The Kraken and The Dark Sea, Chapter 7-8

Things get hot at the Hideaway. Alb goes to lunch

Chapter 7.

The Hideaway

Dúhael pulled a tablet that he hoped that none of their enemies knew existed. The tablet showed ancient and more recently discovered mana sources and their status. The tablet was a repeater for a panel deep in the bowels of the Imperial Mana Service. The panel was in a room that Dúhael’s father had managed to arrange to place an aversion on and then ensure with the Dowager Empress that those who knew of the room were exiled or had accidents. So the room was forgotten. That was one victory. The Project was entering the final stages and while things were shaky, the pieces were in place. There had been setbacks and debacles, the old allies had withdrawn or were destroyed and their enemies knew far too much. Still, they did not know all. That lapse would bring about their defeat. Now it was time to prepare for one last retreat.

Hawk grinned as Will and Lensa rode up. “It’s time for you two to disappear.”
“The demons will kill my family!” Will said.

“Not if they are smart. I did some checking with people and we figured out why you are here.”

“Why am I here?”
“You haven’t been tested as yet, so you can’t sense it, but you are the key to the Orcenlands mana source.”

“What?”
“The Orcenlands mana source has been locked since the mage wars, when it was locked by Harald.”

“The crystal?” Lensa asked. “My father gave it to me.”

“There is a Harald Seeming someplace, but I doubt that the crystal you have is the real thing.”
“Why not?”
“Because if it had been, the Republic would have started wars, if necessary, to get it back.”

“It’s just been sitting on my shelf. I haven’t tried to activate it. I didn’t realize that it was so dangerous.”

“The seeming can’t hurt you. But on the other hand, Harald was the most skilled of the Mechanitiars of his time. The advice that the crystal could provide could give one unbelievable wealth or crush any nation that exists. If somebody has the Harald seeming, where it is would be a very well guarded secret and creating a fake would cover the secret very well.”

“Do you think that my father and uncles know about it?”
“They gave you the crystal. They know.”

“So how long do we disappear?” Lensa asked.”
“A couple of days, starting right now. Let’s ride to the border and there will be a truck waiting. Your horses can find their own way home.”

When the horses were discovered and the fact reported to Blackfire, he said, “That’s it, we evacuate tomorrow.”

Dúhael looked at him and said, “The horses could have returned for any number of reasons. We could send a search.”
“I already have. Brother we have stayed too long and our adversaries know where we are. It’s time to leave.”
“Very well, in the morning.”

Bubil Kil

Ratug turned to Ortalac and said, “At least I’m on the right side of things this time.”

“It’s a good feeling, isn’t it, even if we are just cover.”

“Do you think that someone is going to tell the folk over there?”

“It won’t be, uncle,” Faghig said. “Jreghug and I were very clear that if he even tries to send a message, dad will be looking for his head. So uncle won’t be talking to his friends. He’s in Bighagh, sulking, anyway.”

Dumag turned to Jerthath and said, “This is going to be interesting.”
“The fact that these troops are the first trained under your system?”
“That, and getting to watch Major Tollings in action, at least when I wasn’t on the other side of things.”

“He hit where you were with Paeris.”

“I’m not going to say and you know that I am not a slouch.”

“There’s the truck. Why don’t we greet our guests?”

Chapter 8.

The Arsenal, Cleadsgate

Alb was getting the latest from intelligence on the Empire when Peble found him and said, “The admiral wants to see you.”
“His office?”
“For lunch, at the place near the shipyard.”

“Ok, let me get the material and we can go.”

They got in the car that Alb had requisitioned and Alb started to drive. As they exited the arsenal and drove along the street, Alb asked Peble, “Did you inflict the three Wavechaser boys on me on purpose?”

“Would you believe me if I said no? Which boys are they?”

“I have marine adjunct Jim Wavechaser with the authorization numbers that can get you anything you want, Petty Officer Rod Wavechaser, who is seafolk and his younger brother, Bill, who works for Beinan’s and is not seafolk.”

