Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 23

Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 23

Chapter Six

“This,” Yana Tretiakovna announced, “is booooooring.”

The tall, attractive, and very dangerous blonde flung herself backward into the threadbare armchair. She leaned back, crossed her arms, and glowered out the huge crystoplast wall at what any unbiased person would have to call the magnificent vista of Yamato’s Nebula.

At the moment, she was less than impressed. On the other hand, she had a lot to not be impressed about. And she’d had a lot of time in which to be unimpressed, too.

“I’m sure you could find something to amuse yourself if you really wanted to,” Anton Zilwicki said mildly, looking up from the chess problem on his minicomp. “This is one of the galaxy’s biggest and most elaborate amusement parks, you know.”

“This was one of the galaxy’s biggest amusement parks,” Yana shot back. “These days, it’s one of the galaxy’s biggest deathtraps. Not to mention being stuffed unnaturally full of Ballroom terrorists and Beowulfan commandos, not one of whom has a functioning sense of humor!”

“Well, if you hadn’t dislocated that nice Beowulfan lieutenant’s elbow arm wrestling with him, maybe you’d find out they had better senses of humor than you think they do.”

“Yada, yada, yada.” Yana grimaced. “It’s not even fun to tease Victor anymore!”

A deep basso chuckle rumbled around inside Zilwicki’s massive chest. When Yana had first signed on to assist in his and Victor Cachat’s high-risk mission to Mesa, she’d been at least half-frightened (whether she would have admitted it to a living soul or not) of the Havenite secret agent. She’d agreed to come along — mostly out of a desire to avenge her friend Lara’s death — and she was a hardy soul, was Yana. Still, the notion of playing the girlfriend (although the ancient term “moll” might actually have been a better one) of someone many people would have described as a stone-cold, crazed sociopathic killer had obviously worried her more than she’d cared to admit. In fact, Zilwicki thought, Cachat had never struck him as either stone cold or crazed, but he could see where other people might form that impression, given his Havenite colleague’s body count. As for sociopathy, well, Zilwicki’s internal jury was still out on that one in some ways.

Not that he hadn’t known some perfectly nice sociopaths. Besides, Zilwicki had observed that who was the sociopath and who was the defender of all that was right and decent often seemed to depend a great deal on the perspective of the observer.

And sometimes the cigar really is a cigar, of course, he reflected. That’s one of the things that make life so interesting when Victor’s around.

Over the course of their lengthy mission on Mesa, Yana had gotten past most of her own uneasiness with the Havenite. And the four-month voyage from Mesa back to the Hainuwele System had finished it off. Of course, the trip shouldn’t have taken anywhere near that long. The old, battered, and dilapidated freighter Hali Sowle their Erewhonese contacts had provided had been a smuggler in her time, and she’d been equipped with a military grade hyper generator. It wasn’t obvious, because her original owners had gone to considerable lengths to disguise it, and they hadn’t tinkered with her commercial grade impeller nodes and particle screening, but that had allowed her to climb as high as the Theta Bands, which made her far faster than the vast majority of merchant vessels. Unfortunately, the hyper generator in question had been less than perfectly maintained by the various owners through whose hands the ship had passed since it was first installed, and it had promptly failed after they managed to escape Mesa into hyper. They’d survived the experience, but it had taken Andrew Artlet what had seemed like an eternity to jury-rig the replacement component they’d required.

They’d drifted, effectively motionless on an interstellar scale, while he and Anton managed the repairs, and even after they’d gotten the generator back up, using the Mesa-Visigoth Hyper Bridge had been out of the question. They’d been better than nine hundred and sixty light-years from their base in Hainuwele (and well over a thousand light-years from Torch) but given the…pyrotechnics which had accompanied their escape, they’d dared not return to the Mesa Terminus and take the shortcut which would have delivered them less than sixty light-years from Beowulf. Instead, they’d been forced to detour by way of the OFS-administered Syou-tang Terminus of the Syou-tang-Olivia Bridge, then cross the four hundred and eighty-odd light-years from the Olivia System to Hainuwele the hard way.

