The Republic Torn, Chapter 73-74

Derry gets news. Seriellia thinks she finds Sapphire.

Chapter 73.

House Aravaris.

Harald grinned as Derry came into his office. “I just got a telegram from the Republic. It looks as if Tomas Flyer is the next President and your father the next Vice President.”

“He’s going to hate that.”

“Sometimes we have to do things we don’t like. At least he won’t be forced to give up his Senate seat as the Vice President is in charge of the Senate in any case. That brings up what I wanted to talk to you about. Are you planning to stay here?”

“Roshia doesn’t like the Plateau and I do well here. I am not in a hurry to leave.”

“Would you like my job?”


“I never thought of this as something permanent and frankly, the only reason that I have stayed as long as I have is that I like my wife’s family, my grandson and his funk. Jorge has other things to think about now, and I don’t need a job to visit here as long as I like. Also, if my family doesn’t have me watching them, they get creative. The President doesn’t know how lucky he has been that the family has taken on the Project. So I need to be able to go home more frequently.”

“Why me?”

“First of all, you are already a fixture at the palace, you have all sorts of friends here, the Emperor and the Empress like you and you have good connections back home. Second, there are very few people that have any experience here in the Empire and most of the staff here expects to go home. I would prefer to avoid a constant stream of new ambassadors to the Empire at the whims of the mound. Finally, the Emperor asked for you when I raised the issue of me going home.”

“This is Yllarissa’s fault.”

Harald laughed. “How did you come to that conclusion?”

“The princess distributed some things for me and now I owe her a favor. So she is making sure that I am around so that she can collect.”

“That would be a good reason. We also have something that I want you to run up to the Sanctuary and have somebody take a crack at.”

“What is it?”

“Somebody sent a message that was then sent through a small portal. You can guess where it ended up.”

“Where Blackfire and Mórsairon have holed up.”

“Yes. There hasn’t been any traffic since the Divinity Device closed up. Losing the election changed that.”

“We can guess why. After the mage hunt and the rest of it, some people are looking at cells if Liberty takes over. I”ll see what can be done with this.”

Chapter 74.

Neuw Athlin

After breakfast and her bath, Seriellia looked at the oracle before going to her tutor.  When she logged in, she and Celeste had been pinged from Denelle at the Chatsrey University library. Denelle had typed, “You were looking for a Sapphire. Here is a Sapphire with Tigerlilly. She looks wonderful. There was also an article about an entertainer named Sapphire who leaked some things from Mrs. Steelmaker’s office. It might not be the same girl, but I scanned the article anyway.”

Seriellia looked at the article and the magazine pictures. Adding some things about the election that Denelle sent, especially the thing about a bunch of people being Jorged, but Jorge not having done it, she printed it all into a stack. Taking the stack, she went to the queen’s chambers and said, “It’s Seriellia, your majesty. Some interesting things were sent on the oracle. I think that I found Sapphire.”

“Come in and show me.”

Cécile grinned as Seriellia came in. “Do you miss Celeste?”

“A bit. On the other hand, she has an oracle at A’I Alora, so she can talk if she wants to. I had some interesting things sent to me.”

“Do tell.”

“Well, the first are some pictures of a Sapphire with a fae named Tigerlilly. Then there is this, an article about an entertainer named Sapphire who betrayed Mrs. Steelmaker to a reporter. I’m not sure if they are the same person or not. There was this funny thing about a bunch of people who were all Jorged in one night. Here is everything.”

“Thank you, Seriellia. How is your hunt going?”

“Frustrating, since they don’t have an oracle at the Naval Academy and the one at the arsenal is ignored, since they probably don’t have a girl to operate it.”

“Why don’t we have Roger and Rain here for dinner, so that we can discuss your discoveries.”

“I will be there. I need to get back to work, your majesty.”

“Thank you again.”

Cécile started to read the article about the Sapphire that had betrayed the rather infamous Mrs. Steelmaker and her story was essentially what they had discovered already. The girl was also attached to Jreghug , who Cécile  remembered from the rebellion as an obviously strong and capable orc. Cécile could not wait to meet them both.


Cain walked into Hoddaig Silverfinder’s office and said, “I wish to speak to the Sapphire girl.”

“You and me both, Mr. Bellot. She’s gone.”


“Quit. Me, and if the papers are right, Mrs. Steelmaker. I think she ran off with her driver and bodyguard.”

