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Chapter 1 - Important People[]

Kowloon System
Lyran Commonwealth

Patrick looked older. Though Amanda.

She was going to have to get used to the differences now. They were separated by six years of life, six years of development, and six years of aging.

"Penny." she said, "You let people call you, Penny?"
"I let your mom call me Penny, I let Patrick call me Penny, and I let you call me Penny.  Everyone else better use the correct form." Penelope Falcone was like a miniature Cimbral in some ways, and in others, she...wasn't.  "What?"

"You remind me of..someone else." Amanda Ngo confessed.  "I guess I guessed right, he would've liked Cimbral."

"If he did, I would have to knock her teeth in.  Patrick might be your brother, but he's mine." Penelope affirmed, "I'm territorial."

"That's sometimes a sign of insecurity, at least, according to the mandatory psych classes." Amanda teased.

The Aeropilot phenotype trueborn gave her a dirty smirk. "You'd know." she said,  "How's it feel, graduating six years behind your twin brother?"

"Weird as ******." Amanda said, "How do I look?"

"Well, the ribbon rack would draw looks anywhere but here..." Penelope adjusted the dress uniform overgarment so that the split collar didn't look awkward around Amanda's helmet ring.  "Your rig is good.  Real gear, not that dress uniform shit.  You realize you are the only Midshipman Graduate who will be graduating into an O-2 slot, right? and you have the combat patch, some of the instructors do not have that these days."

"I know, how does the braid look?"

"Snappy. Silver and Black, right number of loops, and...ooh...yeah, don't want you dinged for that, pull your hair aside on the Left?"

Amanda did so.  Penelope stepped up on the storage locker, leaned forward, and..


"Silver is for surviving a sinking, right? and Gold for shipwreck?"

"YES!! Jesus!! What the hell?"

"Earring." Penelope said, "It is in the Uniform guide...yep, I got it right on point for you, now do not be a baby about this, leave it in for a couple of days, then follow the regulation care guide if you do not want to have that stinging sensation again when you have to put one in for State occasions."

Amanda winced and straightened, as Penelope took the opportunity to alter her hairstyle to better display the earring.

"There we go...Yarr."
"You're lucky I like you, Penelope."

"No, I am lucky your brother loves me...there we go. Dress and press, you are ready to walk the deck to receive your commission now."

"When are you two registering your partnership?" Amanda asked.

"Soon.  Your mom insists on a public wedding.  I swear, if I could make you take that Heir Status back, I would."

"Hey, screw that! Since I'm the spare, I get to go out into the deep black where nobody has soon as we aren't being hit with restraining orders from the Estates General, or Archon's orders, or diplomatic harassment..."

"Yeah. I am learning." Penelope said, "If we weren't hiding half the budget in research and science..."

"We wouldn't have a fleet anymore. I know."  Amanda scowled,  "It's cutting into my ship-time as it is.  LCN's Hours restrictions are getting burdensome, and Adam is really cranking hard on the distance limits." she shook her head, "Why aren't we just doing it and asking for permission?"

"That because we're already in trouble for doing just exactly that?" Penny asked, "Cheer up, I hear a rumor there's another exchange slot with the Falcons coming up, and they're looking for expeeerience..."

Amanda snorted. "It's time at sea, sure, but Christ, their doctrine! I'd be stuck all day doing reports and paperwork waiting for something to happen."

"Falcon boys are fit, and if I do say so myself, we bred for good looks."

"Between you and mom, is everyone trying harder to get me laid than I am?"

"Probably." Penelope agreed amiably.  "People are still worried about you, Amanda. You were catatonic for two months after you got back from being in hyperspace for six years."

"Yeah...I know. people are worried about my head, which means my chance of getting a ride of my own is pretty goddam slim."

"Your mom will not pull strings to get you a command, Amanda. You know that."

Amanda nodded, "I know.  I have my guild cert card and I can't even get a navigator slot!"

"Well, maybe after today, you'll have an easier time of it." Penelope offered, "If not, I can always ask you to come over to R&D and do some real research..."

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