Swamped Chapter 17 Page 6

First things first, you’ve got to get Sieve out of the way. Fortunately, it’s not long before you spot Shorty wandering in.

“What are you doing here, Shorty?” you call out. “You didn’t grab a bite right after debriefing?”

“Hang on, he’s on your squad, isn’t he?” Sieve says, grinning. “So he wouldn’t have heard about Rider, either…”

“Probably not,” you say with a shrug.

“Oh, good, good. Maybe I can find out where the rest of your squad is. They really ought to get the story straight from me.”

And with that, Sieve rushes off to intercept Shorty. You glance in their direction; Shorty gives you a “what do I do” glance, and you toss him a quick “lead target away” signal.

It takes him a moment to get the idea, but soon enough you see him leading Sieve out of the hall. That gives you some privacy with Keeper.

Now it’s time to press him. Maybe you can even leave him with the idea that, personal matters aside, you’d give his concerns voice on the council.

“Seriously, who’d you recommend? You’ve got me curious.”

“Why do you care? You never struck me as one to give much thought to who was on the council.”

“Yeah, well, that was before last night’s mess. We could have been rescued hours earlier if we didn’t send out so many troops on that damned raid. And from what I’ve heard, it was a bust. So you know what, I think I do give a damn who’s going to be on the council now.”

Keeper does that hoarse laugh of his again.

“Fine then, I’ll tell you. We suggested Requiem. Figured Mantis would be keen on them.”

“Requiem! Why Requiem?”

“I told you. We want a support officer. Yeah, maybe they don’t understand the problems as well as we’d like, but as postmaster, they’ve got a better view of it than Mantis does. Plus, having some sway with Mantis might help them get in. Best chance we’ve got, I figured.”

“Are you kidding me? The roost is a shambles! I didn’t even know we had a postmaster, that’s how bad it is! We’d be better off putting the crows on the council!”

“I’m not happy with it either. But they’re the best option we could think of.”

“Come on, now. It doesn’t need to be a support officer, per se. Just needs to be someone who’ll actually listen to you.”

“Good luck there.” Keeper laughs again. “You’re the first person to ask my opinion on anything in months. And I bet it’s just because you’re angling to get something from my stash again.”

Ugh. It’s true you haven’t had a stiff drink in a long time, and Keeper’s not going to forget your last few desperate efforts to get one. Doc won’t, either, but that’s a problem to deal with tomorrow.

But you’ve accepted that your drinking days are behind you now. And hell, you really do want to help the bastard. How can you convince him of that?

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waste swampmuck by pouring it all over the floor to prove how uninterested you are in drinking it


I mean, what /are/ the problems support officers have, beyond the general problems every position on this base has?
no, really, you want to know


You’ve been off the stuff since Rider put you in charge of the squad. Having folks to look after has really shaped you, even if it’s barely been a year.

Folks don’t often talk about their past, but you’ve seen how merchants work – not the seedy crap that brought you here, but there were some good ones, and they always stared by keeping their support in order. It was the ones who skimped on the basics that burned up fast and got gobbled up by the big fish. You don’t need him to think you care – you just need to show him you understand.

…also you should maybe help clean up that brew you poured everywhere.

Author’s Note:

I don’t remember if I meant the “crows on the council” line to be a deliberate subtle nudge by Corvus, but I’m very sure it was intentional on my part.