The Legacies of Lyrei, Chapter 59-60

Things heat up. The Empire has power issues.

Chapter 59.

Beltain.

Even though the windows were open in the cramped conference room, the atmosphere felt oppressive as Jarfaet looked at Tom, Ivan and Thothak. “I almost wish that freedom of the press wasn’t a thing. Unfortunately it is, and the damage has been done.”

“Kredror sent Izzie Dantas to interview me after he called Ivan,” Tom said. “He’s pretty good at keeping things that we don’t want spilled out of things. His brother commands one of Captain Pinch’s submarines.”

“Then he was a good choice for our side,” Ivan said. “Thothak, what is the situation in the Empire?”

“Both good and bad. The other side hasn’t started the suppressors, but the portals are down and the Mana Service was destroyed, as was the central telegraph station. The good news where that is concerned is that RTT and the Yllanan were in the final stage of setting up the telephone switchboards for the Lower and Cloud Cities, so they have a backup central telegraph office. The bad news is that the Telegraph Service lost their top operators and getting replacements is going to take time.”

“Have they used those suicide bombers anyplace else yet?”

“Not in the Mortal Kingdoms, the Fellowship, the Kingdom or the Orcenlands as yet.”

“None here, either,” Jarfaet said. “I think that we can expect them all too soon. Fortunately the Office of Inanimates was on top of the possibility of Inanimates carrying the Blight and was able to get on top of it. Tom, how close to that base of theirs are the marines?”

 “At the edge of the dead zones. Major Tolling has been able to build a good relationship with the local fae and most of Clan Ironhead, which was a big help. Unfortunately the Project has a double shield barrier and our infiltrators haven’t been able to tamper with the devises as yet.”

“Who infiltrated?” Thothak asked.

“I’m going to keep that under wraps.”

“The boys, wasn’t it?”

“I’m not going to say. Some volunteers made some rather convincing arguments and I allowed the mission. The operation is under Major Tollings’ command and has been providing intelligence.”

“That could provide ammunition to Steelslash and his friends.”

“I knew that when I sent them in. On the other hand, they did volunteer, they are all experienced and quite frankly I didn’t have any real options. I needed what they would get and so did the major.”

“I hope that you kept the operation discreet,” Jarfaet said.

“I did. They assembled with the major at Bubil Kil and were inserted using Diligent from Lain Othrond.”

“Why Diligent?”

“For one thing, they were known by the crew, and second, thanks to Jimmy and his requisitions, Diligent can provide supply.”

“When did Jimmy place the requisitions?”

“He placed them when he went aboard last year as an adjunct. In spite of the best efforts of supply, most of the material was still aboard Diligent.

“Time is getting short,” Ivan said. “Tom, do you have anything to add before the hearings start?”

Tom grinned. “I have a card that can be played if we do this right. Some Senators probably think that some things were destroyed in that recent fire. They made some mistakes.”

“What do you mean,” Jarfaet said.

“I don’t want to give things away, because the orcs and Sarya will be annoyed, but the Senator shouldn’t have used his nephew to do the clean up.”

Thothak frowned. “The nephew that was eaten by Marian? I’m not sure how that connects with this.”

“I’ll have a brief when I can, but the nephew was responsible for some clean up and botched it rather badly.”

The other three in the room grinned. “How badly,” Jarfaet asked.

“Some documents just appeared in Greldug’s and Peble’s offices one morning.”

“That was clumsy, indeed. We need to head to the hearing.”

Susan looked at her mother and said, “Why are we here?”

“There is a special session with some hearings scheduled. Your father is involved.”

“What do the hearings concern?”

“Admiral Harper undertook a secret project and he and the President did not notify the Congress or the Senate about it.”

“Why not?”

“I’m sure that you can guess some of it. The admiral had his uncle build some rockets to see if Scourge devises could be attached to them. That could, if looked at things the right way, be a violation of the Rules of War and several treaties.”

“Did they actually put a Scourge devise on a rocket?”

“As far as I know, they did not. The entire thing is a tangle.”

“This is an attack on the President, isn’t it? They are using this as an attempt to remove him from office.”

“Yes they are. You have grown a lot in the last year. Has Swifty sent anything?”

Susan pouted. “He hasn’t sent very much and he hasn’t used his small portal. Just the mail. He’s stuck handling old files this time.”

“Then he may be up here to deliver stuff to the archives.”

