The Legacies of Lyrei, Chapter 63-64

Swifty is asked to move some things. Mora has tasks.

Chapter 63.

The Arsenal, Cleadsgate

Elista grinned as Swifty came into the office. “Swifty, do you have some friends in your neighborhood that you can trust?”

“Yes, why?”

“Friends you can trust to keep their mouths shut even if some people press?”

“You don’t want something illegal, do you?”

“Not illegal, but I need you to move what you are working on off the base and do it without using navy resources.”

“So you want me to hire some friends to move what I’m doing out of the warehouse and to someplace off the base, without attracting any attention.” Swifty grinned. “I can do that.”

“Yes. I think that BuSup is going to undertake a serious audit and look for things. There are certain things here in the office and some other places that the admiral doesn’t want discovered as yet.”

Swifty grinned. “I’ll talk to my mother. Dad is in the Empire and my brother is a well. May I recruit some other adjuncts?”

“Not at first. Things are going to get tense as result of the things going on the Plateau. If you make the arrangements, I will arrange a civilian contract.”

“I can do that. My mom hasn’t shut down all the businesses.”

“What do you mean?”

“Dad had the habit of starting something up and then having a cousin or other relative run it because they were citizens and he wasn’t. A lot of this was stuff he needed to have for his army job, but had to run outside army channels. Since the businesses are involved in Luggergate, he can’t sell them or shut them down right now. So I can call mother and make the arrangements.”

“How did that happen?”

“I don’t know the details, but it involved a war with the Fellowship and the army being slow to get to transport. There was some hold ups and dad need to solve them fast, so he set up a business to contract to the army to do the job. The business is doing a lot of Luggergate related things. I should probably stop talking about it and get on the phone.”

With Admiral Harper on the Plateau, Admiral Steelshaper had returned to act as the temporary overall commander. He was getting an update in the map room when the assistant chief of staff started to get a stack of messages. Steelshaper walked over and said, “What is going on?”

“Radio with distant stations and fleet is out, sir. I think that the suppressors are operating again.”

“What about the small portals?”

“They are out as well.”

“Wire communications?”

“We can still talk to Milport, the Hidden City and The Retreat without any problems.”

“How many ships are out of communication?”

“I have a list here, sir.”

Steelshaper looked at the list and said, “The old cruisers patrolling off the Empire, Republic and Constitution with their escorts, Albatross enroute to the Junglelands, and some other things. Why is Reliant off the Junglelands? She is a seaplane tender, in the reserves.”

“Reliant has been modified to operate unpiloted aircraft, sir.”

“Unpiloted aircraft?”

“I will have a brief prepared, sir.”

“Why is Reliant off the Junglelands?”

“She is providing support for the marines operating there.”

“I think I need an update on what is going on there. From the looks of things, we have a lot of assets in the jungle or supporting things there. I haven’t been updated as to the situation.”

“Sir, we can provide an updated brief as of the suppressors activating.”

“I will want options if things heat up on the Peninsula again.”

“Yes sir.”

Zirgoccol.

Qambois stepped into the office and wondered who was playing a joke on him. Looking around, the entire staff was apparently wearing strainers with the handles cut off on their heads. Walking over to Vafealine’s desk, he said, “What is going on, Mrs. Brewhide? Why is the staff wearing kitchen utensils?”

“Steel wire mesh interferes with the compulsions from a suppressor. The strainers were easy and fast to obtain.”

“Interesting. Why everyone?”

“I wasn’t sure who had been compelled the last time, and if we wear them, it will be easier to distribute them to the rest of the building.”

“I see. This office is free of the compulsions, but you are setting an example for the others in the Senate.”

“Us and the Consul’s office. Again, with the turnover since the last time, we want to make sure that the compulsions aren’t used to start something.”

“That is good sense. Continue to wear the kitchen utensils.”

Ayre looked at the thing in crystal and said, “I have done as you instructed.”

“Very well.” The seeming flashed a picture. “Have you seen this man?”

“No, I have not. Who is he?”

“He was the chief Mechanitiar at Lain Othrond. The Project would like to discover his whereabouts.”

