July 2nd, 2010



Horatio turned over the watch, with a succinct report and a weary smile, and headed for the midshipman's berthing. He ached for sleep. He could still get almost four hours before the day began.


He had been six months on the Indy. Horatio, when given leave to sleep, now rolled into his hammock with the ease of an expert. The canvas enclosed him, it smelled like sleep, and he rocked in the dim light, never alone now, in the belly of the sea.

He had learned the ship with senses now. He knew where to step, when to duck, when to run, climb, or just get out of the way. Sense was weighted differently here. It was dim below decks, and seeing not much use. The smells of the ship were varied, not avoidable, and usually not informative. Sounds were the most use of all. Bells, obviously, but more than that. The Indy spoke in a voice all her own. It was a voice of creaks and shifts below decks, and most days, wind above. When Horatio had first come into Justinian, the sounds had scared him. He had not been able to stop himself imagining the water cold and deadly, alien and forever, pressing into the thin skin of the ship. But sometime after arriving on Indy he had began to find the little noises a comfort.

Men, turning in, made noises too. Muffled laughter, more often than one might expect, footsteps, quiet conversation. Also, there were the sounds that one was supposed to not-hear. They were small sounds, imperfectly muffled by an arm perhaps, or a pillow

He had learned about these, and so much else, from Archie. It had become obvious over the last year, that in addition to being an apt and alert student, Archie was a talented instructor. He had a wicked flair for practical demonstration. Horatio had tried once to say how much he felt he had learned, Kennedy brushed it aside, pointing out that travel, even inside a ship, was known to be broadening. Horatio reflected to himself, too late to make the jest, that it was certainly lengthening.