Don would chide her often for her lack of industry, for her willingness to be side-tracked, seeking pleasure instead of concentrating on her studies. He would say it with a smile, knowing she would soon remind him that one of those distracting diversions was him. He had no ambition and no hidden guile. Don Keller was a man content with his position. Although she knew her parents would never approve of such a relationship becoming long-term, she found him more restful company than those high fliers with whom her parents loved to place her at their parties. He did unkind impressions of her father, which made her laugh.
He didn't see through her, too straightforward himself to see that others might be insincere. He had no idea that the sudden departure of Ezrela Takis had been because of her. He had no way of knowing that Ezrela had been attracted to him and had confided her feelings to her supposed best friend. Enough family influence could achieve anything, even a sudden suspicion over Ezrela's consistent high grades, confirmed when she was found to have copies of another student's work under her pillow. Naturally, Ezrela's friends had been unconvinced. Cadet Servalan had been Ezrela's most vocal defender. Don Keller had found her blind trust in her friend touching.
The only cloud on the horizon had been his friendship with Kasabi. Kasabi was less easily fooled, and might say anything to Don, especially if she ever suspected he was so deeply involved with his student. Fortunately for Servalan, Kasabi was not above reproach herself. In fact, she encouraged a degree of free thought inappropriate in the eyes of the Federation. When Cadet Servalan very reluctantly and nervously reported Kasabi's rebel indoctrination of future officers, Kasabi was immediately arrested.
So, the day after the arrest, Servalan walked across the academy courtyard with a light step and a happy heart, content that nothing could now threaten her relationship with Keller. She had also pleased her family, showing herself a faithful servant of the Federation. She was unprepared to meet Don Keller's anger.
He came towards her and said, "Valeska, I need to talk to you."
"Is something wrong?" she said.
"Is something wrong?" he repeated incredulously. He took her to his office and said, "Why did you do it?"
"Do what?" she said.
"Kasabi." he replied.
"Don, she was encouraging treason. It was my duty."
"Kasabi was good to you."
"Kasabi was a traitor." said Servalan, "Unless you share her politics, you should be careful."
"Is that a threat? Are you daring to threaten me?" She had never seen him angry before. It was disturbing.
"I love you." she said.
"Then help Kasabi. Say you were mistaken."
"I can't do that, Don, you know I can't. Forget Kasabi. What is she to you anyway?"
"We've been friends for many years. I can't abandon a friend. You should understand that."
"It would be foolish to stay too close to that one. People would assume ..."
"Am I next?"
"The first time I annoy you, do I get denounced? Valeska, I've always trusted you. Now I wonder if I know you at all."
"I am not the traitor." she said, aware that she was on unsteady ground.
"Aren't you? Isn't Kasabi just trying to make you all think about the Federation's future?"
"Trying to make us doubt its integrity."
"Integrity? The Federation only has integrity if the individuals who run it do. You must understand that by now. By drawing attention to abuses of power, she serves the best interests of the service."
"Then she has nothing to fear." said Servalan, "Her superiors will understand."
"I have just heard she said you were unfit to be an officer."
"And you agree with her?"
"After what you did to her, yes. To say I am disappointed ..."
"Why, Don? You got what you wanted. This isn't about Kasabi at all. I think you are anxious to move on to the next conquest."
"That's not fair."
She smiled coldly, "What is, Don?"
"I did love you."
"Until I inconvenienced Kasabi."
"She could die. Don't you care? One of us, Valeska! One of our own."
"She brought it on herself."
"By what she taught, or by offering unfavourable reports on you?"
"Do I seem that ruthless?"
"If she is found guilty, her family will be enslaved. Tell me you didn't know that."
"You're very concerned. Perhaps one of those children is yours. Is that it?"
"Her husband is a dear friend of mine." said Keller, "It is very clear that you and I can no longer be together. We will not meet again."
"If you think I'm leaving ..."
"I am. I will do what I can to get Kasabi free. After that, I will take a job far away from here. I profoundly regret that I ever met you."
She let a tear glisten, knowing he had always hated to see her cry. "So this is the end?"
"You're leaving me because I did my duty?"
"Valeska, if you are capable of learning anything, let it be this,: It is the duty of every Federation officer to keep the Federation honest. You like power, but power is not enough. If you pursue power alone, you will become utterly corrupt. I've seen it happen."
"Don, don't believe the things Kasabi says about me. She hates me."
He looked into her eyes and sighed. "From now on, I will be far more careful where I place my trust."