“Young Mr. Wavechaser shouldn’t be using those numbers. What did he requisition?”

“Some things I don’t have a problem with, since I wish that we had had them on the last voyage. The interesting thing is that we got the Fellie grenades and the special ammunition from the Kingdom without any question.”

Has Bill done anything strange?”
“We have on board not one, but two small portals. He and Mr. Cutflame both had them. Of course, Ensign Seachaser put Bill in with the adjuncts.”
“Why?”
“We have two Termite types on board who insisted on single cabins, so our astronomer, Mr. Ironaxe, and our junior RDR man are bunking with the adjuncts. I think that they both think that the adjuncts will be better company than their fellow contractors for the most part.”

“What did you do about that?”
“Since Mr. Ironaxe and Wavechaser do not have bench space in their cabins, as required by their contracts, they have their workspaces in the lab. Our marine biologist and botanist will have to have their desks in their cabins, along with the specimen lockers.”

“How has the Ensign been working out?”
“Very well, after some missteps when he arrived. He did make a bit of a pest of himself yesterday, but that was passing things on for others. The only thing he wanted input on for himself was the authorization and that was understandable. He arranged for the small portals to be placed in the radio room when Wavechaser and Cutflame didn’t have room for them.”

“Were you surprised by the boys?”
“Somewhat. The ensign and the chief were more surprised than I was, especially when the two marines pulled out cased Ironaxe SR5s. The two dragon boys and the two marines have rather redacted files and I will want to know about Cutflame, who has surprises that are not in his file.”

“Here’s the shack, so let’s go inside.”

They went inside and joined the admiral, not exchanging salutes since Tom was wearing a plain seajacket over his uniform. He smiled and said, “Peble found you, Alb.”

“It wasn’t hard. I was in intelligence, collecting the latest on the Empire.”

“What do you think of your temporary crew?”
“Did you have to inflict the Termite mound types on me?”
 “Scholars Ironforge and Cutter? Yes I did, unfortunately. That was a bit of an exchange that the Secretary made to get the Senate off our backs a bit. Ironaxe is getting a favor from the navy since he made an important discovery for us.”

“Ironaxe isn’t a problem. I have the feeling that he is dedicated to his work and as long as he has a darkroom and a bench, he’s fine. He and young Mr. Wavechaser decided to bunk with the adjuncts. Of course our two Termite mound prigs didn’t realize that their insisting on single cabins meant that they lost some space in the lab and Wavechaser and Ironaxe gained space, since they needed it.”

‘You have two Wavechashers aboard. That should make things interesting for your ensign.”

“Three, and did you set the two up?”
Tom grinned. “Not exactly. Peble arranged for you to get Jimmy and Jonny when they signed up for the adjuncts program, along with Teonag, Brilbrun and Swifty, for different reasons. We thought that you would like the surprises when you discovered them and if things went like your last voyage, the nasties wouldn’t like what they were trying to chew on. Bill was sort of a last minute arrangement by Beinan’s to get him out of trouble.”

“What kind of trouble?”

“This is going to be a bit hard to explain, but the short version is that Bill, looking to open a vault near Desert Howl, went up to the Empire to get tested by the fae before he was dragged under by the local ladies. He ran into Jerry Umevan, was tested at Fallingwater, House Beinan, in an Imperial version of the Umevan-Beinan mutual poaching effort, took the boys shopping in the Lower City, where Bill found some very old books on “Solid State electronics.” He also had a faery princess start to chase him, but I will let Moonshine introduce herself. In any case, Bill started to play around with actually making solid state components, the radio industry got wind of it, and is trying to get around the agreements that Bill made with some people in Racketgarde with some of my niece’s relatives and get access to Bill’s discovery before the radio people are put out of business by Beinan’s. Bill was playing with something else, and I hope that Chatsrey Radio and their friends don’t find out about it and get very upset. Terrel looked at it and Bill had gone and made a radio with what he was playing with. He didn’t realize what he had done, but that was when Terrel and Adiun decided that a summer spent at sea near the Empire was a good thing. The fact that he knows RDR backwards and forwards doesn’t hurt. You can expect some surprises showing up and some beer coming your way.”

