Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 33

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 33

Chapter 11

Queen of the Sea

October 20

Captain Lars Floden felt like a coward and a traitor as he turned the Queen to go after the Reliance. But he had a responsibility to the passengers and crew of the Queen. They needed that fuel. They couldn’t afford the chance that some accident in the battle at Rhodes would leave the Reliance aflame and all her fuel up in smoke.

So he did what he had to, hating himself all the while. The Reliance left on the route to Rhodes almost twenty-four hours ago, which put the Queen well behind. It was going to be close, even with the Queen’s higher speed.

Reliance

October 21

Rhodes was in sight and the Reliance had clearly been seen. In the dawn’s early light, the Rhodians were putting to sea. Three triremes were heading out to meet them and Joe Kugan wondered where the rest were. Metello was sure there would be a bunch here.

“Run them down, Captain,” Metello said. “Steer straight for them. My men will deal with any of the crew that manage to board.”

Joe did as he was told. The Reliance, with Barge 14 attached, wasn’t exactly spry. She had powerful engines and controlled thrust, but a barge full of fuel wasn’t easy to shift. She was close to as fast as the triremes, but she couldn’t maneuver like they could.

So what followed was a slow-motion game of tag. The Reliance would head for a trireme, and the trireme would turn and race away, then try to come at the Reliance from the side or rear. One unfortunate trireme managed to close on the Reliance and found out what the backwash from eleven thousand horses did to the local currents. It survived but lost about half its oars, and was out of the fight for a while.

“Reliance, this is the Queen of the Sea. What are you doing?”

It blared over the speakers in the pilot house, and Metello went a little white. He had no idea what was said, but he had to know what it meant. Joe checked the radar and there it was, big as a mountain rising out of the southwestern sea. Still half an hour out, but coming on.

Joe still didn’t have much Greek and he wasn’t of a mind to try just now. He turned to Metello and said in English, “You’re toast, sucker!” Then he grinned like an idiot through his busted lip and missing teeth.

“Go there!” Metello pointed at the harbor, where until just a few years ago the Colossus of Rhodes had stood.

Joe started to comply. He was cowed by this bastard, as much as he hated to admit it. But an ATB the size of the Reliance doesn’t do anything fast. There was time for Joe to consider the consequences. He realized that if the Reliance grounded Barge 14, there would be no escape. In desperation, he hit the emergency stop, and the engines came to a stuttering halt.

Metello looked at Joe, and Joe looked back. Metello reached for his sword, and Joe lunged. He was desperate, but Metello was just that much faster, with reflexes honed by years of combat. Joe never laid a hand on him as Metello sidestepped and brought his kopis down on the back of Joe’s neck.

With the ship stopped, the Rhodians saw their chance and pulled alongside to board. But they didn’t have it all their own way. There were two thousand troops camped on Barge 14, and by now they were at least fairly familiar with the hardware that dotted the hull, making defensive works.

By the time the Queen of the Sea actually got there, the Rhodians had been pushed back to their ships, with considerable losses on both sides.

Queen of the Sea

October 21

“Are there any of our people in view?” Captain Floden asked Staff Captain Dahl.

“Not that I can see, Captain.”

“Fine, then. Clear that deck, but keep the muzzle velocity low. We don’t want any of our shells poking holes in the Reliance.” One of the nice things about a steam cannon is that, to an extent, it has a modifiable muzzle velocity, and therefore adjustable penetrating power. The power a one-pound lead bullet needed to pulp a human chest, even an armored human chest, is considerably less than the muzzle velocity necessary for that same shell to punch through one-eighth inch steel plate.

The crew of the Queen had made lots of bullets for the steam guns.

Two thousand armed and armored soldiers crowded onto the Reliance. They couldn’t have spread out if they wanted to and they didn’t know enough to want to. They clumped together to provide mutual protection and support and the one pound rounds of the steam cannon went through two or three men to finally lodge in a fourth.

