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Chapter 37

      Gral stood before the military council; Twelve people, generals, admirals, and politicians, who directly, or indirectly, controlled the careers of every officers in the kelsirian fleet. He had been summoned here, and he didn't know why. None of them were enemies of his, at least not directly, two had affiliation with members of a faction within the military that had tried to ground him multiple times, and one had a son, who was known to have en eye on Gral's ship, but he hadn't heard any indication that anyone in this room had any actual plans against him.

      "Captain Gralgiranselhelrarvnir," the admiral seated in the center said, "I see here that you distinquished yourself in the incident at Yarvir, as well as in the take down of the taournian pirates. Your career as captain of the Viper's Bane is marked with successes, with the exception of a few failed hunt here and there, but no hunter can always succeed". He was the oldest of those here, quite comfortable in his position, and very adept at politics. Gral had information on all of them, because he liked to know who he as up against, and what they were planing. His current lack of information on their motive really bothered him.

      "It's also noted that you've been offered promotions three times," the politician seated on his left said. He didn't know how she had managed to be included in this group, as far as he could find out, she was in charge of supervising expenses relating to military purchases. There had to be more to her. She was also the one with the son gunning for Gral's job. "You turned them down, why?"

      "I'm a hunter," Gral answered. "I belong in space, on my ship, hunting those who would cause harm to us."

      "Still there are those who feel you could serve Kelser better directing others on their hunts, rather than being at the front of said hunt." Her tone was so casual, that Gral couldn't help trying to figure out what hidden meaning could be behind the words. Gods, he hated politics.

      "I have to disagree."

      "Are you saying that generalship is below you?" the General at the far right said. He'd fought hard to become a general, not on hunts, but by playing the political game. Gral knew for a fact the male had no malicious though about him, he just couldn't understand why anyone would turn down such a promotion once, let alone three times.

      "No," Gral replied, "just that it isn't for me."

      "What do you have to say about all the time you've been spending patrolling close to the human border?" The admiral asking him was young, younger than even the generals here.His name was Grallselgerbilaz, Gral had remembered his name because they were both partially named for the Hunter God. He'd gained his promotion by winning the battles at Jordanio, and by being responsible for the Treaty of the Saved. Like Gral, he'd fought against his promotion, but at some point he had been convinced to accept it. "I see that you have even traded patrols with those assigned there."

      "Can we dispense with all this talk," said a general, midway on the right. "I have better things to do then waste time here." She was one of the the affiliated with the military faction. She was well decorated, had won multiple conflict in her career, and, if the latest information Toom had gathered was correct, she was due to be promoted admiral. "Lets just promote him, and be done with it."

      "No." Gral kept his tone flat, hiding his concern. They wanted to ground him. He couldn't let that happen.

      "This is your fourth promotion," Grallselgerbilaz said. "You can't constantly refuse them."

      "I can, and I will." Gral said, wondering why he was the one pushing so hard for him to accept it. He had to see that he belonged in space, on the hunt. "I am ideally placed to patrol the human border, my Heart is human. Through him I've had more interaction with them then other hunters. We all know they are now quietly hostile to us, and we have been able to prevent a number of incursions into kelsirian space by them."

      "We're aware of your successes, captain, but if another ship had been there, they would have been the ones to capture them. This almost reads like you are trying to steal their kills to gain fame."

      "If fame is what I was after, I'd be accepting this promotion. All I'm doing, is what Gralgriran wants me to go."

      The council members looked at each other. "What Gralgriran wants?" asked one of the politician.

      Gral nodded. "He sent me in human space to find my Heart. Twice more I've been sent back there and learned a little more about what humans were willing to do to achieve victory."

      "According to your files you went back a third time."

      "Yes, but I don't think Gralgriran was responsible for that one. I think Thuruksamian wanted to remind me that not all humans are like those I've been confronting. Some are simply people trying to live their lives."

      "Have you had any seers confirm this?"

      "No, I don't have a seer on my ship. All I'm doing is interpreting the event to the best of my abilities."

      "So you could be seeing what you want to see. And using that to justify your continued actions."

      Gral could only shrugs. He had no way to argue, no matter how much he *knew* he was right.

