The Road Of Danger – Snippet 15

The Road Of Danger – Snippet 15


          Vesey said, “Isn’t there still a problem with shipping goods to the rebels from Cinnabar territory? If the Funnel authorities capture some of the ships, that is, and they’re bound to capture some.”


          Hogg sat quietly on the jump seat across from Daniel at the command console; Tovera faced Adele at Signals. The servants had no business at this meeting of the ship’s command group, but there was no reason to exclude them either. Nobody worried about either of them speaking out of turn.


          “Sattler owns a one-third interest in Calpurnius Trading on Madison,” Adele said. She didn’t react sharply to the interruption, as Daniel had seen her do in the past. He had the feeling that this was what she had planned for the next point in her presentation anyway.


          “All goods for the rebels are purchased and shipped by Calpurnius,” she went on, flicking a wand to cascade files to the officers listening to her.  None of them bothered to examine the data now; or ever would, Daniel surmised. “I doubt that Sattler’s financial involvement would appear to anything less than a full investigation, and that by unusually competent investigators. He hasn’t put Alliance-Cinnabar relations at risk.”


          Daniel didn’t try to hide his smile this time. Adele had found the link in a matter of minutes. Granted that she had been in Sattler’s office, but it was pretty certain that she would have done the same thing just as quickly if she had been given access to the Calpurnius Trading offices.


          “But Madison is an Alliance world,” Vesey said, frowning in puzzlement. She didn’t doubt what Adele was saying, but she didn’t understand it. “It’s a sector capital, in fact?”


          “This far out from Pleasaunce…,” said Midshipman Cazelet. His family had owned a shipping line operating from the Alliance capital, Pleasaunce, before they had incurred the displeasure of Guarantor Porra and disappeared into his dungeons. “It’s just a matter of knowing who to slip the bribe to. And the bribe won’t have to be very large, I’d expect.”


          “There’s a political aspect as well,” Daniel said, speaking to end the discussion before Adele did so. She had a tendency to jerk the leash harder than necessary to bring her wandering listeners back to the path she had chosen. “Madison is a sector capital, but Sunbright and its problems are in a different sector.”


          He coughed and added, “Go on, Officer Mundy.”


          Adele smiled minusculely, not at him but very possibly toward his image on her display. “Master Sattler has no immediate plans to send someone inspect his investment on Madison,” she said in her usual dry tone, “but based on similar situations on other planets, it wouldn’t surprise the staff of Calpurnius Trading if he chose to do so. I propose that I go to Madison as a passenger on the Princess Cecile disguised as a private ship, and that I present my credentials as Sattler’s agent to his partners there.”


          “By the gods yes!” said Cory in beaming excitement. “The ship is private, after all, except we’re under RCN charter right now.”


          Daniel didn’t interject, but the circumstances were more complex than Cory implied or perhaps even knew. Daniel personally owned the Princess Cecile; he had bought the former Kostroman corvette out of RCN service several years earlier with some of the prize money which he had gained in the course of a short but very fortunate career.


          However the Sissie‘s present charter was not with the RCN but rather with the External Bureau so that she could carry an official to an Alliance protectorate without Cinnabar naval involvement. There hadn’t been time to change the paperwork in the rush after they had arrived on Cinnabar, then lifted at once with the dispatches to Admiral Cox.


          While his officers chattered and his conscious mind focused on a legal technicality of the sort his sister Deirdre, a banker, spent her life with, Daniel’s subconscious fitted the varied pieces into a decision. He said, “Fellow spacers?”


          The two lieutenants and Cazelet continued arguing about whether to arrive on Madison as the Princess Cecile; whether to pretend to be a Trinidad-registered schooner; or whether to land on Trento and send the “inspector” to Madison on a short-hop freighter. They also disagreed about who should pretend to be Sattler’s representative, though all agreed that it shouldn’t be Adele.


          “Pipe down and listen to Six!” Woetjans said; even Daniel jumped. The bridge was armored, but he was willing to bet that everybody in the rotunda beyond the closed hatch had heard the bosun’s shout.


          The three officers sat upright at their consoles, their eyes straight ahead and their lips tightly together. No one spoke. Adele’s smile was too slight for anyone but a close associate to have recognized the expression, but it was enough to make Daniel grin broadly in return.


          “Thank you, fellow spacers,” he said politely. “I will visit Calpurnius Trading myself. If this excellent plan works out, the representative will continue from Madison to Cremona and then on to Sunbright. Officer Mundy’s virtues are too well known for me to bother listing them in this group, but I do not believe she could pass as a working spacer on a blockade runner.”


