Victories and Surrenders

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The Defiant's halls had always been dangerous places. You never knew if you were going to be knifed or otherwise bothered. Higher-ups had to be mindful of their inferiors looking to kill them and eagerly take their places. And lower-ranking personnel had to concern themselves with assaults by the higher-ups which were often done just for fun. And if you were a low-ranking unescorted woman, may the gods help you, for you'd also have to watch out for rapists.

But things had changed.

Claymore walked out by herself, and was soon joined by Bernstein. There were hoots and hollers. Even at forty-five, and the plainer of the two, Bernstein could still turn heads. There were so few women on board, that part didn't matter. Claymore was a tad younger but still making the men lick their lips at her. They shimmied as they walked, enjoying the attention, smiling at all comers but shoving them aside. They had power, and they knew it.

The noises were loud enough – for many of the men were standing in doorways and making their attentions clearly known to all – that Pamela heard, still inside Izo's quarters. She threw on her clothes and then grabbed a scarf from a drawer. It was the one that, in the dream, she'd garroted Izo with. She tied it around her own neck, and smiled to herself, thinking of the virtually perfect crime she'd just committed. She then left the room, and joined the passing parade.

=/\=

March 28, 3109

"Uh oh," Kevin said, peering at the readings from over his coffee cup.

Carmen roused herself. She'd been dreaming of sea turtles migrating – a strangely gentle dream for such an urbanite as herself, "Wha–?"

"This is not good, Boss," he said, "The Empress's death date has changed."

"Just by a day, or a lot?"

"By, lemme see, it's sixty-seven years too soon. The timeline is still a little ... caca."

"That's not a little. Damn.  Richard, you'd better be able to reverse that, or you won't have a Temporal Integrity Commission to come back to," she rubbed her temples. A raging headache was on its way, she could tell.

=/\=

They stopped in front of the booth, where two Security guys were hanging around, guarding no one.

One of them approached Bernstein, "You free?" he asked.

"Maybe," she said, "You're Rosen, right?"

"Yep. My mother will be thrilled if I take up with a Jewish chick."

"Your mother? You actually care about those things, and about what she thinks?" Karin asked, looking him up and down.

"Not more than I care about other things," he said, "But enough that it's a little bit in my head."

"You care about anything else?"

"Things," he said, "I, uh, don't like it when I'm the only one who has fun."

"Oh," she said, "Are you, uh, are you a gentle man?"

"I can be," he said, "Wanna find out?"

She took his arm, "Okay."

The other two continued on.

=/\=

"The cooler!" Lili exclaimed, still on the surface of Lafa II.

Doug saw, and heard. He came over. She and Marie Patrice were still standing near one another, by the grill, "Doug," Lili said quietly, "Destroy the cooler."

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