“I will investigate.”

 Jandar looked at Terry and Starflower and grinned. “You have returned. I expect that you are here to relieve some pressure. Most of us do not need it, but it is a good idea to check.”

“I don’t think that the Project realizes that the fact that they already used the Suppressors once limits their use now.”

“I’m more concerned about the people that did not have the compulsions removed the last time and are still vulnerable. I hope that you are keeping a list of the people who have had them pulled.”

“We did the last time,” Starflower said. “Licient has the lists from all the places we did.”

“Good. When is your joining?”

Starflower sighed. “After Peri and Dessielle’s. They were supposed to have theirs at the reunion, but then these idiots started a war again. So we are in a mess.”

Jandar laughed. “That will motivate you to get the war over.”

“We’re going to try.”

Jammi looked at Alissa and the pair of strainers. “Why do we have to wear these?”

“So that people don’t talk in our heads and tell us what to do.”

“You mean I wasn’t just hearing things?”

“Those are compulsions. I haven’t had them removed before, so we need to wear the hats.”

“These are strainers.”

“I know. Why don’t we see if we can do better?”

“That sounds like a very good idea.”

Elion looked at his sister and said, “Thank you for doing that.”

Vestelle grinned. “Harry and I are doing the building.”

“I thought you were at the Conclave.”

“When things started up, we came back here. We wanted to make sure that Ayre was contained when the suppressors started. Making sure that the office isn’t held by compulsions seemed like a good idea.”

“What about father?”

“Already done, since he was here.”

Mother?”

Vestelle sighed. “That’s another problem.”

House Aravaris.

Harald and a fae man found Derry and said, “You are already immune to compulsions. Good. I should have sent you to the Mage Academy for testing, but we’ve been busy.”

“What’s going on?”

“The Project started the suppressors again. This time the Amplifiers started immediately and at full power. I wasn’t here the last time, but things were dicey for a while. We’re going through the staff and the House to make sure that there no compelled here.”

“What will they do next?”

“I expect that there will be some sort of uprising or building of an army. They will probably try to take over the palace again, but they don’t have anyone in the Imperial family this time and as a result of the last time, the palace staff and Imperial family are all immune to compulsions.”

The Imperial Palace

Byddri bowed after he was escorted into the Emperor’s office. “Thank you for your time, your majesty.”

“I wanted to give you an overview of the recent events.”

“They have started the suppressors again. Most people here haven’t noticed.”

“That is because they no longer work on us. Let’s get started. You know what went on in the Lower City.”

“Five suicide bombers with mana batteries assaulted various places. The batteries were either small or there was a limiter, so the spontaneous drain was not as large as legend says it could have been. In any case, the Mana Service and the telegraph office were destroyed, the Portal Service and army headquarters were lightly damaged and the bomber approaching the Residence was killed. Mana has been cut off, but there is a source coming from some place.”

“Yes. The fact that the suppressors were launched says that they have control of the mana supply, but Lord Umevan had set things up so that the facilities at the estate automatically took most of the load for the cities. The estates will not have power, but the need is less there. The Mana Service was in the process of fabricating a back up control board, but it was not ready when the Service’s building was destroyed.”

“Other than the Inanimate incursions, have there been any attempts to assault the palace again?”

“You can discuss that with Justiciar Percaryn. As far as I know there have been no overt or covert attempts to overthrow the Imperial Council.”

“That is dramatically different from the last time.”

“The last time my mother was still active and in a position to aid the Project. That is no longer the case and as the Project leaders are anathema, they have no legitimate claims to the throne.”

“The last votes in the Conclave are going rather quickly. Is that an attempt to get things over with as fast as possible?”

“While I can’t say directly, and it is certainly not something I am responsible for, there is probably some of that. On the other hand, the Seats know that they will be back next year, so if something is neglected, it can be dealt with then. So there are fewer knotty problems to delay things.”

“Is your grandson’s wedding going to be delayed?”

“Not if my wife has anything to say about it. On the other hand, the Project has already attempted to assault the Residence once already. My wife’s biggest concern is getting the park cleared and prepared for the wedding.”