“Did you search?”

“A bit. She didn’t catch a plane or a boat. There were some pictures of her in a magazine, but the magazine doesn’t know where she went either.”

Bellot handed Silverfinder his card. “Call me if you hear of her.”

“Will do, but Mrs. Steelmaker has probably made her disappear.”

“That is disappointing.”

Bellot left and Silverfinder shivered a bit. Perhaps the girl and the orc had been right and he should get out of town. Southport could probably use somebody with his skills.

Rennyn looked at Pyria and said, “Now we are in trouble.”


“I have another job.”

Pyria laughed. “You didn’t have to win.”

“You’ve met Feral. I couldn’t do that to the people here.”

“I think that Pete is in trouble.”


“Yes. Now he will have to go up to the Empire and deal with Eletha and Horal.”

Renynn laughed. “Shouldn’t that be Eletha and Careea?”

“Not really. Careea won’t bother Pete about things. Horal will.”

“Good point. I think that some people are waiting for us, so let’s join them.”

Cain looked at the destroyed doorway, the office filled with piles of goo and said, “What happened here?”

“We were nailed by glue,” Hardag said. “The stuff stuck the door shut, gunked up the phones and got into all the files and desks. As you can see, we haven’t even started to dig out from under and the files are probably wrecked.”

“The Senator needs you to start on the President Elect.”

“What for. The election is over.”

“Not really. The Electors can still change the result if the President Elect is unfit.”

“The Senator is looking at an uphill fight. That was one of the problems. We couldn’t find dirt on the Congressman because there wasn’t any.”

“He lives a good lifestyle for a Congressman.”

“He was a smart businessman before he ran for Congress the first time and his dad was better. I looked into that. So did Inky and you know how that worked out.”

“What about the son in law, the felon?”

“Won’t fly. The conviction was overturned and the Cotton Exchange was bankrupted as a result. Gertald might not be as clean as a washbowl, but he’s clean in the face of the law.”

“His children are dirty.”

“Not as far as I could tell. At least not enough, and frankly, they are probably all better at fun and games than I am, at least on the highways. The big problem you have is that they know that you will be trying to pin something on them and so they can change the game, as you and the Senator discovered.”

“Gertag did sell that Brilliant.”

“You handed the stuff to him and made it inconvenient to send it back. So he dealt with it. Instead of you setting him up, he set you up and you and the Senator got burned. I did some checking and you weren’t the first that Gertag and Gertald did that to. I will keep looking as long as you pay for it, but I doubt that at this point, there is anything to find.”

 The Lower City

Derry walked by the constructor in the park. The thing and the rather large new building it was constructing had been fenced off , but because it was in the center of the park, the new bulding occupied the space that would normally be used for bladderball games. The Carayarus had offered to build a new park and stadium outside the city, but construction hadn’t started as yet. The weather was rapidly getting cooler in any case. The space could still be used for parties, and there was a party being set up as Derry watched. He turned to continue on to his lunch with Roshia when he spotted Robin apparently looking for him. “I found you, young Mr. Gilders.”

Derry grinned and said, “The Council of Kings probably liked how things turned out.”

“They did, and the Council would like to meet with you at House Yllanan when things can be arranged. Have you received anything from your parents?”

“They sent plane tickets. I am expected to be home for the Inauguration the day after Winterfaire.”

“That isn’t a surprise. Do you know who your new boss is yet?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“If Mrs. Cutflame can convince Al Steelmaker to be Secretary of State.”

Robin laughed. “An interesting choice.”

“Admiral Tollings is hoping that Mr. Steelmaker takes the job and he isn’t asked.”

“That would fix the old pirate.”

“Yes it would. The problem with that is that I would be forced to take the Office sooner than I expected.”

“You will make a good Representative and as good an ambassador.”

“That’s what I am afraid of. I need to head to lunch, so you can join us.”

“My wife is coming and meeting with the princess, so I am expected at the embassy. She does want to meet you and your lady so we will have to arrange a get together soon.”

“Before I head to the mound.”

“I have heard that there were some excellent pranks played during the campaign.”

“I don’t know who was responsible. Unfortunately, I was making sure that the last ballots were post marked in the Hidden City when things were ending. I’m glad that Susan hasn’t come up here because my coin purse does not want to make a trip through the Sanctuary.”

“That is perfectly understandable. I will see you later then.”

