The Return of The Silverin, Chapter 33-34

Rob gets the ugliest ship in the navy ready for work. Spitty and Iolena go to Bubil Kil

Chapter 33.

RNS Defuser

Rob grinned as he watched the preparations going on as Defuser was prepared. Defuser was by far, the ugliest ship in the navy with derricks and equipment placed with no concept of design or seemingly even seaworthiness. She also, for an unarmed ship, very well armored in places and had large protective bulges along her hull. What the ship lacked in appearance, she made up for in capability. She had a full onboard machine shop with expert machinists and full electrical shop as well as lights and generators. She could exert a magnetic field from coils that could detonate mines at a far distance and could support mine sweeping operations with two small wooden minesweepers stowed amidships. She also had a file on dealing with every piece of ordnance the ordnance department had ever encountered, including Scourge devises, as well as whatever information the navy had on the latest ordnance created by the Fellowship and the Kingdom.

Defuser needed those capabilities because, as result of the wars between the Blasted lands states, the Ravathrya raids, the Wars and accidents of ships that were supporting those things as well as the occasional local spat, there had been a lot of ordnance dumped offshore of the northern Republic, the islands and the Chats River. It was Defuser’s  job to deal with all of it, preferably without getting any one killed. So far she and her crews had managed to do just that.

Rob was watching the derrick load the portal onboard when a voice beside him said, “What are you up to, captain?”
Rob jumped, turned and saluted. “What do you mean, Admiral?”
“The requests for sea time for some cadets and midshipmen and getting the ordnance scow ready. You are up to something.”

“I haven’t done clean up for some time and I can’t put it off any longer.”

“What barge is going to have a mine explosion and who am I giving a birthday party to?”

“What makes you think that a barge is going to have an accident?”
“Call it intuition.”
“No birthday party. Jorge and I may arrange something with Paeris, but that shouldn’t require navy resources.”

“What did you find?”
“I didn’t find anything. Some middies were poking around and did some research. What it comes down to is Luggergate.”

“You think that the Primaries are in Luggergate?”
“I don’t know for sure, which is why I didn’t send a brief to your office. I wanted to keep this as tight as possible so that the Stewards don’t pick up on it.”

“If Luggergate gets Scourged, that would be very bad. I take it that you do not want the FSA to look for devises in Luggergate.”
“That is the case.”
“I agree with that and you haven’t spoken to me about the possibility of a devise being in Luggergate. I may have to reprimand you if you waste navy resources.”

“I will accept the reprimand, sir. As far as the navy is concerned this is just routine clean up after the barge people lose a barge because I slipped up and didn’t do my clean up.”

“If you do find a devise in Luggergate and make that public, I’ll have mother set up the party.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“I see a portal. Do you have a Scourge suppressor?”
“One is on the way. If you have any contacts in Luggergate, I would suggest that the city talk to Beinan’s and reserve one. There is one, and maybe more in the Tomb, but I haven’t had a chance to investigate or take someone in who can open vaults, so I can’t haul one out and send it to the city discreetly and Beinan’s has reservations on production for the next three moons. Beinan’s will bump a reservation because of target priority, but Luggergate has to ask for a suppressor.”

“I will see what I can do. The Senate is playing games over Jorge.”

“Jorge doesn’t know about that.”

“Don’t tell him. Ara and mother have an agreement to keep anything that might trip Jorge into striking at the Plateau types away from him if possible.”

“That won’t be easy.”

“I know. Fortunately, he’s busy.”

Beltain

Susan Gilders, at fourteen, to be fifteen on the fifteenth of Sixta, four moons away, was well aware that birthdays, at least here on the Plateau, were not for the person being celebrated. The child, until their sixteenth birthday, was yet another part of the family demonstrating its status and power. So, for her birthday, Susan would be dressed up like a doll and forced to say the right things to people that she didn’t care about, but her parents did. The party would be perfect down to the last detail and Susan would have no say in things, with one exception, the Present. Every year for the last ten, the procurer had brought a folio of elegant things from Fylson and she would pick the one she liked. The Present would be commissioned and created in the mysterious Fylson shop in the Lower City with magic by elves. She loved them all, and dreamed of the magical shop where the things were created.

Susan had seen Bill, the family’s procurer’ arrive and raced downstairs to wait in the hall. Bill smiled when he saw her and then said, sadly, “Miss, I think that I may have to disappoint you this year.”

“What happened?”

“Fylson is not being handled by the Yllanan any longer. The Umevan have apparently retrieved their estate in the Empire and the family here is handling the business. The Folio items are only being sold to select customers.”

“My family is not a select customer?”

