In which Commander Vepal goes to meetings.
The idea that a troop reflects its commander seems to be setting itself up as a recurring theme. It will be interesting to see what is reflected in Commander Vepal’s troop when push comes to shove. One might also wonder: what does the behaviour of Perdition Enterprises say about its commander?
Some unexpected revelations about the junior members of Vepal’s troop in this chapter. Ochin Rifle’s time spent reading melant’i plays will presumably become relevant in some way, though I’m not sure how. (Perhaps he will have some insight into what the Liadens of Perdition Enterprises are up to?) So will Erthax’s habit of providing Vepal with unasked-for “escort-at-a-distance”; I feel more confident about predicting, the way things are going, that that’s going to become relevant soon and in the form of him intervening to get Vepal out of trouble.
That Erthax takes so much care for Vepal’s safety is a bit of a surprise — if it’s Vepal’s safety he’s motivated by. That might just be what he allows Ochin to believe. If Vepal is correct that he’s a spy for somebody else in the Yxtrang command chain, he could be following Vepal around for that purpose, and any benefit to Vepal is just a happy side-effect. Or his sense of honour could be such that he feels bound to ensure his commanding officer’s safety regardless of how much he dislikes or disrespects him in everyday circumstances.
Somewhat less unexpected is that people have started speculating about the future of Vepal and Sanchez’s relationship; I admit that I have wondered a bit in that direction myself. We have an example or two from among Korval’s Yxtrang to show that it’s not entirely out of the question. Vepal’s reaction to the suggestion includes embarrassment and some other emotion that the narrator declines to name. It could just be that Sanchez is correct to suspect that he’s angered, but might it instead be that he’s actually interested?
During the conversation between Vepal and ter’Menth, there’s one of those occasions where a reader familiar with the series will be able to fill in a gap: ter’Menth makes a hand gesture that Vepal doesn’t recognise and suspects of being insulting; from other stories, we know that it’s a Liaden gesture meaning “enough of this topic, now we speak of something else”.