Robin headed to the embassy as Derry went into the inn where he was meeting Roshia. Roshia grinned and said, “You are a bit late.”

“I was caught by a certain fae spy. He wanted to chat on our way here, so we did that.”

“So it was work?”

“Yes. Robin wanted to find out who my new boss is. I told him who it could be.”

“The admiral doesn’t want the job at the State Department.”

“Mother and Onia are looking to get Al Steelmaker for the job. That makes sense, since his wife can move right into her old job and not ruffle more feathers than have been ruffled already.”

Roshia laughed. “Of course we have to go to the Plateau for Winterfaire and then Ironton.”

“Where I meet the crazy side of your family and you meet the crazy side of mine. The trip should be interesting, if nothing else.”

Beltain Naval Academy

A note had been left in his billet, ordering Swifty to report to the Midshipman captain when classes had ended for the day. So, after his last class, Swifty went to the midshipman captain’s quarters. “You wanted to see me, sir?”

Fred looked at him and said, “The final tallies for the election have come in. Your grandfather is the next President when the Electors meet at the end of the moon. That means some new headaches for me.”

“That being, sir?”

“First of all, You are not to leave the station without telling me first, preferably a day ahead of time.”

“Why, sir?”

“So that I can arrange a marine detail for you. Fortunately we have marines here at the Academy, so I don’t have to ask the special section for people for you.”

“I can take care of myself, sir.”

“I am sure that you can. On the other hand, now it isn’t just you if something grabs you, it is the country at risk. So you get the detail. That is not something to be debated.”

“Yes, sir. Can I go to the head by myself?”

Fred laughed. “I assume you can hold your own stick. Now, as to my real reason for having this conversation. There are rumors that some people on the mound, and you can guess who, are going to challenge your grandfather’s fitness for the Office of The President. That means that you have to keep your nose clean for the rest of the session.”

“I wasn’t planning to do anything out of line, sir.”

“I didn’t think that you were. On the other hand, Perfect and his friends have a real reason to be watching you very closely. This isn’t Academy games anymore.”

“I’m not sure that they ever were, sir.”

“On the other hand, you have friends, both here and off station. Some of them have well earned reputations. Since Perfect will be looking at you, he won’t be watching his back.”

Swifty grinned. “Should you be talking like that, sir?”

“While Perfect has been focused on you, you weren’t the only one getting grief from him. The annoying part is that his uncle wasn’t up for election this year.”

“It is all connected, sir.”

“The stories in the papers made that clear. Dismissed.”

Geral spotted Swifty leaving the Midshipman captain’s quarters and grinned. Apparently he had gotten himself in trouble.   


Bradal looked at his staffers, held up the stack of paper and said, “This is all you could find? The Electors meet in three five days.”

Nenton Brewmaster, Bradal’s chief of staff said, “Boss, you’ve kept us out of your discreet dealings, so we don’t have your sources. As far as criminal connections for President Elect Flyer, there just isn’t anything.”

“His daughter was married to that Committee member and gangster.”

“First of all, as far as we could tell, Gertald Cutflame had very little connection with the Committee. He may have run some loads for them, but if he did, nothing appeared in the FSA files. The one case he was convicted for was overturned on the grounds of judicial malfeasance. Considering what happened to most of the officers of the court afterwards, there isn’t a case to be made.”

“What happened to the officers of the court?”

“The Magistrate was brought up on corruption charges, the prosecutor was canned and lost his Barrister’s license and the defense went to prison on a charge related to another case.”

“Was Mrs. Cutflame responsible for any of that?”

“Not that we could discover. If she was, she used a very subtle hand. Boss, we looked into Gertald and his wife and frankly, using them as examples to show that the President Elect is ineligible just isn’t going to fly.”

“What about that party?”

“Boss, the party in the warehouse was clean. The young lady was very good with that and other than some Fallingwater Red that somehow seems to have evaded customs, there isn’t anything that we could find.”

“Fallingwater Red that didn’t go through customs?”

“We couldn’t find the wine in the logs. On the other hand, customs could have slipped up.”

“Very interesting. Let me talk to some people.”

The meeting over, Bradal returned to his desk, where a telegram had just arrived. The message was encrypted and using the sheet for the next message, he worked his way through the message. Once he was finished, he grinned and prepared a message for Cain. He was going to get the people he had requested.

“I am off, mother.”

