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Chapter 56 - Important People[]

Spaceport
Pretoria
New Capetown Star System
Lyran Commonwealth
February 15, 3098


The Afrikaners and other settlers had put their primary settlement practically a perfect fifteen degrees north of New Capetown's equator, on a flat plain made for hosting dropships.  The climate here was tropical and arid.

Amanda's skinsuit was climate controlled and comfortable even under the dress uniform overgarment.
 

A Marine Fireteam, plus Irena herself as a sixth, lifted Koren Van Oosten's casket from the cradles mounted to the rear of the Mark VII-K landing craft, and carried the body down the ramp.

Standing with the other ship's officers, Amanda had a good view of the crowd gathered here.  The Van Oostens weren't the Noble family in charge of all of New Capetown.  That honor (dubious though she considered it) belonged to the Hearscht family, and she could see that a scion of that ruling family had made the trip from New Hope to Pretoria with a decently sized (and well armed) group of cadre and cadets from the Royal New Capetown Military Academy.

The casket was brought by the fireteam to a waiting carriage where the cadets in the burial detail took charge.  With a salute, Irena was freed.

She didn't go toward her family first, but instead joined Amanda near the ramp.

"You're not going to talk to your parents?"

"They don't want to talk to me." Irena said quietly.  "We should go now."

Something didn't sit right.  "That's not right." Amanda said quietly.  "We go now, you miss the funeral."

"Which will overjoy my father,"Irena told her.

"Uh, no.  Lieutenant Van Oosten, we don't do that.  I want to hear it from them."

"That's-"

"Follow." Amanda stalked across the tarmac.  She didn't look back or voice urging but, she could hear her friend's footsteps behind her.

"Guten tag, herr Baron," Amanda said, cautiously expecting the most grief stricken man there to be Irena's father.

Baron Markus Van Oosten looked at her, frowned and said, "Guten tag, herr Hauptmann?"

"Close enough.  Your German's as bad as mine, how's your English?" Amanda asked brusquely.

"I am an educated man." he said.

"You're Hauptmann Koren Van Oosten's father, yes?" asked Amanda

"Yes."

"On behalf of the Realm, I offer my condolences on your loss, your daughter was a fine officer, she will be missed." Amanda recited with cold precision.  "She died protecting the realm from traitors.  I understand that the memorial services are this Saturday?"

"They are." he said miserably.  He pointedly looked over Amanda's shoulder, before meeting her eyes again, "Irena is using you as an intermediary?"

"Apparently so." Amanda said crisply.  "I don't know what went down between you and I don't care. You both lost someone dear to you. While I didn't serve with Koren, Irena's one of mine now.  She will be attending unless this poses a problem for your family."

"One... of... yours.  That sounds almost... possessive." he said, a little of his non-grief-character slipping in with offense.
 

"Please explain."

"It means I have ordered her to attend the funeral. I intend to see it through unless your family has objections." Amanda stated.  "I would be remiss in my duties as her superior officer if I did not make some attempt to seal breaches in her personal life that may impact her performance as an officer in the Navy, Sir.  Unresolved conflicts and grief can have a negative impact on an officer's ability in both combat, and non-combat operations."

It was a flimsy excuse and Amanda knew it.  She was not about to inject her entire upbringing and cultural beliefs, nor her deep concern for Irena, not to this man.  She had a 'feel' for his culture from spending time with her friend, and listening to the folk songs she loved.

"I... appreciate your attempt, Herr.. it is 'Lieutenant' in the Navy, ja?"br>

"Yes sir, but LCAF regs allow the use of Hauptmann interchangably due to the number of missions and operations conducted with and on behalf of ground forces," Amanda told him.  "Therefore, either rank is correct."

"As I said, I appreciate your efforts, Lieutenant.  You are both welcome to attend."

"Thank you, sir." said Amanda



[Later that evening at a hotel in Pretoria...]

"I didn't ask you to interfere!" Irena scolded.  Amanda shrugged.

"Look at me!" said Irena

Amanda turned to meet her friend's eyes.  "I know, you didn't." she said.  "I dragged you out of a bar and made you pack your sister's goods, I dragged you all the way back here,  Do you think I did this because it's fun?"
"I don't know why you did it!" Irena scowled.  "It's none of your business!"

"I disagree." Amanda told her.  "My mother can barely look at her brother, she can barely stand to be in the same building with him, and he gave up his freedom to try and help her."  Her tone was calm and level.  "You and your family had a falling out.  That's fine, but your sister tried to patch it up at the ball.  She's dead now.  Someone has to continue the work."

Irena's eyes went wide, "You think you can-"

"Not me." Amanda said.  "I'm an outsider.  An outsider who out-ranks you, but an outsider.  I can't fix things but, I can make you try, because it's unresolved business, and because the Hearscht family are Victorist right up to the current Duke's receding hairline.  It doesn't have to work, but you do have to try."

"Politics," Irena said.  "This is about politics?"

"Your sister was killed by pro-Victor partisans.  Your father controls the second largest landhold on New Capetown. He's lost a favored child. Yes.  It's about politics.  It's about trying to stitch a realm breaking at the seams back together without killing lots of people." Amanda outlined.  "That's what Mom had me in the office for six hours about.  It's why I got the TDY to get you home.  It's why I'm here.  It's the mission.  It doesn't have to succeed.  You don't have to reconcile with your pa but, you're required to try."



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