" I won't accept an apology," Rosenthal stated. " I will acknowledge that he came here in the interest of continued peace. If his regime enters DASS, I will vote to allow it. But I will not forgive or forget."

William stared at her with a thin smile, holding out his hand for a shake that was most definitely not going to occur.

He lowered it after a moment.

She didn't even look at him as she spoke.

" You're so keen to defend your Starka, Masterson. Isn't he the one that mauled your hand?"

" It wasn't a mauling," William replied defensively. " It was an accident. He feels bad about it."

" You're willing to say that much on your lover's behalf? You sound like a domestic violence victim."

William stared at her.

" I never said-"

" It's obvious to anyone with any sense that you are, and it's why I'm so disgusted with you," she snapped. " I'm recommending Dawson to demote you."

William did not say anything else. He left.