“I was told that as a result of some things, your family was specifically taken off the select list by Lord Umevan himself. I can order a catalog item, but the special folio items are not available.”

“Did they say why?”
“It involves your brother and some things involving a paper he sent to History Studies as part of his scholar studies last year. Apparently that involved Lord Umevan’s son and Lord Umevan did not like how things were resolved.”

“This is that silly thing over Derry’s paper being plagiarized, isn’t it?”
“Apparently. I do not know the details, but the Umevan man that I spoke to said that the family was rather annoyed by your family’s behavior and some harassment by the FSA, so Fylson decided over Winterfaire to refuse your commissions.”

“He was here? Why wasn’t he in his shop?”
“Apparently.  He was with family here and delivering some presents for his nieces and nephews. I imagine that he takes a break after he completes his things for Winterfaire.”

“Does he have money problems?”
“The Umevan certainly do not. I don’t know what things are like in the Empire, but his son is going to college here and I doubt that he has any money issues.”

“Let’s see daddy.”

Geral took one look at his daughter and the rather morose Bill and sensed trouble. Looking sharply at Bill, he said, “What’s the problem, dear?”
“Fylson will not take commissions from us, daddy.”

“Why not?”

“Lord Umevan’s son is apparently going to college here in the Republic and there was a flap about a paper that either Derry or the student plagiarized. I thought that was over, daddy.”

“Bill?”
“I went to the Yllanan to obtain the folio and was told that Fylson’s business was being handled by the Umevan. It took some time to find the correct office and going forward, commissions on the folio items are only accepted by select customers.”

“We have been select customers for years.”

“I pointed that out. I was told that Lord Umevan declined commissions from your family personally when he heard about the things that had happened over the flap with his son. Your family was removed from the select list.”

“What about the other makers?”
“I could get folios, but the lead times are extraordinarily long and I have a feeling that the other Lower City makers will go along with Fylson. They may not refuse commissions outright, but they may extend the lead times beyond practicality.”

Geral looked at his daughter and said, “Dear, I think that you are going to have to ask for something else this year. You could choose a favorite story and we could take an Elf Carran commission. Let’s talk to your mother and see what we can do.”

Susan wanted to cry, but instead she said, coldly, “Father, the one thing that has mattered to me every year has been the Present. I did not ask to be involved in my brother’s spat with that student, but I would have hoped that before you made the accusations you did, the things you said, and setting the FSA on the student, that you would have at least checked to see that his family did not make the things that we used. Apparently you did not think to do that.”

She left the office and Bill said, “I’m sorry.”

“She’s right. I didn’t pay attention. I even knew that the boy was Fylson’s son and it never occurred to me what Fylson might think about what I was doing. Fylson has always been a craftsman far away who made his things and now I’m stuck with this.”

“I will see about the Elf Carran auction. It will not be cheap.”
“I know. I just hope that one of my children hasn’t insulted his family.”

Chapter 34.

Bubil Kil

Spitty handed Iolena down off the train steps, picked up his bag and they headed to the hotel. Bubil Kil, like a lot of places down on their luck, had a well earned reputation of being live and let live with criminals needing a quiet retreat from the forces of justice or other criminals. As long as one spent money and didn’t actually commit any visible crimes, the local law enforcement would not look for you. On the other hand, the local guard did have the wanted posters and the Marshall’s phone number, so making a mess would get you in deeper trouble very quickly.

The invasion of the Umevan Electric people had changed that a bit, but no additional guard had been sent by the clan and so the guard was overwhelmed in any case and the Umevan people could take care of themselves. Of course the guard had to deal with local issues like the one at the desk right now. “Sergeant, my sister has been gone for over a moon now and I haven’t seen any action on the guard’s part.”

“Mr. Silver, there isn’t any action we can take. Your sister was last seen with that reporter, who is not here, and who we don’t have a picture for. As far as we know, the reporter is back in the Republic and your sister has not been seen there. If your sister was murdered, no grave was found near the town and no body either. Until either are found, we don’t have anything to go on. I’m sorry, but that is the way it is.”

The fuming Lyad turned and left. His mother wasn’t happy, but there really wasn’t anything he could do. So he collected his horse, mounted and poking a bit with his heels, galloped down the street out of town. Spitty and Iolena dodged to get out of the way and Spitty said, “Look who almost ran into us.”

“Do you think that was Lyad?”
“He matches his picture. He’s also rather upset about something.”

“His sister, probably.”

“Yes. Let’s get settled and then I can play crook looking for work while you are the suffering lady.”

“Do we approach Nistra’s family or allow them to catch on to me?”

