A Question of Wardrooms
The grind of life on a warship tended to bring its own inertial motivation, a daily round of meetings, exercises and tasks, occasionally interrupted by a “live” mission. Three times, Emily’s chopper had flown the teams out to islands at the southern end of the Philippine archipelago, and each time they’d come up empty, finding only the detritus of abandoned camps. All the while, the Amphibious Squadron steamed eastward, heading for the Marianas where another set of exercises had been scheduled. The Devil Dogs understood what it meant – “Operation Seabreeze” was as much about fostering cooperation as about catching actual terrorists.
Meanwhile, Emily frequented the “dirty shirt” wardroom, which catered to the aircrews. CJ and Zaki preferred to take their meals in the XO’s wardroom, but Emily didn’t care for the formality, and cafeteria-style service suited her mood better these days.
“Are you hiding down here?” Perry asked, as he swung a leg over the chair opposite and nudged his tray against hers to make room.
“Do I have to answer?”
“Aren’t you afraid the senior staff is gonna notice your absence?”
“Yeah, and I hear the ship’s company gets better food,” Emily replied without looking up.
“The CO has been hinting that he wants another translator at meals.” He looked for any sort of reaction, even annoyance at his suggestion, and when none was forthcoming, he added: “And with you down here, Diao has everything his way with the conversation.”
“Hasn’t it occurred to you that he’s the reason I’m down here?”
“You’re not afraid of him, are you? That would be a first.” When she raised her eyes, he got a pretty good indication that he’d pushed her too far.
“Not of him,” she snarled, “…for everyone else.”