“What about the estates?”

“That remains to be seen. So far, the suppressors have been activated again, but the project has not yet attempted to exert control and the resources that they could use to so no longer exist, thanks to the efforts of many people.”

“I think that does it for our little interview. Thank you again, your majesty.”
Narbeth laughed and said, “We are getting good at these little chats.”

“I just hope that you are right about the current events.”

“The Project hasn’t yet tried to take the palace. On the other hand, taking control of the Umevan estate is worrisome, even if Lord Umevan has taken steps to ensure that the estate continues to operate.”

“I’ve spoken to him about that and he hasn’t been approached by the Project as yet. Has he asked you for troops to retake the estate?”

“Not as yet. Doing that will not be easy. He also has concerns outside the country.”

“I will take my leave now.”

“Who are you going after next?”
“The Great captain and I are going to lunch together.”

“That should be interesting.”

“It will be. He has some interesting stories about the folk in Desert Howl.”

“Then I will let you go.”

Chapter 64.

Chatsrey

 Mora activated Jastira and said, “The Senate is conducting hearings on the President’s misbehavior.”

Jastira smiled. “Very good. The clients would like to know where a certain man is.” She flashed a picture. “This was the Project’s chief Mechanitiar. He was hired by the Umevan.”

“How did that happen?”

“The circumstances are a consequence of the events surrounding the evacuation of Lain Othrond. He was not evacuated and the Umevan apparently had him working on something that Project would like very much.”

“Do you want me to conduct a retrieval?”

“If you can arrange it, perhaps.”

“The Umevan have a reputation. I would be wary of meddling with them.”

“We have already taken the estate. One more employee should not make that much of a difference.”

“I will see if I can find him. Is there reason to believe that he is here in the Republic?”

“He is probably where the Umevan conduct their discreet projects.”
“That would be Desert Howl. I can possibly work with that. This will be a challenge.”

“You haven’t mentioned the Dancer?”

“Is she available?”

“She never returned. If you could discover what happened, the client would be pleased.”

“I will look into that. Resources are sparse on the ground right now and there are other things going on.”

“Do what you can.”

Swifty parked the GP and walked inside his grandmother’s house. Since the apartment had been handed to some relatives, his mother was staying at Swifty’s grandmother as she dealt with the remaining business in the Republic and House Qinvaris business that came her way. Going inside, he found his mother in the office that she had set up. When he walked in, she grinned and stood up to hug him. “Swifty! Are you on leave?”

“No. I need to borrow dad’s truck.”

“The truck was sold.”

“Then I need to rent one.”

“What for?”

“The office wants some things moved. I want to use dad’s garage to hold the stuff for the time being.”

“You don’t need to rent a truck. Just go up to Billingston and pick one up from the factory.”

“Pick one up from the factory?”

“Yes. There are twenty there that the House needs to move to the pier here in Chatsrey. The ship isn’t due for a five day, so you can have the truck for that long.”

“I’ll have to check into the office for that. I just have a pass for Chatsrey.”

“Let’s make the call. What exactly are you doing?”

“I’m working for the Chief of Staff’s office. They want some things moved discreetly and stored for a while so that I can get them sorted.”

“Not something illegal, is it?”

“No. I am just going through old files.”

Swifty’s grandmother came in with two couples. “Swifty, these people were looking for you.”

“For me?”

The Dragonkin said, “Swifty, I’m Bladloc Flamespitter. This is Sally Lion, Tomas Steelgrinder and Brigehold Teamer. Mrs. Bronzebeater sent us here, looking for you.”

“What for?”

“You are moving some things off base for Mrs. Bronzebeater. We want access to the material without having to be on base.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Captain Flamespitter’s grandson. You did not meet me in the north because I was down here, chasing the Crowburg scandal. Recently, there was a mysterious fire in a warehouse where coincidently, some files from the archives were stored. Tomas and Brigehold have archives access and can review the files that the navy is having you go through. Sally and I are experts on certain matters concerning the files. We have permission from Mrs. Bronzebeater.”

