You will find the first part here, and the previous part here.

Toini and Dipali walked together back up towards the front of the ship. Two old friends. Two short women. Dipali was the only human aboard the Orange Cream shorter than Toini, and the only person who’d flown with the ship longer.

Dipali’s father had bought it new when she was five, and it was she who’d named it. She’d lived aboard ever since. It was one of the conditions for Toini to be able to take it over – that she let Dipali stay on as chief engineer.

Toini didn’t mind. The woman knew the ship and the engine better than anyone, and she’d keep it running til the day she died. Most likely, her ghost would haunt the ship afterwards. Making life miserable for whatever poor soul didn’t look after her baby properly.

Some mornings they talked as they walked to the mess to get Dipali’s coffee. Some mornings, they didn’t, and this was one of those.

Again, Toini didn’t mind. The report had already been given, after a fashion. Had anything been wrong, or if there was anything she needed to know, Dipali would have told her. They’d worked it out over the years together.

No news was good news. That kind of thing.

It was a good philosophy, but it didn’t work with everyone. She liked to think her crew was made up of independent thinkers, who could be trusted to do the right thing without being told. That didn’t mean they didn’t need a bit of structure to support them. There was a comfort in having someone else to report to, and in knowing they were heard.

Perhaps that most of all.

It wasn’t so much the reports themselves, as the reporting. Toini was ex-military, and she’d done her fair share of officer’s paperwork. Still did, when time allowed, but it wasn’t as much of a priority anymore. The only authority she really needed to report to was Ek, the god who’s will she enacted on the world, and he had no need for words or numbers. Her soul was an open book to him, and all she knew, he knew too.

Sure, the bureaucrats in Knysvian still wanted reports, but that was Raoul’s job. He kept track of everything she did, and she just had to do.

Being in transit was good that way. On the ship, things were usually quiet, and there wasn’t much for Raoul to keep a record of. He could catch up on his paperwork, and she could spend some quality time with the rest of the crew.

Like now.

Walking Dipali to the mess for her morning coffee, without talking. Didn’t even say anything when they got there. Just nodded at each other and parted ways. Dipali for the coffee machine in the mess, and Toini for the bridge.

Time to watch the morning crawl across the world.

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