Ilythe Steelslash looked her son over and said, “Have a good day, Gordon.”

“I will, mother. I need to look for another job.”


“Senator Cinders lost the election and isn’t going to need a staff. So I need to find another job.”

“You don’t seem to be too concerned.”

“I’m not. I could always join father’s staff.”

“No you will not! Your father and I have an agreement. I ignore his bad behavior and you are kept out of his schemes. It is about time that you ran for Congress in any case.”

“I looked into it and the only loose district in our state is the one that became open when Kinford was booted out of office. There is no way that Crowburg is going to elect me.”

“That explains all those trips there.”

“It was bad enough when the city was empty, but when the admiral brought all those people back, it just got worse. Maybe I will take an overseas position. It seems to have done wonders for Gilders.”

“Don’t talk to me about them. Klara has apparently gone mad.”

“Because Susan tied up with that Dragonkin? Mother, I don’t think that the Gilders could have done better. After all, the boy is the President Elect’s grandson.”

“You aren’t still seeing that girl, are you?”

“Mother, I need to go. We can talk about Irial later. In fact, we need to.”

“What are you saying?”

“Mother, we will discuss things when I get back.”  


Geral grinned as the young lady was shown into his office. “What can we do for you, Miss Cutflame?”

Sthisse dropped a form and a check on Geral’s desk. “Mr. Breadbaker, I made a small mistake and I wanted to make sure that it was covered.”

Geral looked at the form and said, “Fallingwater Red? You had Jorge obtain it again, didn’t you?”

“That was the mistake. Jorge Umevan ported it through, since we were in a hurry and we forgot to make sure that the duty was paid. Then I was busy with the campaign and the payment slipped under some other things. So I wanted to make sure that the duty was paid.”

“If Jorge Umevan brought the wine in, there shouldn’t be any duty. He has diplomatic immunity.”

“He also forgot to make sure that the paperwork was in order. I didn’t pay any attention to how the wine was being brought in for the various things and it just kept arriving. When it was my parties, it was one thing, but for the campaign, we needed to keep track and we didn’t. At this point it is easier to pay the duty than untangle the mess.”

“You are expecting trouble and want the receipt.”

“I’m not going to say anything, but you have probably heard the rumors. It’s hardly the first time that certain people have tried to hang smuggling charges on my family and right now, paying the duty is better than the hassle.”

“Are you doing something for Winterfaire?”

“Yes, for the campaign workers before the inauguration.”

 “My daughter and son both volunteered for the campaign, so we will look forward to the party. Let me fill out a receipt for the check and get you on your way.”

“That’s good. Mother seems to have forgotten that I am a scholar student.”

Geral laughed as Sthisse took the receipt and went on her way.

Onia hugged her son and said, “You don’t have to go.”

Gertag stepped back and said, “Mother, we went over this. I am a target. The longer I stay around, the more likely somebody smarter than Bellot will be able to stick something on me. They can’t do that if I am not here.”

“At least Rosanhi is staying through the inauguration.”

“She wanted to and she has some things to do that she didn’t do because she was helping with the campaign. So she is staying. I, on the other hand, have some rather large jobs to do.”

“You and your father are coming back for the inauguration. So is Derry. If you all do not come down for that, you all will be in trouble.”

Gertag laughed. “We will come for that. I need to go.”

Gertag headed into the airport terminal and Onia got back in the car.  A smiling Klara said, “You made sure that he knew to come back for the inauguration, didn’t you?”

“I certainly did. I think he is concerned that he will feel constrained here in the Republic and doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. His father and what they did together probably caused that.”

“What happened?”

“Since Gertald was not a citizen, he couldn’t get the business he wanted, at least in the beginning and sometimes he took loads that were more than a bit dubious. He also wasn’t above poking some folk on the Plateau in the eye when he could and there was the attitude that Gertag picked up that, since the laws didn’t work for us, he saw no reason to stick to the letter of the law if he could make extra coin outside it. Fortunately he was careful and didn’t get caught.”

“We can use that. Having some shady members in the family with just the touch of scandal can be helpful at times. You don’t want to know how many times that I have taken advantage of Geral’s sister working in the Crystal Palace. Have I taken you to meet Sylva yet?”

“You haven’t, actually. Swifty did some things at the Crystal Palace for work, but I did not want to interfere. Are you saying that we should visit?”

“We certainly should, since we are in town. Let’s stop and I will make a call.”

