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Plans and Vacancies (Dark Aether)

Jed walked into the militia office with a mixed sense of dread and relief. Fleet Week was nearly over, and with the end of the Winterfell festivities, it was time to get back to work.  The Smokes were safely back in port or back on their normal station, and now came the time to take care of whatever had accumulated in the inbox.  She walked upstairs and settled into her chair behind the desk when she started to notice signs that someone had been using the facilities.  The inkwell was woefully low, the paper box was nearly empty again and her favorite pen, the Esterbrook with the rosewood holder, was not on its spot by the blotter.  This would not do.  The final straw was the errant cup and saucer that had wandered onto the stack of invoices from the victuallers.  She examined the cup, and the residue contained therein.  Tea.  There could only be one person who would be drinking tea at her desk.

After removing the cup to the side table, she removed a fresh pencil from the side drawer of the desk and pointed it with her jackknife.  She pulled out the memo book from her jacket, and started a fresh page with the title “Militia Items to be done”.  One, appoint an aide.  Two, remind volunteers that they should use the staff desk on the 1st floor.

Satisfied that she was off to a good start on her list, Jed leaned back and began to read through the stack of papers that had accumulated in the Inbox while she had been taking care of the fleet.  It seems that the incidences of vandalism were up and that the chatter in town was beginning to take a decidedly unfriendly turn with respect to the Mayor’s office.  It was odd that the report seemed to use many of the same phrases that Scottie had the other night.  Almost word for word in fact, so much that she checked who had sent the brief in and who had made the statement.

Jed picked up the memo book and wrote another entry.  Three, prepare for civil unrest.  Tenk was mayor, and while she had questions about some decisions he’d made in the past, he had given her the commission, and the authority to act not only as Commander of the militia, but in the other capacities in which she served the city.  This was a matter that would require a bit more observation, and a bit more preparation.

The next few reports were concerning the strange crablike creatures that seemed to have appeared in concert with the pods scattered around town.  They were getting more aggressive as time passed, and it seemed that only the strange gun she picked up at the church had any real effect on them.  This would be another item on the list that will take more work, and more research.

The final sheet of paper bore a surprise that was not only unanticipated but rather welcome.  There on an old piece of 6th Company (Ladies’ Coy) letterhead was a request for reactivation of commission from one Stargirl MacBain.  Jed looked long and hard at the words on the page, and caught herself looking at the bottom of the page.  Capt. Beq Janus, Commanding, Sgt-Major J. Dagger Senior NCO.  She realized that was a world away now, as far removed from today as the Moon from the Vernian.  The greater irony was that now as then New Babbage was being threatened by Jason Moriarty.  She looked at her hands, and even after three years you could still see the fine lines and scars where she had been burned on that cold afternoon on Jefferson Way.

Jed collected her thoughts, and returned to the matter at hand.  Star had been a very interesting case, between the perils of laudanum and her issues with dear sweet Samuel, someone would surely question the command decision of not only returning her to active service, but what she was thinking now.  I need an aide, she thought, and I need one I can trust, both in ability and in action.  She leaned back and absently put her hands into her coat pockets as she thought.  Her fingers touched something metallic, and when she pulled it out to examine it Jed found a medium sized nail.  Sister Loxley had given it to her while the fleet was preparing to leave for Winterfell, saying that it would be a reminder of the Builder’s plans.  The nail was placed on the blotter, and a fresh sheet of paper was taken from the desk drawer.  Once upon a time Star had hinted that she hoped that I didn’t know everything about her past and what she had done.  As she wrote, Jed hoped that everything she had heard wasn’t a lie.  This was about to be a time for people with scarred knuckles, a time where the city itself would hinge on having people in its service who would do what needed to be done to save the city, no matter the deed or the cost.

Jed thought back to a chat she’d had with Moses Mureaux in the old Topographical Service office, when he said that there are hundreds of things that must be done to preserve the world as most people know it, things that are necessary and distasteful, and might cause some to wonder why.  He smiled that same old smile at the end when she gave him the package that contained a single rifle round and a household signet ring and told her she had learned well.

If Star wasn’t sober or reliable, she’d be assigned as quartermaster to the detachment in Raimondo to deal with the warehouse and the marines at the coaling station.  If she proved to be untrustworthy, she’d long to be sent to Raimondo.

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