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bright_ephemera
06.12.2012 , 05:22 PM | #47
26. In which Nalenne asks Pierce a long-suppressed question

There once was a soldier who heard
That “authority” wasn’t a word.
He would win, and repeat,
Each objective complete,
But still flipped all his bosses the bird.



“Pierce?”

“Yes, milord?”

“We’ve known each other for a while now. Been through a lot together, you know? You’ve always come through when I needed you.”

He didn’t look up from the blaster rifle he was fiddling with. “That’s so.”

Nalenne took a deep breath. “I’ve really…enjoyed…getting to know you so far. So I had…I had a question. It’s been on my mind for a while.”

He eyed her warily. “Say it or don’t, milord.”

“What’s your first name?”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Ha! Wouldn’t you like to know!”

“Even your permanent record doesn’t say anything.”

“Had a friend clear that long ago. Earn his slicing creds before I set him up for promotion. Won’t tell you how to find him, though.”

“First name. I want to know.”

“It’s ‘Lieutenant,’ milord,” he said slyly. “At least until you figure out a way to double-promote me to ‘Major’ Pierce. – ‘Captain’ is still out of the question in this crowd.”

“I could just assign you a name. Something awful, like ‘Archiban.’ And address you by it twenty times a day.”

“Do as you like. Won’t bother me.”

It really wouldn’t, too. That was the problem with Pierce. Nothing fazed him; if he didn’t feel like listening to her, she had no hold over him. “What difference does it make to you, lieutenant? Why so protective?”

“That’s my own dark secret.”

There were words normal people used to get results. “Tell me, um, please?”

“Nope. Milord.”

“I order you to tell me.”

“Nope. Milord.” Before she could think of an answer for that bald defiance, he chuckled and went on. “If you were searching my permanent record you’ll remember the noted history of insubordination.”

“I could kill your family one by one until you answer me.”

“You could,” he said, casual as ever. “Can’t say I fancy the idea, but you could certainly give it a shot.”

“So you’ll just leave me wondering forever?”

He turned the blaster rifle upright and checked the barrel’s alignment. “That’s about the shape of it, milord. A man’s got to have some secrets.” He laughed again.

Nalenne considered the offended flounce, but that never seemed appropriate around Pierce. So she opted for stalking toward the door.

“Hey. Milord.”

“Yes?”

Still grinning, Pierce set the blaster down and looked up at her. “Not sure I’ve ever thanked you for taking me on. The fights, the tech, the driving you to distraction…I’d never have had this much fun anywhere else.”

“You’re an evil man.”

“Which is just what you need around here.”

She couldn't argue with that. Historically, there was never any point whatsoever in arguing with Pierce.
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