IN THE STORMY RED SKY — snippet 43

IN THE STORMY RED SKY – snippet 43:

CHAPTER 12: Hegemony Harbor on Karst

Daniel hadn’t changed out of his Whites when he reached the Milton. There’d have been time and his Grays were technically sufficient as well as being more comfortable and practical, but it was just possible that the greater formality would help when he met the Hydriotes shortly.

“Captain Leary!” said Senator Forbes, storming past the Marines at the bridge hatchway. They didn’t so much admit her as ignore her presence the way they did air flowing through the ship’s environmental system. “Instead of dealing with this insult to the Republic, you’ve given the crew liberty! I want you to take me back to Cinnabar at once. At once, do you hear?”
“Your Excellency,” Daniel said, rising politely from the command console. Forbes had changed in her compartment; Senatorial robes and the buskins she wore with them were impossible in the tight confines of a warship.
Robinson–still in his 1st Class uniform–had followed the Senator with tight lips and a worried grimace. The poor fellow was between a rock and a hard place: sure he would either offend either his great-aunt or his captain. He’d demonstrated in the Angouleme Palace that he was an RCN officer first, but he wouldn’t have any better idea of Daniel’s plans than the Senator did. And certainly if you didn’t know where those plans were going, the first stage–calling Vesey from the aircar and telling her to give the starboard watch three hours liberty–must look so perverse as to be insane if it weren’t instead treasonous.
Daniel glanced around him. Rather than key the intercom, he raised his voice and said, “Clear the bridge! Only Senator Forbes and Officer Mundy are to remain. Move it, spacers!”
The RCN personnel, Robinson included, reacted immediately. Borries looked as though he might have said something, but Vesey gripped him firmly by the shoulder as she went past and turned him toward the hatch.
“What’s this?” said Forbes, startled but no longer evidently furious.
Rather than answer her, Daniel said in a much harsher tone, “Hogg, that means you and Tovera too. Out, and close the hatch behind you.”
Hogg shrugged and obeyed. Tovera gave Daniel a sardonic grin as she followed, or anyway he thought she did. It’s generally a mistake to anthropomorphize the behavior of reptiles, though. Regardless, Hogg closed the hatch as directed.
“Your Excellency,” Daniel said, “this is between the three of us as Cinnabar citizens. I apologize in advance for any seeming discourtesy. If I didn’t respect you, you wouldn’t be here.”
Adele had rotated the seat of her console so that she faced him and Forbes in the center of the compartment. Her eyes were on the display of the little data unit in her lap, however.
“Leary,” said the Senator, “I know your reputation. If you try to manipulate me, I’ll make it my life’s work to have you executed by Bill of Attainder. Even if I have to wait for your father’s death to do it!”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Daniel. He smiled faintly. “With that understood, I’ll proceed with the briefing.”
Forbes’ threat was a warning. Corder Leary wasn’t the sort to wait for an enemy to do something overt. Nor was Hogg, which was the main reason Daniel had sent his servant off the bridge.
“We’re still taking on supplies,” Daniel explained. He thought of suggesting that they both sit down like Adele, but this wasn’t quite the time. “We could lift without them, but that would look like panic–and we’d be short of fresh fruits and vegetables for the voyage home.”
He gestured to the astrogation display on the console behind him. “Waiting to complete loading will only take six hours,” he said, “and I’ll venture to shave six hours off any other astrogator’s time to Cinnabar orbit. Giving the crew a short liberty demonstrates to the wogs–”
He chose the slur carefully.
“–and particularly to Captain Greathouse that the RCN is conducting business as usual despite the disaster on New Harmony. The delay isn’t significant.”
“Yes,” said Forbes, frowning. “What is the story on that? Do you suppose there’s any truth in what they were saying?”
“It’s more or less true,” said Adele without looking up. Her wands danced as she frowned at the holographic data forming in front of her. “The battleships, a cruiser, and a number of destroyers were destroyed or captured in harbor. The remainder of Ozawa’s ships fled to Cacique, where Petersen is blockading them.”
“By the Gods, Leary,” Forbes said. She looked as though she’d been punched in the stomach. “What… what does this mean?”
Daniel gestured her to the navigation console and sat down on his own couch. When Forbes was settled, he said, “The bulk of Petersen’s fleet, three battleships and attendant screens, proceeded from New Harmony to the Cacique system after the battle. Their plan is to set up a base on the larger moon and reduce the Cinnabar defenses. You’ll appreciate–”
He nodded toward Adele.
“–that Lady Mundy has gained this information through methods outside the normal RCN procedures.”
“Yes, Leary, yes,” said Forbes. “I’m not in the habit of blurting inside knowledge to amaze strangers at dinner parties. But we have to get this information back to Xenos! There’s nothing we can do about it by ourselves, surely?”
“I’m coming to that, Senator,” Daniel said. “There has to be a warning sent back to Xenos, of course, but we don’t have to carry it ourselves. The Milton is a powerful vessel, and the three of us on this bridge are–”
When he smiled, he realized how stiff his face had been. His cheeks felt like cardboard, crinkling.
“–in our different ways, important assets of the Republic also. We’re very close to the Montserrat Stars. If the Alliance is allowed to consolidate its victory, it’ll require a fleet much larger than Admiral Ozawa’s to dislodge them; and the RCN doesn’t have those ships. If we three are willing to take risks….”

About Eric Flint

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6 Responses to IN THE STORMY RED SKY — snippet 43

  1. Willy says:

    I wonder how Daniel plans to make use of Senator Forbes? It doesn”t sound like he plans to send her back to Cinnabar, just about anyone could take the news, although Cinnabar should be getting a first hand account from Cacique. Then again, he might need someone back home supporting his plans.

  2. Mike says:

    She’s political, so he’ll want to use her as a political asset. Maybe he’ll even have her replace the Headman as ruler of this whole area.

  3. ij70 says:

    @ Willy
    1) They are going to capture the Alliance tin can that is one slip away from them. They have the codes, they have the extra men power to do it with, they have the “traitor” to guide them.
    2) Once they capture the tin can, they will send it to Cinabar under Robinson’s command to inform the RCN of Ozawa’s defeat.
    3) While Robinson is on his way to Cinabar, Leary is going to pick up some ground troops. Remember those “Gurka” types that Hydriot captain was taking to suppress slave rebelion?

    The only thing I do not know is where he is going to strike where heavy cruiser and regiment of top notch ground troops can make an Alliance fleet leave Cacique. Maybe he is going to install the senator as a head of Hegemony. Turn Hegemony from allied state to province of the Republic? That might work.

  4. Bryan says:

    @2 I doubt that Daniel will want to try to take over the cluster.

    Most likely, he wants Forbes to authorise him to draw on resources that he normaly would not be able to. Or maybe she’ll have the ability to authorise or order something ‘in the name of the Senate’. Or possibly he just can’t afford to kick her off the ship and stuff her abord a merchant for the trip back to Zenos.

  5. Tom says:

    By Heresies Distressed snippet please

  6. Doug Lampert says:

    Drake’s stated models for this book include the fall of Cartagena (Nova Carthago) to Scipio. That was an important supply base for Hanibal. Presumably Daniel will go for a supply base somewhere the alliance thinks is relatively secure. (Spain was firmly Carthegenian controlled prior to Scipio’s arrival.)

    Historically Hieronymus was killed by internal enemies within 13 months of taking power and without direct Roman involvement so we may actually be done with that part.

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