Gallagher stood at parade rest while the governor brooded into her display screen. The harsh blue light turned her face into a nearly transparent eggshell and washed her hair into strands of chalky straw. Her eyes though seemed to drink in the extra azure light and reflect a brighter sheen of sapphire, but they were tired looking, tidy gems among a crumpled cloth — Dalia was not adapting to her new responsibilities with limitless grace. She was only human after all, but it was Tim’s job to make her seem like more.
Tim at once feared the Ledas heir — she was formidable, keen, cunning and prone to caprice. But she was also fair, and honest, and just. Tim respected his new boss. He’d even grown a bit fond of her. He cared more than a little bit that she was struggling at the throne and he had news that might lift her spirits a bit. But he was reluctant to share it, it was a touchy subject after all. She never asked about the girl that Tim had helped reach her personal suite so many days and weeks before, but he knew it killed her not to know. She’d made up her mind, he knew that. She couldn’t be distracted, not by this. But today she had been nothing but distracted. Perhaps she needed a distraction of a different kind then.
Tim coughed. Dalia turned her attention on him. It was a spooky image, it made Tim nervous. Be brave, he thought.
“You have something to report, Captain?” Governor Ledas croaked.
“Minor report, Fried’s forces were able to… compel the rioters on the merchant ring to stand down. They’ve opted to comply with fealty to your leadership. They considered your offer generous in light of the consequences.” Tim said formally. He’d taken to this official language slowly, but it seemed to be the way people communicated up here, so he went along, even read all the laws and by-laws. Being the captain of the Enceladus Station Security Force meant he had to have more than a passing understanding of what the rules were, and he’d adopted some of the legalese in the process. It felt weird.
Dalia smirked. It looked dangerous, but then, it was also so rare so it was hard to tell.
“We’re alone here, Tim, you can lay off the formalities,” she said.
“If it’s all the same madam governor I’d rather slip and be formal at ease than crass in front of the board of trustees. You’ve put a lot of trust in me and they see it as a weakness.”
“Pfft. That bunch of crusty old men, they’ll find any reason to find fault with me and my decisions. Your actions speak for themselves, aping our lawyers just sounds so inauthentic.”
Dalia sipped a golden liquid from a short snifter. Tim took this rant with a grain of salt then, she was self-medicating.
“There’s something else, Ms. Ledas,” Tim said.
“Oh, God, Tim, it’s late, I’ve heard, Ms. Ledas, and madam governor, and all that for the last twelve hours straight, someone please just call me Dalia!”
“Ahem, Dalia, apologies, but I thought you might like to know that I got a message today from the Fénix,” Tim said.
Dalia stiffened but didn’t object, her eyes gleamed at Tim. Was that hope, or was she angry?
“You might be pleased to know that Simonee’s no longer wearing the sling. She’s still a little weak in the arm but the wound has closed up and there’s minimal scarring,” Tim blurted. There, it was out. He felt a bit better but had no idea how Dalia would react.
“I didn’t ask you to provide me with that kind of information.” Dalia croaked, she stared then through the screen in front of her. The blue light shone on a battle going on behind those fierce eyes.
“I know, but you wanted me to anyways,” Tim said, defending himself weakly. “You haven’t ordered me not to and I figured it would do you well to hear it.”
“And if I ordered you never to speak of the Fénix or Simonee Saran ever again?”
“I will, of course, honor your command,” Tim said. “Is that an order you wish to convey to me now?”
Dalia remained silent but then, “You are dismissed, Captain.”
Tim turned to go, but there was a slight change in his governor. Her mouth was forced into something lighter than a frown, and her eyes seemed a bit more ready to take on the next day. There was gratitude there that would never be expressed in words. He had done well, he left the room in a better mood than he had entered it.
References characters from: Simonee Saran vs. The Ice Princess of Enceladus Station