Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 35

This book should be available now so this is the last snippet.

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 35

* * *

Dag was showing Alexander how to make a paper airplane, or rather a papyrus airplane. He had just tossed the airplane when the guard came in and it flew right past the startled man.

“Roxane wants you,” the guard said.

That phrase was familiar to Dag and he picked up Alexander — decked out in a black powder poultice — and headed for the queen’s sitting room. Dag now had a pouch at his waist with a grenade in it and a Zippo lighter loaded with lamp oil in his pocket.

When he got to the sitting room, Roxane held out the phone. “It talked English,” she said in Greek.

Dag walked across the sitting room and exchanged the toddler king for the phone and saw bars. He called up the phone function and found a recent call from the ship. He called back and got Captain Floden asking for a situation report. The conversation ended with, “We’ll be there in about three hours, Dag. Be ready.”

By that time, everyone was watching and apparently getting a bit impatient.

“The Queen of the Sea is coming to get us,” Dag said, looking around the room. There were half a dozen Silver Shields in the room, including Evgenij, who had apparently arrived just ahead of Dag.

“What about the fuel ship, the Reliance, you called it?” Kleitos asked, coming into the room.

“What about the Reliance?” Dag asked the phone.

“The Reliance is now in our hands,” Doug Warren explained. “Captain Scott has been given command and the remaining crew have agreed to the sale of the Reliance to the government of the ship people for a fee in ship’s dollars. It’s a pretty damn large fee, but not unreasonable, Ms. Kinney says. Dag, those steam guns are murder, absolute murder. You know how they talk about stuff being awash with blood? Well, the Reliance really was.”

Dag wished Doug were speaking Greek. It might persuade the locals to be reasonable. He looked over at Kleitos. Or…maybe not. If one thing more than any other had impressed him about the Macedonian mercenary, it was that he didn’t scare easily. That was actually something Dag liked about the man.

“They took it back from your pirates,” he told Kleitos.

“Not my pirates,” Kleitos said. “What happened to Metello?”

“What happened to Metello?” Dag asked the phone.

“That was kind of a mess, Dag,” Doug said. “The Rhodians wanted all this stuff in recompense for the Reliance being involved in attacking them. First they wanted the Reliance, then they wanted all sorts of promises about the Reliance and the Queen, then they wanted all the Macedonian troops as slaves, and on and on. Anyway, when Wiley heard about the slave part, he started screaming that he would not see free men made slaves. ‘It was hard enough to stand idly by while the horrible inequity was practiced.’ As though the captain would have done it anyway. And then…well, never mind. The captain finally had enough. He had Metello tried for piracy on the high seas and hung right in front of the Rhodies. And the passengers.”

“What did Wiley say to that?”

“Funny thing. He backed the captain right down the line. He’s still making speeches about it.”

Dag turned back to Kleitos. “My captain had him hung.”

“Your device said more than that.”

“Apparently, he did it right in front of the Rhodians. I’m not clear on the details, but they were making claims against the Reliance or something, and the captain decided to make a point.”

Dag was watching Kleitos as he spoke, and Kleitos was looking more grim at each word.

“The rest of the soldiers?” Kleitos asked.

Dag remembered Doug’s comment about awash with blood and started to feel a bit grim himself. But he passed on the question. “What about the rest of the pirates? I know they loaded up a bunch when they got here. You can’t have killed them all.”

“No. Mostly they decided that the soldiers were just following orders and not responsible. But there were a couple, the ones directly involved in killing Julio, that they hung. Most of the soldiers are on the Queen, disarmed and locked in, eight to a stateroom. The captain wants to put them off here, but not as slaves.”

Dag considered quickly. “What about the rest?”

“Dead,” Doug said. “Either in the fight or soon after. Like I said, those steam cannon are murder.”

Dag turned back to Kleitos and the rest. “A lot of your fellows were killed in the fighting. The rest will be returned after my companions and I have been freed. And, of course, the young king and the queen can come with us.” Dag wasn’t sure, then or ever, why he had said it. Something in Roxane’s expression, or maybe just something he wanted to be there. But the idea of sailing off on the Queen of the Sea, leaving her and little Alexander to the not-so-tender mercies of these hard men was more than he could face.