“What about the dragonkin?”

“They are not dragonkin. The Flamefire boys have been helping Captain Bushbury with discreet tasks since they stowed away on Intrepid some time ago now. I wanted them to experience seaborne life before they entered the Academy this fall.”

Alb grinned. “They are dragons, aren’t they?”
“Royal dragons. They were looking for adventure and are Byddri’s cousins, so they stowed away and Captain Bushbury liked having them. Even if they weren’t dragons, they are competent and effective.”

“What about Cutflame? Is he part of another attempt to recruit from the Dragonkin?”

“Not exactly. He was picked up on by Rob’s people and some people that my brother keeps on retainer. He had an incident with some Termite mound types, went to the Empire, was tested and went dragon, royal dragon. So I recruited him, since his parents want him to disappear for a while.”

“What did the Ensign do to earn your attention?”
“What has he said?”

“That he started in on Jimmy’s brother and made an ass of himself.”

“That’s about it. I can’t say what the boys did for the major, but they went through the hell that was Ishendell and then stuck with him through a lot of tough and nasty things. I want the boys as marines and I didn’t want an idiot prig messing that up. Would you look at who just came in for lunch?”

Alb looked over his shoulder and there was Lieutenant Fishchaser, Ensign Seachaser, the three Beinan contractors, Alre Ironaxe, Jimmy Wavechaser, Swifty Cutflame and Rod Wavechaser. Alb waved at the lieutenant, who walked over, saw who was at the table, blanched, started to salute and dropped his hand. Alb asked, “Why are you all here, lieutenant?”
“We are picking up Mr. Ironaxe’s telescope mount from the shipyard, sir.”

“So you are not discussing some of your fellow shipmates in a place that they would not be caught dead in,” Tom said with a grin. “That is rather a large group for a pick up.”

“Sir, the prigs haven’t eaten here, the idiots. That is on them, not us. I offered to share the errands and a truck as well as bringing them here for lunch. The Beinan’s people had some pickups of their own and we are sharing a truck. Bill Wavechaser had already been here and recommended that they come, Jimmy grabbed Swifty and said that they would help for lunch. Roger already knew and came as well. Rod volunteered to act as our petty officer at the arsenal.”

“I see. Tell your shipmates that lunch is on me. I do hope that you keep the fact that we were here discreet.”

“Yes sir.”

The Lieutenant returned to the others and Peble said, “They all know you, sir. Bill, Jimmy and Rod do, Swifty does, and so does Scholar Ironaxe.”

“I think that they have their own reasons to keep this discreet.”

“I wonder which of them knew about this place,” Peble said with a grin.

“Caldin eats here frequently,” Tom said. “So, Bill, Jim and Rod all have been here before. I imagine that Ald’s people are in and out of the shipyard for various reasons, so they know about it too. There’s Caldin now.”

Caldin walked over and said, “I was going to see you, Tom about arranging a meeting with my grandson before he left, but here he is. In fact there are three of them. May I borrow them for the afterten?”

“Bill is a contractor, so that is his boss’s decision. As for the others, Captain Seafisher, this is Congressman Caldin Wavechaser. Caldin this is Captain Alb Seafisher of the Diligent. Sit and chat with us.

“Do you want all of them, or just the boys, Congressman?” Alb asked.

“I need to speak with Bill primarily, preferably someplace discreet. Terrel sent a message and Bill needs to sign some things before he goes so that I have power or attorney.”

“What did Bill do, Caldin?” Tom asked.

“You remember when Bill was talking about his glass panels on the Plateau?”

“We were talking boats and surfboards if I recall.”
“Yes, and they started in on that, which was a good thing, as the surfboards attracted the attention at the science faire and a radio that Bill made was ignored.”

“What was special about the radio?” Alb asked.

