Kirie brought him lunch, a Starka cadet trailing her a bit anxiously.

The girl bowed deeply.

" Commodore General, sir, I, um, this is the first time we've talked, but-"

" Ah, Neda, right? You came from the liberated territory in Thrace. Is there something you need?"

She stood straight up, surprised at the mention of her name.

" Lieutenant Honda said she knew you, so I asked to t-talk to you, because I just wanted to, you know..."

William took a bite of his salad.

" You know?"

He was secretly relieved that she seemed like a normal girl, and not an inscrutable block of ice.

" I wanted to thank you formally for the liberation of Ther- Thrace, and associated charitable efforts," she said, voice stiff and projected as an effort to sound less nervous. " Because of the strategic actions taken by you as a Captain during that conflict, my town was able to become part of DASS territory, and I was able to enlist as a soldier of DASS, and so I'm. I'm very grateful. Thank you."

He blinked, looking at her. Kirie seemed like she'd heard the whole ramble before.

" Hm. That's certainly very thoughtful of you. Do you want the rest of this salad? I'm not so fond of the Silurian vegetables."

Kirie suppressed a laugh, but Neda accepted it with a great deal of excitement.


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