Right up to Dag’s mentioning Roxane and Alexander, Kleitos had been half nodding. But as soon as the suggestion about Roxane left Dag’s lips, his face changed.

“I have my orders,” Kleitos said. “Attalus doesn’t want Alexander to leave the island till he gets back.”

“I’m not leaving my son,” Roxane said instantly. Then she added to Kleitos, “But you have no authority to prevent me from leaving.”

Dag was looking around the room. The Silver Shields seemed of two minds about what to do. Then he saw Evgenij’s expression and somehow he knew. Evgenij was in on it with Kleitos. At any moment, he would give the order. Dag was sure. So sure that he turned away, put the phone in his pocket, and pulled the grenade out of its pouch. With his other hand, Dag reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the Zippo lighter.

“I have the money I was paid and Attalus’ orders. That’s all the authority I need,” Kleitos said. Then, apparently seeing Dag’s movement, “What are you doing?”

With a flick of his thumb, Dag opened the lighter and struck the flint. He turned back to Kleitos and lit the fuse. “Making a point.” Dag watched the fuse as it burned, then tossed the grenade. “Catch.”

As soon as the grenade was out of his hand, he turned, spread his arms wide, and pulled Roxane and Alexander to the floor behind the couch.

There was a pause and Dag though he hadn’t let the fuse burn down enough, that it was all going to end in disaster…then boom.

A boom and screaming. Dag stood up and looked around. Kleitos had been holding the grenade when it went off. He was dead and his right arm, the one that held the grenade, was gone to the elbow and shredded beyond that. Not that it mattered. The shrapnel, small bits of iron that were in the casing with the powder, had filled him with more holes than Dag could count. But the shock wave had probably killed him. There wasn’t that much bleeding.

Not from Kleitos, anyway. One of the Silver Shields had apparently stepped over to see what the grenade was. He was still bleeding and screaming. The rest of them were staring at the mess in a sort of shocked horror.

Then Evgenij looked over at Dag. “Stop!” Dag shouted. “That was what we could make in a few days while under guard. What do you think will come off the ship if you do us harm?”

Evgenij stopped and stared. By now the outer edge of the room was crowded with Silver Shields.

A voice from behind the Silver Shields came in “You want us to blow our way in, Mr. Jakobsen?”

“Hold what you got, Keith,” Dag shouted. Then to Evgenij, “Choose now, Commander, whose side are you on.”

Evgenij looked at Dag, then the mess on the floor. Then, oddly enough, he looked at Roxane and he wasn’t looking at her like his prisoner or his charge. He was looking to her for orders. Dag could see it in the old man’s expression. This was so far beyond his experience that a horse might as well have sung Pavarotti right there in the sitting room. Roxane might not be brave, but everyone knew that she was almost as smart as she was beautiful. Smart was clearly what was needed right now.

Roxane saw it too, and Dag wasn’t altogether pleased by the little smile that lit her face. It wasn’t a very nice smile. It was calculating. “The Silver Shields,” Roxane said, “are the royal bodyguards. They will remain loyal to me and my son.” A short pause. “Won’t you, Evgenij?”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“Very well,” Dag said. “Now for the important question, Roxane. Are you and little Alexander staying here or coming with us?”

For just a moment, the queen mother of King Alexander IV, co-ruler of the Macedonian Empire, stood like a deer in headlights. Then that little smile came back. It was still small, and still calculating, but there was a little less frost in it. The hint of warmth that might be there, hidden under the habit of fear and caution. “We will go with the ship people. That is the wisest course.”

“Evgenij, have your people let mine through.” Dag gave the order now, confident that it would be obeyed. “I’m going to let the ship know what’s going on.”

 

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31 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 35

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “And, of course, the young king and the queen can come with us.” Dag wasn’t sure, then or ever, why he had said it.”

    […..]
    […..]
    […..]
    […..]
    [__]

    *Splash!*

    ^That’s how many levels of ansurdity you broke down and how deep you fell with this sickeningly implausible (yet – predictable!) plot device.

    • Ron says:

      Well Lyt you don’t have been appalled any more because it’s the last snippet!