Renynn walked through the grinding plant, followed by congratulations on all sides until he reached the plant foreman’s office. Gradal Highflyer grinned and stood up to shake Renynn’s hand. “Welcome, Congressman.”

“I hope that you weren’t in that with Pete and Harry.”

Gradal grinned. “There may have been a meeting or two. The district committee did not want to risk a Shieldbasher as Congressman by default.”

“So what happened down here?”

“You know most of it. Lidia was in front with the other girls, canvassing people going home from work when the clowns showed up and started to push.Lidia told them to leave, since the booth was on plant property, which it was, and they knocked her into the table and she and the table both fell over. That kicked things off. Once the first batch of  idiots was driven off, I got our people back and we fortunately only had some injuries and concussions. I opened up the locker and arranged guards to prevent the idiots or the Shieldbashers from trying to torch the plant, but the mess didn’t make it back here.”

“Do you think that they were planning to torch the plant?”

“I’m not sure. The timing sort of says, yes. I don’t think that they planned a riot, at least not right from the beginning. I think that they were planning to hit us at Fifteen Fifty thinking that quitting time was Sixteen and didn’t know that we closed earlier than that.”

“That actually makes sense. They hit the girls, who run inside and then you call the police and send some people out, who run right into the second wave and the real fight starts. That’s why the second wave was so much more lethal.”

“The FSA clowns were trying to show that we started to beat on some college students who had friends that defended themselves. The fact that we didn’t have any dead squelched that because the FSA couldn’t show that we were involved in the worst of it.”

“In case I haven’t said it, good job all around.”

“I wasn’t going to let the girls get beat up, but on the other hand, I don’t want our people all battered too.”

“By the way, you can expect something nice from the Flyers come Winterfaire.”


“Because you kept as much a lid on things as you could and showed that Dragonkin are not irresponsible and irrational.”

“So helping the campaign. I saw the ads and heard a bunch on the radio.”

“That was more important than you know.”

“What happened to you up there in the Empire. You’ve changed more than a bit.”

“I met a lady who will put up with me and did a lot of things. The big annoyance is that I left some things I was taking care of to come down here and now I am stuck here.”

“Congress has breaks, so you won’t have to spend all your time on the mound.”

“I should hope not.”

“Maybe you can make some idiots know that there is a world off the edge of the mound.”

“I doubt it. I see that Pyria is looking for me. Pyria, this is our foreman here, Gradal Highflyer.”

“Well met, Mr. Highflyer. I understand that you are the heroic type, facing off with the fanatics.”

“That’s a bit of an exaggeration, Pyria,” Renynn said. “He wasn’t alone and the Stewards are hardly up to cult like fanaticism, at least most of them are not.”

“It does not take many, as you well know. From what Daisy, Lidia, Hibiscus and the other girls said, Mr. Highflyer handled things very well. At least our folk did not suffer.”

Gradal smiled. “I like you already, Pyria. If you both will excuse me, I see an issue heading in my direction.”

“Then I will drag my lout out of your office and go along.”

Nyla grinned as Klara Gilders brought a Dragonkin lady into the lobby. Hello Klara. Is this Mrs. Cutflame?”

“This is Onia, Nyla. We thought that we would come and meet my sister in law, since we were in town in any case.”

“Milady, you pulled off a remarkable achievement.”

“Getting my father into the Presidency, you mean?”

“Yes. Sylva is waiting in the bubble for us, so we should go up.”

“The bubble?”

“It will be self explanatory when we arrive.”

They got into the elevator and the elevator climbed to the top of the building. The operator said, “The bubble, Ma’am,” and opened the doors.

The ladies got out and Onia laughed. “I see. Nyla, we must take you to the Sanctuary at some point.”

“I am not sure that I can return to the Empire.”

“I would not be too concerned. The monsters of the past are more or less gone or impotent. I would not let Lielatha and Thalia snipe at you and Rosa and Eletha would not either.”

“What about the Empress.”

“She has grandchildren looking for marriages and honeymoons. I think that she would welcome you.”

“Airdan has already come.”


“There’s Sylva, Onia. Sylva, this is Onia Cutflame.”

“Thank you for bringing her, Klara. Onia, how is your scamp doing?”

