Part 21 Chapter 14-Decorum

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Sprawled on a chaise lounge on the weather deck, I concentrated on feeling the crew and expedition members moving around aboard Shewolf. I sensed two people entering the meeting room, their footsteps tapping between my shoulder-blades. Taking care not to bark, I opened remote camera eyes so I could see who they were—Sanchez and Gagnon.

Sanchez stood with a hand on a chair back as she said, "Ms. Gagnon. I have a recording that might be of interest to you. The engineer's views on the purpose of her job."

Gagnon brightened. "Oh, then I must have her response to the social-satisfaction survey."

"Listen to this." Sanchez set a transcriber down and activated a recording—our discussion with engineer Thoursa:

"Humans have always desired spirits animating their world, giants in the earth and sea. Maybe these spirits are real. I wouldn't know. I'm a technocrat. My job is to give these spirits the gift of thought."

Gagnon listened, her lips pursed, then said, "Oh, yes! Lovely. The purpose of this ship is religious, just as I suspected. The engineer demonstrates the sentiment so well. What a magnificent piece of religious art, so expressive of the relationship between humanity and nature."

Good Danna! Shewolf and I weren't some sort of museum piece.

"Think of it!" said Sanchez. "The Seaguard involved in planet-wide spiritual performance art."

What the depths was Sanchez doing?

"Oh my!" Gagnon caught her breath. "Then the Seaguard was their priestly caste. Men consecrated to the rituals of the tide."

I snorted at the absurdity.

Sanchez nodded solemnly and went on: "In that light, the introduction of the so-called Solstice Virus is quite serious. It may not matter how Fenria rates as an advanced civilization. Such an attack on a society's artistic and religious institutions must be addressed before the spaceport can be declared closed."

"That is true." Gagnon tapped her fingertips together. "But we will conscientiously perform our job regardless." She turned so that her back was now to the wolf mask. "This is unusual for you to be promoting art for art's sake."

"I'm not," said Sanchez "The murals have a purpose within Fenrian telecommunications. Neurological networks require emotional input for correct routing. Art produces the stimulus necessary for interface between biological and artificial networks."

Purpose? What was the purpose of the naked mermaids over her bathtub? Surely, they weren't religious. And why the strange colors?

"Ah, well," said Gagnon "They're still lovely."

What a load of shine--bullshit as they'd say in Terranglic.

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In the evening, the bright ocean reflected clouds tinged vermilion by the setting sun. Black islands of land seem to float in the vibrant color.

I settled into a chaise lounge and merged with Shewolf. Maybe Tyee was in the crew lounge. Now, where was that camera?

My view opened on darkness. Whoops, the laundry.

I tried again. With a loud woof, wolf eyes opened in the crew lounge. Cards and chits on the table, three members of the crew looked up from their game.

"She's always watching you," said a crew member, Keta maybe.

Rothrocki said, "Oh, she's in love with Tyee."

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