The Republic Torn, Chapter 71-72

Bradal pulls some more strings. The voting begins.

Chapter 71.

George looked at the final polls and sighed. If things went the way the polls predicted and turnouts were average, he was going to be heading to Redtree at the turn of the year. The only question at this point was how badly the Democracy Party would implode when things were over. He put the polls down again and grimaced when Bradal was announced. Pressing the intercom, he said, mournfully, “Send him in.”

Bradal sauntered in and said, “I need you to sign some executive orders.”

“What for?”

“I want you to give government employees election day off.”

“Bradal, that won’t change anything. Is there anything else?”

“I want to make sure that the army or marines do not stage a call up just before election day.”

“As far as I know, that hasn’t been requested as yet. Do you have a suspicion that that such a request is in the works?”

“Just a feeling.”

“I will tell Tomas and Jon to pass any such requests to me and I will look at them skeptically.”

“The Service Guard as well.”

“That is more difficult, as the governors can do that independently. If I didn’t know better, this sounds like you are planning to start a revolution.”

“Just taking precautions.”

“Hand me the orders.”

“I do hope that you will expedite.”

“How about this. You get the Service appeals out and then I will sign these.”

“Are you playing games with me?”

“Bradal, I have been asking you, Haral and Gottrim to clear those appeals for moons now and you all have stalled getting that done. If you hadn’t done that, and let me deal with the Service issue, we wouldn’t be where we are, right now. You didn’t and we are. A few executive orders won’t change that and if you do take this to the streets, it won’t end well for us. That is a warning. So you and the rest get those appeals cleared before election day or these and anything else sit on my desk.”

“I can make things difficult for you.”

“YOU ALREADY HAVE! Your clowning around and string pulling has made my Administration and the Party look like a bunch of tyrannical idiots and I let you all get away with it. So go ahead and leak what you have. After the last few things, I’m sure that Kredror will love you. That is while he stomps you hard. At this point, your neck is right beside mine and if Flyer pulls this off, you are looking at a cell or the rope. So stop with the nonsense and get out of my office.”

“You will regret this!”

Bradal threw the executive orders down and charged out of the office. George sighed and tossed the paper in the trash. Then he picked up a sheet of paper and started to write two messages. If Bradal didn’t want a call up, that was what he was going to get. The election was a five day away and George was going to make sure that regardless of what some people wanted, it was going to be a peaceful one.

After the first two messages were sent, he thought about it and wrote a third message. Government employees would be required to remain on duty on election day and place their votes the next day. That should put a spike in some people’s wheels.
The Arsenal.

Drannor looked at the message and grinned. Apparently some strings had broken at last. He picked up the phone and said, “Peble, call General Hardtest and General Ironaxe to my office in two twentieths. If Major Tollings is still in the neighborhood, have him come as well.”

“What happened, sir?”

“Some strings broke. The President wants the election to be a peaceful one.”

Drannor could almost see the grin on the Chief of Staff’s face as he said, “I will make the calls right now.”

Peble, the two generals and the major arrived and Drannor said, “The President has just sent me a rather interesting message. Apparently he is concerned about some disturbances during election day. He has instructed the navy and the army to ensure that election day is peaceful. I want ideas. All of you gentlemen have been involved in some rather strange actions these last few years and our potential adversaries have not. So I think it is time that they learn about some things.”

“May we use outside resources?” Dumag asked.

“The President didn’t say no. Now go and set up some plans. You have the rest of the day. Dismissed.”

The three marines left and Peble said, “That was a nasty thing you just did, sir.”

“The clowns on the other side are going to be looking for call ups of reserves and such. What they should have been looking for are Jumpers and one way ports. The Administration probably hasn’t been reading the briefs we kept sending and the Senate hasn’t asked about any of it, amazingly, so our opponents will not know what is coming.”

“I will call Army as well and coordinate.”

“Do so. Dismissed.”