Susan’s face brightened up. “I didn’t think about that.”

Billings came into the room and said, “A message from Mrs. Cutflame for you, miss. She would like you to visit for a time in Chatsrey.”

Susan smiled. “I can do that.” Senator Toral Cutler looked at the rest of the Senators in the hearing room and sighed. Bradal and his allies had come right back, demanding a special hearing, raising the stakes with the continuing assault on the admiralty and its actions. On the surface, the matter was as serious as Bradal had said it was. The problem was that by wanting an open hearing, Bradal was making a potential bad thing into a very bad thing.

The fact that the thing had been leaked to the papers did not help. Toral was sure that Bradal had arranged the leak, but the papers didn’t have to reveal sources. He was sure that there were people looking at the leak very closely, but that would not change things now. The fact that the Empire and the Southern Republic had been the victim of attacks wasn’t going to help Bradal, but they didn’t seem to care. They were going to press this, regardless, looking to put the President in their sights. Toral looked at Admiral Harper, his attending staff and pounded his gavel. “This hearing is to look into a program that was not conducted under the procedures laid out by the senate. For this hearing, I will maintain the matter as classified and details of the program will not be testified to in this hearing, at least by me. The fact that the details of the program have been leaked to the press does not create a need to declassify those details. Admiral Harper, I am sure that you have other things to do, but do you want to make a statement before we get started?”

Tom sighed as he stepped forward and said, “I was called to this committee not so long ago to discuss the program at hand and at the time, the details of the program remained classified. The fact that the members of this committee were able to obtain documents referring to the matter at hand means that the Classified Matters Act was violated and that documents were shared that were to be seen by as few as possible, considering the seriousness and potential issues involved, something that could only have happened if the documents in question were stolen or photographed. Rather than return the documents to the Secretary and assist in the arrest of the people responsible, members of this committee passed those documents and further material they had obtained to a reporter, who not only filed a report at the Press Service, but passed the report to several newspapers that are allies to some Senators on the Plateau. By doing that, they selfishly took keeping the program a secret off the table, revealing it to all. That was not only a violation of the Classified Matters Act, but a crime potentially against all of the world. I can only hope that the final price is not millions of lives.”

Toral called Senator Steelslash and the hearing started.

Tomas and Brigehold sat down across from Bladloc and Sally in the café. “We haven’t seen you for some time,” Brigehold said. “What have you been up too?”

“This and that, tracking down things for my grandfather and his editor. We’ve been doing things like take interviews from various retired pirates.”

“That sounds fun,” Tomas said. “What can we do for you?”

“Do you still have access at the archives?”

“There was a bit of a fuss over the fact that it was revoked, but it was restored for some reason.”

“Could you make a list of the things that were destroyed in the fire?”

“I don’t have to. The archives already did.”

“A list with the box numbers and what was in each box?”

“Yes, why?”

“While this might be tiresome, could you bring the list and come with us to Cleadsgate. We want to go through some navy files and see what can be recovered.”

Tomas smiled. “If there are things that can be recovered, the archives would appreciate it.”

Chapter 60.

The Cloud City

Richard and Nightstalker got off the bus in front of the House. With the portals likely to remain down, House Glynynore had set up emergency bus service to the palace and in the Lower City, using large busses on the main avenues where they fit and smaller busses in the Cloud City. The various Seats used the busses to go to and from the Conclave. The bus drove off from the portal that served as the bus stop and Richard walked over to the House. Hagre frowned and said, “You should be more careful, milord.”

“The bus makes that easier as the driver would see a suicide bomber before I would. They seem to have stopped using them here in any case.”

“They have for the present. That may change.”

“Ok, I’ll start taking the landdragons again tomorrow.”

“Very well, milord. We could arrange a car from the estate for you.”

“Have one driven over, but we won’t use it. Having the busses means that the other side can’t set up to nail me that easily. We’ll use the cars in an emergency.”

“How did the Conclave go?”

“Rather well. Starting a war tends to attract attention.”

“That is certainly the case. The communications are awaiting you. Your cousin would like you to consider sending Gertald to the Republic.”

“Norman wants his top logistics officer if he’s forced to move fast again. The problem is that Horatio is going to need him too. What I will do is arrange a special flight for him if necessary.”

“Mrs. Harper has already made the arrangements.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Harrion wants to discuss the recent Inanimate incursion with you.”

“Then tell him that I will be in my office.”