    • Bryan says:

      It’s nice that you care this much about it, but you should really just write your own Book at this point.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “It’s nice that you care this much about it, but you should really just write your own Book at this point.”

        This lamest argument of all is the only thing that you’ve got? “Don’t like the quality of food in our restaurant? Daring to complain about flies and roaches? Go and cook yourself!”. “What, you don’t like that the operation went badly, that the surgeon was drunk and forgot a scalpel within your stomach? Bah! Go and get a medical education, then we’ll talk!”

        Readers are the only medium how you can measure the work of fiction. Because we are the intended audience, not someone else. Those who think otherwise might as well ask aforementioned “someone else” to bankroll them.

  2. Tweeky says:

    “He had Metello tried for piracy on the high seas and hung right in front of the Rhodies. And the passengers.””

    Disgusting! The Captain should’ve been shot for ordering hangings there is no reason to behave like savages, if they must kill someone either shoot them in the back of the head or behead them.

    • Ron says:

      It’s an object lesson tweak, and historically punishment for piracy was death by hanging or a hell of lot worse, he didn’t keep haul them first.
      Floden and Wiley have both embraced the world they are in, maybe in time they will be able to curb some of the more savage aspects such as hanging but right now they need to build a fearsome reputation for the Queen otherwise they will have to shed even more blood before long.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “It’s an object lesson tweak, and historically punishment for piracy was death by hanging or a hell of lot worse”

        I’m not tweeky, so I have different reasons to view such execution dimly. By what right did they execute poor idiot Methelo? Not that I like him, but the question is principal for me. What’s the foundation for that? TRADITION? ;)

        AFAIK, the ship still lacks proper government, code of law and the judicial body. Question – who judged Methelo and who sentenced him to death? Senator Wiley was just recently huffing and puffing about how he detests “tyranny”. Now he is cheering what, basically, amounts to lynching. Where is logic?

        If you are right, Ron, then it means only one thing – the uptimers must climb down from their high moral horse. “When in Rome…” and all this jazz.

        • Ron says:

          Well Methello’s crimes are:
          1. Piracy, there were no hostilities declared so that’s what taking a ship by force becomes.
          2. Summary execution of reliance crew members who had surrendered.
          3. Attacking Rhodes without receiving command authority to do so, again undeclared so also Piracy.
          4. The murder of Captain Kugan, legal master of the reliance.

          Methello got exactly what he gave the crewmen he killed on Reliance, so I don’t feel bad for him or feel as if the People of the Queen overstepped. In regards to who judged Methello was he not found in possession of the reliance engaged in an attack against Rhodes? Additionally crew members witnessed the murders of captain Kugan and the others so you have caught him in the act. You have the Rhodians howling for blood and your still have others in harms way in Tyre, so not a lot of time agonize over executing an obviously guilty man. The long drop and short stop is a relatively clean death, decapitating someone takes skill, strength and a mind set most modern people would lack. Shooting him wastes ammunition.
          Your not going to be able to hug them into submission, morality and modern civilization have to take a back seat right now to the reality on the ground.Lyt you have pointed out there are no citizens only subjects in this time. They have to survive and keep their freedom long enough to begin a government which can then start a judiciary but even then they will have to have power enough to enforce what ever laws they make. Captain Floden and congress man Wiley have accepted this although it would have been nice to have that acceptance played out in our view as the readers.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Well Methello’s crimes are…”

            Again – who determined that all of these actions were crimes? Legal codices of different countries did not fell from the Heaven. They were adopted by (different) humans. Different countries and cultures have different laws and the ways of enforcing/adopting them. Yes, most of the people might agree with that – these were crimes. But if it is not reflected in laws this does not make the abstract “will of the people” binding. The chief principle of laws – “what is not forbidden is allowed”. Hawing absolutely arbitrary judgments like this violates this principle.

            Did the Queen of the Sea (as a distinct society of people/country) adopt any of these laws in the legitimate procedure? If the answer is “NO”, then what they did was mob justice. And Senator Wiley can from now on go and… “know” (in the Biblical meaning of the word) himself, when he has an urge to pontificate about “laws” and “tyranny”.