“Allow them to discover you. I imagine that Lyad will be back, looking for his sister and that the Haven is alert to strange people. I think that Lyad will pick up on us all too soon.”

Discouraged, Lyad rode into the Haven and turned his horse over to the groom. The Headmaster came out the door and said, “Any news?”
“Nothing.”

“We know that the Master is in Vestia. Perhaps you should go. The mysteries seem to be related.”

“Father is already going.”

“What about the farm? We rely on it for produce and grain.”

 “The planting is done and I am in charge, so I will be busy. Mother is staying here in any case. I need to go see her now.”
“From now on, leave your horse at the farm. I suspect that your father is taking his.”

“Actually, I am taking him to the train station and bringing his horse back tomorrow.”

“Then you will have two horses.”

Xolag looked on morosely as the last truck with its heavy load drove up the repaired road. The boys had found out about the hidden downstairs somehow and rather abrasively demanded access. Then they had gone through and started tagging things and calling clan businesses and family as well as Umevan and then later, Beinan experts. Unable to stop them, Xolag could only watch as what had been Project secrets became tools for the clan’s businesses, things that the Umevan and the Beinans purchased and art to be sold or distributed to various clan members. The Umevan had proposed a cofferdam and freight elevator arrangement so that the basement could be used to store things and now that the last load was gone, the construction would begin. The lower slipways on the dam had already been closed and the water was starting to rise.

Naertho turned to Worthag and said, “Your brother doesn’t look happy at all.”

“He’s had quite a few shocks lately. For a long time, the rest of the clan and I let him have what he wanted, simply because there didn’t seem to be much harm to it. Then he started to wave the Scourge devises around and I got rather nervous, especially after they were moved to the farm with that old portal. I was hoping to change the combination on the vault, but he was watching too closely and I did not want to get in a fight with father. Then father went to the fire and I had other concerns.”

“Do you think that your father was encouraged?”
“I’m not sure. He had some bad habits, tabac being the largest, along with drink, but the illness came rather quickly.”

“When was that?”

“About ten years ago.”

“About the same time that the Ravathyra raids started to go bust. Did your brother contest for the clan chieftanship?”

“I think that he wanted to, but events here worked against him. He had just fought to prevent the dam from being opened and the clan members with investments here were not happy about the fact that you were not given the operating license and they, along with you, were stuck with a debt and no way to pay it back.”

“They didn’t come to me.”

“I think that they thought of is an internal clan matter and so they didn’t want to be seen as bringing outsiders in. Once Jorge became a clanmember, that changed.”

“Did you do that deliberately?”
Worthag grinned. “Jorge didn’t know of the ramifications, but I certainly did and my wife was glad to honor Jorge, Roger and Rob for what they did.”

“The family in the Republic wasn’t in contact with the family in the Empire.”

“That was going to happen. Once the Empire became more open, I was sure that you would be poking in and checking on your son. Of course Jorge was making a splash even before he started to deal with Scourge devises.”

“He does that. I’ve been hearing stories from all over the Lower City and Alen thanked me personally for sending him to college.”

“That was a strange thing for the Justiciar to do.”

“Alen is glad that Jorge has larger responsibilities and a lady, even if the lady has bears.”

Oceanside.

Cellica  smiled as the young dragonkin and his lady reached the top of the gangway. “Welcome to our small houseboat in Oceanside. My husband should be here shortly. Harald’s letter wasn’t clear as to what you wanted to talk about. Why don’t we retreat out of the cold and wind to the saloon.”

Bladloc grinned and said, “Mrs. Bloodfoot, I am Bladloc Flamespitter and this is Sally Lion, my student assistant.”

“I think that there is something more going on, since she is not in class at the moment.”

“I am taking a work study this term so that I could help Bladloc and I’m taking fill in classes at the new university in the Empire,” Sally said. “I will have to have my classwork evaluated in Cleadsgate, but so far, that shouldn’t be a problem and I have been taking assignments from my jealous professors in Cleadsgate, who would love a chance at the various libraries.”

“I see. So what brings you here? Your letter was not exactly clear. Sit down and you can tell me your stories to start this off.”

They sat down and Bladloc said, “I met Sally about a year ago when I was assigned to her study group as their graduate advisor and teaching assistant. I am a Scholar student at Cleadsgate University, specializing in Naval Studies and history. My grandfather went up to the Empire looking for research on the suppression actions for a book he has been working on for a long time. He was able to obtain access to Admiral Ehlark’s papers and called me and some cousins in to assist him in working through the material.

“That was good for me, because I suddenly had direct access to all of the material from the Suppression raids and could use the material to produce papers. I did, and my advisor held them pending review. Considering that they were using a primary source, that was unusual to say the least. Then two journals in the Republic published the same paper, in the same moon, by different authors.”

