to look at.” He took a long look at me and then another, perhaps longer, look at his ex-wife. She was running her tongue over her teeth and clenching her gloves in her hand. She did not appear amused.
“Well, you found them, and you looked at them. Time to move along,” she said, her voice still low in pitch and especially in temperature. He smiled broadly at that.
“And what if I’m not finished looking?” He was walking closer now, strutting even.
“I think you are,” she said, voice dropping another third. He raised an eyebrow and looked at me.
“What do you have to say, Blondie?” I kept my features as blank as possible.
“I was under the impression this was a private conversation,” I said, trying not to show how unnerved I was starting to become. He laughed.
“All right. I’ll take a hint,” he said. He ran his eyes over me again before he said, “Have a pleasant review board, ladies.” And he swaggered the rest of the way down the hall and disappeared around a corner. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see Martel shaking her head. She then turned to me. She looked at me squarely and said,
“Keep your chin up, Blondie.”
And she left down the same hallway.
I don’t know why I keep dragging Captain Martel’s ex-husband into the proceedings: He shows up every five or ten chapters to say yucky things and be creepy, and this section’s appearance is one of the least relevant episodes. I really want to come up with some clever way for him to be an intricate bad guy, but I end up just writing stupid/weird scenes with him that I don’t really like.
Our narrator currently is Admiral Stoljarov, who–as head of the Mission Review Board–is questioning Captain Martel about the happenings on The Persuasion. Martel has just given an overview of the mission and her account of Commander Jeffs’s untimely death. Also joining us in this section is Lieutenant Franklin, a board member picked by the string-pulling admiral while Stoljarov was recovering from xylenium poisoning. Lieutenant Franklin doesn’t know she’s supposed to leave the questioning to Admiral Stoljarov.
“Thank you, Captain. And is that all you know of the circumstances of his demise?” Her eyes bore into me.
“Not entirely,” she said.
“Please elaborate,” I said.
“You’re not interested in suppositions,” she said with a hint of amusement.
“You’re correct, Captain. If that is all you know that can be corroborated, we will move on.” She ran her tongue over her teeth, perhaps in thought, or perhaps idly.
“I also know that logs indicate he had seen Dr. Dalsgaard on the evening of the fifteenth. And that encoded transmissions were being sent and received before his death but not after from various workstations to which he had access.”
“To which he had access?” I said a little more scoffingly than I had meant to. “Excuse me, Captain, but the vessel was not exactly on lockdown. Almost anyone had access to almost any work station.”
“Of course, Admiral.” She smiled. “What I meant was logs indicate he was in the vicinity of the workstations in question when the messages either arrived or were sent.”
“And you suspect he was sending them?” Lieutenant Franklin asked. Martel looked at her with her eyebrows raised and then looked at me, as if asking me whether she should answer. I nodded to her. I was not personally interested in suppositions, but I supposed others on the panel might be, especially unseasoned people of whom I knew very little.
“Yes,” Martel said. “And if you’re wondering, I did not kill him, and I do suspect someone.” Before Lieutenant Franklin could take the bait, I said,
“Thank you, Captain. Let’s move on. On June twentieth, you employed the Red Line. What precipitated this?” She actually laughed at this.
“Admiral, what else is a starship captain supposed to do when both of her engines fail?”
“Please. The facts.” She licked her lips, perhaps trying to smooth away her smile.
“On June twentieth, Engine 2’s carburetor malfunctioned and caused a fire in the engineering room. Henley and Lieutenant Aldridge effectively contained the fire and vented the smoke so that the engineering team could return safely to their work environment. Within an hour, Engine 1’s carburetor also malfunctioned. Henley engaged generator power so that the ship could have life support systems, and I deemed it necessary, as per Space Service Regulation 8.1.7, to use the Red Line to make an emergency landing.”
“And why weren’t you at Hangar 6?” Lieutenant Franklin said. I was glad that I hadn’t sat her closer to me on the panel, for I wasn’t certain I would have been able to stop myself from slapping the presumption off her. Martel turned her eyes toward Franklin and spoke slowly, as if to a child–a bright child, but a child nonetheless.
“Well, when both engines are offline, and you’re down to bare-bones emergency power, you don’t exactly have the requisite navigation for a perfect landing. Lieutenant Aldridge calculated and locked in our trajectory, and I took over helm control, and we all crossed our fingers that we would land in one piece.”
I chose this as the best of the week because we get some exposition, and it’s hopefully not the most boring thing ever, and we get to know Martel a little better. We also get a little internal drama with the board members and their interactions. Also, I just really like writing both Stoljarov and Martel, and I giggle incessantly writing scenes with both of them.
Current Wordcount: 40,502