CS Silk Gauntlet, Quarterdeck, Mistmorn+15 (first watch).
“Commander’s Defaulters!” The haft of the Master-at-Arms’s axe thudded on the deck plating. “Accused will advance and stand.”
The legionary corporal who entered the room and stood before Flight Administrator Commander Allatrian-ith-Aplan’s desk snatched off the beret of his field dress, and snapped to attention.
“What are the charges?”
“The accused is charged with two violations of Article Seventeen, challenging another crewman to single combat in time of war. The accused does not contest these charges, and both witnesses and the flight recorder concur.”
“I see.” The commander regarded the corporal coldly. “Do you have any further statements to make, Corporal Sereda? Your record is otherwise excellent, but this is a serious charge.”
The corporal struggled for a moment, before speaking. “I request clemency, sir, on the grounds of provocation.”
“Well, sir, even if I have received the Reinstantiation Stripe three times in the course of this mission, my — that is, spacehands Cularius and Finerides had no right to deliberately get me drunk on leave and have a version number tattooed on my a — my left buttock. Sir.”
“They…” The commander firmly controlled his expression, while the Master-at-Arms, fortunately out of view of the accused, had lost the battle with his smirk. “…versioned you, corporal?”
“Yes, sir. During shore leave on Qeraq.” He gazed straight ahead. “With fixed ink, sir.”
“Very well.” The commander considered the corporal for another few dozen seconds. “Accepting that you were provoked by the actions of your crewmates, I nonetheless remind you that this is no excuse for a violation of the Articles, especially in time of war. There are proper channels for any such grievance to be pursued, and a proper time and place, none of which would have brought you here. Nor do I expect to see you here again in the future. Do I make myself clear?”
“You do, sir.”
“In light of his excellent prior record, for violation of Article Seventeen, the accused will confine himself to quarters for two days and is fined two weeks’ pay. Dismissed.”
The Master-at-Arms’s axe thudded on the deck once again. “About face! Quarters, march!”
“And Master? Have the bosun suggest quite firmly to our two practical jokers that they find it in their hearts to pay for the offending, ah, version number to be removed.”