Cellica laughed. “That’s a no no. Which one had to retract?”
“Imperial Studies printed the paper from a first year student first and History Studies followed with the paper from a Scholar student three five days later.”

“Did the first year student know the Scholar student?”

“As far as I know, he did not. The Scholar student is a Beltain student and the First year is an Imperial and is attending Ironton. The first year student was Jorge Umevan. The paper was a class assignment on the Great Captain’s raids.”

“Portal Jorge?”

“Yes. You know who he is?”

“I’ve met him and his lady, actually. Jorge knows the Great Captain as a result of the Great Captain dragging him off to his secret island base so that Jorge could arrange it so that some inert Scourge devises end up where the Darkmage wanted them to go and the live ones ended up in the Deadlands. Then the Great Captain arranged it so that Jorge ported here and Shael came and got him. He came back with Shael to do some things with my grandchildren a bit later. How did History Studies get Jorge’s paper?”
“From what I have heard, Jorge gave his paper to Major Tollings for his testimony before Congress. The Major used the paper and the paper went to the archives. Scholar students at Beltain get jobs as clerks in Congress for their Service. One Derriald Gilders saw the paper, lifted a copy and sent it to History Studies, who saw the Great Captain’s name all over it and jumped to publish without vetting the paper.”

“How did Imperial Studies get the paper if it had been taken to the archives?”
“Jorge rewrote it and handed it to them. He was able to show his professor the receipt from congress and get an extension, so he did another final draft for his class and submitted it as well as turning it in.” 

“Has History Studies retracted? I know that Gilders is a Scholar student and Jorge is a first year, but Imperial Studies did publish first and Jorge can probably show that he did the work and knows the Great Captain.”

“Jorge and the Great Captain have given an interview with a reporter about the flap. History Studies refuses to retract and Gilder’s father has been pressuring Admiral Harper over some documents that were declassified as a result of Jorge asking for them.”

“How did you get involved?”

“The flap went to the Academic Committee for resolution and my advisor is a member. He looked at the papers and noticed that Jorge had omitted some raids because they had not appeared in the Great Captain’s logs or navy records. He sent a request for a challenge paper from me, I went through the admirals logs and found the same things that Jorge did and sent that in. The professor sent a book back and said, “Keep digging.” I did, and found some strange things.”

“They must concern the raid here.”

“The raid here, and three others in the Republic so far. Since I could come here, and some of the people involved are still alive, I decided to come here and see what I could find before sending what I found to the professor.”

“What was strange?”

“First of all, this ship, and the ships that Taser and Gormer were sailing from the Retreat do not show up in the Admiral’s logs at all. I did find their construction documents, but they were not assembled in Eryding at the shipyard there. Instead, they were assembled in the Arsenal at the Retreat. Then they were operated independently. They were also raiding targets that the Admiral did not and the slaves they took do not appear on the slave auction registers.”

“Do you have any ideas why?”

“I need to check some things in the Republic and Lain Othrond. I was hoping to ask some questions here first.”
“I am a bit reluctant to tell you very much, but you have most of the pieces already. You have to look at the politics of the Empire just before the last Turmoils and what the Dowager Empress was doing. The Dowager Empress did not trust the Admiral fully and wanted a reserve to obtain certain things for the Project. I don’t know if you heard the stories about the Dancer, but the Dowager Empress was not above using certain ladies to ensure that certain things remained discreet. I and the other ladies aboard were part of that.”

“You were to kill the captain and officers of the ship if the ship was about to be taken,” Sally said.

“How did you guess, dear?”

“My family is the business and we are fully aware of the Dancer and that there may have been more than one. I did some checking with family in the Empire while I was being tested because I was assigned the Dancer by a teacher as classwork. At the time, the Dancer was a mystery and unsolved cases. I used some things from famiy and what I found in the Empire where a certain disappeared family member showed up. There is also the fact that the Dancer has somebody and has been all over the Lower City as well as her family clearing her dance card with certain people and telling my family about it since members were on the card. Does your husband know?”

“Yes he does. He’s known from the start. His hands were hardly clean and as far as he and the rest of the family are concerned, the Dance is just another part of me and the family.”

“What about the other ladies?”
“They have also long since made compromises. By and large, we have put the knives away in any case. I did sharpen them recently, but the matter was dealt with by others in a fashion that was more than appropriate.”

“Pikepusher.”
“I am not going to say. You are very sharp, dear.”

