Dawson was reading over his budget allocation and plotted star course for the next two months, quietly, intensely.

" Masterson."

" Yes?"

" You've been drifting a bit closer to imperial territory lately."

" The prince ambassador is picky about his imports, and having the course closer to them reduces shipping costs."

" Ah. Yes. I'm surprised you would think to account for that. Are his luxuries really so much an issue?"

" I'd prefer he have a relatively positive view of our fleet and associated amenities."

" Though, at the twenty-seventh day course, won't you be adjacent with Diurn's territory? I've heard he's a separatist."

" He won't be nearly so bold as to instigate hostilities against a fleet harboring his own brother, even if he's controlling an anti-DASS faction. And it's not as though commoners and merchants in that area follow his ideals so scrupulously."

" You take far too many risks for a person in your condition, Masterson. Wouldn't you consider this flaunting your authority?"

" Eh? No, it's perfectly innocent! I'm sure that no one will mind us being so close to their territory if it's for their beloved Crown Prince's sake! And the DASS Starka would probably like to be close to home for a bit."

Dawson always gave him reproachful looks when he did reckless things.

But he felt that he had to, after all.