      "Actually," said the admiral on the far right, "I think I have confirmation. My mate's daughter has the Sight, and she told me that the hunter needed to stay at the line to watch for the snake."

      Everyone looked at him, including Gral.

      "The snake, you say?" Grallselgerbilaz said.

      "That could mean the taouling."

      "Yes, and human space is between us and them, is that the line?"

      "If it is, it would make sense to keep the captain there."

      "Only is he is the hunter of her vision."

      "Who else could it be? He's a hunter, named for the Hunter."

      "Maybe she meant Admiral grallselgerbilaz."

      "No," Grallselgerbilaz replied. "My hunting days are over, she couldn't mean me." There was definite sadness on the voice. He sighed. "Based on the seers vision, I move to leave Gralgiranselhelrarvnir as captain of the Viper's bane, and to give him a freedom of hunt along human space, or anywhere he might need to go to keep humans from attacking us."

      "I second the decision," the admiral who had reveled the vision said.

      "I also support it," the politician said, although it was obvious from her tone she wasn't happy about it.

      "Do we have any objections?"

      The other looked to each other, but no one said anything.

      "Then, captain, you are free to leave. Good hunting."

      The council disbanded.

      Gral ran after the Admiral as he left through a side door, alone. "Admiral, did your near daughter say anything else?"


      "Did her vision reveal any more of what I'm to do?"

      "What? Oh, no. I made that up."

      Gral stopped in his track. "What?" he couldn't have heard that correctly. The admiral looked over his shoulder and indicated he should continue walking with him. "You made it up? Does she have the Sight?"

      "Yes, she does, but she's four years old. Right now, her visions are about her getting candy and gifts."

      Gral was silent as he tried to wrap his head around someone inventing a vision. "Why?" he finally asked.

      The admiral looked at him. "Because I agree with you. You belong in space, not behind a desk, you have experience with the humans, but they wouldn't have listened to that. You make them nervous because you are seeing things from the humans they don't want to acknowledge.  They don't want to see the humans as a threat, even now that they allied themselves with the taournians. I made the vision up because it was the only way I could get them to decide to keep you where you can do the most good."

      "Aren't you worried making up that vision might anger Syntarina? She could keep the seers from helping us in the future."

      The admiral laughed. "Really? When it helped Her favorite mate's price hunter?"

      Gral frowned. Being in space for so long he constantly lost track of the seasons. He ran the numbers in his head, and the admiral was right, it was hunting season. The time when Syntarina fawned over Gralgriran. When his time was done, She would go comfort the Slumberer, then the Lover would sweep Her off, before the Fire King showed Her true passion, and then the cycle would restart.

      "Thank you for the support, Admiral."

      "Just make sure those humans don't give us any trouble."

      * * * * *

      Thuruk and Toom were waiting in the access, when he got back to the ship.

      "What was it about?" Toom asked.

      "They wanted to ground me, but I dodged it again."

      "They let you refuse it a third time?"

      "No, and it was the fourth attempt, but I had support that tipped the balance in my favor. We even got free hunting rights, when he comes to the humans, out of it."

      "Free hunting rights? You're going to have to tell us how you managed that."

      Gral shook his head. He didn't want to have to mention a fabricated vision. The admiral might be confident Syntarina wouldn't retaliate, but Gral wasn't going to push his luck by repeating it. "What were you two up to during this time?"

      "Oh, nothing much," Thuruk said, "we just went shopping on the station." He checked his chrono, "We need to get going Toom."

      Toom was surprised by the comment, before straightening his face. "Right. I'll see you later Gral."

      Gral watched them go, wondering what they were up to. He headed to his cabin to change, then he'd hunt down Jeremy so they could have a meal together.

      He entered his room, and stopped, the door closing behind him. Jeremy stood in the doorway leading from the sitting area to their bedroom, arms resting against each side of the doorway. He was naked, with only black leather straps wrapped around his biceps, forearms, making a cross on his chest, a strat was wrapped around the base of his hard cock and balls, lifting it up slightly. There was also one around his thighs, and calf.

      Gral just looked at him. Gods, he looked amazing. He went to him, kissed him as he pushed him into the bedroom. The meal could definitely wait.

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