• Standard Year 1339
  • Dutiful Passage en route to Venture
  • Spinning Wheel casino on planet Venture


Dragon Cubs:

  • 14-year-old cabin boy Er Thom yos'Galan
    • Er Thom inclined his head respectfully. “In fact, sir, I have achieved my second class license.”
  • 14-year-old Scout cadet Daav yos'Phelium


  • Master Trader, Captain Petrella yos'Galan
  • Master Pilot ven’Ducci
  • Scout Pilot Rod Ern pel’ Arot
  • Mechanic First Class Bor Gen pin’Ethil
  • Mr. Straudman, Juntavas
    • planetary administrator (Boss?) of Venture
    • The Scouts keep him in line


  • growing up, leaving one's cha’leket
  • piloting practice and assessment
  • sibling rivalry and support
  • duty due to crew
  • the Juntavas as galactic thugs


He had always known that his true-mother would one day claim him to serve on Dutiful Passage and learn his life-roles of captain and trader, just as he had always known that Daav would someday leave home to attend Scout Academy. He had simply been caught . . . unprepared . . . when “one day” became “this day,” and he was suddenly swept into his mother’s orbit, away from everything that was usual and comforting; his one cold joy the new license in his pocket, which proved him a pilot of Korval. It was no inconsiderable thing to be a pilot of Korval. Indeed, he had learned that it was no small thing to be cabin boy on the clan’s flagship, true-son and heir of Captain and Master Trader yos’Galan.


The lift had been a fine and bewildering thing. The simulations he had been flying were meticulously crafted, but live flight -- live flight was different! He was still a-tingle with energy, his thoughts as sharp as fabled Clutch crystal, standing tall in an exhilaration that persisted despite the full knowledge of having several times bungled his board.


Er Thom frowned again, liking that round-shouldered pose of misery less with every heartbeat. He had been several times over the last months assigned to the repair bays, and more than once to Mechanic pin’Ethil himself. A gentle, sweet-natured man, Bor Gen pin’Ethil, skilled in his work and an able teacher, besides. The man who stood with his neck bent at the base of the wheel was as unlike Mechanic pin’Ethil as -- as Chi yos’Phellum was unlike her twin.


Petrella to Er Thom: "I would say to you that those of the Juntavas are at best chancy and at worst deadly. Korval has an . . . arrangement . . . with the Juntavas, dating back many years -- the appropriate citations from the Diaries will be on your screen at the beginning of your next on-shift. Please read them and be prepared to discuss them with me over Prime meal.” She did not wait for his seated bow of obedience, but swept on. “For the purpose of this conversation, let us say that the agreement between Korval and the Juntavas is one of mutual avoidance."