The Trials of Slaves, Chapter 9-10

Some seeming are spoken with. Llag takes pictures

Chapter 9.

The Hideaway.

Dúhael activated Haciathra and said, “Milady, I thought that I would have a chat with you.”

“Have things not gone well of late?”

No, they have not. We attempted to assassinate the queen of Vestia in the midst of a rebellion led by the Queen’s cousin, Duc D’lanate, the rebellion was defeated and the queen survived. The duc has lost his head. Our best agent, Duc D’fleur has also been sent to the fire in the battle. The others have all lost their titles and lands.”

“Were any of your other resources exposed?”
“Not as such. I am sure that the kings are wary now. The attempt to use the Scourge to gain coin has had some problems with the coins being tainted and detected. We have to be careful spending the coin.”

“As long as you are secure, you can move slowly. Plan carefully and be the dagger in the night.”

Seriellia looked at the loom and said to Lensa, “It is hard to tell what is real and what we are being told.”
“What do you mean?”
“The newspapers say one thing and our agents say something else. The Steward, for instance, says that things are fine and this article says that something dangerous was taken from the Steward’s brother’s factory and sent to be destroyed.”
“If they were doing that, they were not Primaries.”

“Then why was Captain Bronzerock there?”
“I wouldn’t know.”

Bubil Kil

Nistra activated Harald and he smiled back at her. “What do you want to talk about today, Nistra?”
“Where were you during the long dark times?”
“What do you mean, Nistra?”
“The long dark times were when the traitors burned the castle and forced the masters out.”

“If it is the time after I was imprinted, I was in a vault on an island.”
“Where was the island?”
“I need to know where we are?”
“Let me get a map?”

Nistra returned with a map and Harald said, “Where are we?”

“Here, in the Orcenlands, near Bubil Kil.”

Harald created a light and pointed it at the island far to the south. “Here.”
“Did someone find you?”
“They may have. They would have had to be my descendents and be tested at the mage academy to open the vault, but apparently somebody did.”
“You did not know?”
“When you turned me on, my time was reset, so my interaction memories with whoever opened the vault were erased.”

“So you lost a friend!”

“Or an enemy. Seemings do not have a choice about who they interact with and not all of them are as nice as you are.”

“I think that you are a friend.”

“I try to be.’

“What was that thing that came here?”
“What thing?”

“Let me get some pictures.”

Nistra left and returned with pictures of the crate and the contents before they had been put in the crate. Harald said, “That is a mana wave tuner. It extracts mana by modulating the mana waves that surround us. This one must have established resonance and had a cascade. So it became too hot and the tuner overheated and failed.”

“Why would someone want this?”
“This could power powerful magics. That makes it desirable even for study.”

“Could it power a furnace?”
“Why?”

“The town bought a big furnace that was supposed to make the town rich. But without the dam, the town could not power the furnace.”

“Is there a dam?”

“Yes. The town was not allowed to fill the lake.”

“That is too bad. Why not?”

“I don’t know. The masters do and they told the Dancer to dance with the company owner so that the dam would not be started up.”

That’s too bad. The answer to your question is yes, the tuner could power a furnace. If not one, then two could certainly power the furnace.”

“Then we must help the masters make the tuner work.”

Chapter 10.

Ishendell.

Jorge looked at the orders and then at the brief. As he read it, he began to steam. Tim and Gotrid had entered the Naval Academy as marine cadets, which wasn’t a surprise. Tim, being Tim, had arrived dressed in full uniform, which apparently bothered the current midshipman captain, Roger Seachaser. The midshipman captain had made Tim his personal project, but Tim being Tim, the midshipman captain couldn’t phaze Tim very much with the tools the he had. Apparently no one had told the clown that Tim was used to the Flight Instructor’s hazing. A mere upperclassman in the tub pushers just wasn’t going to bother Tim very much and the marines at the Academy would respect his stripes. So the clown had written home to daddy and daddy was hauling Major Tollings to the grill. Harald stomped in and said, “I heard that you had orders to go to congress.”
“Yes.”
“Did they say why?”
“The boys, and me recruiting under age boys as soldiers. Some clowns are going to make it all public.”

