The Trials of Slaves, Chapter 5-6

Bill talks to Harald about Jorge. Llag makes a delivery

Chapter 5.

Desert Howl.

It had taken a bit of time before Bill could get his mother to bring Harald to the surface and still more time before he could arrange a long chat. Finally he activated Harald and when he appeared, said, “I want to have your ok to tell somebody about what I have been doing.”

“You seem to have doubts.”
“The somebody is Lord Umevan. He was down here to talk to Paeris and Feno and we made a deal. He is a portal expert, among other things.”

“That seems like a good person to talk to.”

“He wants a devise.”
“So he has guessed that there is more than one in the vault. What is he offering in exchange?”
“Portal skills so that we can port all the devises out discreetly. He probably can help with the project and with my solid state stuff. He said that he has a new man that saw the devise in Strange Science  and wants to play with it. I think that I met the man at the book faire. Jorge also said that if he thought he needed to he could port himself and a portal into the vault and there wouldn’t be anything I could do to stop him.”

“He is either arrogant or very good indeed with portals.”
“He’s very good with portals. He has sent most of the Scourge devises here and a bear into the palace. Those are the stories I know about.”

“Do you think that he is being honest with you?”

“Yes. He is starting college, which is why he is here. I know other members of his family and they like him. I have been up at the estate and he has a dam and other things there.”
“So he has people with the kinds of backgrounds that you will probably need. You are going to need strong allies and Lord Umevan sounds as if he would be one. Does he know about me?”
“I think so. He didn’t come out and say so, but he has seen the slip of you, so he probably knows.”

“The next time he comes, have him talk with us. The Umevan were true to the rest of us and were at our backs when we needed them. If they are strong, they will make very good allies.”
“They are strong. They make electrical equipment for all over the world.”

“Then we should speak with them. So what else has happened since I was below?”

“The Stewards came, launched a Primary at the Beinan plant, which missed and stole you.”
Harald started to laugh. “I do hope that they enjoy the bot. Did they take the bot on the safe or the one on the shelf?”
“They cut a hole in the wall and took the safe. They opened it outside of town and took you and some pictures and left all my solid state stuff.”

“That wasn’t too obvious.”

“Yes it was. Of course the Primary made everybody here mad, because it killed a bunch of people.”

“Were you in the plant?”
“I was up in the Empire with Jerry. I went up for the book faire and the Beinan reunion. The Beinans wanted me there.”

“I think that you can expect to be travelling quite a bit from now on. Keeping you and the vault separate until you can actually start work will be a good thing. What did you find at this book faire?”
“Some Houses brought out old printed books from before the mage wars that had been put up in attics and forgotten. I found those and some other things.”

“The Inquisition didn’t destroy them?”

“The Inquisition was looking for libraries, not stacks of books in the attic, so they missed them and the owner didn’t want to haul them out and get nailed, so they left them. The Inquisition can’t confiscate books at the faire and the Houses needed money, so they hauled the books out to sell. I think that most of them were bought by people like me, from outside the Empire, or people who don’t really care about certain parts of the Inquisition, because the people deal with things like Scourge devises.”  “Lord Umevan, for instance?”
“Yes.”

“Then I would see if I could make him an ally. What was the Beinan family reunion?”
“The Beinans, that is the exiled families all get together once a year to share things. This year the reunion was in Ishendell and the House was there as well as lot of the business. They also brought new airplanes and things like the gadgets to show off. I had to do some presentations and some others did as well. The reunion ended with the dinner and the various ladies presenting their capers for their parts of the wedding pie. The capers were amazing. Of course the press was sworn to silence and nobody there was going to turn the ladies in.”

“Did you get pictures?”

“Yes I did. Here they are.”

Bill showed the pictures he had taken to Harald and Harald said, “They looked as if they had a lot of fun. Don’t forget to have some fun once in a while, to help keep the dark away.”

“Ok.”

“Then we shall let your mother return me to your aunt’s bower and you can bring your new ally the next time we talk.”

Bill turned Harald off and before he shut down, he pinged the bot. The bot responded with the sounds of an elf girl’s voice and he listened before pinging Lyrei and the others and saying, “I have a made a bot and the enemy has stolen it. You can listen if you like.”

“I will,” Kellam said. “I can do that and not use my time or feel rather useless in these dangerous times.”

Do so. I imagine that the young lady who has the bot has been told to keep it shut down, but you can listen as she goes about things.

“We could arrange an accident and have the bot activate.”

If it seems appropriate, do so.”

Have you been apprised of the latest news?” Lyrei asked. “Most of us have been shut down.

