Two days later, as the Elders were visiting the Imperial Museum, there was an explosion in a small café across the street. The explosion was large enough so that the patrons of the museum had to leave by was of a side entrance but small enough so that the buildings, even the café, were still intact. The news reports that night stated that the explosion was the result of a kitchen accident, a gas leak that reached a sparking piece of kitchen equipment. The news reports stated that no one died and only three people were injured, and those only slightly.
Elder watched the official report and wondered. The explosion had been to big, in his estimation, to be just a gas leak unless the leak had been going for a long time with no one noticing it. Moreover, it was too big to have not killed anyone. Perhaps his thoughts were tainted by all the examples of mutiny and revolt he had seen recently, but he still wondered. Therefore, he began looking into the incident and the others that he knew of.
Using security codes that he had obtained, usually not quite legally, while working either on the BALKANS or at the Base, he began examining the incidents. What he discovered made him think.
Elder was a committed Imperial, he really believed that the Empire was the only way to keep war from happening. Nevertheless, war was going on already. The number of revolts, mutinies, and so forth that were happening throughout the Empire would be classified as a war if they were under the control of a government. There was a major terrorist attack on almost a tenth of duchies in the Empire every year. Attacks on major nobility happened almost every week somewhere in the Empire. It almost rue was all too common. Mitchell, now King Mitchell, had hoped that almost never happened that a kingdom or duchy changed hands in a peaceful manner. Assassination was much more likely.
So, where did that leave him? The Imperial Government, in the form of the Imperial Navy, was not above using an obscene level of force to settle a revolt. Every Class G Dreadnought had a spine gun that fired kilometer wide asteroids – used against planets. Elder knew the standing orders: once a Dreadnought started firing the spine gun at a planet, it continued until there was no human life left on the planet. A Section of three such could destroy a duchy in just a few hours. Moreover, a Division of Imperial Marines would be used to eliminate any survivors regardless of guilt or innocence. Was that what he wanted to support? Was it ethical to support such a level of violence in support of peace?
Once back aboard the BALKANS Elder began watching the interaction between various members of the crew from different duchies. He learned nothing worthwhile that he could see It seemed common interests and experiences counted for more than where someone was from. Which was good and Elder decided that it was a plus for the Empire. Maybe the Empire should stop being so selective and require everyone to do a tour of duty in the Imperial Navy or the Imperial Marines before going on to civilian life, even before civilian work for the Imperial Government.
However, that was not for him to decree, but maybe someday he could discuss it with someone who could properly study the idea. It would take him probably years just to learn which office would be the one that he should present it to and perhaps by then he would be important enough so that his idea would be seriously considered. However, until then, he could work on the idea and hone it to perfection.
One bit of news that caught his attention shortly after the BALKANS left space dock. He read a report that on Irvel the Police General in charge of Royal Security had been killed. Elder read the article through several times, first because it was Irvel where Mitchell was now king and because the name of the dead Police General struck his memory. Police General Darnel brought to mind the strangely beautiful woman who had taken him to the Police General. Elder’s body reacted to the memory of her and her actions when she had first met him.
His promotion to Master Midshipman was a quiet affair; it was not part of a ship-wide party. Only a few friends took part. Ensign Palmer celebrated his promotion to Sous-Lieutenant at the same party.
Elder quickly learned just how boring military duty could be. Nothing out of the ordinary happened until just before his promotion to Officer. Between the murder at the Academy and the incidents that happened at the start of his probationary period, he had begun to expect something unusual to happen every year or so but the last part of his probationary period had gone quietly and smoothly. He saw Captain Mizutani several times as the Captain wandered the ship and even spoke with him a few times but noticed several times that the Captain never spoke with any of the enlisted except officially. Even when one of the enlisted did something well while the Captain was watching, the Captain never spoke with the enlisted person. The Captain did convey his commendations through the officers though, strictly by way of the chain-of-command. Perhaps by this way Captain Mizutani thought he was getting better service from the enlisted since such praise as he gave was thus known to the officers over the various enlisted people, thus making the praise more effectively known.