The trip had given them plenty of time to hone their card playing skills, and the same enforced confinement had given the coup de grace to any lingering fear Yana might have felt where Victor Cachat was concerned. It had also given Cachat and Zilwicki plenty of time to debrief Herlander Simões, the Mesan physicist who had defected from the Mesan Alignment. Well, “plenty of time” was probably putting it too strongly. They’d had lots of time, but properly mining the treasure trove Simões represented was going to take years, and it was, frankly, a task which was going to require someone with a lot more physics background then Zilwicki possessed.

Enough had emerged from Simões’ responses and from the maddeningly tantalizing fragments which had been proffered by Jack McBryde, the Mesan security officer who’d engineered Simões’ defection, to tell them that everything everyone — even, or perhaps especially, the galaxy’s best intelligence agencies — had always known about Mesa was wrong. That information was going to come as a particularly nasty shock to Beowulf intelligence, Zilwicki thought, but Beowulf was hardly going to be alone in that reaction. And as they’d managed to piece together more bits of the mosaic, discovered just how much no one else knew, their plodding progress homeward had become even more frustrating.

There’d been times — and quite a few of them — when Zilwicki had found himself passionately wishing they’d headed towards the Lynx Terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction, instead. Unfortunately, their evasive routing had been more or less forced upon them initially, and it would have taken even longer to backtrack to Lynx than to continue to Syou-tang. And there’d also been the rather delicate question of exactly what would happen to Victor Cachat if they should suddenly turn up in the Manticore Binary System, especially after the direct Havenite attack on the aforesaid star system, word of which had reached the Mesan news channels just over two T-months before their somewhat hurried departure. It had struck them as unlikely that one of Haven’s top agents would be received with open arms and expressions of fond welcome, to say the least.

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10 Responses to Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 23

  1. Scott says:

    Yes Yana, it is. Especially as this seems to be a copy and paste chapter from the previous book, a Rising Thunder. I’m not going to waste time going back and finding out what number. I don’t mind seeing the same events if it’s from someone else’s pov but this is just filler, new material or a shorter book please. Rant over.
    Having taken off my ranty pants DW is one of my favourite authors and the idea that he plans on retireing at 70 fills me with dismay.

    • John Roth says:

      Chapter 6.

      DW has been raked over the coals on the forums for this chapter as well. He says it’s to provide orientation between the two books about when things happen, although I think that the month headings and certain other events provide that well enough. It may provide motivation for some things that happen later, although since I haven’t read the entire book I don’t know whether it does.

  2. SCC says:

    David will only retire when he is incapable of writing, he won’t be able to stop, it’s just that after 70 he’s not going to need to support himself (Or that is the plan)

  3. summertime says:

    deja vu all over again

  4. JeffM says:

    Merry Christmas, everyone…and thanks, Drak!

  5. Hans Rancke says:

    I have to agree with Scott. This chapter should have been written from another viewpoint and had a few new bits of information included to boot.

  6. Bruce says:

    No surprise. He’s done this a number of times to orient books. Almost word for word. Sometimes from another perspective.

    It can actually be fun to try to figure out the exact overlap of each book with the others based on these snippets.

    • John Roth says:

      The later books have got month markers at the top of chapters that start in a new month. The earlier ones don’t, but for the most part they don’t overlap. The ones that do overlap are At All Costs, War of Honor, Shadow of Saganami and Crown of Slaves. The five books after that – Mission of Honor, A Rising Thunder, Storm from the Shadows, Torch of Freedom and the forthcoming Shadow of Freedom all have month markers so there’s no reason to repeat chapters simply for orientation. If it’s useful for people who start reading with this book, then that’s different, but I’d agree that it deserves a separate treatment.

  7. Scott says:

    If you are entering the series at this point no amount of back story is going to help ground you. Maybe a paragraph to jog the memory but repeating a whole chapter is silly.

    • John Roth says:

      I’m not so sure about that.

      Considering what we’ve read so far, we’ve got, in order, two chapters of “rebellion being fomented,” a chapter on some kind of a disaster somewhere, another “rebellion being fomented,” a chapter with Oyster Bay news and a commerce raiding exercise, and now a chapter showing a rebellion brewing in another province.

      Someone picking the book up as an entry to the series would know they were missing a heck of a lot of background, but as far as I can see the setting is clear enough, especially with the cover blurb setting the scene. I think it might work as an entry point, especially since anyone picking it up ought to know it’s fairly far along in a series.

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