“Ok. I haven’t actually moved the files yet, because I was arranging a truck. I was going to borrow my dad’s truck, but he sold it. This is my mother, Onia Cutflame. Dad works for the Qinvaris now.”

“Were you going to need help loading the files?”

“I talked to the chief at the warehouse on the base and that’s handled. At the other end, I have some friends to move the stuff into my dad’s garage.”

“A garage?”

“Since mom probably wants to talk to Mrs. Bronzebeater about this, why don’t we go over and I can show it to you.”

“Was I that obvious, Swifty?” Onia said.

“Not really, mom. I could just see that coming and I know that you are keeping an eye on the mound right now.”

“I am, and moving files that may have things inside that some people wanted to disappear sounds rather sketchy for an adjunct to be doing.”

“You are very sharp, Mrs. Cutflame,” Bladloc said.

“Experience. I’m not sure what is going on, but the admiral is up on the mound while things are heating up in the Empire and other places. There are also negotiations going on between General Harper and the Qinvaris for my husband’s time, so things are rather serious. So having Swifty move those files must be something that Admiral Harper wants discreet, or at least hidden from certain people on the mound until an appropriate time. Considering what is going on now, I want to know more.”

Swifty turned to Bladloc and said, “Let’s go.”

Bladloc and the others got in Bladloc’s car and Swifty guided them to his father’s garage. They got out and Bladloc said, “This is more than a garage. What happened here? The place was repaired recently.”

“We’re on the edge of the blast zone for Smoky Hill. So the building was damaged.”

“I see a loading dock and four garage bays. That’s a lot for one truck. That doesn’t even count the office upstairs.”

“Dad bought the place before he was framed. He also bought some relatives trucks after he lost his citizenship and you can talk to your grandfather about some other things. We closed this down a bit after Smoky Hill. Let’s go inside.”

Swifty unlocked the door and they went inside. “There’s a small warehouse in back and some offices upstairs. I’m glad that the Shieldbashers never picked up on this place.”

“What do you have to do with those pieces of crap?” Sally asked.

“Gordy is trying to delay trial because I stole my girl from his little procuring operation.”

Sally laughed. “There is a story there.”

“Ok, I guess I’m stuck. When I was younger, some friends and I found one of the Darkmage’s inert Scourge devises. When it was called in, Captain Bronzerock’s people and a reporter showed up and Captain Bronzerock’s people took care of the devise. The reporter connected me with Torald Ironaxe and me and my friends started to watch things for Ironaxe Asset Protection. I was watching Chastrey East for a client, Suzy was angry with Jorge Umevan and took the train to Chatsrey on her way to Ironton.

“Gordy was alerted by a lady on the Plateau and had arranged to convince Suzy to get off the train at Chatsrey East. I saw Gordy, saw Suzy and dragged her to the el and then we snuck back so that I could make sure that the principle wasn’t molested by the FSA.”

“The FSA was involved?”

“The principle had played a prank on somebody on the mound and they set the FSA on him.”

“So what happened?”

 “We went on to the class that the principle was giving, the principle’s lady took Suzy to their town house and another employee of Ironaxe Asset Protection took me home, where mom was making some FSA clowns miserable because they were trying to frame me for kidnapping Suzy and return her to Gordy. Anyway, Suzy was taken home and then we were sent to the Empire for the Flight Instructor’s course and other things that I shouldn’t talk about. Suzy and I have been together ever since.”

Sthisse and Vince came into the room. “Swifty, here we are. What did you want us for?”

“I didn’t. It must have been mom. Why are you here?

“General Harper wants access to the things that you were working on and we thought that you could help,” Sthisse said.

Swifty looked at them rather skeptically. “Just what is going on, Sthisse?”

“General Harper called mom and wanted to have a discreet connection to what you were doing. She called me to deal with the general’s part in what you were up to.”

“She was also talking to Mrs. Bronzebeater. That’s why she made the arrangements to have me pick up a truck.”

