Swamped Chapter 15 Page 1

You decide that there’s no sense in avoiding the central matter at hand. Everyone’s thinking about it.

“Before we can go any further, there is an obvious fact that we’ve been dancing around this whole time. Private Burgundy has more command experience than anyone in this room.”

“But she’s been stripped of rank,” Sergeant Roxley protests. “What kind of message does that send? If you’re an officer and a cadet loses an arm thanks to your careless order, that’s no big deal?”

“She seems to be handling matters well enough for now,” Eve interjects. “I don’t see why we can’t let that stand until Captain Long gets back.”

If he makes it back,” Sergeant Dominic says. “He’s going after Rider, we have to be prepared for the possibility that he doesn’t return. Not to mention the Captain isn’t without his own discipline problems.”

“Well then,” you say. “Here is my suggestion. We leave Burgundy in command for now. Should the Captain return, we will question him about his behavior. Should he fail to return, or we find him unfit to command, we will select a new leader. At that time, we can review Burgundy’s decisions during our current crisis. We can just handle matters one at a time.”

“Not good enough for me,” Roxley says, shaking her head. “I can handle having Burgundy in charge for now. But sooner or later, either Greenwoods or Ash will wake up. It doesn’t make sense to keep Burgundy in temporary command when we’ve got a senior sergeant who hasn’t been demoted.”

“And I say it should be Ash,” Dominic chimes in. “Just look at the defenses he’s set up in just one night of command. Why, a few hours ago, I would have doubted we could handle another ambush at all.”

“Very well, then,” you sigh. “We have two motions. First, motion to allow Burgundy command until Captain Long returns or our longer-term choice for acting commander is alert.”

“Aye,” everyone says, except John Medic, who recuses himself from the vote for personal reasons.

“Carried. And the next vote will be on who replaces Captain Long should it be deemed necessary. Does anyone want to suggest someone other than Sergeants Ash or Greenwoods?”

Everyone shakes their heads.

“Well, then. All for Greenwoods? Aye from me.”

John Medic, Tom First, and Eve all vote aye as well.

“And for Ash?”

Here, there’s a resounding vote of Aye from the four sergeants.

“That’s four for Greenwood, and four for Ash,” you mutter. “Hang on a minute. There were supposed to be nine here…”

You glance around the table and realize who’s missing.

“Where’s the Postmaster?”

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Making heads or tails of a weird letter

and sending back an even more cryptic reply.

We’ve got owls in the roost