“Who is doing this?”
“Seachaser.”
“Why?”

“His son is in the Academy. He is in the upper class and midshipman captain. Tim and Gotrid entered the academy as cadets and the rules are that inducting midshipmen and cadets parade in full uniform for induction. Tim did exactly that, wearing his marine sergeant’s uniform with all his buttons. The midshipman captain was rather aghast that an eighteen year old would have earned the Golden leaf, twice.”

“Once for Ishendell and once for saving Queen Cécile’s life. The only reason she hasn’t conferred a knighthood on him is that I asked her not to until he left your unit.”

“There were all those buttons that are classified, for the suits, Scourge devise training, explosives and what not. In any case, since the Congressman wants me, the Congressman is going to get me. I need to port to Lain Othrond and run an errand before I go. Among other things, I need to pick up some swords and spurs. Fortunately there is good supply of pretty swords and spurs right now. The Vestian consulate can handle the inductions.”

“Don’t go off on the jackass.”
“That depends on how hard he pushes. I need to go.”

“I’ll wire some friends and dig deeper. Tim’s grandfather isn’t going to be happy either. Vince is being an idiot on a large scale.”

 Beltain

Jarfaet looked at Congressman Vincent Seachaser and said, “How far are you prepared to push this, Congressman?”
“What do you mean?”
“You and the rest of the committee have called Major Tollings to the grill, presumably for a petty vendetta your son is pursuing with a marine cadet.”

“The public has a right to know if the marines are conducting irregularities. Boys should not be soldiers.”

“Save the virtue signaling for the press conference, Congressman. What are you really doing?”

“The marines have been allowed to get away with things like recruiting former pirates and colluding with the likes of Paeris Zylvyre. That should end now.”

“What would it take to get you to give this up?”
The Congressman grinned. “What are you offering?”
“Your son is going to be graduating from the academy this term. You might be able to pull some strings as far as his first commission goes.”

“What if I want Tollings’ head as well?”

“The major is not on the table, I’m afraid. We need him too badly.”

“He’s too close to the Great Captain.”
“They know each other. So yes he has done things with the Great Captain both as his raidcaptain and on the Peninsula, where they had the common goal of getting the trapped civilians out of the city.”

“Then we will put the major on the grill and see what happens.”

“You are going to be making yourself a lot of enemies, not least are the Wavechasers.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know if Tim has written home, but his grandfather will not be happy if the events of Ishendell are dragged out in public. The Tollings are going to be annoyed as well and you can add the Beinans to the list, to say nothing of Sarya.”

  “Why would Sarya care?”

“Because Tim Wavechaser’s father is one of her top people. She will not be happy if this blows his cover and it will. So she will not be happy. There are other things going on and this is not the time to conduct a Congressional witch hunt.”

“We in Congress have a duty to use our oversight functions and discover government corruption. Good day Mr. President.”

Ivan Stonegrinder, Secretary of the Navy came in and said, “What did he really want?”
“Major Tollings.”

“Did he explain?”

“The major is too close to the Great Captain.”
“So were Tom and Greldug. Paeris was our mole, a very deep one. I’ll let Tom know. The Congressman didn’t back down at all, did he?”

“No, he did not. He’s doing this in the middle of the nasty war we are in the middle of with an enemy that tosses Scourge devises around.”

“Use that. In fact, when the press asks you why you wanted to squelch the hearings, tell them that.”

“I think you have a great idea. I’ll use that.”

Neuw Athlin

Queen Cécile looked at Jorge and said, “What can we do for you, major?”
“Do you have those patents of knighthood that you were going to award the boys written up, your majesty?”

“Yes I have, why?”
“Because a fool is playing politics with the boys and I want to make sure that this is squelched.”
“What happened?”
“On the surface it is a bully using his dad’s clout to get at Tim. I think that some congressmen were upset that I and some others were allowed to join the marines and are making a statement. So, I am making a statement as well, that is that a lot of people really appreciate what the boys did. I’ll send my people for the stuff from the Empire and the boys already have all the things from the Republic and Fellowship, so it is you and I can be back to Lain Othrond and a flight to the Republic.”

