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Chapter 2 - The Advisor[]

The "Oaken Cudgel"
Durna Naval Shipyard's Officer's club..
Durna System
Lyran Commonwealth

Within the LCAF of the 3150s, there is an urban legend-well, more like an urban mythology, surrounding the off-duty activities of the Lyran Commonwealth Navy.

A large part of this, is the massive list of areas LCN personnel are not allowed to go in their off-duty hours, and the truly microscopic size of their leave accrual formulae, particularly after the 'Monday Morning Massacre' in 3143-the mass of arrests and firings-for-cause carried out by then-Chief of Naval Operations Sharon Elizabeth Ngo.

LCN personnel at the end of their working day have an extremely limited number of places to go in order to recreate-and a standing order barring them from membership, contribution, or association with the vast number of Business and Noble associations frequented by. Among others, most were of the LCAF's elite.

In a sense, entry into Naval Service means swearing off of a normal civilian social network, normal civilian political ties, and normal civilian (or even LCAF regular military) back-channel contacts.

In place of this, is life in a bottle society. Where who you were on the 'outside' is neither barrier, nor assistance. In determining who you are inside the bottle.  The crude sons and daughters of paupers command and lead the sophisticated children of nobles were here and the manners of 'Navy society' are rooted in a constant drumbeat of readiness, forethought, planning, and an aesthetic pragmatism that demands every person travel light and occupy the minimum of cubic centimeters.

This, in turn, has had secondary impacts; LCN Spacers who DO go on leave, spend a lot of money-because they haven't been spending it.  The physical fitness demands of the service (not really codified so much as a direct result of constant activity and carefully balanced meal plans) when combined with the curve-hugging nature of the LCN's central uniform garment (worn on or off duty, in space or planetside). The "Skinsuit" life support undergarment, creates an image of robust physical health, and looks good-even better when combined with authorized off-duty wear.  (This does bring in the recruits-lots of money and fit, strong people who show it off brings in lots of recruits.)

Of course, people on the outside sexualize it, fantasies and rumors of decadent debauchery and wild parties....'just out of sight on post' draw the young and the curious.  The LCN's record of winning, draws in many more of a martial inclination.  As often as Admiral Ngo credited LCAF ground forces with the victory over the Clans, General of the Armies Roderick Steiner has been quietly firm about crediting much of his success to the reforms of the Naval branch.

Armed with this collection of false impressions, we now get a look at "The Oaken Cudgel", aka "The Officer's Club".  Officer's clubs were a dying institution at one point but, under the new Navy's restrictions. These establishments have seen a resurgence at every LCN naval base installation along with "Enlisted Personnel Clubs" and "All Ranks Establishments".

Contrary to the popular myth, these are not the sites of debauched orgies of such decadence that they can't be discussed in polite society.  The Oaken Cudgel, for an example. Here more or less was a bar-and-grill with a dance floor. Some sensie-dee booths in the back, and a few rooms for drunks to 'dry out' in. With a very exclusive clientele-Lyran Commonwealth Naval Officers who are either banking leave or don't have enough accrued to go anywhere in their off-time.  Indeed, it bears more resemblance to a typical planetside family restaurant-only everyone inside is either Commonwealth Navy, or a Naval dependent (wife, kids, and so on).

Prices at the bar are low by any standard, as are prices for meals, or for the rather pedestrian and mundane entertainments.

On Friday nights, Minor children are not permitted in the 'Dance hall' of the place. This in which is turned over to unmarried officers and selectively screened civilian 'recreation contractors' (screened for possible intelligence connections, STD's or drug problems and criminal records.  Notably a record for prostitution is considered to be a resume' enhancer for some of these contractors, but the hookers are paid for by the Navy, and expected to behave to a certain...ehm...standard.)

It's Friday Night.  Lt. Commander Anh "Aneh" McCoy is in the dance-hall looking for...something to knock the edge off.  She's wearing a bright white Leatherette jacket that comes to about mid-rib on her skinsuit. Which is open from the neckline to just above the edge of her bra, showing off the dark patterning of her Arlunan 'birthmarks', the hereditary aftermath of parents who survived the Flu and managed to have children on a world where you can still sometimes smell the death of ninety years ago on her world went from over two billion human inhabitants, to just under two hundred thousand.

'Plague marks' are common where she's from, and thirteen other worlds also have natives that bear those marks.  As an Arlunan, she doesn't use cosmetics to cover them, she wears them openly, with pride.

It makes getting laid a little difficult.  Her accent makes it worse.  Compounding this, are the silver rank-pins on her skinsuit. However tonight, she's feeling particularly aggressive about displaying her heritage with pride.  She's playing 'wingman' for a friend, who's dancing with a Marine from the LCS Tatyana Steiner, while Aneh sips a mixed drink she couldn't pronounce in three languages from a stemmed glass.

"Hey hey foxy lady!"

She turned at the strange accent, and found herself face-to-face with a foreign officer.  The sword-and-starburst on his mess jacket announced his origin-the AFFS/Naval was rumored to have a team looking into naval Technologies at the Archon's invitation, but she never expected to see one, especially not here.

"Great Party!" he adds.  "Will you dance with me?"

Aneh looked him over with an eye at first.  No skinsuit, awkward in his mag-boots, clumsy...

"Ja!!" she answered, and let the foreigner take her out onto the floor.

Anh has a lot of practice with 'port boys'-if they're not turned off instantly by the darker skin around her eyes, throat, and other areas, speaking less means maybe a little companionship...a fun roll with someone who smells good and can satisfy that urge for a while.  Speaking more-letting them hear the Hills in her speech? Not so much.

Spacers aren't so bad but, dirtyfeet who hear her speaking tend to make nasty assumptions or demands she doesn't want in ways she simply won't tolerate.

Speak less, get treated better.  It was a simple formula.  The Fed was handsome and he approached her.

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