“Swifty?” He has an adversary from the Plateau at the Academy. The adversary thought that he was eligible for the corner billet and Swifty got it instead. I’m afraid that the campaign has dropped Swifty’s scores a bit, but once my father was elected, I understand that tradiionally the coner billets go to the sons and grandsons of Presidents that are attending the Academy because they may be called for duties and security reasons.”

“We’ve seen dragons flying over the city lately. Is one of them Swifty?”

“Probably. I have busy, so I am not familiar with how they train. Swifty had a bit of an accident on his midshipman cruise when the airplane he was flying broke a wheel on the landing gear and he had to land the plane at the Academy field. He got out just fine, but he should have ditched the plane.”

“Why didn’t he?”

“He didn’t know how bad the damage was, because he could not see the wheel and the plane did not have a radio, so that his commander could not tell him. So he flew the plane to the Academy and as he was making the approach, the plane started to shake itself to pieces, so he landed rather than trying to climb away from the field. The Academy has base housing around the airfield, so Swifty didn’t think that just bailing out was an option.”

“That’s typical of him. There were some rather nasty things in the papers from Inky Barrin. How did he deal with them?”

“By slapping them in Inky’s face. None of things were true and Swifty was able to refute it all. He also has friends at the Academy paper, since he made an arrangement for the Academy paper with my brother in law, who publishes the Smoky Hill Post.”

“What was the arrangement?” Nyla asked.

“My brother in law prints the Academy paper and the boys send him material. That worked well during the campaign. My brother in law also attaches the duoday edition of the Post to the Academy paper.”

“That is very clever,” Sylva said. “How is Susan holding up after her kidnapping?”

“Well enough, especially now that Redhand is in jail awaiting execution.” Klara said. “She would like more time with Swifty, but she understands the restrictions that a military life can bring. The campaign was good thing to distract her. She and Carrie enjoyed it very much.”

“That is good to know. She seemed traumatized when she got back.”

“She was, but a lot of that was the fact that she was scared that Swifty would desert her over something that happened to her,” Onia said. “Once she understood that wasn’t going to happen, she was much better, which was a good thing for my husband’s coin purse, as one way for Susan to relieve stress is to shop at the malls in the Sanctuary with her friends.”

The other ladies all laughed.

Inky sneezed as he turned the page of the yellowing newpaper, deep in the depths of the Chatsrey Times morgue. Inky had given up on the Cutflames for the most part, since there wasn’t anything he hadn’t found already and started to dig into the Flyer’s past. He had started with looking into the neighborhood that Tomas Flyer grew up in and a very interesting story concerning Flyer as a boy, a riverboat wreck and another boy, who drowned under mysterious circumstances. To Inky, mysterious circumstances and Dragonkin spelled a killing. At least Inky could raise the question, not to the Congressman directly, since the Congressman had been foolish enough to cut him off, but to world at large.
The Arsenal

Drannor looked at the two generals and the major and said, “The election was remarkably peaceful. Thank you all. I’m tempted to not ask you how you pulled it off.”

Major, tell the admiral,” Raldon said.

A grinning Jorge said, “Ok, we considered several options and then I thought that the Steward’s headquarters had never received anything from Jorge. That led to; why don’t we send the sorts of things that Jorge sends to all the people that wanted to disrupt the election. So I had Lieutenant Brownlow ask Jorge for some portal code, which he provided. Then the rest was talking to Roger Bloodfoot for the the flinger, Gertag Cutflame for the smelly material and my specialists to run it all. We started at the zero hour and by the time the various parties arrived to carry out their dirty deeds, the various places were very dirty indeed. Jorge was blamed, of course, but he hadn’t been near a portal for fivedays and by the time the FSA even thought to check the Silverin portal, everything had been returned to normal for days.”

“Why use the Silverin Portal?”

“It was convenient to Chatsrey, so we were familiar with it. It was easy to move things to the other end of the portal or connect with the Portal Service in Ishendell and some people had a nice show.”

“I wasn’t invited.”

“Sorry about that, sir. We thought that they were watching you. I didn’t get to see the show either as I was acting out Jorge the Pirate with Jumpers and such at the Academy. The generals here were able to see things.”

“What if the various groups were able to work around the ruined offices?”

“They would need telephones to do that and for some reason, the telephone company just couldn’t set things up for the clown show.”

“How did you pull that off?”

“I’m not going to give any names, but the clowns should have paid attention to who their allies murdered in the Lower City. It was all too easy to use those newspaper reports and some other things to make the case that some emergency service calls could wait a few days, or even five days.”