It didn’t take long for the deadly rain of lead bullets to have their effect. People started screaming that they surrendered. These were tough men who would readily face other men in battle with sword and shield, but invisible death that ripped a man in two and sounded like Zeus on a rampage…? That they weren’t willing to face.

* * *

They surrendered, but could that surrender be trusted? Could Lars send people across to the Reliance without knowing that?

“We’re ready, Captain,” came Daniel Lang’s voice over the speakers.

“All right. Pull us alongside.” Then, into the mike, “Dan, don’t take any chances. If any of them give you any trouble at all, just shoot them.”

“Right, Captain. Police brutality coming right up.”

The Queen came up alongside the Reliance and a massive porthole opened to reveal men in glowing white uniforms with little metal things in their hands. The little metal things looked harmless, and the only ship people these men had contact with till now were the unarmed crew of the Reliance and the equally unarmed work crew. They didn’t know. Still, the rain of death from above kept most of them in check.

Most of them.

Daniel Lang would never know whether the Macedonian soldier who charged him was desperate or just saw an opportunity. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Dan had done twenty years as an MP and another ten as a cruise ship cop, and never even drawn his gun in anger.

Didn’t mean he didn’t know how.

The gun came up, he hollered half in Greek and half in English. He’d been practicing. The man didn’t halt.

Dan fired. Blam, blam, blam! Three in the chest. They punched right through the guy’s bronze armor. That halted him and more. He went down on his back. It was close enough to what had been raining on them, louder even. Now they knew.

The order to drop their weapons was given again. Those who hadn’t already done so dropped their weapons.

* * *

Goran looked at the men. Wait! Is that a woman? Yes, it was. Dark-skinned, long black hair tied back, wearing the same whiter-than-white clothing as the rest. And holding death in her right hand, just like the men. But she had tits. Nice ones too, best he could tell. And no man had a waist and hips like that.

His observations nearly got him killed. Not because the woman was offended, but just because he was so busy staring that he almost missed the order to get on his knees. Fortunately, they were repeating the orders twice before they killed people over them.

Goran got to live. He went to his knees on the decking wet with blood and waited. He put his hands behind his head and interlaced his fingers just as the voice from nowhere told him to, and as he did he realized that it was an effective method of restraint. Not because you couldn’t unlace your fingers, but because it took time and was pretty obvious. These people must be great slavers, they were so practiced at restraining captives.

He looked over at the woman. By now he had seen other women among their captors, but he thought of her as the woman. She had a set of bindings and was going along behind the kneeling men, taking one hand and binding it behind their back to the other hand, while a man with death in his right hand held death pointed at the captive.

Goran let his hands be bound. She wasn’t gentle about it, but neither was she vicious. She was just efficient.

There was a shout in their tongue, and then what sounded like orders. About half the white suits went off to do something. Goran considered. Probably they had found the crew. Goran had come on at Tyre, so he hadn’t had much to do with the crew of the little boat that pushed the big boat.

* * *

“Captain, we have a ship. A galley, but only two rows of oars. It’s heading for us and there is some guy in the front waving some branches at us. I don’t know if he’s suing for peace or trying to drive off evil spirits.”

“I’m not entirely sure, either, Captain,” Marie Easley put in. “I would guess suing for peace. I think those are olive branches.”

“Talk to them, Professor Easley,” Captain Floden said. “Tell them to stand off while we deal with the Reliance. Tell them we’ll send a boat to talk to them after we’re done.”

Marie waited for the comm officer to cue her, then spoke. The ship stopped, but the guy with the branches started yelling. It was too far and the accent was weird enough that she wasn’t sure what the guy was yelling about, but it seemed urgent. Or at least, he seemed to think it was urgent.

 

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12 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 33

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Joe did as he was told”

    There were literally days since his capture. Where did he learn to understand Greek? Because, as the book itself says:

    “Joe still didn’t have much Greek and he wasn’t of a mind to try just now. “

    “Metello pointed at the harbor, where until just a few years ago the Colossus of Rhodes had stood.”