Richard went to his office and shortly after, Harrion came in carrying a box. “I wanted to talk to you about some things I found on the Inanimates.”

“Why?”

 Harrion started to pull rusted bits and pieces of swords, some buttons, belt buckles and the battered shell of a breast plate. “These things came from the Blasted Lands. Did the Blasted Lands send soldiers to the Junglelands?”

“I’m not the one to ask. My father and Brouzen would be the ones to talk to about that. There is one thing we can check. Let’s go to the library. My mother sent my old library and we have my old books from the time when I was a boy.”

Harrion grinned. “Adventure books?”

“True history for boys. One advantage of being the youngest is that I had the hand me downs from three brothers.”

They went inside the library and Richard said, “Here we go, my books on lost expeditions.”

They looked and Richard said, “That wreck my cousin was looking for had attracted a fair amount of attention. I’ll send to mother and see if she can find out how many other foolish family members went looking for the lost wreck of the Ravathyra.”

“This stuff is very old.”

“It was probably passed down to the descendants of the various expeditions. I have a feeling that the Harper that lived in the Hideaway was probably one of them.”

“I’ll send to your father and see what he says. We’ll probably see more things like this.”

Semmont

Tim turned to Toral and said, “Why did you bring him along?”

“Dreddie? I brought him along so that he could see things for himself and he’s not entirely useless.”

They were watching things from the second floor of a house that faced the Rock. So far there hadn’t been much to watch. They had entered the city through a sally port that had been left open at some point and carrying supplies, hiked over to the Rock and set up a camp in the house and another one that was away from the other side’s activities. Count D’For and Joram joined them and Veral said, “They are setting up Inanimates at the east and north gates.”

“Where they expect trouble to show up.” Toral said. “They are expecting Duc D’Sward to march up to the walls along the shortest route. What’s that?”

A strange flying thing appeared out of Jump and landed. More appeared as people got out and walked to the Rock. Tim said, “They must be heavyweights. Dúhael was with them.”

Dúhael and Arafiel exited the Jumper with Ilyana and walked into the passage under the Rock. They found the head of the team working to restore the mana panel and Ilyana said, “How are things proceeding?”

“So far, well. We should have most of the taps under control.”

“Why not all the taps?”

“The keys have been changed on some of them. For instance, the Sanctum, the Zylvyre and some other sources have had their keys changed.”

“What about the mana from the estate?”

“We do not have access to that. There is no tap in the usual sense and we can’t access the source from here until we have a tap.”

Ilyana turned to the others and said, “We will have to speak with Lord Umevan, in that case.”

That will not be easy,” Dúhael snarled. “The old elf is unlikely to cooperate easily.”

“We will have to find a way to persuade him. Let us speak with the others.”

Tim and the others watched Dúhael and the others leave. Toral said, “They don’t look happy. Let’s go. We need to report what we saw. Tim, you need to be on the train to Ishendell tomorrow.”

The Qinvaris Estate

Taking advantage of having a chance to drive his sports car, Richard blasted down the road toward the main estate house. He pulled into the courtyard and parked the car. Nightstalker laughed and said, “You like this car.”

“I do. Folmon and I drove the traffic cops in Chatsrey crazy until Rosa and Rebecca said that we couldn’t drive ourselves anymore. I don’t get out very much. So opportunities like this can’t be wasted.”

They got out of the car and went inside. Denny had a team going over the map and grinned when Richard came in. “We should be ready for quick action in relieving compulsions.”

“We may have to let them have the farm, at least for a while. I want to talk to you and Gertald.”

“What about?”

“Norman wants him.”

“There hasn’t been a call up,” Gertald said. “On the other hand, there probably will be and Norman is worried that I will be here and out of communication if he needs me. Onia sent me a message saying that Norman spoke with her about this. Denny, can you do without me if necessary.”

“I can. I’m concerned about the Fellowship and first harvest. If things get ugly, I may need to have help with experience.”

“That’s in two moons. If things get that messed up, I can get there. I think that I’m going to be going back and forth to Ishendell.”

“I wired my brother and told him that I’m putting a plane at your disposal,” Richard said. “I think that holding on to you now would be a mistake.”

“May I borrow Roger if we need to go into the Fellowship?”

“That goes without saying.”

“Good. There are a lot of old stories about the suppressors. Fortunately dragons and dragonkin are immune. That may be the biggest reason to go back.”

“I hadn’t thought about that.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s