Jorge looked at the generals and said, “In all this, I have never thought to ask about the Steward’s headquarters. Do either of you know where it is, sirs?”

“Wasn’t it the chopshop in Ironton?” Dumag asked. “What are you thinking, anyway?”

“We have Jorge, a large portal and a fusor, all in Ironton. I think that as part of the pre election day preparations, the headquarters should have some things dropped in there.”

“Plop,” Raldon said. “Dumag, make some calls. Perhaps some other places should get the same treatment.”

“GEA headquarters.”

“That’s one. Whereever they are staging those dirty tricks as well.”
Beltain Naval Academy-The Arsenal

Swifty was in between classes when Roger marched up and said, “Midshipman, they want you at The Arsenal. Come with me.”

Swifty groaned under his breath and said, “Yes sir.”

He followed Roger to a GP and as they drove toward the gate, said, “What is going on, sir?”

“Hiding places and staging areas.”

“What do you mean?”

“The President has issued instructions that the election be a peaceful one. We think that your grandfather’s district will be a prime target for disruption. You probably know where the Shieldbashers and their friends might set up. So, we can use what you know.”

Roger stopped the GP and three other middies got in. He started up again, drove over to the Arsenal and through the gate, stopping at a more or less empty warehouse filled with people. They got out of the GP and Roger said, “I got them, sir.”

An orc in a general’s uniform said, “Very good, lieutenant. Gentlemen, I am General Dumag Ironaxe. I’m sorry to take you away from your studies, but you all are from certain districts and we need your knowledge.”

“What is going on, general?” Swifty asked.

“The President believes that there will be an attempt to disrupt the election. We have been authorized to disrupt the disrupters. In order to keep things as peaceful as possible, we need to know where people like the Stewards and the Shieldbashers might set up.”

Swifty and the others grinned. “I can do that,” Swifty said.

Horal looked at Gottrim and said, “The President did WHAT?!”

“Sent a memo to all offices that staff were to remain on duty on election day and send their votes to the election office the next day.”

“If they take off?”

“All employees that haven’t made arrangements prior to the issuance of the memo face six moon suspensions without pay.”

“That is intolerable. I will file a protest.”

“There’s not enough time. We would have to have a case for hardship and take it to a Magistrate and then appeal. The election will be over before all that takes place.”

“Why do you think he did that?”

“I think that Bradal tried to pull some more strings and gave too much away.”

“I could call a strike.”

“That would take a vote and again, there just isn’t time.”

“If the employees are stuck in their offices, we won’t be able to picket polling places.”

“I think that was what the President wants.”

“Have their been any signs of troop call ups?”

“Not yet. At least no notices to reserves have gone out.”

“That, at least, is good news.”


Gertag looked at the major and his brother and said, “I can get loads of that. Where do you want them?”

Jorge grinned and pointed on a map of Chatsrey, “Here.”

“There is a portal there, isn’t there? Why are you sending loads of crap to the Silverin?”

“We’re not sending the loads there, we’re using that portal because it’s convenient.”

“Who are you dumping crap on?”

“The Stewards, the GEA and some others.”

“If you say the Teamsters and the Shieldbashers, I can get as many loads as you want.”

“The Teamsters and the Shieldbashers are on the list.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“The President wants a peaceful election. If the potential disrupters are disrupted a day or so in advance, they will have other things than blocking polling places and rioting to deal with.”

“Swifty, why did you drag me into this?”

“Gertag, I have a game on election day. I am tied up and you know the same ranches I do.”

“Why didn’t you have Jorge set this up?”

“He’s staying out of it, visibly,” the major said. “The other side is watching for him to do something after the riot in Ironton. So he can provide advice and portal codes, but he won’t be near an actual portal when we kick things off.”

“The rumor is that he doesn’t have to be.”

“True, but if he is visibly on campus long before things hit, it can’t be him doing it. By the way, the loads do not have to be cow crap. If you have ideas, or access to some things like rotten glue, that would be allowed. In fact the worse, the better, if we can get it in time.”

