Lt. Honda was sent out to speak with Diurn, and Nova knew immediately this would be a problem. The only way it could've been worse is if William had sent one of the Starka women from Thera.

" The Commodore General said the duel venue will be our gymnasium," she informed him.

He did not look at her, staring a hole straight through Nova's head.

Nova was having a lot of horrible, terrible, no-good feelings already, and somehow, not seeing William was making him more anxious, hackled.

" He'll meet you there at the start of the duel," she said, voice still as steely as a human's could get, and then she looked over to Nova. " Lyena-Nova, he wanted to speak with you beforehand. If you wish to as well, you should go."

Nova hated how Diurn's eyes felt on him.

The accusation of it- the mere concept of being with William was alien and unwelcome. Even if William was... Well, William wouldn't be open to it. He certainly didn't have any honour or professionality, but he was also totally and completely oblivious to everything that went on around him.

Furthermore, he was a helpless, annoying mess, with a gratingly pleasant personality, and, it pricked at the corners of Nova's mind, that if he had really been the one who achieved that victory at Thera, then that... And again, it couldn't have been him. If it had been, though, he'd sooner challenge him to a duel himself then entertain any notion of raeli.

" I suppose I'll entertain his last words," Nova said carelessly, standing. " Though I doubt he's got anything of real importance to say."

Diurn gave him another one of those looks; made his skin crawl.

God, he would hate being back in the Empire. Having to actually do things. In retrospect, his lifestyle as a cultural ambassador was much less stressful, even if it left him feeling restless. He hated each and every single one of his brothers and their petty feuds.

He hated Queen Mother for making more of them.

Under the DASS non-aggression sapient rights bill, she could take birth control. Nova chalked it up to willful and particular hatred towards him that she did not.