Those Who Would Be Gods, Chapter 19-20

Diligent gets orders. Some people find out about a party.

Chapter 19.

RNS Diligent

Alb looked up as Sparky came in and saluted. “Message from Fleet, sir.”
Sparky handed Alb the message and looked at it. “Have the officers and chiefs meet me in the wardroom in a twentieth, Sparky.”

The officers and chiefs collected Alb said, “The admiral has pulled the switch. We are not going to Milport, and home as expected. Instead, we are finishing the survey we were supposed to finish. We are to resupply from port here in Gold Harbor and return to the survey.”

“Did fleet say why, sir?” Washout asked.

“Apparently there is a place that they think that some young residents of the Republic were taken and they want us to play pathfinder. Chief Wavechaser, do you know who would be crazy enough to take Moonshine hostage and have Bill join her?”

“Sir, I would have a hard time believing that anyone would be that crazy. Did somebody do that?”

“Apparently, they took Moonshine, Galaxa and Susan Gilders at the same time, picked up Bill at Chatsrey East and ported him where the navy wants us poking.”

“So, they took Swifty’s girl too? Are they that nuts?”

“It gets better. Apparently they took some girls from Desert Howl and the Empire. Here is the list. You probably know the implications and can tell us more.”

Alb handed the list to Rod, who looked at it and whistled. “Livy Binorin, Kelpa Aetoris, Denise Beiful and Bekka Qin. That’s bad enough, considering that they all are very popular in Desert Howl and have a lot of friends. Then there is Jorge’s sister.”

“The Umevan girl in the Empire. I missed that.”

“These people have made a lot of enemies with this list.

Chapter 20

Beltain

Tomas grinned as his older daughter came into his office. “You have returned, Onia.”

“I have, father. Apparently you have been encouraging Swifty to transform.”

“That was his cousins. They worked very hard to accomplish that. You were pulling a little prank on me when you left, weren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your mother knows Sekku Harper very well. Sekku says that you were well aware how I felt about the appointment.”

“I was rushed and thought that I had to get your attention. Was the new Secretary as foolish as I thought?”

“Very much so. Apparently he didn’t bother to look up the relationships of the appointees whose appointments he rescinded even after the telegrams started dropping. So, why are you here?”

“I wanted to invite you to the Empire after the session is over for the Yellowleaf Festival at the Sanctum. I think that you can make some discreet connections there.”

“Connections that you think that I will need. Sekku also mentioned that you were looking at her husband for Secretary of The Navy and who you wanted for the big Seat.”

“Yes, I think that you should run for President, father.”

“You seem to think that you can make that happen.”

“Not me. On the other hand, you will have the Old Families in your back pocket, the Lions and the Dragonkin will provide support and you have good connections with the Seafolk. Swifty can help you there and his connections here on the Plateau will not hurt you.”

“Did you make those happen?”

“Not at all. Susan was an accident. On the other hand, it was a very good connection all the way around.”

“Swifty is amazing, isn’t he? Not being grandpa was a mistake.”

“Yes it was, but I have to take some of the blame for that. I was pushing my crusade against the FSA and didn’t want you caught up in the middle or have you ruined by seen as consorting with criminals. So, I remained distant. Gertald and I were busy in any case.”

“The Cotton Exchange went down very fast.”

“They were idiots and fools. They took the land using those shady methods and thought that it would not splash back on them at some point. Then, when it did, they would not compromise and make good, even when they knew that we had them at a significant disadvantage.”

“What was the final settlement?”

“I have a large annuity paid at five percent for the back rent and fines and the old warehouses on the waterfront as part of the payment as well as some other properties that were transferred in lieu of payment of the back rent. There is a new lease with the new management of the Exchange as the traders would not accept the old management. The Cinders’ ties and income from the Exchange are broken.”

“So, total victory.”

“Not one the family wanted, but yes.”

“That hurt the Democracy Party more than a bit. Did you have anything to do with the series of newspaper articles that have been appearing?”

“Not at thing. I will have to be speaking to an old Dragonkin and elf lady about taking advantage of Swifty, but that isn’t your problem.”

“Sarya and Greldug did jump on Swifty’s little project. Actually, Sthisse and Vincent were more involved than Swifty was. Swifty just kicked things off and then was reassigned to intelligence, where he did very well.”

“So you were involved as well?”

“I was not. Sthisse and Vincent were very careful to keep exactly what they were doing in that old garage from me. Sayra and Greldug kept me updated and we all knew that we were dealing with a bomb that could ruin the Republic.”

“What happened? I was out of the country and rather busy.”