Gertag grinned. “Dad is going to love this.”    


Faghig walked up to the counter and rang the bell. The man appeared and looking at the four said, “You have returned and brought more friends.”

“This is my brother, Jreghug and Sapphire. We will want two rooms.”

“How long will you be staying this time.”

“Since we don’t have any deliveries, a five day.”

“The community will want to meet you and your lady this time.”

“We were expecting to visit.”


Midday, two days before the election, the Silverin portal activated and things came through. The portal shut down again and men started to work on setting up the flinger and the pusher. Gizmo plugged the portal coder in and uploaded the code. Adiun and Aydiun Beinan arrived with some other family and employees as the zero twentieth approached. Just before the zero twentieth, the first truck arrived with its foul load. The coder was started and the barrels were dumped into the flinger.

Big Jim arrived at his office, only to find the staff outside and not doing much of anything. As he walked up, his secretary said, “Mr. Leatherstrap, don’t try to go in there.”

He started to open the door and the foul odor struck. Big Jim had worked in a stockyard as a boy and even he stepped back, gagging. He looked around and bellowed, “How did this happen?”

“We don’t know. That is how it was this morning.”

“We’ll have to clean this up!”

“I called the phone company from a pay phone to get some phones. Until then, we’re stuck.”

The GEA headquarters office was on the 28th floor of a building on Exhange street. Horal prided himself on being one of the first to arrive for work. He opened the door and was struck by the stench. He backed off as his secretary, who had arrived just before he did, said, “I’m sorry sir, I had to use the ladies room and clean up.”

“You are forgiven, Gail. Did something leak from above?”

“I don’t know. I could not get into the office.”

Hardag came early to the office on what would be a very busy day and tried to open the door. The door was stuck shut. A voice said, “I think that somebody covered the office in glue.”

Hardag turned around and Harry continued. “It was like this when I got here.”

“How did this happen?!”

“I think we can guess.”

“That spy, Umevan.”

“That’s about the size of it.”

“Let me make a call.”

Henri put the phone down and bellowed, “Arrest Umevan and get him here!”

“Are you sure, chief?”



Dean Islan came into the lecture hall with an obvious FSA agent and said, “Mr. Umevan, would you come with me.”

Jorge walked over. “What is going on, Mr. Islan?”

“This man wants to arrest you.”

“What for?”

“Dropping crap all over Chatsrey,” the FSA man said.

“Do you have a warrant?”

“Come with me.”

“Chatsrey is two hundred miles away. I have been here all morning, in classes. I was here last night. I was at something at the Ironaxes last evening. So, unless you have something substantive or a warrant, go look for somebody else, because it wasn’t me.”

“Either you come with me or I haul you in for obstruction.”

“Ok, then. Dean, call my grandfather. Horalt can earn his retainer and the FSA can dig itself deeper.”

Jorge got in the car with the FSA man. Another agent started driving off. Jorge looked around and said, “This isn’t the way to the courthouse.”

“We’re to take you to Chatsrey.”

The car stopped at a stop sign and Jorge said, “No you’re not,” and disappeared.

Ozzie looked up as Jorge and Horalt came into the office. “Have the two clowns checked in here yet?”

“What two clowns?”

“The two idiots that wanted to haul me off to Chatsrey without a warrant. I’ve been waiting at the courthouse for two twentieths waiting for them to show up and they hadn’t, so I’m checking in here. I wouldn’t want to have a fugitive charge against me.”

“What happened.”

“I was dragged out of class by a FSA agent who was arresting me and hauling me off to Chatsrey with his buddy. They didn’t present a warrant and did not take me to the Magistrate, so I Jumped to the courthouse and waited for them to show up. Horalt arrived and we waited some more. They never showed and we came here.”

“What did they want to arrest you for?”

“The clown was saying that I dumped crap all over Chatsrey. I haven’t touched a portal in fivedays other than my small portal and was here last night and all morning, so it could not have been me. If the FSA wants portal work, they can call the office.”

