My recent bad cold/walking pneumonia has convinced me that besides taking on daily posting for Lent, I shall finally restart my morning exercises, the Five Tibetan Rites*, which I learned from reading Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s blog before he died. *Note that I only do four, as the first, that spinning around, would have me collapsed and puking by rotation number seven.
As you’ll see below the fold, Gil knows he’s not a prisoner, but that he cannot leave. Further, he begins to see that while not an interrogation, well, it’s an interrogation.
The ensign turned about and saluted. That returned, he also spoke softly and quickly to his superior. Besides recognizing his name, Gil was clueless. To be polite, he stood as the XO entered the small room.
“Keptin, I Lieutenant Grammatikov of IRN Golitsyn.” His English was a full step down from Gusev’s. “We are pleased to render assistance to subject of Columbia Kingdom.”
“It was very welcome, thank you,” Gil replied, pacing his words and taking the officer’s extended hand. “Although, technically, I am a citizen of Oregon. But, it is a muddle.”
“Muddle?” Grammatikov asked while indicating for Gil to sit, as he did. The Russian leaned right. Not for tea but two shot glasses and an unlabeled bottle of a clear liquid.
“Muddle… a confusion,” Gil tried to clarify.
“Ah.” He poured to the very lip of the glasses, set the bottle aside, and raised his. “Then we drink to Russian Empire and Oregon!”
That seemed fine to Gil who picked up his, lifted it to his host, and tossed it all back at once.
“Please not throw glass,” the XO said quickly, setting his down. “Only so many aboard.”
Not sure what he meant, Gil did likewise as the officer poured hot tea from the samovar into the glasses he’d seen when he entered. He looked to Gil.
“Cream? Sugar? Butter?” he asked.
Sugar? We’ve not had real sugar since we escaped Portland, he thought.
“Just a little sugar, please. It is a luxury where we are now.”
Grammatikov used what, before the Breakup, Gil would have called a coke spoon to add a tiny scoop. Leaving it, Haven used the spoon to stir. At that, the ensign returned with a manila folder. Those must be universal in all militaries and governments. Somewhat rudely, the lieutenant opened the folder and skimmed the single page inside, taking a couple of sips of tea as he did. At once, he closed the file but placed the sheet on top of it. Written in their alphabet, Gil couldn’t recall what it was called, he didn’t even bother looking at it.
“It is our pleasure to offer aid to your boat,” Grammatikov began. “If has gone to port, better now?”
“Yes,” Gil said with a nod. This is the best tea I’ve ever had. “Your machinist, Vasily, did excellent work.”
“I shall note that. He is good sailor.” The lieutenant let his eyes linger on the paper before speaking again. “You are not from this area. Originally?”
What’s on that paper, he wondered.
“Correct, sir. Following some of the trouble in the city of Portland, my wife and I emigrated here about twenty years ago,” Gil said, sticking with the truth. “It is home for us and our five children.”
“Five!” the lieutenant exclaimed, again extending his hand. “I have only three but work hard on leave for many more! And before you came here? Portland, you said?”
“Yes.” Not exactly an interrogation but this guy obviously wanted answers.