“Swifty pulled those files that Bradal and his friends thought were destroyed and set his friends on them. Then Derry brought some intelligence collected by the boys from the enemy’s base at the same time that Jarfaet resigned to prevent a constitutional crisis and Bradal kicked one off anyway. Swifty and his friends took the files from the archives, some files that Kinford Halder had dropped on various people after he was murdered and a book about Crowburg and started to piece things together. It was fairly obvious that senior people in the government were colluding with the enemy and had been for some time. The problem was what to do with the information after Bradal’s purge. So Sarya and Greldug arranged for Bradal to discover the operation and give himself away. That is where we stand now. The final pieces haven’t hit the papers as yet.”

“They probably will, just before the election. Sarya and Greldug are hoping that the Senator will try something and expose himself.”

“Yes. Of course the Senator has been rather inept and with Barry gone, has been forced to use Mr. Bellot more than is wise. The fact that the operation closed itself down, leaving just enough to scare the fire out of Bradal is worrying him more than a bit, I expect.”

“I think that I need to talk to the old dragon and the elf lady about the current actions of Mr. Bellot. Swifty has had his attention diverted and I would not want him to be hit by the FSA or some nasty orcs because he thought that the operation was shut down.”

“Can you stay for dinner? Your mother will want to see you.”

“I think that I will. We have to make plans in any case, all too soon.”

Bradal looked at the newspaper and grimaced. The latest story was a piece concerning something that Bradal had considered dead and buried. Sarya’s grandson had returned and had given a long interview about things discovered concerning the late Senator Golden. Apparently Mora’s operative had been sloppy, Frederick Steelmaker had returned and discovered some new evidence that had cleared him and implicated the operative, Mora and Steelslash. Things were getting out of control and there was nothing he could do to stop it. At least the family had not called a meeting, yet.

Astia

Albrecht looked at Haral and Varal and said, “I’m sending you two to the Republic.”

Haral looked at Varal and back at Albrecht. “Why, your majesty?”

“Because somebody took Livy Binorin hostage. First of all, Tolly is enamored of the girl, scales and all. Second, the Mortal Kingdoms owe the Binorins a great debt and third, this smells of something that could burn us all. So, down you go.”

“Just us?”

“I’m sending my nephew Toral with you.”

Haral looked at Varal and back at Albrecht. “Are you sure that is a good idea, your majesty?”

“No, but I don’t have a lot of people to send. My nephew could use some overseas experience in any case.”

“May we take Vindica and Sarya?”

The king laughed. “Absolutely not. Who knows what you would do with those two.”

“We were not responsible in any way for what happened the last time. That was Tom and the others. We were on the Plateau when Sarya was taken by that procurer, the idiot.”

“I’m not blaming you for that; I’m keeping Vindy at home.”

“That is understandable and the queen liked having those two here over the summer. We’ll get packed and go. We can get the ship from Kugrim. Isn’t sending us on these little jobs the Duke’s job?”

“Duke D’Argent is negotiating with his wife. He is hoping that he can arrange a long stay at the consulate and college for Toral.”

“We will behave.”

“I am not too concerned.”

 Rose D’Argent looked at her husband and said, “Does Toral want to go?”

“He does.”

“I am reluctant.”

“We can’t keep him chained here and the Scourge and the rest mean that finding somebody suitable is going to be difficult.”

“What if he brings somebody unsuitable home?”

“Like I did, somewhat?”

Rose laughed. You make a very good point, Darrel. I give my approval.”

Darrel kissed his wife. “I thought you would.”

Chatsrey
Swifty looked at the devise and grinned. The Office of Inanimates had finally had a message back from Tarranth and he had sent what the devise was, and more importantly, the manual on how to operate it. The devise had apparently been rather popular at parties in the ancient Empire. Then Swifty had thought to look in the vault under castle hill and one of the devises had been there. A visit with Alinis later and he had the use of the devise. Then a word to his cousins about a rather disreputable but magical party at the old cotton warehouse and everything was good to go. Haggas, Geral and Sudyral came over and Haggas asked, “Where did you get this?”

“Connections.”

“For this sort of thing?”

“It came from Tarranth Qinvaris’s barn via the Castle Hill vaults. I checked it over and it works.”

“How did you get it from there?”

“As I said; connections.”

“Will it act like the one in the market?”

“Better, because I have the manual and tuned it.”

“Why do this?”

“Because we know that certain people are looking for the other keys or hostages. Sthisse has already sent out all sorts of invitations and this is the biggest secret party that isn’t a secret.”

Sudyral looked around at the warehouse and said, “Bait. I like it.”

Quickfoot had heard about the party when her daughter had been talking about it with her friends. Once she had heard about the party, she had gone down to the old cotton warehouses and using her skills, discreetly investigated. The party would probably attract a large young crowd, including the three girls that still had ties to keys. Quickfoot and the other Silverin had been rather frustrated by their inability to operate and the sudden eyes that seemed to be everywhere. Then suddenly, there was this party almost next door to the portal. Apparently the party was an operation for some younger Committee members to make some money. Somehow, they had actually managed to get their hands on a Stimulator. Perhaps the team could make off with it when the chaos started. In any case, this was the perfect opportunity to complete the task.

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