“They weren’t my people, but the Director has that task force he set up to track down the people that incited the riot.”

“In other words, trying to prove that me and my friends incited heavily armed Stewards when all the witnesses say that wasn’t what happened. Here they are.”

“Senior Agent, we need to get a fugitive team together.”

The two agents stopped, looked at Jorge and their jaws dropped.

“What took you?” Jorge said. “I’ve been at the courthouse waiting and then came here. Apparently you didn’t think to look where you should have. Ozzie, do you have anything to hold me for?”

“I haven’t seen anything, Jorge.”

“Then I will be on my way.”

Jorge and Horalt left and the special agent said, “Why did you just let him go?!”

“I’m saving you two a ton of grief, trust me. What were you idiots thinking.”

“Umevan dumped tons of crap all over offices in Chatsrey.”

“From where and how.”

“We don’t have the report yet.”

“So you were going to haul him off to Chatsrey without a warrant or any evidence. What do you think was going to happen?”

“He would confess.”

Ozzie sighed. “Get out of my office and read the procedures manual. Better yet, turn in your badges. You are both suspended for a moon.”

“You can’t do that.”

“Yes I can. You are lucky I don’t have you hauled up before the Magistrate for the charge of being idiots.”

Sarya looked at Bill and said, “What is so funny?”

“First of all, somebody dumped crap all over certain places, the Stewards’ headquarters, auxiliary offices, the Shieldbashers, the GEA, the Teamsters and some places where certain things were stored.”


“That is the second part. Henri thought the same thing and Jorge could not have done it.”

“The major.”

“Probably. Henri sent two idiots to bust Jorge and haul him back here without a warrant or checking in with the Magistrate for arraignment. Jorge Jumped out of the car to the courthouse where he waited while the idiots figured out what to do.”

Sarya laughed. “So Jorge was waiting at the courthouse the whole time?”

“Not all of it. Horalt arrived and they decided to check in with the local FSA office. The senior agent wasn’t happy when Jorge told him the story.”

“How did you get the story?”

“Jorge called in, wanting to know what happened.”

 “What moves have the Democracy Party disrupters made?”

“None so far. They are still digging themselves out of the crap dumped on them. They are having issues getting their phones switched over.”

Sarya started to laugh. “Somebody was very sneaky. That was a terrible thing to do to them.”

Chapter 72.

Beltain Naval Academy

Tim and Jimmy cadged a ride in an early morning delivery truck to the railroad station so that they could take the early train to Chatsrey and vote before joining the rest of the midshipmen for the trip to the game at Beltain. Jimmy turned to Tim and said, “Nervous?”

“A bit. Maybe we should have waited.”

“If Sthisse found out that we didn’t vote, we would be in real trouble.”

“True. At least there won’t be any monsters at the polls.”

“I brought a gun, just in case.”

Since the Jumpers had pilots if the major needed them, Swifty and the other Dragons joined the other midshipmen, their families and friends for the game at Beltain. The entire group took a train and several following sections but that was expected. The big oil electric locomotives growled as they started their trains, one by one. Susan found Swifty as the train headed to Chatsrey and said, “Are you glad that the election is over?”

“Very. Now I can study and not get dragged to things.”

“Even flying with me?”

“That isn’t being dragged.”

“Let’s do some flying at the Plateau.”

“I want to. Did you bring a mana battery?”

“Yes I did. We could fly back.”

“I think that the midshipman captain would prefer that we took the train back.”

“Ok, We’ll do that.”


