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A Trifle Undiplomatic (#003 - Surprise)

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"Honor, I love you, but sometimes I wonder whether you're sane." The voice was a furry contralto, and Benjamin Mayhew's - who by the grace of the Tester, and the skill of Honor Harrington, was still Protector of Grayson - curiosity was piqued, despite the conversation he was involved in with Admiral White Haven.

The speaker was a tall woman, to a Grayson, and wore the black and gold uniform of an RMN commander. A treecat, perhaps a little smaller than Nimitz rode her left shoulder, one true-hand atop her space-black beret, and a child - perhaps all of four years old, lighter skinned than the woman herself - rode her right hip, and Benjamin felt his mental jaw drop.

"And Beth sends her regards, and her thanks for the heroics, Countess Harrington, and begs you listen to her new ally's request with all due seriousness." The baby on her squirmed and reached towards Honor with a sleepy "Mama," and Benjamin reeled mentally, as if he'd been slapped. Both of the 'cats' heads snapped round to look at him with what seemed - to his limited experience with their facial expressions - to be compassion (the identity of the strange Commander did emerge from his mental turmoil fairly rapidly, once she'd so very casually referenced Elizabeth III of Manticore), as his view of Honor Harrington rearranged itself again.