In which the captain has a task for the first mate, as one member of Korval to another.
There’s something funny going on with the timing between last chapter and this. Since receiving Nova’s declaration, Dutiful Passage has visited three planets, shedding cargo and crew, a process that must have taken days if not weeks. (From Ardred to Raggtown alone was twenty days in Conflict of Honors, although that was on a trading schedule and they’re presumably travelling more quickly and more directly now.) And so, days or weeks after receiving Nova’s declaration, comes a pinbeam from Anthora, reporting an attack on Trealla Fantrol — which attack took place less than an hour after Nova declared Plan B to be in effect. Pinbeams, we’ve been told, are considerably more expensive than more common methods of long-distance communication, and part of the reason for that is because they don’t take weeks to get to their destination.
On the other hand, the name implies that a pinbeam message is sent directly to its destination, which might mean that it relies on the recipient being in a known location. Perhaps Anthora directed the message to where the Dutiful Passage was scheduled to be, but the Passage wasn’t there because it had already shifted to moving more quickly and more directly, and the message has been playing catch-up since.
Speaking of shedding cargo, there’s an interesting mention of the ship’s very outline having changed, become “lean and sleek”, which suggests that in the normal course of things the ship carries some significant amount of cargo attached to the outside of it instead of carried within internal cargo bays.
What Shan says in this chapter indicates how far off the mark the Department’s view of Korval is. The Department sees that Korval is powerful, and suspects Korval of being a rival for control of Liad’s interests, because that’s what it would be in Korval’s place. But Korval’s interests and priorities are not the same as the Department’s, arising from origins so different that the Department probably wouldn’t be able to understand them even if it was aware of them.
The way Shan tells Priscilla about his decision ties back to the conversation they had earlier about the necessity of seeking for Val Con, in which he said that since they were not yet lifemates Korval’s necessities were not yet hers.