“This is going to be interesting, isn’t it?” Prince Eustarius, more usually known in his squad and on the ship by his call sign of Carbon, lounged back in his seat in the ready room as he regarded his cousin and squad mate, Steel. He, in turn, was reading a letter from the Office of the King’s Household to Prince Castaris, which was not a problem as he was also that royal gentleman. Their other two squad mates, Maze and Dark, had turned to look at them from where they were playing darts.
“Yes,” Steel agreed. “On the one hand, we have been ordered to attend Admiral Gastenev’s cocktail party as a place of parade by our Captain, who in turn is acting on orders from the Fleet Commander. On the other hand, the Office of the King’s Household advises me that on no account am I or any of my companions at arms, to wit you three by name and rank,” he waved his letter inclusively to encompass the three of them, “to cross the King’s will and attend Admiral Gastenev’s soiree of the same time, date and location.”
“See the Captain,” suggested Dark, looming over Maze with darts in his hand. “Perhaps we can get an exception or a duty roster change?”
A few hours later, the Captain was asking, “So, Steel, just what do you hope to achieve by this meeting?”
“I’m hoping to get my two sets of orders deconflicted, sir. I have the greatest respect for your authority, but neither can I disobey my uncle.” Steel let that hang in the air, the Captain knew who he was talking about.
“If this had come from the desk of His Majesty’s Military Attaché, I could do something with it,” the Captain told him regretfully, “but as it stands, the Office of the King’s Household isn’t in my chain of command. The Fleet Commander is.”
“I, on the other hand, sir, am sworn to obey the legitimate orders of both. Might my squad and I offer to stand duty for the watch of the cocktail party?”
“Regretfully, no.” The Captain grimaced. “As we are in a secure port, a protective squad on watch is not considered necessary.”
“So, sir, which leaves me one possibility.” Steel’s face tightened as he asked, “What do I need to do to get us locked in the brig for the night of this party?”