“What murders in the Lower City?”

“Last year, when the Project started things off, they destroyed the main telegraph station in the Lower city and all the staff inside, over a hundred operators and other staff, half from the Yllanan and half from RTT. Both outfits were rather upset, as you can imagine. The Empire was seen by RTT as a good place for junior executives to operate the system and manage things. That included some children of senior executives that were in the central office when it was destroyed by a compelled suicide bomber mostly to conceal the message traffic between the Project leadership and some people on the mound. Between that and the Service debacle, getting some delays was all too easy.”

“What would you all have done if the various people had been able to start things?”

“We had Jumpers and pilots ready at the Academy, I had people ready to go and portals aboard Ironaxe. One thing we wanted was to avoid showing any force unless we had to. We also had their probable assembly points mapped and observed. So, if some people were gathering to cause trouble, they would have been shut down rather quickly.”

“I imagine that the Teamsters and the GEA were looking for some kind of mobilization.”

“That’s why we didn’t do that where they were looking,” Dumag said. “We wanted to avoid giving the other side ammunition to say that the election was invalid while maintaining the capability to act quickly if we had to.”

“How were you planning to get troops where they might be needed?”

“Portals,” Raldon said. “We had an agreement with the Portal Service to drop some large portals at Camp Barleycorn if necessary. It wasn’t, so the agreement wasn’t invoked.”

“You set that up at the volcano, didn’t you?”

“Yes. Some things were discussed as there were some common interests involved. At the time, they involved places like the Community, but other things were discussed.”

“Thank you gentlemen. Dismissed. Major, stay here.”

“Yes, sir.”

The generals left and Drannor looked at Jorge. “Major, as of now, you have one job. Keep Tomas Flyer alive until the Inauguration.”

“Yes, sir.”

“No questions?”

“None at all, sir. I assume that I can draw on resources if necessary. I may have recruited some new ones, as you saw.”

“That being?”

“Some midshipmen going in a bad direction. I think that I was fairly persuasive. My wife is bringing the children down to visit the family for Winterfaire, so we will see how things go.”

“You recruited Midshipman Perfect, didn’t you? We were watching you speak with them.”

“Among others, yes.”

“He’s a barge pusher. You are a sand rat.”

“Yes, and yes. I will let the lieutenants handle the midshipmen for the time being.”

“I will want a report on what you did during the election, after the Inauguration. Dismissed.”

“Yes, sir.”


George looked at Bradal and said, “What now?”

“I was hoping that you would issue some executive orders concerning the crimes committed in Chatsrey.”

“The riots? I would be glad to.”

“Actually this concerns the depositing of various form of offal in the offices of some organizations just before election day.”

“I think that we can let local law enforcement deal with what was probably an elaborate prank. Carried out by college students, no doubt.”

“What do you know?”

“Bradal, I would hardly tell you.”

“Why did you do exactly the opposite of what I requested?”

“Maybe I had concerns other than yours. I didn’t feel that riots on election day were going to be a good thing, so I took some precautions. It turned out that they weren’t needed, since some people couldn’t put something together.”

“I could make trouble for you.”

“Bradal, I am out of office at the turn of the year. Go right ahead and drop your scandal. I am sure that we will all enjoy it before I catch the train back to Redtree.”

“Don’t you care about the Party?”

“Bradal, you have done nothing but make things harder for me and the Party since you arranged to put me in this seat. As I told you before, it was your meddling that messed things up. I’m out, and right now, I’m glad. Tomas can deal with you. Now find someone else to annoy.”

Bradal stormed out of the office.

Ilythe looked at her son and said, “What do you mean that you and that girl are serious!”

“I told you, mother. I will ask Irial to marry me.”

“I forbid that!”

“Mother, there isn’t much you can do about that. I know that you have been looking for ways to separate Irial and me, as well as setting spies on her, for all the good that it did you.”

“You were seeing her behind my back!”

“I was. I would have brought her here, but I wanted to avoid something like this with her here. It was a good thing I did things that way.” Gordon dropped a book on the side table. “Read this. It will explain some things.”

Ilythe looked at it and said, “An Elf Carran children’s tale? How could that explain anything.”

“If you will meet with Irial and I and be civil, we will explain.”

“I will not. I will be speaking to your father about this!”

“Don’t bother, mother. Father has his own problems, since the election went the way it did.” 

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