A Sword of Ivy, Part 12

Being the head of the Supreme Commander’s security detail was surprisingly mundane, at first. Or perhaps it wasn’t so surprising. After all, an exciting day when you were trying to protect somebody from bodily harm would most likely be a very bad day as well. Still, Hana couldn’t help but feel a little disappointment at how boring her life was now. Even though she had plenty of work to do, it wasn’t the same as the work she’d done in command of Starfengt. She knew it was important, and she still did it with the same level of dedication and excellence as she’d done all of her work, but she couldn’t help but feel a little let down at how ordinary it all was.

There was also a little frustration involved in being responsible for the safety of an extremely intelligent and stubborn man. For example, now that she was in charge of Dren Calabane’s security, Hana felt obligated to share her vague suspicions of his personal assistant, Morken Velenoth. Unfortunately, Calabane had absolutely refused to allow Hana to do anything to investigate him. He’d said that he was completely and utterly convinced of Velenoth’s loyalty, and he didn’t want to hear another word against him. Granted, Hana had absolutely no proof that Velenoth was anybody other than who he said he was, but it was more than a little frustrating to not even be allowed to investigate.

After all, Calabane himself had said that Hana was the only person he could trust completely. If he really trusted Velenoth, why wasn’t Velenoth part of Hana’s security team? Nobody had more access to Calabane than Morken Velenoth, except for Hana herself. If he was really working for Ven Ron, he was perfectly positioned to eliminate Calabane whenever Ron decided.

So, Hana went ahead and investigated Velenoth in her spare time. She felt a little bad going behind the Supreme Commander’s back and doing something that he’d specifically ordered her not to do. But knowing she’d followed orders to the letter wouldn’t be much of a comfort if Ven Ron managed to seize control of Fangalin. Unfortunately, Hana had very little free time these days. The work she was doing may have been boring, but there was also a great deal of it. In addition to screening for threats and making sure the Grand Hall was secure, she was also investigating Ven Ron and the other members of his party on the Council. If she could find any dirt on Ron or his party, it would at least help undermine his campaign to overthrow Calabane.

But Hana was obsessed with finding something fishy about Velenoth. She just had this gut feeling that he was hiding something. Unfortunately, between her lack of free time, and Velenoth’s subterfuge, (or, Hana had to admit to herself, the fact that there wasn’t anything there to find), she hadn’t been able to find any proof that he was working for anyone except the Supreme Commander.

Aside from her lingering suspicions about Velenoth, things were going pretty good for Hana. Being an admiral certainly had its advantages, not least of which was a large, new apartment near the heart of Crez. It was by far the fanciest place that Hana had ever lived, and in fact, it was nice enough that it almost made her not miss being in command of Starfengt. Almost.

And that was the hardest part of her new position, by far. The people in Starfengt were the closest thing she had to family, and she missed them terribly. In theory, she could still contact them, but they had been sent off on an assignment in the Empire, and as she was no longer within the chain of command for Starfengt, she wasn’t privy to their assignments anymore, so she didn’t know where they were or what they were doing. And losing that connection with those people was far harder than she imagined it would be. Not only did she miss them terribly, but it was easy to imagine that they didn’t miss her at all. After all, she hadn’t heard from them at all since they’d held a going-away party for her, and, as far as she knew, they hadn’t given her a moment’s thought since that party. She knew it was a completely irrational thought, but she was also lonely enough that, when she didn’t have anything else occupying her mind, it was all she could think about.

Fortunately, moments when she didn’t have anything else occupying her mind were extremely rare. Between her work and her obsession with Morken Velenoth, her mind was usually pretty crammed full of thoughts and information. At times, it almost felt like being back at Imperial University, working with her friends to overthrow the corrupt rule of an unjust usurper, spending all of her time studying and researching, trying to find that one little piece of information that would make everything else fall into place.

But just as she was never able to find that one little piece during her insurrectionary days, she worried that she wouldn’t be able to find it now. If Velenoth was dirty, he’d covered his tracks extremely well. Here and there, Hana found bits and pieces that increased her suspicions about Velenoth, but nothing concrete. He’d had dinner with Ven Ron once, years before he became Dren Calabane’s executive assistant. One of the councilors in Ron’s faction was Velenoth’s sister’s husband’s uncle. Little things, that were enough to convince Hana that her gut was right, but not enough to convince Calabane to begin a formal investigation of Velenoth.

Even aside from Velenoth, her investigations into Ron and his party were also going nowhere. If Velenoth was an eel, then Ron was a mist. Even knowing that Ron was actively conspiring against the Supreme Commander, she was finding it very difficult to pin anything concrete on him. The most suspicious thing she could find was that one of his financial backers was based in the Empire. But that was hardly unusual. The Empire was riddled with Fangalin sleeper agents. No, she was going to have to find something much more nefarious than that, if Calabane was going to be able to remove him from the Grand Council. And time was running out.

To be continued..

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