Shadow Ops 3: Breach Zone
head. ‘That won’t be necessary.’
    Ripple glanced an apology at the boatswain, who shrugged. ‘Sure, sir.’ She led them up another ladder. The Breakwater ’s bridge overlooked the bow, dominated by the massive buoy-hoisting crane, rising some sixty feet in the air. Sailors in blue uniforms bustled around it, stowing gear, making lines up, about the business of casting off from the pier and getting underway.
    Commander Bonhomme stood in front of the console, beside a dour-looking lieutenant whose name tape read MARKS . Bonhomme was skinny, with tired blue eyes and a head of brown hair gone prematurely gray. Marks was young and robust with a weight lifter’s frame. His brown eyes widened as they fell on Bookbinder. Not everyone looked on him as a traitor. Some treated him as a hero. It was better, but not by much.
    Bonhomme held a radio in one hand. The other was braced against the console edge as he gestured out the window. ‘No! There, damn it!’ he shouted, before realizing that he wasn’t speaking into the radio. He thumbed it, and said, ‘Yes, there. Thank you.’ He turned and acknowledged Bookbinder with a nod.
    Bonhomme had an unfortunate combination of a skinny frame and a potbelly. His uniform hung off him, rumpled and unwashed, but he moved with a veteran’s efficiency. The stains on his uniform were engine oil, sea salt, and rust, his legs instinctively adjusting with the rocking of the ship. Rodriguez looked at him with respect.
    ‘Welcome aboard, General, Captain,’ Bonhomme said, not sounding welcoming at all. ‘You’ll have to forgive me for not greeting you at the gangway, but we’re late getting underway as it is.’
    Bookbinder knew it was customary on ships to come to attention when a flag-grade officer like himself came onto the bridge. That, and Bonhomme’s failure to greet him personally were carefully disguised as the carelessness of protocol shown by a veteran seaman, but Bookbinder knew Bonhomme was letting him know he was unwelcome on his ship with the petty, passive-aggressive slights that military protocol seemed to have been designed for.
    The ship rolled, and Bookbinder stumbled again. He caught his reflection in the shined stainless steel of the console and marveled at the greenish tint of his cheeks. Bonhomme turned to one of his sailors. His voice was icy. ‘SK3? Can you get General Bookbinder a scopalamine patch? It’ll take a few hours for it to kick in, sir, but . . .’
    Bookbinder stopped the man with a wave. ‘I’m fine.’
    ‘Captain?’ Bonhomme looked at Ripple.
    ‘Thank you, sir. That’s not necessary.’
    The sailor froze, and Bonhomme looked doubtful. ‘Sir, the chop will only get worse once we cast off . . .’
    Bookbinder couldn’t give the man any more excuses to disrespect him. ‘I’ll manage. Where’s the armed guard?’
    Bonhomme, Marks, and Rodriguez all looked at one another. ‘Sir,’ Bonhomme stammered, ‘I . . .’
    ‘Skipper, this trip will go a lot smoother if we dispense with the bullshit and be straight with one another. Captain Ripple is here for magical Suppression . . . aaand . . .’ Bookbinder looked around, spotted a sailor behind him in body armor with a pistol holstered against his thigh. ‘Ah, there you are. I suppose having an armed and armored sailor on the bridge of a buoy tender is just SOP?’
    Bonhomme broke eye contact, looked to Marks for help, then at his feet. Bookbinder felt the air of empowered hostility shift and nodded in satisfaction. ‘So, let’s get it done. Let your command know I’m here and that you have me under guard, and we can get about our business.’
    ‘It’s already taken care of, sir,’ Rodriguez said, a ghost of a smile appearing on her hard face.
    ‘Good.’ Bookbinder smiled back.
    Bonhomme didn’t smile, but the look he gave Bookbinder lacked the hostility it held before. ‘Bosun, take us out,’ he said. Rodriguez nodded and began giving commands to the sailor at

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