“Not really. The idiot was going through the Tribunal making enemies of just about everybody and there were enquiries. My family also has some new members joining us that came from the Pen and my aunt manages some rather exotic ladies.”

“Your family did not take steps?”
“Uncle Tony said to leave it to Gander and Alen and they handled it. Grandmother was happy with the way things worked out.”

“Gander and Alen being the Justiciars.”
“Yes. I thought it strange that Uncle Tony was cozy with the cops, but they aren’t really cops and I could see why Tony has the relationship.”

“Now as to the matter at hand, what do you know of the bigger picture?”
“Quite a bit,” Bladloc said. “My grandfather runs Admiral Harper’s spook shop and we have been going through what Admiral Ehlark had. We thought that we had everything until my advisor sent that book with the picture of Shark and I realized that there were other things going on, because Shark and the other ships did not appear in the admiral’s logs. This ship and the raid did not appear either and the admiral was very good at getting what he could about failed raids.”

“Why do you think that the raids were launched?”
“I think that whoever was behind them was looking for specific kinds of people, especially people that used tools. The raid here, for instance, ignored the old town, essentially and marched right over to the Hammer ironworks. Then they beat up the Hammers while ignoring your husband at the top of the hill overlooking their ride home. They may have thought that the Colonel would not be able to ride down the hill, but getting so far away from the beach and the ship didn’t make sense unless they had a specific objective. The big mistake was using just the one ship, but I think I know why they did that.”

“Why?”

“They had two squadrons and suddenly the Republic and the Fellowship navies’ heavies were going at each other again and they were caught in the middle as the two fleets were maneuvering. With the Fellowship fleet at sea, they suddenly had to make sure that they were not caught on the beach with the Fellowship main fleet between them and home. So, they sent one ship, hoping that they could get the job done, while the rest stayed in glamor, avoiding attracting attention and covering the raid. I think that they thought that if the raid was one ship, the Fellowship would send a squadron of frigates at most, but if there was a squadron, they would be facing two or three squadrons of seventy gun ships and the frigates cutting them off, which would not have ended well for them. As it was, the Colonel had his charge, this ship was stuck on the beach, the captain and his officers were captured and hanged and then the incident was more or less forgotten by the Fellowship and the Republic.”

“You have done a lot of work on this already. Ozzie is here, so he can add to what I have told you.”

“Where are the logs for this ship?”
“The captain had a voyage log, that the family keeps under lock and key. If there are any other logs, they were not aboard.”

“The Retreat did not have them either. They may have been ported someplace, but the portal logs were wiped long ago when the portals were shut down.”

An elderly orc walked in to the saloon, walked over to Cellica, kissed her and said, “These must be the younglings Harald was sending. Have they been interesting, dear?”
“Very. The young man has been digging into why this ship came here.”

“Then they must have found something new. I sent some cadets to looking into it over the years and they were sort of stumped. Where did you find the new material, younglings? I am Ozzie Bloodfoot, by the way.”

“I am Bladloc Flamepsitter and this is Sarah Lion. My grandfather was trying to retire from Admiral Harper’s spook shop when the five cities blew up. The Admiral sent him to the Empire and my grandfather took advantage to get a look at Admiral Ehlark Zylvyre’s papers.”
“How did he get access?”
“He went and talked to Paeris Zyvlyre and made the arrangements. So we had access to everything. As I told your wife, there was a flap over some papers published in the Republic and as a consequence, my advisor wanted me to write a challenge paper because he thought that both the papers in the flap were not comprehensive. I checked the logs and according to the admiral, the Ravathyra were not in position to be where my advisor said they were. Then my advisor sent a reference and things began to get strange, as there was a picture of Shark undertaking a raid where my professor said a raid happened. Shark and the other ships at the Retreat did not appear in the admiral’s logs.”

“My wife has apparently shared things with you, so ask your questions. Of course I want to know your stories. A Flamespitter and Lion together is rather unusual.”

Bladloc and Sally kept the Colonel and Cellica entertained through the afterten and the family through dinner. As they prepared to leave for their hotel, Cellica said, “Come to the house and I will have a list of the other people in the raid that are still alive and something you can borrow. This has been an interesting day.”

As they sat in the back of the car, Ozzie said to his wife, “How much about things did you tell them?”
“They knew a lot already. I may have to make a trip to the Empire and search out some ladies.”

“Eletha would be glad to have you.”

“I know and seeing Roger and getting the story about the five cities would be a good thing.”

“Did you get the same nuances that I did about that flap with the journals.”
“There’s more that they told me before you arrived. Jorge was the author of one of the papers and a Beltain student plagiarized it using access to the Congrssional record.”

“That explains some things. Maybe we should both go up.”

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