Most businesses gave their employees a half day for election day if they did not shut down entirely. In the Republic, elections were held the fifth day of Guesting, so every other year, the day was a holiday even for the noncitizens who could not vote. At least for most of them. For shops and restaurants, it was a different story. Most shopkeepers, hotels and resteraunt owners encouraged their citizen employees to send their ballots to their local elections board offices early, since slipping out and making it to the polls could be problematic. Marla was one of those that had to go to the poll personally, as it was her first election and it was only because Vikz had sternly insisted that she go vote that she went to the polls at all. Newly minted citizenship badge in hand, she went to the line that said, “New Citizens” and waited her turn. In front of her were two boys that were wearing uniforms and seemed to be far too young to be citizens. The checker seemed have the same idea as she looked very closely at Tim Wavechaser’s badge if what the name she called out was correct and checked it against the rolls. Finally she handed it back and then it was Marla’s turn. She handed her badge over and the woman smiled. “Is your husband, Vikz?”

“It is. I performed my Service making pies and pastries for the hospital. They seemed rather upset that I left, but my little one needs my attention. Why was that boy a citizen?”

“Special military service. Things like that happen occasionally; where extraordinary Service gains a citizenship. He was on the rolls and can vote like any other citizen.”

“I will let you tend to your next customer, then.”

“Here is your guide and ballot. Things should be straightforward.”

“I know. This is exciting for me.”

Marla turned away from the counter and took her ballot to a table divided into little slots, where she took it out of its envelope and started to mark her choices. Finished, she placed the ballot into the envelope and placed the envelope into a slot. Exiting the polling place, she noticed a group of girls in uniforms selling small pies and pastries. Walking up to their table she said, “Who are you all?”

“We are the Girl Explorers, Troop 32,” a rather perky girl said. “Would you like to buy something?”

“I think that I will. Do you girls bake these yourselves?”

“Somewhat. We sometimes buy things from the store.”

“Could you use some donations?”

The girl smiled. “We certainly could.”

“Then I will return shortly. I have a bakery and I think that if you will tell the folk who donated the pastries and pies, I can give some up for this.”

“That would work very well for us. Sometimes we can’t bake enough.”

“I will send the things, then.”

Marla returned to the rather busy bakery and arranged for the delivery with Vikz’s cousin. He returned from the delivery and said, “That was clever. You know that those girls will be back again and so will the people that buy your things from them.”

“Better the girls than some roving fae.”

Tim was waiting for Jimmy when a car stopped and an elf woman’s voice said, “May I give you a ride to the train station, cadet?”

“Ma’am, I am waiting for my brother. Here he is.”

“Then we can be off.”

Tim and Jimmy got in the car and then realized who was inside the car. “Hello Mrs. Steelmaker,” Tim said.

Sarya grinned. “I didn’t actually set this up. Why didn’t you vote with the navy?”

“First of all, we are marines, and second, the chief at the JAG would give us trouble, so we decided to vote in our home district, since we could. Jimmy, did they give you any problems?”

Jimmy smiled. “No problems at all. On the other hand, you were ahead of me and they checked you first, so when I showed up, they knew what to look for.”

“You are probably among the youngest voters ever.” Sarya said.

“Probably,” Tim said. “But there were midshipmen much younger on sailing ships that probably got their citizenships earlier than we did. I’m not sure if they were able to vote or not.”

“You earned it for what you and your friends did in Ishendell.”

“Was there something else you wanted to discuss?”

“A certain Iron Dog.”

Tim grinned. “That wasn’t us. We had nothing to do with that.”

“I didn’t think so. On the other hand others may try to pin the thing on you in an attempt to get you out of the Academy.”

“They want us out so that they can pull us in and have a chat with us. We’ve noticed some people poking around. Some of our fellow classmates have made some money from them to watch us. Some midshipmen have been hanging a bit too close. It hasn’t helped them very much.”

“I don’t think that the Steelslashes and the others are taking you seriously.”

“Mrs. Steelmaker, they think of us as kids. None of us that came out of Ishendell are kids anymore.”

Cain was driven around through the Dragonkin neighborhoods and other likely Liberty districts. The precinct polling places he passed were all busy, but undisrupted by any of the expected disrupters. Nor were there any signs of tension or riot. Disappointed, Cain told his driver to return to the office.


