Admiral Harper has a rather unpleasant surprise. Paeris sends Gwen on a trip.
Commodore Artr Grexina was rather frustrated. Enterprise and the gadget had been out of commsion due to weather damage for forty twentieths and then called away to chase ghosts that the admiralty was sure were the real target. The commodore had managed to get the Leomaris trading station evacuated and he had almost constant aerial observation of the area. Admiral Seaspinter had divided the squadron into its separate divisions and placed them on either side of the island, so that the approaching enemy would not see them and possibly retreat into glamor. A whistle sounded in the voice tube and a petty officer answered it. The turned to the Commodore and said, Sir, the Marlin reports that the enemy has released their glamor.”
The petty officer rattled off the position. The commodore said, “Signal all ships, full ahead, course 358, close to 8,000 yards.”
Tiasus Petras watches as the island grew up over the horizon. The three squadrons had taken every precaution, yet the Great Captain was sure that the enemy not only knew that they were coming, they knew where they were. He had never been a retrospective or very imaginative thinker and never thought about what it would be like fighting ghosts like the barbarians had been doing for centuries. That was until he was fighting the ghosts. So far the enemy had seemingly not tried to intercept the fleet as they approached the trading station. Now they were almost there. The enemy should be striking now, if they were going to strike. Up on the mast head them the lookout called “Ships Approaching! Two points off the port bow. Five ships.”
Tiasus called up. “Speed! Course!”
“Fast like I’ve never seen before and right for us!”
Tiasus took out his telescope and looked in the direction. Five grey shapes were approaching at incredible speed.”
The lookout called again, “Five more ships, Starboard. Moving to cut us off!
The three squadrons were boxed. It was time to go, as little as he liked it. He took one picture of the approaching ships and ran to the portal, leaving his likely soon to be dead squadron behind.
Admiral Seaspinter looked out at the end of the action. Four enemy ships had been destroyed before desperate officers started to cut flags and strike. There had been fifteen ships here, which meant that there were still five more out there someplace. In any case he could mop this up.
The Fortress, Cleadgate, Beltian Republic.
Paeris Zylvyre had just started his execise when the Lady and the orc showed up. The Colonel that ran the fort was with them and he looked a bit nervous as Paeris walked up. He turned to the others and said, “As you see, Great Captain Zylvyre has a fair bit of space for his exercise.”
As he walked up, Paeris said, “I’m surprised to see you here, milady. I would have expected you to be back in the Empire.”
“The Empire had another job for me, Mr. Zylvyre. The Regency Council realized that it really needed somebody here to talk with these people before a lot more people were killed. So, here I am. You seem well. The leg has healed and you look healthy.”
“There are a few good things here. My healer is very good. I think that I will continue my walk.”
Paeris continued on his walk. Gwen turned to the Colonel and said as they continued on the tour, “I am amazed that security is so light.”
“It isn’t, really. For instance the tower there has two riflemen who are crack shots when he is out here. The wall looks low from this side, but it is 60 feet down in the other side to a gravel shingle with no cover and quite a ways to the water at high tide, let alone low tide. Even if he were to escape, he has no friends here and the Marshalls are very good.”
“Fae that pursue fugitives. I suspect that the Empire doesn’t use them, but most countries outside the empire do. If Paeris were attempt to escape, the biggest problem here in the Republic would be keeping him alive.
“What if his family tries to recover him?”
“That would be an audacious attempt. The fort is not undefended and the navy base is right across the bay over there. Even though most of the fleet is out right now there is always something that can shoot at a Ravathrya ship. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”
He had barely said that when an explosion went off nearby. He clamly turned and said, “And then I could be wrong. Barrister, if you could get the lady back to your car and leave, that would be a small load off my mind. I have tasks to attend to.”
He ran off and Kulgha said, “I think that he is right. He also didn’t seem to be all that surprised.”
“He didn’t, did he? Let us head to the car.”
There were more explosions and when they found the car, the car was smashed by debris and the driver was dead. Kulgha frowned and said, “So much for that. We should find a corner and wait things out.”
They were heading to the rear of the fortress when Kulgha said, “Run Milady!”
Behind them were the trollish Ravathryra slave assault troops. Kulgha and Gwen were separated and suddenly there were two of the trolls in front of her. They grabbed her and headed toward the water side of the fortress. Paeris was standing there next to a portal that had been activated. He said, “This is good bye for a while, milady. Keep Uncle Rolin happy. When you see him, tell him that I will see him in six moons.”
Gwen was tossed through the portal.
Triandal Zylvyre watched as things unfolded. In spite of the odds agains him, he had put his ships right where he had needed to be and achieved almost complete surprise. His assault troops had overrun the fortress for the most part, though resistance was starting to kick in as the fortress commander had started to collect his people and weapons and set up barricades. It was only a matter of time before his assault ran out of steam. The portal was set up and there was Paeris! All he had to do was walk through the portal and it was over. Then two assault troopers showed up with a woman, of all things and Paeris pushed her through the portal. Then he and the assault troops headed toward the ships. They started to load up and when Triandal was fairly sure that everybody that was coming had, he signaled all ships to retreat and the trolls on the oars backed the ships off the beach. The ships headed out the bay and the mages prepared the glamor. It was going to take time. Time that Triandal was no longer sure he had. Paeris showed up on deck and Triandal turned on him and yelled, “Why did you just do what you did?”
“I’m not going to tell you. Here, take this to uncle. I will meet him at that location in six moons. Now use that portal that uncle set up. I will take it from here.”