            “Methello got exactly what he gave the crewmen he killed on Reliance, so I don’t feel bad for him or feel as if the People of the Queen overstepped… You have the Rhodians howling for blood and your still have others in harms way in Tyre, so not a lot of time agonize over executing an obviously guilty man.”

            Me neither. But that’s call it what it was – lynching.

            “Lyt you have pointed out there are no citizens only subjects in this time. “

            And you said that the shipfolk gonna teach Roxana about joys of “cititzenhood”. It’s is also established that she is not dumb. What are the chances that she will point out this glaring hypocrisy and told the up timers to shove their modern notions where Amon-Ra does not shine?

            ” Captain Floden and congress man Wiley have accepted this although it would have been nice to have that acceptance played out in our view as the readers.”

            And how is this different from instituting a (military!) dictatorship?

        • John Cowan says:

          These are crimes against the law of nations, and they operate everywhere and at all times, at least in principle. Pirates are hostis generis humani, enemies of humankind, and any state or private individual may enforce the law of nations upon them. Julius Caesar was acting as a private individual when he hanged the pirates of Cicilia, a few centuries uptime.

          And yes, the law of nations was already a concept at the time.

          • John Cowan says:

            Sorry, crucified rather than hanged on a rope. He mercifully cut their throats first.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “These are crimes against the law of nations, and they operate everywhere and at all times, at least in principle.”

            Ah… no. There is no such transcendental and abstract concept as “law of nations”. No. Simply no. What is illegal in one country could be legal in another and vice versa. It’s just a modern (and lamely enforceable) notion of “international laws”, which, ultimately, rests on the Right of the Strong and Convenience.

            Illyrian tribes were practicing piracy since times immemorial. Pheonicians could flip flop from being traders to pirates. So the idea, that all nations throughout times persecute people for piracy is totally wrong.

            “Pirates are hostis generis humani, enemies of humankind, and any state or private individual may enforce the law of nations upon them.”

            Which has nothing to do with the situation in the world c. late 4 c. B.C. Try again.

            “And yes, the law of nations was already a concept at the time.”

            Pray – tell me more! Maybe next you gonna say there was “international norms of law” as well?

            • Ron says:

              So piracy and murder is legal and the crew of the queen are the criminals in your eyes Lyt that’s awesome why don’t you go write that book and shove that where Ammon-Ra don’t shine.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                “So piracy and murder is legal and the crew of the queen are the criminals in your eyes”

                Where did I said that? I asked for a small thing – for the stupid idiots who make up the “decision body” of the uptimers on this ship to come up and ratify the existing legislation. Barred that – they can enforce any “laws” they want, sure. Some of which might even correspond to the ones we have here, uptime. But the manner they gonna enforce them, i.e. without ensuring consent of the populace and without making them “solid” in the written form – this is mob justice. Justice – sure. But by Mob. Not a legalization of the piracy – I’ve never said that. So – stop strawmanning here. Meanwhile, the uptimers spent lots and lots of time and effort commenting about “barabaric Greek”. Sorry, but the moment they start summary executions based on no law or court, they become barbarians. So they should wipe off the their racial temporal smugness of their faces and be honest just once.

                “why don’t you go write that book and shove that where Ammon-Ra don’t shine.”

                Pagan gods are dead, Ron. Sorry to crush your dreams and hopes, in case you were neo-Pagan.

                When I write thing – and I DO write things – that for mon plaisir and way, way less crappy anyway.

              • Ron says:

                You need Bacchus lyt!

            • John Cowan says:

              Nothing modern about it. It’s true that the term ius gentium is Roman and has no direct Greek counterpart, but Greeks certainly understood the idea of each city or country having its law, partly unique to itself and partly shared with all other countries. As for piracy, Thucydides is forthright about it: it is a disreputable trade and one runs the risk of being killed (he contrasts it with Homeric days, when it was engaged in by highly respected lords such as Odysseus). Killing pirates is at least as old a tradition as hiring them; the U.S. still maintains the right to issue letters of marque, though it has not exercised it since 1815, and the EU, which does not have a death penalty, does use deadly force against pirates.

