Obligated Service

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By The Book
A Call To Arms
Beauty and the Beast
The Best Laid Plans
Obligated Service

"Obligated Service", written by Joelle Presby, is the fifth and final short story in the sixth Honorverse anthology, Beginnings, published in July 2013.

Timeframe: 1921-1922 PD

Plot Edit

Claire Bedlam Lecroix, one of the first women to serve as an officer candidate in the Grayson Space Navy, faces numerous challenges in a uniformed service almost completely dominated by men.

Claire was from Burdette Steading, her midshipwoman's warrant was issued with the implicit understanding that when she inevetably found Saganami Island too difficult, the Steadholder's family would help her family see that she is properly looked after. However, Claire was an orphaned poor only child, officially part of her younger teenage cousin Noah Bedlam's household, and her Aunt Jezzy told her that if she wasted the only chance in seven generations the Bedlams had of rising above abject poverty, she had better have found another family. Even worse, during her time on the Island, her cousin discovered how to drain the family finances, which included Claire's due to the fact that under Burdette law a woman's protector is responsible for her debts and property.

Claire was assigned to GNS Ephraim for her midshipwoman cruise, however, she never received the cruise as Ephraim was undergoing a refit in the Blackbird Yard. To add insult to injury, she was never even given a berth aboard, instead being housed on the base at her own expense, and the vast majority of her midshipwoman qualifications were left undone. After a year and a half, with the refit complete, and the Office of Personnel asking questions, rather than denying her commission outright, Captain Ayres intended to transfer Claire permanently to the yard, this required that Claire be promoted to Ensign. Somehow, rather than immediately becoming a yardbird, Claire was instead transferred to the Ephraim's sister ship, GNS Manasseh, which was scheduled to receive the next refit.

Manasseh was a very different ship from Ephraim, whereas Ayres was a extremely lazy conservative, his brother-in-law, Commander Greentree, was a member of the Protector's Own, and their ships and support structures reflected it. While Claire was treated as an auxilary by the Ephraim's Wardroom Wives' Club, the Manasseh's Wardroom Wives' Club had made her new roommate Ensign Cecelie Rustin an unofficial public enemy number one. While the Manasseh's entire crew constantly ran tactical training sims, the Ephraim tactical department was probably barely reaching the four-hours-a-week minimum. Ayers saw a young woman he had to save by preventing her from becoming an officer, Greentree saw a junior officer who needed to be salvaged.

Aboard Manasseh, Manticoran exchange officer Lieutenant Commander Lockhart's unwelcome attentions pushed Claire to violence, causing his removal. Claire had trouble adapting to the constant tacitcal training, and it did interfere with low priority but important duties, such as auxiliaries maintenance oversight, as the ship discovered when the crew is disabled due to a stomach bug. She did discover that she has a flair for damage control, a slot the XO slated her to fill in the next fleet exercise, scheduled to happen on Blackbird as Ephraim had returned for maintenance once again.

While Manasseh was in hyper on a precision navigation drill, Operation Oyster Bay happened. Manasseh was the first ship to reach Blackbird, and Claire was in charge of Manasseh's shuttle's first Search & Rescue shift. Ephraim was gone and B3, the portion of the yard where the Ephraim's Wardroom Wives' Club was having a function, where Claire's favorite cousins, Lucy and Mary, lived above and worked in a gentleman's club, was not even worth approaching. Almost everyone not on Manasseh Claire had met over the past two years is dead. The last live recoveries occurred within a day, Claire found only the dead. On the fifth day, with Manasseh en route to Grayson to with orders to transport Michael Mayhew to Manticore, Claire received a call from Noah ordering Claire to return home by revoking her permit to work outside the home.

Michael Mayhew and a member of his legal counsel, Commander Greentree's senior wife, Elsabeta, found a dubious loophole in Burdette law: according to a historical claim, Grayson officers are gentlemen, under Burdette law gentlemen could not be claimed as dependents, therefore, as protection is a form of dependency, Claire could not have a protector. Claire, however, insisted that before trying legal maneuvering, Lord Burdette should be given a chance to fix things. After a harrowing conversation between Claire and the Steadholder's wives and mother, the Steadholder reluctantly decided to grant Claire legal independence from, and, ironically, guardianship over, Noah.

References Edit

Characters Edit

Jennie Greentree Ayres | Matheson Ayres | Jezzy Bedlam | Lucy Bedlam | Mary Bedlam | Noah Bedlam | Cuoio | Nathan Fitzclarence | William Fitzclarence | Annette Marie Greentree | Elsabeta Greentree | Phineas Greentree | Honor Alexander-Harrington | Allison Harrington | Abigail Hearns | Knutson | Claire Lecroix | Kevin Lockhart | Loyd | Benjamin Mayhew IX | Michael Mayhew | Cecelie Rustin | Wallens | Willard | Elizabeth III Winton | Hugh Yanakov

Starships Edit

Locations Edit

Birdies Club | Blackbird Yard | Burdette Cathedral | Burdette City | Burdette Steading | Grayson | Saganami Island

Other Edit

Grayson Space Navy | menstrual control nanites | midshipwoman | Owens Steading | Protector | Protector's Own | skin cancer | Test

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