“I will arrange the papers, and the swords and spurs. They can be inducted at the kingdom’s consulate in Chatsrey.”
“I’m going to arrange for the induction to happen at the Naval Academy. There is a clown there who needs to have his nose rubbed in some things.”

“You seem to be rather upset, major.”
“The one thing I expect from my country is that my people will have their backs covered. We have to operate far away from home with dangerous things in the dead of night and deal with terrible enemies. At the very least, the folks at home can give us a place of respite and rest. I will do my best to ensure that my people get that.”

“I am sure that you will, major. Go now, and squash some fools.”

Jomney looked at the rows of foundations and grinned. Even with the interference of his father and his friends, he had managed to get the housing started and he would be ready when the cold started. He spotted his son approaching and waited for the next crisis.

University of Ironton, Ironton.

Tolly looked at Frank and said, “Ten days and we’re still stuck. The coach is going to be annoyed at us, again.”

“We’ve cracked everybody else, including Army. The problem is that Navy is on an island, getting people on the base is almost impossible, the coach is cagy and has a guard on the playbook when it isn’t in the safe. We haven’t found somebody to watch their practices and we can’t get in to get the intelligence that we would need to get the playbook.”

Jorge sat down, looked at the two and said, “You look miserable.”

Tolly looked at him and said, “What do you know about bladderball, firstie?”
“How to play the game. There’s sort of a league in the Lower City and some kids play on it. The Jessen boys tend to win the league, but that is because they have the bakery and are bigger than dwarves.”

Frank brightened up. “So they play there too?”
“Yes. It’s not as big as it is here. At least we don’t have stadiums. I think that Tony would put one up if he could.”

“Do they have any playbooks?”
“Yes, but I was hoping that you could get some time off.”
“Why?”

“Lord Umevan is attending an induction at the Naval Academy tomorrow and needs flunkies.”

Tolly and Frank grinned. Then Tolly thought about it and said, “Seachaser knows who we are. He’ll spot us or anybody we get to do this.”

 “Midshipman captain Seachaser, who has been bullying a friend of mine since the term started. Is that who we are talking about?”

“He’s usually not that bad, at least not to navy midshipmen.”

“My friend is a fellow veteran of Ishendell and marine cadet. He showed up the first day in full uniform and the midshipman captain, who had not bothered to read the inductee’s files before lining them up for induction, had a fit. As far as that goes, Tim can handle cannibal monsters who want him for dinner in midst of a siege. A pumped up twit just doesn’t register with him. If you want to get his attention, Major Tollings runs him through Flight Instructor Khumkith’s sadistic dragon boys.”

“Where did the Flight Instructor get sadistic dragon boys?”
“Windegar Aerie, where he retired, probably because it was far away from everything and had the sadistic dragon boys to keep the pests away. In any case, the twit couldn’t seem to understand why Tim just kept brushing him off and why Tim’s file was classified.”
“Why are you telling us this?”
“The twit called daddy. Daddy has called Major Tolling to what they call the “the grill.” Major Tollings is a friend of mine. Tim is a friend of mine. The powers that be can’t touch Seachaser until he leaves the academy. I, on the other hand, can do the things that college students do. Midshipman captain Seachaser has managed annoy me more than a bit. So I am going to play some college games, not least of which is to start on the navy’s bladderball game.”

“We’re in,” Tolly said. “The problem is that the coach and Seachaser are looking for us and anyone we are with to pull something. We’ve been trying for three years now and so have the other teams. ”
Jorge grinned. “I’m counting on that. I’m still going to be the VIP who wants to see the bladderball practice. I imagine that Tim will be handed the trash detail of escorting me after the ceremony. What I hope the coach doesn’t notice is that the High Admiral’s niece and her boyfriend, Fireoak will be there. I will add that Alinis and Fire are also friends of mine.”

Frank and Tolly started to grin. Frank said, “Fire is fae, isn’t he?”

“Yes, and he hasn’t been Jumping around at all. He’s been in and out of the Republic for some time because he has family in Racketgarde.”

“I think I know him,” Tolly said. “He’s a Finster, who went back home when his family came and got him.”

