The Road Of Danger – Snippet 04

The Road Of Danger – Snippet 04


          Yes, which makes me your superior officer, Daniel thought. Aloud he said pleasantly, “Yes, commander. My aide and I are bringing orders from Navy House.”


          Adele held the thin document case in her right hand; she didn’t gesture to call attention to it. Her face was absolutely expressionless, but Daniel could feel anger beat off her like heat from an oven.


          With luck, Admiral Cox would ignore Adele during the coming interview. With even greater luck, neither Cox nor his aide would manage to push her farther. Daniel had the greatest respect for his friend’s self-control, but he knew very well what she was controlling.


          “Come on through, then,” the commander said. “The admiral has decided he can give you a minute. Casseli, let them both in.”


          The warrant officer lifted the flap. The three officers on this side of the counter watched the visitors with greater or lesser irritation.


          Adele smiled slightly to Daniel as she stepped through. “I’m reminding myself that there are fewer than twenty present,” she said in her quiet, cultured voice. “So there’s really no problem I can’t surmount, is there?”


          Daniel guffawed. The commander–the name on her tunic was Ruffin–glared at him.


          I wonder what she’d say, Daniel thought, if she knew that Adele meant she had only twenty rounds in her pistol’s magazine? Of course, she normally double-taps each target….


          Admiral Cox’s office had high windows with mythological figures–Daniel wasn’t sure what mythology–molded onto the columns separating them; the pattern continued, though at reduced scale, along the frieze just below the coffered ceiling. The furniture was equally sumptuous, which made the admiral’s mottled gray-on-gray utilities seem even more out of place. The regional command seemed to be at pains to demonstrate how fully alert they were, but changing uniforms wouldn’t have been one of Daniel’s operational priorities.


          Daniel took two paces into the room and saluted–badly. He was stiff with chill, and he’d never been any good at ceremony. “Captain Leary reporting with dispatches from Navy House, sir!” he said.


          The admiral’s return salute was perfunctory to the point of being insulting. He said, “They’re the same as what you signaled down, I take it?”


          “Yes sir,” Daniel said. Adele was offering the case–to him, not to Admiral Cox. “I had been warned that time was of the essence, so we took that shortcut to save the hour or so before we could get the Sissie–the ship, that is, down and open her up.”


          “Navy House was quite right,” Cox said, as though the decision had been made on Cinnabar instead of on the Sissie‘s bridge. He was a squat man whose hair was cut so short that it was almost shaved; he looked pointedly fit. “Hand them to Ruffin, then, and I’ll give you your orders.”


          “Sir!” Daniel said. He took the chip carrier from Adele, who hadn’t moved, and gave it to the smirking Commander Ruffin.


          “Indeed I will, Captain,” the admiral said. His smile was that of a man who is looking at the opponent he has just knocked to the floor, judging just where to put the boot in.




          Adele Mundy liked information–“lived for information” might be a better description of her attitude–but she had learned early that she preferred to get her information second-hand. Life didn’t always give her what she wanted, but she had tricks for dealing with uncomfortable realities.


          At present, for example, she was imagining that, while seated at her console on the bridge of the Princess Cecile, she was viewing the admiral’s office in hologram. That way she could treat what was being said simply as data, as information with no emotional weight.


          For Adele to display emotion here would compromise her mission and would–more important–embarrass her friend Daniel. She therefore avoided emotion.


          “Maybe you think I don’t know why your noble friends at Navy House sent the information by your yacht instead of a proper courier ship?” Cox said. His face was growing read and he gripped the edges of his desk hard enough to mottle his knuckles. “Is that it, Leary?”


          The phrase “noble friends” settled Adele’s data into a self-consistent whole. Cox’s father had been a power room technician and a member of a craft association which provided education for the qualified children of associates. Cox had excelled in astrogation training; then, at a time of great need during the Landsmarck War thirty years ago, he had transferred from merchant service to the RCN.


          That Cox had risen from those beginnings to the rank of admiral was wholly due to his own effort and abilities. It wasn’t surprising that he felt hostile to a highly regarded captain who was also the son of Speaker Leary–one of the most powerful and most feared members of the Senate. Cox had no way of knowing that Daniel had at age sixteen broken permanently with his father by enlisting in the Naval Academy.


          “Sir…,” Daniel said carefully. He would have probably have preferred to remain silent–there was nothing useful he could say, after all–but Cox’s phrasing didn’t permit him that option. “I believe the Board may have taken into account that the Princess Cecile was fully worked up, having just made a run from Zenobia. I honestly don’t believe that a courier–the Themis was on call–which hadn’t been in the Matrix for thirty days could have bettered our time from Xenos.”


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9 Responses to The Road Of Danger – Snippet 04

  1. AlexS says:

    The plot thickens. I like the way this is going.

  2. Mike says:

    This reminds me of Miles Vorkosigan facing his new camp commandant at Camp Permafrost. That really, really didn’t end well for General Metzov. I’m thinking that Admiral Cox may not fare a lot better.

  3. Greg D says:

    Next paragraph: In fact, Daniel didn’t think any ship out there could have bettered the Sissie’s time, no longer how long they’d been in the Matrix. But he was too politic to say that.


  4. Bryan says:

    @ Greg D
    I’ll back that bet.

    Is there textev in the series that a ship which has been in the matrix recently will make better time?

  5. Maggie says:

    “Indeed I will, Captain,” the admiral said. His smile was that of a man who is looking at the opponent he has just knocked to the floor, judging just where to put the boot in

    And I think I know just where I’d like MY boot to go….

  6. PeterZ says:

    Yup, I too once knew an admiral from Innass…free.

  7. Doug Lampert says:

    @4, Not that I know of, but I believe they have stated that new crews and shakedown cruises are both slower on average, so it’s plausible that an on-call courier might not be able to match a ship that’s just made a run to shakedown and work the crew some. (Of course a hard run might well slow a ship by exhausting the crew and damaging the rig, given that Leary’s previous run was a hard run we’re back to him simply thinking Pricess Cecile is faster than anything else.)

    I suspect that Daniel is wrong about people taking time to change uniforms and that Admiral Cox simply always works in utilities and his HQ follows his example, that would fit the rest of his character from what little we’ve seen. I further suspect the Admiral will be fine, he’s going one way and Leary another and he’s presumably competent enough given that he reached Admiral without any connections at all. There’s no particular reason he shouldn’t suspect that Leary is a parasite, acting on that assumption without checking it is rather hasty and overboard, but then we need to set up the story somehow and the Admiral is in a legitimate time-crunch.

  8. robert says:

    In case no one has seen it, the book blurb is:
    “Captain Daniel Leary with his friend–and spy–Officer Adele Mundy are sent to a quiet sector to carry out an easy task: helping the local admiral put down a coup before it takes place. But then the jealous admiral gets rid of them by sending them off on a wild goose chase to a sector where commerce is king and business is carried out by extortion and gunfights.

    “With anarchy and rebellion in the air, a rogue intelligence officer plots the war that will destroy civilization and enlists the help of a brute whom even torturers couldn’t stomach.

    “And, of course, it’s up to Leary and Mundy to put a stop to the madness.”

    Of course!

  9. mwhiddon says:

    Spare magazine might be useful after all

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