" William... Are you really going to take all this time off? Even though we're at peace, this is still..."

She was looking over all of it worriedly.

" And you're sending Lyeha back before you leave? What's the delay for...?"

" Oh, I figured it'd be more inconspicuous if we went on a civilian passenger liner," William said. " They already expect Lyeha to be returning, and putting her back through official channels gives her a bit more protection, I think. But, I would like citizens of DASS to assume Nova is still aboard, and I would also rather those on Sturm not be aware of my actual rank, if at all possible."

He explained this with a great deal of both cheer and patience.

Kirie covered her face.

" William, this is so much," she said. " You already got in trouble with a senior officer. This is so much."

" It's perfectly legal, though."

" Even if you did plot our star course and arrange things with First Officer Sivira, do you really think Dawson will be alright with all this...?"

" I mean, why not?" William asked. " I'm just taking a little time off for myself, completely reasonable, seeing as I've not ever taken a single day before."

" ... William... You really like Lyena-Nova, don't you?"

" Oh, do I?"