William was sitting in his chair, holding a printed copy of the private plans for the research and development, still smiling.

It felt like all the air had been sucked out of his lungs. Like the emergency sealant was aerosolized, clogging his throat.

Kirie, standing primly in front of him, repeated herself.

" I've been promoted by General Eyre," she said. " I'm being transferred to Liturgica as first mate."

He couldn't do or say anything, just smile thinly. The papers were falling out of his hands.

All over the desk.

" Ki... ri... e..." He managed to speak, faintly.

" Dawson gave her the executive authority on a provisionary basis," Kirie said.

She bowed her head rather stiffly.

" Kirie," he repeated.

" I'll be transferring my personal belongings this evening," she said. " The promotion takes effect in the computer systems at 00:00 DST."