“Terrel has it and sent me pictures. The consortium, as they are calling themselves, are crapping in their pants because Bill’s solid state components could put them in a bad place in five or ten years. That radio could have done that by the end of the summer if Bill had actually started making the things and the consortium doesn’t even know about the panels yet. Terrel estimates that using the panels could cut assembly costs by at least half. Terrel made the radio disappear fairly quickly.”

“That is a bad thing?”
“The consortium has been pushing at Bill over the solid state components and I have been covering for him more than a bit, but things came to a head right when Bill went to the Plateau as one of Prince Vindica’s guests, I told him about his patents for the solid state components being held up and why and Senator Burnett went after Bill in a hearing. For various reasons, Bill doesn’t like the idea that people would try to steal what he does and then the Senator went after him at the hearing Bill probably should not have attended.”
“We didn’t know that at the time,” Tom said. “We all thought that Bill being there would clear things up.”

“It did, but that was when the pressure really started after Bill pushed back. Aydiun had a meeting with the consortium and they were trying to strong arm Beinan’s into joining them. That did not go over well and Aydiun said that he would have to kick the proposal to his nephew, who would not like it at all.

“The problem now is that Terrel is coming off his reserve duty and the consortium is going to be able to try to pressure him. It won’t work very well and getting people into South Howl is rather difficult these days, but the consortium will probably turn on the heat trying to get Terrel to cut a deal on their terms.”

“That’s why Terrel suddenly put Bill on Diligent.”

“Terrel, Adiun and Feno all felt that getting Bill out of the fire for a while would be a good thing and having Bill making radios would probably make things worse. Of course the radio will be used in the negotiations and Terrel has the same sense of right and wrong that Bill does. Since Terrel doesn’t make a big splash of himself, the radio people won’t know what they are dealing with. On the other hand, if the consortium gets pushy, Terrel will be perfectly willing to help Bill start making radios.”
“Should I be alert for things?” Alb asked.

“Captain, this should not involve you or the navy directly at all. I will send you a brief of all the material that is not confidential before you sail. The people in the Consortium will have a harder time operating in the Empire and Bill’s girlfriend’s family will not like the things they might try.”

“I was hoping for a drama free voyage this time,” Alb whined. “Such is the life of the survey.”

“If you want some of the contractors eaten, we can arrange some bears,” Tom said.   
 
“Not again. Too much paperwork and grief. Your grandson hinted that there may be more than some hungry cannibal monsters involved, congressman. I sent a brief off this morning to his former boss.”

“We didn’t look to deep into that,” Tom said. “Of course, there were other distractions, but we should have.”

“Jim is on the lookout for monsters,” Caldin said. “That’s one reason that we wanted him in the adjuncts. Ishendell was not a good thing for the boys, any of them. On the other hand, he was in the middle of things, in Ishendell, the Empire and the Mortal Kingdoms.”

“He also wanted to fill the arms locker with all sorts of things,” Alb said. “I allowed it, mostly to push Ensign Seachaser a bit and he sent the requisition out. We had everything this morning.”

“Jimmy isn’t supposed to use those,” Tom said. “On the other hand, he did clear it with you and Roger before sending it. Did you have any issues with the request?”

“Other than the fact that a bunch of the things came from the Fellowship and the Kingdom, no. I’m not sure why they were in inventory, but supply coughed up and didn’t say a word. The chief was rather impressed that the marines showed up with new Ironaxe rifles that weren’t even issued yet.”

“Lissia gave them to the boys for Winterfaire,” Caldin said. “All the boys got full kit. She doesn’t want a failed gun to get them killed if she can avoid it.”

“Admiral, thank you for making me feel at ease even if we run into hungry cannibals again.”

Tom laughed as their lunches came. When they were done, Jimmy, Bill and Rod came over and Rod said, “I think you were looking for us, grandfather.”

“I was looking for Bill, mostly.”
“Folas and the lieutenant said that we could have two twentieths with you, and that you could return us to the ship, grandfather. So, when you are finished talking to the admiral and our captain, you can grab us.”

