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Chapter 20 - Important People[]

The Royal Palace
Tharkad City
Tharkad System
Lyran Commonwealth
September 3097

[Archon's ball...]

After the dance, He led her to group.  "Amanda Ngo, I would like you to meet my fiance, Milena O'Rourke."

"Andrew! did you charm another one?" Milena O'Rourke had almost-white blonde hair and a rounded face.

"His Grace was very charming." Amanda said, "Also a complete gentleman."

"What a disappointment that must be." the Royal Scion's bride-to-be said it, with humor but, Amanda sensed no malice in her eyes.  "You're the Ngo girl, right?" There was a sense of security there. When Amanda looked at the two of them, a 'fitment' that made her think of her mother and her father.

"It was an honor, Milady, he...taught me to dance."

"My Andrew is a charmer.  I've seen some of your work."


"Through a Telescope. Your work on the Frederick Steiner!"

"Not all mine. I just got the ball rolling, ma'am." Amanda demurred. "The crew did the work-the real work, and when we've got the parts, we can do the rest if need be, Captain Krieger is a good CO."

An older man in LCAF Blues cleared his throat, "..and you would know that how, exactly?"

"Because you measure a man not by his face but, by his works, sir. A leader by those who follow.  A bad leader will break good followers, while a good leader will make good followers just as a good crew can raise an average captain to greatness. A bad crew can break a great officer-it flows." Amanda recited it from her officer training courses.

"So really, it's a two-way relationship." Andrew added, "Good followers make good leaders, good leaders make good followers."

"Exactly, your highness." Amanda stated.

"What would you say about the LCAF's current leadership?" the big man asked.

Amanda looked thoughtfully into nowhere in silence for a moment.  "Which ones?" she asked, "I can't tell you anything about people I've never served under or with, or even encountered, sir."

"Policies?" he pressed.

"I don't judge policy. I'm a navigator." she said, "I worry about hyperspace field interactions and gravity points and that's quite enough worries for me with all due respect, Sir.  I know my mother had her say on what she thought of it, but I can't for the life of me tell you what I think of things I have little to no expertise in. It would be like asking a machinist to rate the quality of medical care at a distant hospital."

"You must have some opinion!" the man demanded.

Amanda didn't know this man but, he was irritating her.  The more he spoke, the more annoyed she became.

"General, Sir. I am an O-2. Is that an order to speak freely about politics, Sir?" she took a different tack.

"Yes, and it's General Hogarth.  You may have heard of me." he rumbled.

She closed her eyes, and spoke.

"Commerce is the lifeblood of any interstellar nation. When goods and personnel can not travel in safety. The nation ceases to be a nation." she opened her eyes. "Therefore, one of the bedrock fundamentals of an interstellar nation, is shipping. Shipping requires protection. Ground forces can protect cargo at either end of that equation but, in between. It is the duty of the Navy to guarantee the lifeblood of the nation, to protect it from interruption, and to strike at the lifeblood of enemies.  A blockade can destroy the civilization of a world, therefore, that navy must have the force to either apply. To a Lift blockades, it is also vital to guarantee the movement of ground troops in the event of invasion or as part of one. That duty-the servicing of ground forces, is a secondary role.  The primary role, is to secure the space-lanes necessary for civil existence."  she spread her feet slightly, "Therefore, General, in my admittedly inexpert opinion any policy, treaty or law that limits the Navy's ability to perform its primary duty is stupid and wrong."

She took a deep breath, and relaxed her posture, "Thankfully for many of the people in this room, nobody agrees with my position. The primacy of ground forces remains in effect.  The ground forces are only useful in wartime. A proper working navy is active all the time. Both as deterrent and as a fundamental link in guaranteeing the flow of commerce that keeps this nation alive."

"Those are very strongly worded views, Lieutenant." General Hogarth said darkly.

"You asked, Sir.  I don't make policies. My views aren't predominant, so we're done, neh?"

He walked away looking angry.

"I think you offended him." Andrew said.

"Probably." Amanda said, "No doubt I'll have to answer for it when I get back to the ship."  she turned, "However, that's what you get when you question the value of a heavy-equipment operator who grabs headlines, ayeh, sir?"

"You expressed a low opinion of Mechwarriors..."

"My father is a Mechwarrior." she reminded him, "I expressed a low opinion of no-one, unless it is to say a lower opinion of some than they hold of themselves or their specific branch of service..."

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