When the train arrived at the Beltain station, Midshipman Captain Highforge walked up with Teonag and Brilbrun. “Cutflame, you are to stick with these two for the rest of your time here.”

“Yes, sir. Why the extra attention?”

“Because the exit polls are out on the radio and your grandfather is ahead, by a lot. The Commandant wants an eye on you. I figured that these two would be the best to do that, since they can outfly you.”

“I’m not about to transform outside the game and fly off with my girl.”

“If Miss Gilders wants some flying time with you after the game, that will be fine. Just don’t go wandering off on your own. Now we have a game to get to.”

 George looked at his team and said, “What happened? This seems to be even worse than we expected.”

“It was a bunch of things that all added up,” Hannah said. “The FSA’s attack on the Old Families hurt us, as it cost us the small business vote. That showed up in Harald’s polls, but not in the early polls. Too many Democracy Party bigwigs showed up in that series that Dantas put out and all those people leaving the government meant that we never were able to show that the Administration was effective. The flap over the navy’s promotions and the Academy appointments didn’t help us at all and the FSA’s actions in Desert Howl made the things in the papers seem reasonable. Then the Service debacle hit and that was the thing that buried us. The riots that hit Liberty Party people and the Dragonkin, but not us sent the wrong message at the wrong time. It all added up to us getting trashed in the election.”

“Jon, did you ever figure out who Flyer’s trickster was?”

“From what I got over the grapevine, it was Flyer’s granddaughter, Sthisse. Inky took after the family when Tomas opened his campaign, trying to make it look as if Tomas was connected to a bunch of crooks. I think that the family took that rather personally and Tomas’s son in law, who was an independent trucker and big wheel in the independent’s association even though he had lost his citizenship, sent the word out and the rest of the family was working for the campaign, except for the younger son, who was the center of the Academy appointment flap and is attending there. The older son has been running errands for the campaign and talking to the truckers, which is why we kept having delivery issues.”

“A lot of this sounds like responses to the things that Bradal was pulling strings about.”

“I don’t know what strings Senator Steelslash was pulling, but those newspaper articles and the rest seem to be targeted at him, rather than you. The problem was that we were seen as part of the mess since we didn’t get a lid on it. The biggest issues were Sunbeam, the FSA and the Service debacle. I know that you tried to squelch that, but the fact that it happened at all hurt us, badly.”

“The votes haven’t been tabulated as yet,” Hannah said. “Could your polls be wrong, Harald? Some states flipped that I would not have expected.”

“The exit polls could be wrong, but Canter is very good and usually reliable. The Press Service numbers this morning aren’t that different. I think that Flyer is the next President.”

“Thank you all,” George said. “I don’t think that there will be a place for me again, so this will be the last time that we do this. I think that I will retreat to my office and a quiet drink for the rest of the day.”

George had barely sat down in his chair when Bradal swept into the office. “I wanted to congratulate you on your victory.”

“What are you talking about? Not only did I lose all the swing states, but four northern states and Narunimloth flipped by narrow margins. The tabulations aren’t completed, but there were some votes, quite a few votes, actually, that came in early and they were mostly for Liberty and Flyer.”

“Yes, those votes. I don’t think that slaves in the Empire should be allowed to decide who the President of the Republic is, do you?”

“What are you saying?”

“Those votes from the Empire, some fifty thousand of them, came mostly from slaves, many owned by Richard Harper. Do we really want the Harpers selecting the President?”

“The vote drive was conducted by the Representative’s Office in the Empire. We looked into it and by law, citizens that live overseas can vote in their former place of residence or use the Peninsula as a site of registration. That was done so that people living on the islands or the Peninsula would not lose their voting and citizenship privileges simply because the Peninsula was in Fellowship or Kingdom hands at the time. As far as them being slaves in the Empire, that recent case in the high court settled the slave issue. I think that the Liberty Party has a suit against the Administration and the Democracy Party all set up if we challenge those votes.”

“If I insist on a challenge?”