    Impossibe. OTOH – that’s the biggest fuck up by the Huff&Goodlette. Like – the Mother of Fuck Ups (if you like it). Because the Collossus of Rhodes will be constructed only in 280 BC – nearly 50 years in the future from the moment of the present events.

    “Joe never laid a hand on him as Metello sidestepped and brought his kopis down on the back of Joe’s neck.”

    Designated arsehole wears a redshirt – check! Knew it from the beging and commented appropriately.

    “By the time the Queen of the Sea actually got there, the Rhodians had been pushed back to their ships, with considerable losses on both sides.”

    Once again, instead of the real description of the sea battle we have “retelling” of something uninspired, boring and railroaded.

    “Are you entertained?!”

  2. Ron says:

    Rhodes could be a favorable long term position, given its an island trading center. If the where to strip one of the redundant radars from one the vessels and established a station on a high point on by the harbor it would give them a greater warning.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “Rhodes could be a favorable long term position, given its an island trading center. “

      Nah, Cyprus would be better.

  3. Ron says:

    Two thousand troops captured means two thousand hostages (probably metello’s most veteran troops) as well as swords, shields, armor, and other kit, not mention the officers and the admiral himself captured. Personally they would only get the men back the gear would be forfeit unless they wanted to pay for that in addition. If not rack enough to outfit everyone capable of learning to used it or even just stand in sight wearing it. Then scrap the rest for the steel.

    The Queen has all the leverage they need to get Dag and his party back as well as force reparations out of the faction holding Roxanne and Little Alexander. Roxanne holds the Dag’s phone thus the ability to communicate with Queen long before the queen gets back to Tyre and she could use this opportunity to get out from under the daidochi once and for all. Days improbable grenades will come up in the hostage exchange turned liberation of Roxanne and the little King.

    From the Queen Roxanne in her sons name could grant the people of the queen and reliance citizenship In the empire (or protected sovereignty status as part of the empire) for guaranteeing Alexander’s sovereignty, a powerful qui pro quo. She could then from a position of strength entreat (and begin paying) the silver shields to return to The banner of Alexander all the daidochi seem to have a faction of the shields bolstering their claim to power if they leave them much of the armie’s will follow.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      “The Queen has all the leverage they need to get Dag and his party back as well as force reparations out of the faction holding Roxanne and Little Alexander.”

      No they don’t. Attalus is too unhiged, he won’t agree on POWs exchange. There gonna be war between him and uptimers. Sure, the authors would use their handwavium to turn it into another curbstomp, but, still…

      “…she could use this opportunity to get out from under the daidochi once and for all. “

      And go where? By doing this she loses the last vestiges of being a royal, btw.

      “From the Queen Roxanne in her sons name could grant the people of the queen and reliance citizenship In the empire”

      There were no such thing as “citizen” for the people of Alexander’s empire. They were subjects of the Empire, a notion that the vast majority of up-timers will oppose.

      “…or protected sovereignty status as part of the empire…”

      Can you provide any appropriate historical examples from the Hellenistic era for this even being a thing?

      • Ron says:

        Cyprus would be better, but Cyprus hasn’t yet had the object lesson Rhodes just did, they may in the future though.

        There are plenty of people one the queen who can teach Roxanne what a citizen is, the authors have already been leading us in that direction for some time. The citizens of the queen can give her plenty of up time examples of protected sovereignty status, no need for a Hellenistic one.
        As to where to for Roxanne that is obviously on board the Queen. She and Alexander would be out the reach of the generals and their factions. she would draw her authority as royalty from the Queens to sail to the harbor of anyone would defies here and sink every vessel in it. Coastal shipping especially in the Aegean has been important since the beginning of coastal history.

        You may understand classical history, however your clearly not a history of sea commerce or sea power.

        Attalus may well go to war with the uptimers but and he may even be able to be a large problem ashore out of the range of the queens guns, but even he will find it very difficult to keep his army fed if the shipping in the Aegean and Mediterranean gets restricted. You can only ship grain so far by wagon before the draft animal needs more than carries to feed its self.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “Cyprus would be better, but Cyprus hasn’t yet had the object lesson Rhodes just did, they may in the future though.”