          Vesey’s face went blank; Cory and Cazelet stared at one another in surprise. It took Woetjans a moment to put Daniel’s deadpan words together with their meaning; then she laughed as loudly as her shouted command of a moment before.


          “Sir?” said Cory. “You can’t take a risk like that yourself–it wouldn’t be proper. I can–“


          Cazelet and Vesey had their mouths open to object and doubtless to offer their own proposals. Daniel stopped all three of them with a cold smile and a raised finger. He said, “I’d hate to think that my Bosun had more authority aboard the Princess Cecile than I do. But I’m sure Woetjans would be willing to restore order, eh?”


          “Sorry, Six,” Vesey muttered to her hands, though she hadn’t actually spoken. Cory and Cazelet just nodded.


          “You’re good officers,” Daniel said, looking again around his command group. “You wouldn’t be aboard the Sissie if I didn’t trust you, you know that.”


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9 Responses to The Road Of Danger – Snippet 15

  1. Fritz says:

    “…Midshipman Cazelet. His family had owned a shipping line operating from the Alliance capital…”
    Wouldn’t he have the right background to “inspect the investment in Calpurnius Trading”?

  2. Doug Lampert says:

    Any of them except Adele could do it. Cazelet might be the best choice, but the choice is being made by Daniel.

    I think there’s a continuity error here: “However the Sissie‘s present charter was not with the RCN but rather with the External Bureau so that she could carry an official to an Alliance protectorate without Cinnabar naval involvement. There hadn’t been time to change the paperwork in the rush after they had arrived on Cinnabar, then lifted at once with the dispatches to Admiral Cox.”

    But they weren’t given that assignment on Cinnabar but rather they were given it here by Admiral Cox. I suspect the original draft had the assignment from Cinnibar and that this was changed to an assignment from Cox without updating this section in this draft.

  3. However, traveller Daniel may want an assistant or three along with him. Probably one. The traditional is ‘an attractive young woman being described as a personal assistant’.

  4. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sorry George, but he’s lost his taste for those type of ladies since he’s apparently fell in love. [Wink]

  5. Anonymouse says:

    #3 – Tovera?

  6. Doug Lampert says:

    Adele works best with computer support. Leaving her on the Cissy makes sense, he might take her anyway, but I don’t think it would be smart. And there’s no way Daniel is taking Vessey with him, if she comes with him she can’t command his ship. That covers the available attractive young women in the room unless the previous descriptions of Woetjans are all badly in error.

    Daniel will probably be taking Hogg as a personal servant, that’s a role he can play since it isn’t a role at all. But I doubt he’ll take anyone else. Would he trust Cory or Cazelet keeping something a secret with his life? He’d trust their courage, but will he bet his life they won’t call him by the wrong name or title at the wrong time?

  7. Fritz says:

    @2: This is no continuity error. The present charter with the External Bureau in What Distant Deeps was to transport the Commissioner to Zenobia, where they got the intelligence about Tattersall. That caused them to race back to Cinnabar and then to Kronstadt. There was no time to change the status of the ship, Cox probably did not look into the details.

    This book is the first in the RCN series that is directly linked to the previous book, I hope it does not end in a cliffhanger!

    And I found a real continuity error: In the previous book, it was the “Peace of Rheims”, not Amiens.

  8. John T Mainer says:

    There are really good reasons why senior officers like ship captains do not go where they may be taken out so easily. There are really good reasons why junior ground force officers are always among the first on the ground; the person on scene making the initial tactial decisions must have both the most current information, and the understanding of the strategic goals and underlying intellegence assumptions. Copenhagen and Trafalgar stand as examples of senior officers standing into unwarranted danger to judge for themselves, and seize the initiative. The Gallipoli disaster stands as an example of prudent commanders following the book and losing both initiative and lives accordingly.

    They sent Leary off without a senior officer to answer to: its like giving Admiral Nelson or General Patton orders to use their discretion. Fun times ahead.

  9. Doug Lampert says:

    Eh? Parker at Copenhagen stayed well back with the main fleet and sent a well briefed more junior officer in to lead the assault.

    They exactly followed the book. (And that pretty much includes Parker’s withdraw signal and Nelson’s “blind eye to the telescope”, Nelson couldn’t withdraw without orders without committing a capital crime, so Parker HAD to issue that order to let Nelson have full free rein, but Nelson could and did ignore an order to withdraw if he wanted to without repercussions so presumably the withdraw order was almost entirely for Nelson’s benefit.)

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