“I know Fire’s brothers better than I know Fire, as they both have jobs at the Portal Service, but Fire and Alinis like Major Tollings and the boys, so setting this up wasn’t hard.”

Frank grinned. “We like it. Navy has been the team we haven’t been able to crack for the coach and we and they are even for the championship.”
“Not any more. Alinis is giving a gift to the coach at Chatsrey and the playbook might get sold by shady characters from dragonkin neighborhoods or such to all the other teams. If we do this right, they won’t know until the season is over.”

Chatsrey.

Tom was waiting as Jorge and Sergeant Nightblade exited the airport terminal. “Making a point, major?”

“The sergeant is picking up the adjutant’s detail to make up for being on the wrong side of some villagers and forcing Jomney to expose his real personality.”

“What happened, sergeant?”

“We were keeping an eye on some huntsmen from Duc D’lande’s people and they had been using the villagers to infiltrate, sir. We didn’t have much cover and when the queen showed up, we were on the wrong side of the villagers when the hunters pulled boar spears out and started to toss them. The chief hunter got his off before the landdragons and us could squash the hunters and the chief constructor was hit by the spear. He went lost child and landdragon, so he wasn’t injured permanently. He can’t go home right now and revert, so he is stuck as a landdragon.”

“I take it that you both know what is going on, for the most part. Having the boys inducted at the Academy was brilliant.”

“Why is the Congressman bringing this out now?”
“I’m not sure. The President had a rather angry talk with the man and he still wouldn’t back down. He wants your head.”

“I could resign.”

“That is not on the table under any circumstances, at least not over something like this. You and your people have gone above and beyond your duty, all of you, and then this clown is starting this in the midst of a war where we need you, badly.”

“We made mistakes at Neuw Athlin.”

“I’ve seen your report. The extra company and three heavy weapons platoons are approved. So you should have a light battalion.”

“This is going to be tougher, but I want some trained ordnance specialists until I can get Tim and Gordal back. We had a closer call with those gas projectors than I like.”
“I will probably want one of them for other duty.”

“That is your prerogative and I think I can see why. They haven’t found the Stewards have they?”
“Not as of yet. They must have seen Rob at the factory and realized that the Primaries had been dismantled. They never came back and we disposed of the fuses. The Primaries, or at least how I handled things are probably the reason for this. Let’s get in the car and you fully briefed. Where is Harald?”

“Grandfather is coming down tomorrow. He is in the Empire collecting some things for me.”

The Steward drove past the den of corruption that was the Crystal Palace. It was time to remove the place from the world. The Primary was going to arrive in the morning and the devise would go off the next day. While he would prefer to strike at Industry City, the City was alert and watching for him there. Here in the center of wealth they would not be.

Desert Howl.

Bill looked at the message and frowned. His father wanted to meet him and Moonshine at the Naval Academy after a ceremony the day after tomorrow. His mother rolled into the living room and said, “Is that a message from Terrel?”
“Yes. He and his ship are in Cleadsgate and he wants me up there with Moonshine.”

“I imagine that he wants to see you, get caught up on things and show off his ship.”

“Probably. I guess that I will pack for the train tonight.”

“You could Jump up.”

“Moonshine and I will Jump down. It works better that way.”

“If your father is going to be there for a time, perhaps I will join him.”

“I will tell him that.”

Bubil Kil

Llag took another picture. A letter from his “son” had arrived, along with a camera paid for by “grandpa” asking dad to get pictures of Bubil Kil for his “son’s” classwork as he had been assigned to write a report on the dead furnaces of Bubil Kil. So Llag had been taking pictures as he made his rounds and sending the film rolls to Bigagh. He took a picture of the Haven and Tarathiel asked him, “Why are you taking the pictures?”
“My son and a classwork. You can tell if the teacher likes you by what you are assigned. My son, Talad, must have done something very bad, as he was assigned Bubil Kil. Fortunately, he can use the press service report and my pictures and he will do well.”

Tarathiel laughed. “The things you do for those far away.”

“Not in my heart and it is another excuse to see the countryside and the rest. The pictures of the Haven are for my daughter, who loves beautiful places.”

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