“I won’t back it and if asked by other party members about doing that, I will tell them what I just told you.”

“I can make things difficult for you.”

“Go ahead. I should have called your bluff some time ago. It was your stupid list and the campaign against the Old Families that put me in this mess. For that matter, I should have told you to stop the hearings over the rockets and let the matter close. I didn’t, and took your picks for the government, which made the Administration look inept in a time of war and disregarding of the people, both of which were unacceptable to the citizenry. As for making things difficult, I am heading to retirement at the end of the year, unless there is an upset. Somehow, I don’t think that you will be able to pull one off.”

“You didn’t issue those executive orders I asked for. In fact you kept the government in their offices.”

“I did do that. I got what I wanted, so things worked out.”

“You didn’t call out the troops.”

“Apparently the army and the marines didn’t need them. They were apparently right.”

“That Umevan spy dumped crap all over Chatsrey.”

“On the Stewards and whatnot. They were poking him for last few moons. They should not have been surprised when he struck back, that is if it was him, something which the FSA was not able to discover.”

“Flyer and his family are stealing the election.”

George laughed. “It took you long enough to figure out who the Cutflames are related to. I remember Onia from her days here before her rather inappropriate marriage. You and your friends have been poking the dragon for a very long time now and you are surprised that the dragon flamed you? I didn’t think that you were that foolish, Bradal. The sad part is that my Administration was caught in the flame as well and I will never get the chance to do the things I wanted to do to make the Republic a better country. Why don’t you go and talk to your friends and their machines. Who knows, maybe they can find some dead people, in Luggergate, say, that will vote for me. I don’t think that any dead voting will change anything that much, and I think that I would be careful about shenanigans if I were you. But I am not you and I don’t have treason charges and the rest of it hanging over my head.”

 “You won’t indict me.”

“Not me, but the new Administration almost certainly will.”

“That is if there is a new Administration.”

“What are you saying?”

“It is simple, really. You arrange for Flyer to be investigated for his criminal connections. His daughter married that criminal and we know what the Dragonkin are like. An investigation and some discoveries by Henri and he will be unfit to take office, so you remain in office. We can take that to the Electors.”

“Bradal, haven’t you learned anything from your failures? You try that and you will be setting your own pyre at this point. You pushed me into this job, but I will not use methods like that to keep it. In fact, if you should pursue what you are talking about, I will resign and you will be stuck with another election and a huge scandal attached.”

“You don’t have to be involved. I will handle everything.”

“It’s your pyre and I can’t stop you. If the FSA does not find anything, or there are any issues at all with the investigation, you and Henri are heading to a capital treason charge. On the other hand, if you refrain from doing this, I will discuss leaving you alone if you agree to resign when your term ends with Tomas.”

“That’s not much of a carrot.”

“It’s what I can offer and I think that I can get that for you, allowing you to make a discreet exit. I would take that offer.”

“Have you been talking to the Old Families?”

“I haven’t been discussing anything with any of them.”

“Tomas’s campaign humiliated you at that speech and you don’t care?”

“Not enough to tear the country apart more than you already have. It was a college prank and that is hardly something to get excited about.”

“The prank was perpetrated that spy, Umevan.”

“Actually, my people checked and Umevan and Ironton weren’t responsible.Our best guess was that the Flyer campaign had somebody who was very good at doing that sort of thing. Things like that are part of a campaign and you have to sometimes step back and put things in perspective.”

“Since you are not willing to do your part for the Party and the Plateau, I will take my leave.”

Bradal left and Tomas picked up the phone. “Get me Congressman Flyer, if you can, Isla. I think that the game is over, so he may be at his apartment.”

“I will try, Mr. President.”

Half a twentieth later, Isla buzzed the intercom and said, “I have Congressman Flyer on the line, Mr. President.”

“Put him through.”

Tomas came on the line and said, “What is the problem Mr. President?”

“Not something I can discuss over the phone. Could you and your daughter come the Presidential residence?”

“We can do that. We’ll be right over.”