Triandal shook his head, activated the portal and used it. Uncle Rolin was waiting when he appeared. “Well?”
“Here. He sent some woman through his own portal, said that he would meet you at this location in six moons and pushed me through my portal. I don’t know what the man was thinking. Where is the lady?”
“Not here. Paeris’s portal wasn’t going here. We go through all that and in the end Paeris himself blows the whole thing. If he shows up where he says he will be in six months he better have some explanations.”
Lieutenant Oceanus Goldfire was racing Ensign Aquarius Stingfisher across the bay again when he noticed the five Ravathyra ships moving toward the beach, he turned to his chief and said, “Is there some sort of execise?”
“Not that I know of. I’ll have Sparky call it in.”
By the time the message went out and the reply came back that the Admiralty didn’t know what was going on and would the lieutenant find out what the crazy marines were doing to the fortress, the boats were well out in the bay. The lieutenant signaled the ensign and they turned around. That was when the all ships bulletin was sent, saying that the fortress was under attack and requesting assistance from any ship. The two boats raced back and the Ravathyra ships had already backed off the beach and were heading into the bay. The lieutenant turned to the chief and said, open the tubes, we’re making a run!”
The two boats charged toward the ships and released their fish which ran true and hit four of the Ravathryra ships, leaving the last ship to disappear under its glamor.
The Fortress, Cleadgate, Beltian Republic.
Kulgha looked around and since things were winding down, put his gun away and went to find the colonel. Kulgha had managed to reach a quickly set up barricade and help the two petty officers and a marine stop an assault. Fortunately Kulgha liked military caliber pistols. His sot grandfather had made sure that all his kids and grandkids could shoot if they had to. What Kulgha hadn’t told Gwen when they met was that while his grandfather was a bit of a sot, he was also one of finest gunmakers in the Republic. When Kulgha found the Colonel, he was directing he beginnings of the clean up as more marines were arriving in trucks and being sent to various tasks. Kulgha walked up and said, “Have you seen the lady?”
“The bastard sent her through a portal. A prisoner from the other side saw it.”
“You didn’t seem to be too surprised that this happened.”
“The Admiralty warned me to be alert for something, though they didn’t know
when they would show up. I relaxed a bit when they didn’t hit us yesterday, but the ships on the other side slowed down to make sure that a sub wasn’t tailing them. We should have moved Paeris, but we didn’t know that they knew where he was.”
“I was responsible for that somewhat, I’m afraid. The family of the accused has the right to know where he is being held and allowed to have family members or a representative visit. So in the correspondence with the Zylvyres I told them where Paeris was being held.”
“Barrister, that is the law and frankly the admiralty should have had a cruiser here until Paeris was inland or sent Paeris inland when we knew that that Ravathrya were at sea.”
Admiral Harper strode into the office. “Colonel, do you have a report yet?”
“Not yet, sir. I don’t have a casualty count and we’ve just started interrogating prisoners. The gist of it is that the Ravathyra beached five of those ships of theirs, suppressed my guns, which is where I lost the most people, and sent in an assault team to rescue the prisoner and send him through a portal that they had brought with them. Instead, the prisoner sent the Imperial ambassador through the portal and left on one of the ships. The ship that managed to get under glamor and escape, I’m afraid. I lost about one hundred people, mostly gun crews who I had had at readiness since yesterday. I will prepare an official report as soon as I have the final numbers.”
A fae in the uniform of the Marshalls became visible and said, “I want a copy of that, colonel. Admiral, my people should be here shortly, along with a full team. I want access to everything.”
“You will have it Marshall Swiftfire. You will have our full cooperation on this. I do expect your discretion on this.”
“The Marshalls are not spies. We do not share any information that is not relevant to the recapture of the fugitive. Where is the portal?”
On the outside of the wall, above the beach,” the colonel said. “There is a pathway there. You can’t access it from where the prisoner was being exercised.”
“I have a fae mage coming to inspect and see if we can trace where it was going to send the prisoner.”
“He was clever,” the Admiral said. “He did a lot of things by not using the portal.”
“By the way, I want that ship and the crew intact. Even if you have to let them go.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem. We should be tracking the ship and according to what we know, the ship should be returning to their hidden city if they follow the plan. The Hidden City was taken by the marines right after they left.”
“If you can arrange for one of my people to go there, it would be a big help. The sooner the better. How damaged was the city?”
“Light damage and casualties. I also have people there who saw the ships come and leave. If your people can be ready, there is a transport leaving tomorrow.”
“Good. Since no fae has been to the Hidden City, there is no anchor to jump to. I will have some people ready to go.”
“What I want know is why Paeris sent the Imperial ambassador to wherever it was.”
“Is that the lady that was sent through? I have met her aide, but not the lady herself. The aide was going to arrange it, but we hadn’t spoken to her. We will have to speak to her staff.”
“She has a very small staff at present. The aide, who you know, her manager and his wife. She hadn’t come to the Republic as ambassador and her son had brought her, mostly for her own protection.”
“Who is her son? He must have connections with the Empire.”
“Radhron Kellet and the family does. Mr. Kellet conducts trading through the family with the Empire.”
“As well as raiding collapsing estates and reestablishing the businesses here. Barrister, we will retrieve your client. At least if we do not succeed, no one else would have either. I think that you should tell the aide and the rest of the staff that the lady was taken, Barrister.”
“If somebody will get me a car, I will. The car I came in was destroyed in the raid and my driver killed.”