Pamela Harvac wasn’t comfortable being a spy. That wasn’t what she signed up for when she was recruited to State. She blamed her discomfort on her mother’s strict upbringing and attending religious schools. All her life having a secret was presumed to be a sign of ill intent if not outright sin.
It was irritating too. They wouldn’t need to go snooping around if the agencies charged with spying would take direction to gather intelligence for them, or even share what they already had. To talk with any of them you’d think they were the enemy to even ask for data on commercial matters. Who were they serving after all?
Her boss Wilson sent the little toad Kirk along with her. He had no such scruples. In fact, Pamela wondered why he wasn’t employed by one of the secret agencies instead of State. He was good with numbers, in fact if pressed she would admit he was very good, and able to apply those number to a real world analysis better than most.
She still certainly expected him to challenge her authority as soon as they were out of com range of Secretary Wilson and perhaps make an ass of himself in other ways. He wouldn’t be the first she’d met who thought himself God’s great gift to womankind.
Instead he’d meekly kept his mouth shut when introduced to the ship’s officers and didn’t presume upon her privacy or personal space when they were assigned a two bunk room. Spacers had no sense of decency, and the purser had just blinked like it didn’t compute for a second when informed that she and Kirk were not partners and she asked if separate cabins were available.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have separate accommodations for your subordinate,” he said, missing the point that it wasn’t about class entirely. “We are a freighter primarily with very limited space for both passengers and crew. The other cabin is occupied by a married couple who would reasonably object to being split up, and it is impractical to trade him off with any crew who need to work shifts that would disturb you. They are all working spacers and I doubt you’d judge any of them your peers. I’m not available to bunk with you,” he said, with an amused little smile. He didn’t even specify female crew. It didn’t take long before she found out that of the five spacers aboard none were female anyhow, and only the captain had a tiny private cabin.
The cabin itself surprised her. It was compact of necessity, but luxurious beyond her expectations. The bunk was not cramped and infinitely adjustable with its own temperature controls and adjustable vents. It had multimedia outlets and the ability to use an overhead screen if you wanted to read in bed or watch environmental scenes to music. The shared bath was tiny but entirely comfortable and not metered. Everything was of soft or textured surfaces and the lighting subtle and indirect.
In North America right now both of them could be charged with a felony for sharing a cabin unmarried. Pamela had never been outside the Solar System, but she could read people well enough to see that she would simply amuse the Captain if she cited North American law to him. She did know Spacers in her own Solar System openly mocked a lot of North American decency laws such as the prohibition on shorts and short sleeves. Despite her agency position, Pamela was not experienced enough to consider there might be a range of custom and law among Spacers beyond her home system. The media that bombarded her daily presented Spacers as a uniform bloc, and not at all nice people, so she had nothing to inform her differently. He would be perfectly justified in pointing out they were a Fargone ship and subject to both Fargoer law and custom underway so she dropped her objection.
It was an error and failure as head of mission that she hadn’t researched Fargone law before boarding a Fargone vessel. A measure of that simply reflected official contempt for other law. Finding it really did affect her was a first prod to pay attention to how others live. The ship must carry a web fraction that would enlighten her to some degree. She intended to study that as well as expand her knowledge of Derfhome while they were in transit from the slightly different perspective the Fargoer web fraction would paint things.