Luke didn’t even think of herself by her first name anymore. Alasie sounded like her childhood, like the teasing she’d endured as “Lazy” Alasie. No one called her that anymore.
She’d left the name behind when she took her first bars of rank and had the lines of her coming of age tattooed onto her chin.
She was Luke. Captain Luke if you didn’t know her well.
And no one knew her well.
She paused at the door to the barracks, listening. She knew that if she went in, the laughter would die to respectful silence. They’d hide the booze and the bongs and she would pretend she didn’t know what they did off hours as long as they didn’t let it affect their duties. Someone would feel compelled to invite her to whatever games they were playing and everyone else would silently curse them. She would politely decline, and when they went their separate ways, everyone would be relieved.
It wasn’t that they disliked her, exactly, but she wore her rank like a first name, like an identity, and they always saw her uniform. She was Captain of the Royal Guard.
She was a cousin to the princes, on their mother’s side, and people might think that her status was a reflection of that lineage.
It would be an unfair assumption, and Luke had done everything in her power to prove that it was wrong. She was the very best with her tools – she could land a harpoon with strength to pierce whale hide and she could hit anything she could see with a cable-back bow or a gun. And she was just as good at using people as she was with weapons. She had built a loyal guard that was capable and flexible, every one of them working to their strengths. She trusted them. She led them as surely as any king led his kingdom, and she knew that they would lay down their lives for her, for the royal line, and for Alaska.
But that didn’t mean they knew her.
Luke walked past the barracks without disturbing their antics. Their fun was as important a part of their schedule as training and duty and she would only dampen it.
And she had work of her own to pursue…
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