Koscuisko stood at the view-port watching with dread as the ship
neared the Station. There was a signal at the talkalert; sighing,
he keyed it.
The Station came closer moment by moment, a bleak lifeless piece
of galactic debris with a self-contained school for potential Ship's
Surgeons sprawled over its surface. He didn't like it; but there
was no sense in making things harder on the crew of this ship than
they already were. It was just their bad luck that the Pride of
Place had been going in the same direction as the disgraced son
of the head of the Koscuisko familial corporation just at the time
they'd been ready to leave.
through to offload, your Excellency. You're to be met. A Tutor named
Chonis expects to be greeting you."
very good," Andrej murmured half-heartedly. He was late arriving.
He hadn't wanted to come. He was more frightened of what awaited
him than he thought he'd ever been in his life. He couldn't take
his eyes off the viewer-port, consumed with apprehension as the
ship neared for landing.
piece of rock.
Grim cold utilitarian dock-port, the ship's tugs at least eight
years old, and all alike. Fleet resources. Fleet Orientation Station,
Medical, where potential Ship's Surgeons all had to come to learn
how to Inquire. TOP
If he'd guessed beforehand what his father would wish, would he
have completed his medical training?
He was here now, and there was no help for it. He would do what
was needful. His father had said the word. That was all.
up his documents-case Andrej leafed through flimsies quickly one
final time. How to salute. How to speak to a Tutor. How to conduct
oneself as a Student, soon to become a Chief Medical Officer. CMO
was all very well, a position of significant influence and power
on a cruiser-killer class warship upholding the Judicial order in
the space-lanes. Any young surgeon would jump at the opportunity.
It was only that he did not want to Inquire.
The wait-room on the loading docks was small, almost cramped, even
with only two people sharing it; and one was Security. Curran hardly
counted. There was the smell of too much waste fuel in the air,
and more noise than could be comfortably borne for very long without
ear-stops for protection. Tutor Chonis suppressed an impatient twitch
of annoyance as he stood waiting for his Student to arrive. Just
enough time for a final scan through the scroller, and he would
be ready for the interview.
Andrej Ulexeievitch Koscuisko, Standard scan Andrew son of Ilex.
Pronounced Ahn-dray You-lechs'vich Koe-shoo-skoe. Oldest son of
ranking Koscuisko prince Alexie Ilmyanitch and prince inheritor
to Koscuisko familial corporation, Dolgorukij Combine. Eight year
course of study, Mayon Surgical College, Mayon Medical Center, Mayon,
graduation with highest honors in surgery and honors in psychopharmacology.
No family members active in Fleet. Homeworld of origin Azanry, Dolgorukij
Combine, Sant-Dasidar Judiciary.
Tutor Chonis shut his scroller down and marshalled his thoughts
together. First contact, Student and Tutor. This could make or break
the entire Term. It was important to get off on a good cycle. There
was to be enough stress on Student Koscuisko as the Term progressed
without the existence of conflict between him and his Tutor. TOP
go, then," Chonis said. The telltales on the wall gave notice that
the incoming craft had come to rest and was ready to offload. Curran
keyed the exit, standing to one side for the Tutor to precede him
out onto the apron of the loading dock.
Out on the apron a maintenance team had taken custody of Koscuisko's
personal effects; and there was the Student, standing alone staring
off towards the open end of the maintenance atmosphere.
to the Tutor," Curran called from behind him, to put Student Koscuisko
on notice. Koscuisko looked over his shoulder at that; turning around,
he started towards them, not quite hurrying but quickly enough.
Once he was within a reasonable distance he stopped, saluting politely.
"Student Koscuisko reports at the Fleet's invitation. Tutor Chonis?"
Student Koscuisko was blond and pale, and looked a little on the
slightly-built side of the Jurisdiction Standard; but Tutor Chonis
wasn't taken in. Koscuisko was Dolgorukij. And Dolgorukij packed
muscle. It was just that the way they packed muscle wasn't obvious
to look at them.
Student Koscuisko. I trust you had good transit?"
There was the suspicion of a frown on Koscuisko's face at that,
quickly smoothed over. "Thank you, Tutor Chonis." Tenor, and pale
eyes. Polite enough, though, as was usually the case with aristocrats.
"It was a quiet transit."
Koscuisko knew very well he was late. Koscuisko offered no excuses.
On the other hand Chonis hadn't asked for any. "Student Koscuisko,
as your briefing states, you are to be under my tutelage. You have
only a few months in which to learn all that Fleet will require
of you; no time like the present for us to begin. Joslire Curran.
Present yourself." TOP
Curran stepped forward from where he had posted two paces behind
Tutor Chonis, to his left. "At the Tutor's direction."
Curran was a little taller than Koscuisko, but not by much; and
his face had more contour. Curran was as dark as Koscuisko was fair,
even after his years here on Station away from solar browning. Right
now Curran was as tense as Tutor Chonis had ever seen him -- though
Koscuisko might not realize that. Koscuisko was unlikely to have
met Emandisan before. Emandisan off-world were almost always Security;
and as far as Tutor Chonis knew Joslire Curran was the only bond-involuntary
Emandisan in the Inventory.
Student Koscuisko is your officer of assignment for this Term. Student
Koscuisko. I'm sure you've noticed that Curran is bond-involuntary."
Watching Koscuisko's face, Tutor Chonis caught Koscuisko's quick
glance at the telltale green piping on Curran's sleeves. "Curran
is tasked by the Administration with seeing to your meals, your
exercise, and whatever administrative matters may arise."
Koscuisko regarded Curran with a look of frank and good-natured
curiosity that Tutor Chonis found rather engaging. He hoped that
Student Koscuisko and Joslire Curran would sort well with each other.
The man deserved a break; last Term had been unusually rough on
him. But they couldn't afford to sideline one of their best while
Orientation was in session. There weren't enough bond-involuntaries
assigned for that.
Administration anticipates that you may not have worked with bond-involuntaries
before. It's important that you take this opportunity to explore
their resources and their limitations." TOP
It would be very unusual if Koscuisko had even met a bond-involuntary,
outside of Fleet. There weren't that many of them to start out with.
will provide you every assistance; you should not hesitate to make
any of your needs or desires known to him, howsoever personal. When
you are posted to your Command you can safely anticipate at least
one Security team of bond- involuntaries will be assigned to you."
In Fleet bond-involuntaries could be assigned only to Chief Medical
Officers, in fact, and to no other officer on staff.
that about covered things for their first briefing. Nodding at Curran,
Tutor Chonis gave Student Koscuisko his dismissal. "I will see you
this evening in Tutor's Mess, where I will introduce you to your
fellow Student. Tutor's Mess at sixteen, and be prepared to discuss
your background and your interest in the field of Judicial administration.
That will be all for now. Curran, you may take your Student to quarters.
saluted with easy grace; Curran gestured politely toward the liftacess
corridor. "If Student Koscuisko would care to proceed?"
Tutor Chonis watched as they left, Curran giving directions as they
He hadn't known quite what to expect from Student Koscuisko.
He wasn't sure he knew any more about him now than he had before
was no predicting how Students responded to the pressures the practical
exercises put on them.
Avon Eos Science Fiction