“I had a chat with Bill. He updated me on some things. Apparently the Beinan family gets together to talk to each other and there is a book faire in the Lower City.” Harald blipped a copy of the conversation to the others.  “The Stewards attempted to Scourge the Beinan Plant here, but missed. Bill is going to bring Jorge to talk to me.

“Alinis talks about Jorge all the time,” Lyrei said. “He will be a powerful ally. I think that we can wait until you speak with him to discuss things further.”

The seemings disconnected and shut down.

Ishendell.

Jorge looked at the final report for Neuw Athlin and sighed. The section had lost ten killed and twenty wounded. As enhanced, the wounded would recover quickly, but still, the casualties hurt, even though Jorge was fully aware that things could have been far worse. Most of the casualties had been in the battle for the suppressor and he couldn’t really blame George for not pressing things home for an objective that was, at best, secondary to the victory. The fact that the D’fleur gunners had been able to repair and return two of the gas projectors hurt as well. All in all, the D’fluer troops had been better, much better than expected, well equipped, trained and led. If the entire army had been at that level, there was a good chance that the rebellion would have succeeded. Jorge hadn’t sent the sergeant and the other transformed for another session with the Flight Instructor because, realistically, without slaughtering the civilians or a bigger force, there was little that they could have changed in any case. He finished his report with, “I accept full responsibility for the action. Realistically though, this wasn’t our kind of fight. The troops performed well, with what they had, but we simply could not bring the kind of force to bear that dealing with large bodies of men requires. If we are sent into this kind of situation again, I will need some sort of heavy weapons platoon for a support role and an engineering platoon as well, at a minimum. Without those things, simply put, prolonged action against larger units is simply not possible and risks the destruction of the entire force engaged. What the force needs is another company in addition to the two I have and the heavy weapons and support as well, at least to undertake actions where larger units are present in strength.”

Harald came in with Greldug and Jorge handed him the report. “Here’s my final for Neuw Athlin. We did ok and took out the gas projectors, but we were too dispersed, had too few people and we need heavy weapons platoons for the companies. Otherwise, fighting in a set piece battle just doesn’t work and we risk the unit getting destroyed.”
“The D’fleur were good,” Greldug said. “My boys were watching them as well. They didn’t break when the TAVs hit the first time, they didn’t fight pointless fights and did their best to maintain things like lines of retreat.”

“Yes they did and if the entire army had been that good, they would have gotten the queen or forced the Royal army to give up the field. Given time, they probably would have figured out the TAVs.”

“I’m not sure that I am annoyed or glad that the duc managed to arrange his own death.”

“Thank you for getting the material on the gas so quickly. George noticed something fishy about the “cannon” but without suspecting gas, I probably would not have made them a priority target.”

“That stuff can get the users as well as their opposition burned. That was one reason that the treaty was signed. Admiral, tell your buddies in Congress that the treaty is important and that playing with that stuff is bad news.”

“I will. I am also going to talk to Tom and the commandant about recruiting those extra units and another company for Jorge. The next enemies might be tougher.”

Chapter 6.

Bubil Kil

Nistra was dusting the shelf when the crystal lit up and a figure in ancient clothing appeared. Startled, Nistra said, “Who are you?”

“Harald. Who are you?”

“I am Nistra.”

“You are pretty, Nistra. Why did you activate me?”

“I think it was a mistake. Can you turn yourself on?”

“I cannot. Would you like me to go back to sleep?”
Nistra thought about it and said, “I have chores, so that would be best.”

“Good bye.”
The figure disappeared.

Llag drove the wagon past the massive bulk of the electric arc furnace, apparently built and completed but never operated and the four blast furnaces that were to feed it, also cold. If the thing had been operational, the plant would have been one of the most modern on the continent, making steel in massive quantities from the high quality iron ore in the area. Instead, except for a small and antique blast furnace that made pig and cast iron and a rusted and cranky converter that ran perhaps one shot every ten days or so, the plant was mysteriously dead as the market for pig iron was less than the cost to transport the pig iron to the Fellowship. Driving on toward the Haven, he passed the reason the furnace had never operated, a dam that had never been watered. The river that fed the dam flowed through without stoppage and certainly not enough of a reservoir to feed the dam’s turbines, the turbines being installed and ready to go. It was as if the entire thing had been ready up to turning the switch, but the switch had never been turned and still hadn’t been. Reaching the Haven, Llag turned into the drive and Tarathiel came out and said, “Llag, you brought the parts!”

“I thought that if I saw what you were doing, I could see where the problems start and improve the parts.”

“Come then and see. Do they not need you at the shop?”

“I had my other parts done for the day before I started. I changed from working shift to working parts delivered, so as long as I am in deadline I can use my time for other things. Most of the time, I have been training the others in the shop, but I wanted to see if I could address your problems.”

“You have done well by me, so why don’t I show you what we have.”
 

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