The boys returned to their table as Caldin laughed. “I think that I better go. Captain, it was nice to meet you and my boys are in good hands.”

Tom went and paid the bill for his table and the other table. As he was paying the bill, Kellam said, “That was an interesting crew you brought, admiral.”
“I didn’t bring them. They do work for me, though.”

“That’s a good thing for the Wavechaser boys. Who knows what they would be getting into otherwise.”

Tom laughed and said, “I know. They are bad enough as it is.”

Caldin sat the boys down and said, “Before we get started talking, Bill, your father and I need to have you sign a power of attorney to me.”

“What did you do, Bill?” Rod said.

“It wasn’t me, Rod,” Bill snipped. “At least not all me. I just made a radio using something that Jimmy and I were playing with. Your buddy, Ed was impressed.”

“What impressed Ed?”

“Jimmy was surfing the Point.”

“Jimmy isn’t a Swimmer. That’s a bit crazy. Getting a board to turn just right is tricky.”

“Not with a short board.”

“How do you make a short board? That is something the boys have wanted forever, but they don’t float well enough.”
“Jimmy’s boards do.”

“The radio is the matter at issue here,” Caldin said. “You boys can discuss surfing later.”

“Ok, grandfather.”

“Bill, here is the letter assigning me your power of attorney until your father has returned from his Service. I want that signed, so that there are no ambiguities.”

“Ok grandfather. Are you going to need a patent attorney?”
“That hasn’t been an issue, why?”

Bill signed the letter and said, “Ironaxe has one they recommend.”

“I will take that under consideration if things get stickier than they are. The glass fiber patents haven’t attracted the attention of certain people.”

“Grandfather, I want one thing clear. You will not license any of my things to Chatsrey Radio or any of the consortium members without my approval.”

“We may have to give them something.”

“Make them beg.”

“Did something happen?”
“They started to harass Moonshine. They didn’t get anywhere, but the threats to her career and so forth were uncalled for. Especially the large men trying to catch her in alleys. If they actually hurt Moonshine, they will not like what happens.”

“I’ll look into it.”

“Mrs. Oceania dealt with it, but using Moonshine to get to me is out of bounds. You can tell the Consortium that.”

“They will deny being involved.”
“Then it was their friends on the Plateau. You might also tell them that political contributions are on the public record and that contributions from them to Senator Burnett will not put me in the mood to do business with them.”

“You discovered some things.”
“You can talk to mother. She has all of it. I said that I was going to look into the Senator’s business and he was an idiot up there on the Plateau. The problem was that once people knew that I was looking, it just didn’t stop. Mother is taking care of it until dad can deal with it.”

Rod looked at Bill and said, “Looking into the Burnett’s business can get you hurt. Talking about it can get you killed.”
“He started it, and they made their business my business. Senator Burnett already threatened me in public, during a hearing on the Senate floor. That was just before Luggergate died. In any case, we’re not doing anything unless the Senator tries something.”

“Do you think that he will?”
“If he’s smart, he’ll back off,” Caldin said. “They have interests in places outside the state and if those interests are cut off from what Bill is doing, they are going to be in trouble.”
“I did do one thing, grandfather. In the event that I have some sort of timely accident, I wrote a will assigning all my patents and processes to Beinan’s exclusively for the life of the patent.”

Caldin grinned. “That sounds like it was your father’s idea.”
“I’m not going to say whose idea it was. We figured that something like that should keep the knives from coming out.”

Tim stood up and saluted as Rob came up to his desk. “What can I do for you, sir?”

“Go to your quarters, pack for a five day and be ready in the morning.”

“Where are we going, sir?”
“Ishendell at first, but the Conclave and then another place.”
“What for, sir?”
“I have to give a presentation on Scourge devises and Luggergate. I need to have you take a test and I want to introduce you to some people.”
“I’ll be ready, sir. Why me, sir?”

“I’ll explain in Ishendell. Essentially, you are an opportunity I can’t let slide anymore and me putting it off got too many people killed.”

“All right, sir.”

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