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Chapter 64 - Important People[]

Tharkad Star System
Lyran Commonwealth
January 17th, 3098

Khan Samantha Clees was lounging in his office when Andrew entered.  "You know, Andrew, you need to call your auntie Sam once in a while or I get bored."  She spun in his office chair and planted her feet.  "Your father was a friend, and you did not even invite me to the funeral."

"I thought you were busy dealing wi-"

She moved fluidly, almost supernaturally quickly, planting a single finger in a shushing gesture on his lips, cutting him off mid-word.  "Shush.  I know.  As it is, yes, I was busy explaining to those surats from Clan Hell's Horses exactly whose territory they were encroaching on.  I would have missed it anyway, but the invitation would have at least been minimally polite.  We will overlook that.  I do expect an invitation to your wedding."

"How did-"
"You have a civil war brewing once again." she said.  "An enemy worth my time: Victor.  So I am here to offer you a favor."

"A... favor?"

"Aff," she said.  "Propoganda against the Lyran Commonwealth is being spread, and countering voices silenced.  Both by Comstar in at least three realms plus the Ghost Bear Dominion, and Republic envoys have been visiting the non-Exile Wolves."

"Yeah, I know." Andrew said.

"Good. Then I will not have to waste time explaining your predicament, and we can get to discussing remedies." she said with a cold smile.  "In exchange, when this war begins, Terra... Terra is ours at the end.  You will not turn Duchess Ngo loose to lay waste to it."

"I had no intention of doing that.  Turning Liz loose on Terra, Khan Clees."

"See? Youth!"  She sighed, "Of course you do not intend to do that... and if I neglected to underline this. You would find yourself surprised and shocked when she tells you, ever-so-reasonably, why it is necessary and gains your consent to unleash her Crowbars on fracture zones and calderas."  Samantha backed up a step, and crossed her arms, "Elizabeth herself, were she in this meeting, would sincerely argue she has no intent.  I mean it, Archon Andrew Steiner.  She has no desire to be a monster, and yet..."

Clees stepped to the window, looking out at Tharkad's night sky.  "Yet, that is what she is. A coldly rational, supremely unsentimental monster. A war-computer walking on two legs whose flesh was too frail to contain her warrior nature."  She turned to meet his eyes, "Do you understand? It is what Marthe liked about her. That cold calculus in her heart, with frantic reasoning and rationalization that accompanies it.  You will have the full might of the Clan's Touman protecting your flank, but Terra?  Is ours."

"I... what if we don't go to war after all?" he asked.

"Then you can not break your promise, can you?" she observed.  "We stayed our hand and did not claim the ilClan in the Blake war. We could have, but the victory would have been... polluted, uncertain.  Unsatisfactory. We held back when your Duchess faced her trial... but those days are over.  Terra is ours to claim, none other shall have it.  In exchange, you gain our backing, and our alliances."

"I accept your terms." Andrew Steiner said.

"Good, then I can introduce you to your allies, who will keep the Republic's allies... busy until this matter is settled between you and your distant cousins."

LCN Headquarters
Battleship Row, Naval Station Tharkad
Lyran Commonwealth
Same Day

"...Diane Anu, I thought you were going to retire?"  Elizabeth greeted her visitor without looking up.

But then, in nullgee, where is up, really?

"You know, curious."  The Jade Falcon SaKhan said casually, dogging the hatch behind her before drifting into the Admiral's office. An area the sailors had started calling 'the pit'. A former elevator shaft near the core of the station-spindle, the walls were vid screen displays. Aa giant work-surface for the Secretary of the Navy to use.  "This is more complex than your Spider Moon setup."

"Has to be." Liz said, "I've got to cover more here."  She spun in nullgee, and with an eel-flick, dropped and advanced to meet the Jade Falcon SaKhan.  "You're here, and Sam's here.  I'm guessing Sam's talking to Andrew. You're going to remind me that Terra's a no-touch."

