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back, fighting bis attempt to force agreement "There's no needfor that, Father. I'm not your puppet!"
    "But you're my son," he said violently, and it was like a storm, as his will pressed hard on me. "My son
    and my second in command, and no one, no one is going to question that!"
    His agitation was growing so great that I realized I could not argue further without harming him seriously.
    I had to calm him somehow. I met his enraged eyes squarely and said, "There's no reason to shout atme. I'll do what you like, for now at least Well argue it out later."
    His eyes fell shut, whether with exhaustion or pain I could not tell. Master Raimon, the hospital-officer ofthe Guards, came into the room, moving swiftly to his side. I made room for him. Anger, fatigue and lossof sleep made my head pound. Damn him! Father knew perfectly well how I felt! And he didnt give adamn!
    Marius was still standing, frozen, watching in horror as Master Raimon began to cut away my father'sshirt. I saw great purple, blood-darkened bruises before I drew Marius firmly away. "There's nothingmuch wrong with him," I said. "He couldn't shout that loud if he was dying. Go get dressed, and keep outof the way."
    The child went obediently and I stood in the outer room, rubbing my fists over my face in dismay andconfusion. What time was it? How long had I slept? Where was Regis? Where had he gone? In the statehe'd been in when he left me, he could have done something desperate! Conflicting loyalties andobligations held me paralyzed. Andres came out of my father's room and said, "Lew, if you're going totake call-over

    Page 31

    54  Marion Zimmer Bradley
    you'd better get moving," and I realized I'd been standing as if
    my feet had frozen to the floor.
    My father had laid a task on me. Yet if Regis had run away, in a mood of suicidal despair, shouldn't I goafter him, too? In any case I would have been on duty this morning. Now it seemed 1 was to handle it onmy own. There were sure to be those who'd question it. Well, it was Father's right to choose his owndeputy, but I was the one who'd have to face their hostility.
    I turned to Andres. "Have someone get me something to eat," I said, "and see if you can find where
    Father put the staff lists and the roll call, but don't disturb him. I should bathe and change. Have I tune?"
    Andres regarded me calmly. "Dont lose your head. You have what time you need. If you're in command,they can't start till you get there. Take the time to make yourself presentable. You ought to look ready tocommand, even if you don't feel it"
    He was right, of course; I knew it even while I resented his tone. Andres has a habit of being right Hehad been the condom, chief steward, at Armida since I could remember. He was a Terran and had oncebeen in Spaceforce. I've never known where he met my father, or why he left the Empire. My father'sservants had told me the story, that one day be came to Armida and said he was sick of space and Spaceforce, and my father had said, "Throw your blaster away and pledge me to keep the Compact and I've work for you at Armida as long as you like." At first he had been Father's private secretary, then hispersonal assistant finally hi charge of his whole household, from my father's horses and dogs to his sonsand foster-daughter. There were times when I felt Andres was the only person alive who completelyaccepted me for what I was. Bastard, half-caste, it made no difference to Andres.
    He added now, "Better for discipline to turn up late than to turn up in a mess and not knowing whatyou're doing. Get yourself in order, Lew, and I dont just mean your uniform. Nothing's to be gained byrushing off in several directions at

    I went off to bathe, eat a hasty breakfast and dress myself suitably to be stared at by a hundred or moreofficers and Guardsmen, each one of whom would be ready to find fault Well, let them.
    Andres found the staff lists and Guard roster among my father's

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