          What lesson? Rhodes saw no lessons so far, because it decided to “behave” after the First Contact.

          Meanwhile, kings of Cypriot city states proved themselves loyal to Alexander from the very beginning of his war against Persia and helped him in every possible way. At the same time – they were realists, who knew that on their own they were not as powerful. In the OTL it meant being subjects of Ptolemaic Egypt. But with legitimate heir of Alexander, already impressive fleet (and their fleet was impressive and crucial in the blockade and siege of Tyre), they are slightly better positioned to serve as a potential base for the uptimers. Besides, having even a figurehead to rally behind (such as young Alexander) will unite Cypriot kings, who’d otherwise plunge their island into a web of conflicting alliances and internecine war.

          “There are plenty of people one the queen who can teach Roxanne what a citizen is, the authors have already been leading us in that direction for some time.”

          And why would she accept their teachings or even agree to them? Roxanna is an adult woman, a product of her own time, class and upbringing.

          “As to where to for Roxanne that is obviously on board the Queen. She and Alexander would be out the reach of the generals and their factions. she would draw her authority as royalty from the Queens to sail to the harbor of anyone would defies here and sink every vessel in it. Coastal shipping especially in the Aegean has been important since the beginning of coastal history.”

          Far fetched. To base your legitimacy on one up-time ship? That’s no serious. I understand, that the authors would make her choose the Queen, because that’s what they’d do themselves. But, again, that would be a projection of modern mentality on the people of the past.

          “You may understand classical history, however your clearly not a history of sea commerce or sea power.”

          Please – enLYTTEN me, Ron! ;) But before you begin – are you claiming that the whole trade in the region was sea based?

          I’d also remind that all diadochi have their own powerbases and resources. The uptimers have none. Any clash with downtimers will inevitably result in losses of material and personel, which would be impossible to replenish. The downtimer potentates have enormous human resources at their disposal and, as demonstrated by Ptolemy the last time snippets mentioned him, desire and means to narrow the tech-gap.

          For the Queen to turn pirate (and that’s what you suggesting here) in order to support its legitimacy would lead to the impasse at best, and to its inevitable destruction at worst, due to the accumulation of the social tension, wear of the hardware and the loss of resources.

  4. Geoffrey Nichols says:

    Two triremes, each with a crew of 200 men (most of them unarmored rowers), are going to board the Reliance with 2000-armed troops onboard. No way, they would last about 30 seconds and casualties on the Reliant would be minimal.

    “Metello pointed at the harbor, where until just a few years ago the Colossus of Rhodes had stood.”
    Metello pointed at the harbor, where in 50 years the Colossus of Rhodes would have stood in the original time line.
    Easy fix now that the error is pointed out. Although this isn’t the first time the authors think they are in the 3rd century BC instead of the 4th century BC.

    Attalus is going to be upset with Metello when he gets back from Caria, if Metello is still alive. First for not making “Polite contact” with the Queen and second for invading Rhodes without orders.

    • Tweeky says:

      “Attalus is going to be upset with Metello when he gets back from Caria, if Metello is still alive. First for not making “Polite contact” with the Queen and second for invading Rhodes without orders.”

      Plus he’ll be pissed off at Metello’s foolish and extremely short-sighted murdering of those two crewmen which WILL antagonise the crew of the cruise ship.

  5. Richard V says:

    I have to agree with Lyttenburgh, and other commenters, that, while I love the ‘Ring of Fire’ formula – uptimers lost downtime, bringing our modern values, ideals, and way of life, welcome and unwelcome, to the downtimers, etc. – I rather don’t love how formulaic and sloppy the stories have become.
    Still a fan, though.

    • Ron says:

      Lyt isn’t wrong about that, the rich back stories and detailed action elements are missing and it’s making this story far less appealing.

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