"Perceptive," Diane said.  "Curiously, I also wanted to see you about your legacies."

"Doctor Etienne already collected one of my ovaries, SaKhan Diane Anu. That was back in the sixties, part of the price we paid to keep you as allies against the Blakists."

"Yes, it was.  After repairs, your gifttakes have matured well. I thought you might appreciate that your line is more robust now. The curse of Cholmann's Syndrome has not manifested in sibkos bred using your genetics."

"And how are they?" Liz asked curiously.

"Talented organizers and scientists." Anu said.  "Quite a few wound up in the Scientist Caste, but the remarkable ones have gravitated to Naval positions.  My Dropship's captain is your genes, mixed with Anu bloodlines."

"I hope she was kept to your side of the family." Elizabeth noted.  "I'd hate to think one my kids isn't gifted."

Diane laughed.  "Aff.  Peregrine Anu won her bloodname the hard way, in a grand melee.  She outperforms our mixes of Ngo and Roshak, by the way."

"Huh... that's kinda weird.  Why are you telling me?"

"Because we will be conducting joint operations, of course."

"Ah, got it.  Do you want her to ride with LCN, or Coast Guard to get her Jump Wings?" Elizabeth asked

"Coast Guard.  As a favor, quiaff?"

"Aff. We can do that." Elizabeth said.  "You do know she'll need to do at least one tour as an XO before I give her a jump-boat."

"That is acceptable."  Diane told her.  "The girl has talent, and charisma, and a good mind, but she needs seasoning."

Liz touched a screen and halted her motion, bringing up a series of profiles and data.  "Hmmm... Second Division, Third Squadron all right for you?  They have a boat that's close, and the skipper's about to promote out.  The new skip's a Hue Falcon, Pershaw line." Liz commented.  "The boat's a Mark Three Star, long duration cutter model."

"Aff, stats look good... this will do." Diane told her.

FS-23 Radio
"The William R. Stonson Show!!"
Robinson, Federated Suns


"...credible sources fact checked the story, and were pretty firm: there was no Republic of the Sphere naval units or forces at Tharkad, it's a conspiracy theory.  Next caller?"  Bill Stonson's show is one of the top media shows in the Robinson district, with syndication across the entire Draconis march area.

He looked up at Lucy in the booth, his call-screener and producer.

"Hi Bill.  Mary from Millen here.  My question is, how dangerous is the instability in the Lyran Commonwealth really?  I mean, we've got the whole Free Rasalhague Republic in the way, and they haven't been attacking anyone since the Jihad?"

"Well, Mary, the Lyrans have a massive fleet, and have refused common-sense arms control policies. As well as refusing to sign or ratify treaties to reduce the danger of armed conflict!  Obviously the threat they pose isn't directly to the Federated Suns, but because they haven't. Do you really believe the Damn Dirty Dracs are going to adhere to arms control treaties?  If they do, they're fooling themselves!  Unless they do it, we here in the Federated Suns will have a hostile armed neighbor on our flanks, and if the Lyrans DO get aggressive... Do you really think they'll stop at the Combine?  Of course not!"  He sipped his tea and added, "The instability out there makes it even more likely that they'll start wars just to stabilize their own population if they aren't prevented from doing so!"

"But you don't know that, Bill!"

He motioned to his engineer to cut off the response.

"Next caller."

"Hi Bill, Forrest from Ingleton here, long time listener.  How likely is it that the Federated Suns will have to be dragged into this Lyran situation really?  Didn't Prince Victor give up both thrones?"

"Well Forrest, that's a good question!  My engineer Lucy and our fact-checkers have been digging into that very thing.  A National Polling service poll suggests that support for a humanitarian intervention has overwhelming support, especially if we're helping an ally like the Republic of the Sphere in keeping the peace so we don't have to fight wars on Federated Suns soil.  Stay on the line, and Lucy can set you up with a souvenir tee."


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