Breath's Duty is a short story published in A Liaden Universe Constellation, volume 1. Before that, it was published in Duty Bound, Adventures in the Liaden Universe (see The Books (and other stories))
It begins in SY1393 at Leafydale Place, Delgado
timewise, fits with novel Plan B (chapter 2, Delgado)
The setting moves to space station Nev'Lorn, offworld HQ of the Liaden Scouts
"Breath's Duty, indeed. Every child on Liad was made by stern Delm or fond grandfather to memorize the passage, which had come virtually unchanged through countless revisions of the Code. Breath's duty is to breathe for the Clan as the Clan allows, Breath's duty is to breathe for the body whole, Breath's duty is to plan for the Clan's increase, Breath's duty is to keep the Balance told...Breath's duty is to keep the balance told," she muttered.
"There's always a faction in the Council of Clans that wants to shut funding for the scouts off, or reduce it. Some of them don't want us doing anything that might benefit Terrans..."
The name of the problem is the Department of the Interior; their purpose is to eat the Scouts, among other things. One of those it swallowed is your heir, and I don't hide it from you that there was hope he'd give them indigestion...Short form is that he's gone missing, and there has been the very hell of a hue and cry -- and another problem."
The Department's on the usual bands -- monitoring us. Listen to Scout Net, but for the gods' sweet love don't attempt to use it!
"A pair of Clutch Turtles waltzed into his office...the former chairman made the mistake of threatening a T'carais....The chairman was knifed in his own office by a Clutch turtle." ..."Perhaps better for all concerned: Most turtles would merely have bitten his head off, or crushed his spine..."
"The turtles claim them to be a brother and sister of the Spearmaker's Den who must be returned unharmed or self-declared free and safe....If they don't turn up safe the Juntavas will be wiped out, starting from the top."
"A merc-turned-bodyguard, lived through Klamath and got on -- and of -- Cloud." ...'A master mercenary who had survived Klamath might be just the person to balance a Scout Commander,' he thought.
"In the places he would normally have found scouts he found nothing but notes, signs, recordings: on temporary assignment, on vacation, will return..."
In a dusty mail drop he'd maintained was a triple-sealed note...the message had chilled him to the very bone. "Plan B is now in Effect," it said in neat, handwritten Liaden characters. No signature. He recognized the handwriting from his former life. dea'Gauss. He felt a relief so intense that tears rose to his eyes. dea'Gauss was alive. Or had been."
Momson is some Terran inventor...but the Cloaks -- they've only been on scout ships for about 25 years. But then, I guess you could blame Daav yos'Phelium...The Richard A. Davis Portmaster Aid Foundation."
"Nev'Lorn Headquarters has been disbanded and is outlawed."