“I wouldn’t know. Who are all these people?”
Swifty made the introductions and went to the door as there was some pounding on it. He returned with a group of Dragonkin and other people about his age. He said to the others, “These are the people I recruited from Ironaxe and school. Let’s go to lunch and then I have to take the train and collect the truck from the factory in Billingston.”

“We’ll go with you,” Sthisse said. “I’ve been helping mom with dealing with the trucks, so they know me.”

“How are you getting the trucks?” Bladloc asked. “The navy?”

“House Qinvaris is taking delivery of twenty more new trucks and there are forty that need to be shipped to the Empire,” Sthisse said. “We need to get them ready for the ship when it gets here. Swifty, we need to lock up, go to lunch and catch the train.”

Ishendell.

Tim and Mardi were preparing for a flight to the mainland in the small office that had been assigned to Tim when Captain Flamespitter appeared. Tim saluted and said, “What can I do for you, captain?”

“I’ll take your things to the admiral.”

“With the portals cut off, getting to the Empire is going to take time. I wanted to take what I have and report to the admiral.”

“I’ll do that. Now is not a good time for you to be in the hands of the termites right now. You were on Rob’s team that dealt with the Steward’s Primaries. You, Roger and Tim Wavechaser were all involved and Rob didn’t exactly go through due process when he confiscated the Primaries you found.”

“There were reasons for that.”

“I’m not saying that it wasn’t the right thing to do, but Rob was more concerned about securing the Primaries than he was with the correct due process or jurisdiction. The committee will use that against the admiral.”

“The Stewards had already used their Primaries and we needed to get a lid on things or there would have been more than one Luggergate. As for turning things over to the FSA, Luggergate was the perfect example why we didn’t want to turn things over to them.”

“The problem now is that Steelslash is conducting a political assault to keep a lid on certain things. There are also people in the navy that are not happy with the way that Tom runs things. Then there are some people angling for Tom’s job. In any case, you are the only one involved in the events leading up to Luggergate that the mound can get their hands on and drag up to the mound right now. Tim Wavechaser is in the Junglelands and Roger is aboard Diligent, so they can’t be dragged to the grill. The rest weren’t as involved as you were. On the other hand, if you go back, you can be dragged up and things like you breaking into the Cleanser’s office can be used against you.”

“We didn’t exactly break in. We just didn’t have a key. The FSA didn’t put a crime scene seal on it or as far as we could tell, even ask about it.”

“I know. For that matter, the Cleanser was hauled up to Chatsrey very fast, rather than being kept in Ironton. Still, the navy did not have jurisdiction and you didn’t exactly get a warrant when you went in for the files.”

“We had permission to get them.”

“That won’t matter. In any case, it’s better that you are here, or even better, away someplace than if the committee can get their hands on you.”

“All right, sir. What do you want me to do?”

“Until the portals are restored, poke around the city here and see what you can find in Zirgoccol. Let’s go over what you have and then I will fly to Chatsrey.”

“We can go over to the family beach house and arrange that. Some relatives have been helping to keep the airlines flying while the suppressors are running.”

“That’s good news.”

Beltain

 Bradal looked at the Assistant Secretary Of The Navy and growled, “What do you mean that you can’t fill the requests for the officers that I am Requesting?”

“Senator, I can get Captain Bronzerock, the ensign in his office and the ensign in intelligence. Lieutenant Brownlow, Sergeant Wavechaser and Lieutenant Seachaser are all away on duty and with the radios out, cannot be recalled easily.”

“Where are they?”

“Sergeant Wavechaser is with the Special section on a mission; Lieutenant Brownlow is attached to the Ishendell office on a detached special duty, and Lieutenant Seachaser is currently serving on Diligent off the Junglelands. Right now, with the radio out, we couldn’t get Wavechaser or Seachaser here and Brownlow has been in the Mortal Kingdoms for some time and out of communication, according to the chief of staff’s office.”

Tom came into the office, the Senator turned on him and said, “Admiral, don’t think that you can get away with this!”

“Get away with what, Senator?”

“Sending witnesses all over the place!”

“Hank, what is the Senator talking about?”

“The Senator wanted to call some people to the grill and they were all away on duty.”

