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The Cadet: Part 21
This follows on from The Cadet: Part 20 and was written for kunama_wolf's prompt for more Parthi Gens. It runs to 607 words.

“Cadet Gens, please take a seat.” The Commandant indicated the chair directly across the desk from him. “My PA and my Staff Officer have orders that we are to be only to be disturbed if there is an outbreak of war. You and I need to have a conversation about why you are a first year cadet here.” He waited until Parthi was seated and then went on, “You could have applied to enlist with recognition of your notional rank and done a conversion course to become an officer. Why didn’t you?”

He sat back in his chair, folded his hands across his midriff and waited.

“There were two reasons,” Parthi began slowly. “One was an impression and one was a fact. When I was discharged I was told to ‘go off and learn to be a real kid.’ I got the feeling that no-one wanted to admit that there had been child combatants. The other reason was that I haven’t done the courses you’re supposed to do to become a Petty Officer. In fact the only courses I’ve done are gunnery courses.”

“Indeed.” The Commandant kept his hands on his midsection. “I understand from your file that your secondary education took place in Jerdu although you’re a native Ainglic speaker.”

Parthi admitted, “Yes, sir. That is so.”

“And you never, at any point, actually set foot in a secondary school. You completed distance learning work packets supplied to you by the Chief Purser of the ship you were on and returned them to him for on forwarding to the oversight authority for assessment.” The Commandant gave her a look that she could only interpret as being avuncular.

“Well, yes,” agreed Parthi. “Where is this going, sir?”

“Your educational results were split between records for Parthi Gens and Jienz Parfi, but we became aware of them all after that episode when your class was introduced to the new records system.” He smiled briefly. “You have a solid but basic secondary school record.”

“I was on a gun boat in a war zone,” offered Parthi, thinking that ‘solid but basic’ sounded unprepossessing.

The Commandant went on, “On top of that, you’ve also completed two years of a four year Commercial Science degree, every first year Jerdu literature course the University of Greater Trajan offered by correspondence in the time you were on Anchor of the Morning, and every Naval Reserve promotion course up to and including the rank of Petty Officer, First Class that it is possible to do by distance education.”

“What?” Parthi remembered who she was talking to and added, “Sorry. Sir?”

“Your Chief Purser seems to have been quite adept at passing advanced work off as age appropriate secondary lessons,” said the Commandant drily. “If someone hadn’t been so eager to keep you out of the photo opportunity that was the Anchor’s crew receiving their accumulated decorations before returning to civilian service, I’m sure he would have provided you with proper transcripts. In fact, so many corners were cut on your discharge that I’ve ordered our Personnel Section to conduct a forensic audit of the process because I am not satisfied that you received your full pay or leave entitlements. Also, Captain Sarharmudi of the Anchor has been extremely noisy about his ‘ward and charge’ being dragged away without notice or consultation. What you need to decide now, Cadet Gens, is whether you wish your current contact details to be passed to your former shipmates, and whether you actually want to be a naval officer or whether you applied to the Academy because you thought you had few choices.”

Parthi didn’t know where to begin.

This is now followed by The Cadet: Part 22.

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No, not "Oh!". "Ooh!" as in "expression of surprise and consternation." ;p

"Cadet, the available universe may be slightly bigger than you thought possible."

Given that she thought she hadn't actually matriculated....

only to be disturbed if there is an outbreak of war
There isn't one already? What was the context for the very real boarding parties on the training run, then?

Many cookies for the Anchor's Chief Purser, and everyone else backing Plan Educate.

If someone hadn’t been so eager to keep you out of the photo opportunity
And does the Commandant know who that is, and if not, will he try to find out?

Captain Sarharmudi of the Anchor has been extremely noisy about his ‘ward and charge’ being dragged away
Danovan and Merrick know where she is (after a 6+ month gap, though), but would they know that Captain Sarharmudi didn't, to think to tell him?

What you need to decide now
I hope the "now" only applies to the former, and that she can put some time into pondering the latter. Full pay and leave entitlements support thinking things over!

The war is over. The official story on the group who crashed the exercise is that they're one vessel who refused to accept the surrender.

The Commandant has a good idea who's involved. A one star officer is circling - Parthi may not have been the only issue there....

Would Danovan and Merrick know that he didn't know? They were sometimes assigned to that ship, they had liberty in the same places often enough, but he wasn't their captain. Parthi might not have known that he didn't know where she was.

Parthi doesn't have to decide either thing immediately, right now, but she does need to decide, even if not to make a decision.

That's some impressive sabotage for a lone holdout ship. <looks dubiously on the official story>

sometimes assigned to that ship
Wouldn't he be their captain when they're assigned to his ship? But sure, if they weren't with the Anchor when the war ended they might have no idea. But they know her well enough for Danovan to still be carrying a torch for her, each other well enough for Merrick to be aware of it and give him grief about it.

It sounds like Parthi was hurried away; she might not know her whereabouts were unknown, but I'll bet ~everyone from the Anchor who was at that photo op knew that she wasn't and that the captain was displeased.

<does some re-reading> She's ~18, Merrick is ~4 years older than her, and Danovan is 10+ years older than her, and she's know him (them?) since she was 14 -- right around when Merrick would've been old enough to enlist. How are new enlistees making it to the Anchor without there being an opportunity to get a young teen off an active navy vessel and back home by the reverse route?

<ponders> Were there other kids on the Anchor of the Morning?

As it happens, Merrick was in much the same position as Parthi at about the same time, except he got picked up by a Marine unit and they never found a safe place to leave him either.

Most people say 'start at the beginning' but I say 'start at the end and work backward'. :) Where does Parthi want to wind up?

Does she know?

She spent years thinking the highest she could aim for was a ship's Master Gunner, then the war ended. Then she went to the Academy to be an officer and now...she has no idea of the breadth of choices.

I guess the question would be more, does she want to be comfortable, does she want to be in charge of wherever she is, does she want to make a difference in the war, does she want to save lives... These are all reasonable goals for her but they imply different career paths. :)

Call me jaded, but there's a reason ranking officers like this only show up in stories.
It's because those in power do not actually behave this way. In fact, by and large, those in power are only looking out for themselves, and if most found all this out, they'd just continue covering up. And in fact would take further steps to do so.

Which is why your work is incredibly satisfying to read.

If I cannot sometimes write the world as I would like it to be, then there is something wrong. :)

Besides, Parthi is the flavour of the month and thanks to her more people aren't dead. Captain Niblitz is pro-Parthi, the Master Gunnery Sergeant of the Academy is pro-Parthi, I think the Senior Sailor of the Academy would be as well, and the Commandant might well have someone else in his sights.

Hoo-HAH! (That's a cry of enthusiasm there.) :-)

• dragged away with notice or consultation.
→ with no notice or consultation (¿Sí?)

"without". The word was supposed to be "without".

Go Chief Purser, go! And now I suspect there's going to be more than a little rooting around in the rest of Parthi's past. What else wasn't she informed of?

I think she's going to want to go off and ponder this for a while, with preferably enough additional time to get over the shock of the drastic change in her circumstances.

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