Character Vignette: Hollis

“Secure airlocks and prep for takeoff sequence. Authorization: Yelejna Eldorova Todorov, Second Princess of the Crown.”

The king of Somnersil scratched his chin thoughtfully as he watched his daughter on the the surveilance feed. She had boarded, and was attempting to comandeer one of the ships of his merchant fleet. He huffed a quiet laugh at the striking similarity to his own youth. Her mother had always claimed that she was more her father’s daughter than either of the other two.

“Damn you, ship! You will do as I say! I have royal clearance!” Yelejna scolded the ship’s AI, which was apparently arguing with her, both voices tinny over the live feed. Frustrated, she began pecking at the manual controls to do it herself.

“I don’t suppose Hollis would be up for this job, Nadoly?” Vedrovij asked the captain of his guard, who was leaning over his desk watching the panel with him.

“I’d say he is, Majesty, though I don’t think he’ll be pleased. Neither will the Queen, I suspect.” He hid a smirk as he sent the corporal at the door to fetch his son, and quickly. The young man who strode into the office a few minutes later was a far cry from the boy Vedrovij recalled playing at wooden swords with his daughter. This young man was cleanly groomed, and carried himself confidently, approaching the king’s desk directly and performing a neat, if slightly stiff bow.

“I have an important assignment for you, Sergeant. A member of the royal family will be requiring a bodyguard and companion for an extended journey.”

“Of course. I am at the Crown’s disposal, your magesty.”

“You’ve had some experience aboard spaceship, if I am not mistaken?”

Hollis raised his eyebrows, the only indication that this job was might suddenly be sounding interesting. “Yes, in training, and in limited travel, Majesty.”

“Perfect! You’ll leave in…” Vedrovij peered at the monitor for a moment, gauging his daughter’s temperament, “fifteen minutes, unless I miss my mark.”

To his credit, Hollis swallowed any protest he might have made, but when the king swiveled the screen toward him, and he realized exactly what he was looking at, his bearing broke in a scowl. “Your majesty–”

“Hollis,” his father said firmly, placing a hand on his shoulder.

The king and his soldier regarded each other, the younger man clearly frustrated, and the older allowing a father’s worry to crease his brow for the first time as he spoke frankly. “I know you two have had your quarrels, Hollis, but despite it all, you know Yelejna better than anyone else. You are best equipped to keep my daughter safe while she’s out there, and to bring her home to us — to me — when she’s ready.” He rose from his seat and looked Hollis squarely in the face, unblinking. “Please.”

After a few moments, Hollis lowered his eyes and bowed slowly. “I am at the Crown’s disposal, Majesty.”

“Sorry there’s not more time, son.” Nadoly said, clapping his son’s shoulder.

Vedrovij unlocked a trunk behind his desk and drew a pouchful of coin and a universal credit chip from it. “Nadoly is correct. Unfortunately there won’t be time for you to pack your belongings. The princess is aboard the Dowager’s Ransom. You’ll need to be stowed away before the ship takes off, somewhere she’s unlikely to discover you until you’re well away from here. Take these; coin for allied planets or wherever it will be recognized while it lasts, and credits for anywhere it won’t. Your regular stipend will be sent to the attached account,” the king grinned then, wry amusement twinkling in his eyes, “as well as a hardship bonus for the duration of your assignment.”

That surprised a laugh out of Hollis, and the tension that had been hovering over the room broke. “Your majesty knows his daughter well. I suppose I’d better hurry then, or I’ll miss my ship.” He stowed the coin and chip in his coat and bowed a final time. “By your leave, your Majesty. I’ll send word when I can, or try and convince her to. Father.” The two men clasped arms briefly, then Hollis hurried toward the merchant fleet’s berthing, wondering what exactly Princess Yelejna Todorov was getting them both into.

[Wordcount: 712]

This was originally intended to be more focused on Yelejna and the actual getaway, but ended up being all about Hollis and her father, with glimpses of how they each feel about her. I’ve already got another short piece in mind that follows this one chronologically, where we’ll get to see how Yelejna and Hollis interact. I also just realized this is the second character enters/character leaves occurence. Lets see if we can avoid making that a running theme. :p

I’d like to do some exploring of the Dowager AI, and the planetside characters that will be playing major roles, and I still feel like I need to come up with maybe one or two more ship’s crew, but so far inspiration is less than sparky. And if I don’t/can’t, my NaNo story is supposed to be set sort of early in the series (did I mention that the “Princess Space Pirate” thing is meant to be a serial?) so maybe they just haven’t fleshed out the rest of the crew yet.

I do, however, need to sit down with post-its and map out the skeleton outline for the story so I can begin filling in the (omghuge) gaps. And get world/culture notes out of my head and onto paper/screen so I can see where details need to tweaked or added, and possibly do one or two scenes to show what the environment’s like. And, and, and. So much to do!

4 weeks, 4 days!