“Senator, you do know that we are fighting a war, do you not? Personnel may not be available due to the fact that they have duties away from communication. With suppressors operating, that problem is magnified. I think that fighting the war has priority in any case.”

“That is if there is a war.”

“What do you mean, Senator?”

“There are a lot of fishy things going on and this mysterious war may be used to cover things up.”

“Was Luggergate covering anything up?”

“There is some question as to who was responsible for Luggergate.”

“There is? I thought that it was well established that the Stewards had put the Scourge devise in that garage and booby trapped the devise.”

“We only have the navy’s testimony for that. In any case, we will have Captain Bronzerock up here to have a discussion about who was responsible for the Scourge devises.”

The Senator stomped out of the office, Tom turned to the Assistant Secretary and said, “What did he want, Hank?”

“He wanted Lieutenants Brownlow and Seachaser and Sergeant Wavechaser.”
“Did you tell him that they were all on assignment?”

“I did. I asked Captain Duggings about them and he told me where they were.”

“That’s why he was upset. He can’t just haul them up in front of the committee. He’s also been tossed out of the hearings.”

“That’s interesting. Why?”

“He doesn’t sit on the Navy Committee. Senator Cutler got tired of his antics and booted him out of the hearings.”

Rob came into the office and said, “That was rough.”

“What were they after?”

“They wanted me to explain Phraan. They were trying to make it look as if I was responsible for the Scourge devises. They had a lot of stuff that must have come from Phraan when he was putting the fuses together and was probably turned over to the spider.”

“What did you tell them?”

“I told them that, at the time, I had no idea that Scourge devises actually existed other than the two we found that killed the people that discovered them and were sunk deep at sea, Phraan kept that little project and some others that he did for the Project out of the office and that when I discovered what Phraan had done, I immediately took steps. They were hinting that I arranged for Phraan to kill himself because he had his service piece when he was in the brig. But that was only because he was ported in.”

“Was that all?”

“No. They also were trying to nail me for removing the Scourge device Primaries without warrants or the FSA involved.”

“You were trying to keep the fact that the Primaries even existed or that you knew where they were secret.”

“I know. You can imagine what would have happened if that clown Ironcutter heard about the devises?”

“Who is, or was, Ironcutter?”  Hank asked.

“Senior Agent Geral Ironcutter was the FSA man in charge of the Luggergate office of the FSA and the man most singularly responsible for the disaster. Since his jurisdiction included most of the towns on the Chats where the Stewards had stashed their things, if he had been involved, we would not have been able to just remove the devises and deal with them. The thing would have turned into a fiasco and we would have ended up losing Luggergate when the Steward arranged for his thing to go off, with the Project knowing that it was coming.”

“Senior Agent Ironcutter died in Luggergate, I presume.”

“Yes he did. He’s actually been in the papers lately, as the hero of Luggergate.”

“Your brother died trying to get people out,” Tom said. “If Ironcutter hadn’t been such an obstructionist, Luggergate would not have happened.”

“I know. But if my brother is the martyr of Luggergate, a lot of their narrative falls apart and they need to discredit me before they get my resignation, because if I go into politics, one of them could be in trouble.”

“That’s why I hate the mound.”

“At least we got Bertie Ironforge out of the navy.”

“With a five year sentence. The man attempted to murder his captain and we could only get five years and a dishonorable discharge.”

“The fact that the captain was not killed and Ironforge’s connections had an effect.”

“That’s true. On the other hand, it will take a long time to rebuild Bertie’s reputation,” Hank said. “With the Umevan and Ironaxes not feuding, the political climate there is going to change and the Ironforges are going to be on the outside.”

Tom laughed. “I think that Jorge had something to do with that.”

“Who is Jorge?”

“Lord Umevan. You probably have heard of him.”

Hank laughed. “Yes I have, and I certainly have heard of his father.”

“I think that the captain and I will get out of your office and have a discussion. I need to send him back to his real job.”

“I’m sorry about all this.”

“It’s not as if we are fighting a war or something, is it?”

“No it is not.”

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