              • Lyttenburgh says:

                Which is more binding – an opinion (and it was just an opinion) of good writer by lousy general Thucydides OR actually written law? You are having too much assumptions there. A “leap of faith”, so to say. Or, to be more blunt – you are just projecting modern thinking on the Ancients. Which is completely wrong.

                What I’m objecting here is the arrogant assholish attitude of the uptimers, who consider themselves “civilized”, and all downtimers – “barabarians”. How they executed death penalty for piracy has nothing to do with such attributes of the Civilization as the Justice and Written Law. They, basically, degraded to the primitive, early human tribe level – that’s what their lynching had been in reality.

                They are free to “justify” and rationalize what they did in any possible ways. Okay – fine! Just stop pretending that you are “civilized”.

    • John Cowan says:

      If they used a long drop, hanging was very quick and merciful, especially compared to dying slowly of a botched shooting or beheading-by-hand. It’s hard to kill someone in cold blood, even harder to do it so as to be swiftly fatal.

  3. In America, hanging is fairly traditional. The only variation is between drop and (see Woodrow Wilson’s answer to the German ambassador) hoist.

  4. VernonNemitz says:

    Gunpowder blasts usually leave a fair amount of smoke behind, which wasn’t mentioned here. At least some of those Silver Shields should be coughing quite a bit.

  5. Mark L says:

    Finished the book shortly after getting it last week.

    My main question is how do they plan to keep the thing running? Every big ship needs to be drydocked for maintenance on a regular basis. If you do not, at best you end up with problems with marine growth, and at worst you get holes in the hull under the surface.

    Saltwater is one of the most pervasively corrosive substances around. When the Battleship Texas was first turned into a museum ship, the concept of drydocking was neglected because it was just going to be sitting in a slip. It started springing leaks within 10 years. This ship is going to have more issues because it is still traveling the waves.

    • Ron says:

      They would certainly have their hands full, given that there isn’t the corresponding industrial base need to maintain her. They will probably need to “build down” from her over the course of three to five years, similar to what they did with the Grantville power plant. Certain persnickety systems on board will go quicker, for instance The large tunnel dishwashers, and the laundry room equipment on the ships I worked on were forever breaking downing and requiring parts ordered from ashore.

  6. dave o says:

    Now that the book is out, I won’t buy it. The whole idea of the book is absurd.

    • Geoffrey Nichols says:

      But I will check it out of the county library (number 3 in the queue). It’s amusing enough for a summer beach read.

      • JohnF says:

        I agree. If it were available via Amazon Kindle Unlimited, I would read it. I’m definitely not paying $9.99 for it.

    • Johnny says:

      Wait. What? isn’t the whole idea of every science fiction book absurd as the point of the genre?

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        “Wait. What? isn’t the whole idea of every science fiction book absurd as the point of the genre?”

        […]

        No.

        • Johnny says:

          Lol. Ok, bud. I’ll summarize the “absurd” complaints

          West Virginia town dropped in 1630s Germany? Not absurd

          Rural Midwest prison dropped in 1820s and also pre-columbian Midwest? Not absurd

          Cruise liner dropped in diadochi era? Not absurd

          Residents of cruise liner not acting as competently as residents of aforementioned West Virginia town? SO ABSURD THIS BOOK IS ONLY WORTH READING IF IT IS FREE

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            Sci-fi as genre operates not on “absurdity”, but on “fantastic assumption”. It makes one significant “change” from reality, while all others remain the same. It must be consistent and operate according to the laws of logic. Space-time transportation of the RoF series is just a Plot Device ™ – nothing more and nothil less. It’s a train which delivers our heroes from point A (our normal world) to point B (still our normal world, but elsewhere in time and space).

            As such, yes – it should not be absurd. And this book is not worth reading unless its free (although I won’t read it even for free) simply because it is poorly written.

      • Richard H says:

        There’s more and less absurd. Furthermore, everyone has different standards for what breaks their willingness to go with the story.

        It may be a petty example, but I resolved not to buy any more of the Caine Riordan books after the oops baby from his one-night stand before being shoved into cryo-freeze. Cryo? Whatever. Aliens? Whatever. One-night stand with an upper-class girl gets her pregnant when we already have perfectly good long-term reversible birth control already? Forcible ejection from the story.

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