George frowned when Tomas came in with Geral Gilders. “Why did you bring Geral, Tomas and not your daughter?”

“Because he’s my choice for Vice President. So what did you want to discuss, Mr. President?”

“Bradal is going to attempt to tie you to criminal elements and make a case that you are unfit to be President.”

“He’s  already tried that. He also tried to frame my grandson. I didn’t make a big deal about that during the campaign, since my grandson foiled the plot and made it rather expensive for Bradal.”

“What did he do?”

“My grandson was handed a load of about a moon’s production worth of Brilliant to smuggle to Chatsrey. The load had been arranged with another driver to hand to my grandson to haul to the bridge where the FSA would search the truck and arrest my grandson.  Instead my grandson arranged it so that the load ended up where he was supposed to deliver it in Chatsrey. The FSA got yet more egg on their faces trying to arrest him. The driver that Bellot paid to frame my grandson was already working for Gertag and the campaign.”

“Did your grandson have anything to do with our delayed deliveries?”

“His father did. Gertag just passed the word. When Inky started to smear the family, Gertald was rather annoyed and he was owed a lot of favors on the road. He called all the favors that he was owed and offered to provide some very nice Winterfaire presents, since he can get as much Fallingwater Red as he wants. Bradal did not do you any favors and managed to get the entire family rather annoyed at him and Henri.”

“Bradal wanted to challenge the votes from the Empire.”

“That wouldn’t have ended well for him or you. We were ready for that and the court precedents are fairly clear. A citizen remains a citizen unless they renounce their citizenship, which requires a witnessed document sealed by an Official Witness. I’m not sure that there is even an Official Witness in the Empire.”

“My son, Derry is an Official Witness,” Geral said with a grin. “I don’t think he could handle enough renunciations to make a difference for a decade, that is if the people in the Empire wanted to renounce their citizenship in the first place.”

“We were caught by surprise by all those votes from the Empire. Did Derry have anything to do with that?”

“He’s been tracking down people from the Republic and assisting them with making contact with their families here as well as his other duties. The election was a good way to get the various people to come forward and put their names on a registry.”

“Jon thinks that your granddaughter was responsible for that Iron Dog at the game at the Academy.”

“I don’t know anything about that giant dog and campaign material at that game. I do know that the dog was originally fabricated to prank the Societies in Ishendell and was sent by parties unknown to prank the Academy graduation. Then it appeared at the Academy for the game. At least that was what Drannor told me. I didn’t arrive in Cleadsgate until the game was starting and saw my granddaughter in the stadium.”

Bradal prepared a message. The challenge to the election was a long shot at best, at least without a demonstration of the Dragonkin being unfit for political offices. It was time to call in some favors.


Gerald looked at the message and frowned. The message had come from the Plateau and was going to an address in Zirgocol that was on a list he had of addresses that were contact points for the enemy. The message was the first that he had seen since Admiral Tollings had asked the FSA and RTT’s office in Ishendell to look for traffic to and from certain addresses in the Fellowship, the Orcenlands and the Mortal Kingdoms. Shortly after the message had been delivered, Hal from the Portal Service came into the office and grinning, said, “I thought that you would want this, special agent.”

Gerald looked at it and said, “They used a small portal.”

“Yes they did, to the portal that Mórsairon has.”

Gerald looked at the message and held up the copy he had received from RTT. “I will send a report to my bosses and the admiral. They hadn’t used this conduit when we were watching.”

“We’ll keep an eye out for any strange portal use.”

“I wish we could read this?”

“Take it up to the Sanctuary. There may be somebody that can crack it.”

“That’s not a bad idea. I’ll port up there when I have a chance.”

The Wildlands

Mórsairon looked at the message and went looking for Blackfire. “Our allies in the Republic want assistance.”

“What do they want?”

“A mage to place compulsions.”

Blackfire looked at a map. “The portals have probably been compromised. We’ll use Jumpers. Send back with the code for this location.”

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