Shout of Honor – Chapter 6

In which Commander Vepal checks his mail.

We’ve encountered the Yxtrang word “kojagun” a few times before, a couple of times in scenes with Hazenthull and once with Vepal himself in The Gathering Edge (his internal monologue acknowledging that JinJee Sanchez is not kojagun). Previously, it’s generally been glossed as “not a soldier”; this is the first time it’s been said that it also means “prey”, although in retrospect both aspects of its meaning would fit the occasion Haz uses it in Neogenesis.

Vepal’s precautionary measure with the breather mask says something about where he rates Erthax as a threat. He anticipated Erthax tampering with his bedroom’s air supply, but appears to be confident that the breather mask won’t be tampered with. It can’t be that he’s confident Erthax wouldn’t tamper with the mask; it might be that he’s confident Erthax doesn’t know about the mask, or that Erthax can’t break into the command locker (or at least not without leaving traces of his actions).

If I’m following correctly, High Command can’t have a clear idea of what’s going on yet. They got the offer dictated by ter’Menth, which they distrust, and have asked for clarification, but all they got was Vepal’s terse message, which speaks of treachery but doesn’t say whose. With what we know, it’s apparent that Vepal means Erthax was the perpetrator of the treachery, but with what they know, and coming as a reply to their message asking whether Erthax’s last message was really from Erthax, it could be taken to mean that Erthax was the victim of treachery by Perdition Enterprises.

Vepal’s up against several ticking clocks now. He has to figure out what to do about Perdition Enterprises before they decide what to do about him, and it would be wise to be on his way before High Command decides what to do about his last message. The deadline for the end of his docking privileges is minor in comparison, but it’s also there. (Although the fact that he takes his field kit, and has Ochin do the same, suggests that he’s anticipating being obliged to abandon the ship in place. If he never comes back, will High Command have to pay the parking fines?)

4 thoughts on “Shout of Honor – Chapter 6

  1. Ed8r

    @Paul: If he never comes back, will High Command have to pay the parking fines?

    Thanks for a good laugh to start my day!

    RE: the breather mask…it speaks volumes that this preparation was made “years ago, upon taking his first measure of Erthax.” We knew from indications in Gathering Edge that Vepal did not trust Erthax, but here we have it confirmed that he was quite aware from the beginning that Erthax had been assigned to watch him and report back to High Command. What a strain to live day in and day out in close quarters with someone whom you know is actually just waiting to see mistakes or weakness sufficient to lead to orders to “end the mission.” My admiration for Vepal…his self-control and his dedication…took a significant leap as I absorbed this information and its implications.

    And it is in this chapter that the simplicity of the Rifle is further revealed to be a front, and it becomes plain that Ochin is loyal to Vepal himself, not to “command” above him. So Vepal is not the only character who has been forced to live by appearances day by day! I found it interesting that the mere fact that Ochin could begin to object to Vepal’s strange orders to go to Commander Sanchez revealed yet more to Vepal about the Rifle’s actual reasoning ability and level of dedication.

    At the end of the chapter, Vepal’s “joy at the prospect of a clean fight” shows both that he was not comfortable with what he had to do to ensure that Erthax had no further information AND that his “biology” demands this kind of action.

    Do you think it’s possible that, in the course of Accepting the Lance, we will discover that the extreme hostility and belligerence we’ve seen in some previous Yxtrang encounters (thinking all the way back to Agent of Change) can be attributed to medical intervention rather than natural biology?

  2. Paul A. Post author

    I think it’s clear that the Yxtrang tendencies to aggression are not natural biology, in the sense that they were engineered into them to make them somebody’s idea of a better soldier. If you mean that they’re not innate, but have to be maintained by regular doses of drugs or whatever, I don’t think that’s likely; it seems like too pat a solution to say that the Yxtrang can be nicer people just by not taking the drugs, and takes away from the achievement of characters like Vepal and Nelirikk in adapting to life outside the Troop. And it makes the Yxtrang seem a bit stupid that in two thousand years they haven’t discovered that way out of their dilemma for themselves.

  3. Ed8r

    I suppose you’re right. I certainly wouldn’t want to call them stupid. Yet Vepal is obviously thinking the drugs have an effect . . . maybe suppressing libido?

  4. Othin

    “Yet Vepal is obviously thinking the drugs have an effect . . . maybe suppressing libido?” – Very likely. Remember when Korval meets Nelirikk, Diglon & Hazenthull. Their health is not the best. They need food supplements and I believe libido suppressants have been mentioned. Also Diglon had been a virgin before he won this evening at Ms. Audrey’s House of Joy.

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