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Self Configuring Modular Robot (Chapter Cover)

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Chapter 99 - Self Configuring Modular Robot[]


Ia Drang, Kowloon, Federated Commonwealth...

The dig had an elevator, and Patrick led his guest into the heart of it.

"This was the Third Street Transit Station." He explained, "circa Twenty Seven Twenty Nine...we cleaned up the bodies."

"Bodies??"

"A couple thousand civilians suffocated when the blast collapsed the street level into the tunnel system." Patrick explained. "Check out the mural."

Work lights illuminated a mural covering the wall of the tube-like station on the far side of the platform. It was a two-story tall, hundred meter long celebration of the benevolence of the Star League, the heroic image of the SLDF, and the cooperation between House Amaris and House Cameron done in a vivid, blocky, brutalist style.

"Neat, huh??" the Duke said. "You wouldn't have thought it would be an SLDF WarShip that buried this place. After the uprising, the Rim Worlds got special dispensation to bar Star League Defense Force recruiters from Kowloon, because they pinned the uprising on a serving SLDF officer."

"Gwendolyn Quah was listed as a deserter..."

"Yeah, see, SLDF had to say something besides 'aw shit we greased one of our own'. She didn't lead the uprising, Nelson." Patrick told him.

Elam turned, "What??"

"Wendy Quah wasn't involved. She'd become a political thorn in Amaris' paw, reporting to anyone who would listen about what the Rimjobs were doing here, what it was about to cause...but she wasn't part of the uprising."

"But our records-"

"Were falsified, right on Old Terra or maybe Apollo." Pat said, "WE kept records. Wendy Quah was on Cao Ky's hit list as a possible obstacle to independence-she was an Terran-born officer and she was absolutely loyal to the League...but our guys didn't have to arrest or kill her. The SLDF did a fine job of that for House Amaris, and House Cameron obliged them by burying the truth."

Things moved in the darkness of the tunnels...

"What's that?"

"Oh, probably excavators clearing the tube." Pat said, "Nothing to worry about, Khan Elam."

"You have the proofs, I take it??"

"Oh yeah." Patrick nodded, "You'll get to see 'em when we visit the archive site...but I wanted you to get a look for some perspective. Kowloon in 2729 was one of the easiest recruiting locations for direct-recruitment by the SLDF-they had to turn away volunteers every day, while House Amaris had to use enforced drafts. What the Belleau Wood did to us? That was the end of that-we, as a people, stopped believing."

They passed frames holding centuries old posters for the Star League Defense Force, for the Star League's programs and projects, propaganda that would fit into any Seeker's most favored libraries.

Buried in this train station. "How many died down here?" Nelson asked.

"We pulled five hundred ninety one individual bodies-individual remains. Men, women, and children." Patrick told him, "The Station was built to accommodate around three hundred, some of them were on the train cars. A few were buried on the stairs. More were crowded near the vending machines. It wasn't an evacuation, so I gotta wonder if there was even a fight up there."

"Maybe hostages?"

"Well, we DID find Rim Worlds uniforms near the entrances, M&G 900 series pulse lasers with power packs, the selectors were off 'safe' so...maybe?? Or maybe they did it when they realized they were buried in here and nobody was going to be coming to dig them out?"

"You are glossing over something."

"Signs of cannibalism." Patrick stopped. "Forensic suggests they lasted a few days, maybe even a month...before the air intakes were blocked."

He flashed the Khan a smile again, "That's in the past, of course." and led him to the elevator.

"Where next?" Elam asked.

"Islands off the coast of VDL, where the 'sixty eight' revolution began on the ground. Where they planned the ground action. It's not really where it started-that was in the Belts, among the Rockjacks, but the islands were where they contacted and organized the groundside forces. Daniel Ngo and his sons, and the Mosoviches and the Huyns, Jennings and Goldberg's ranchers...the people who made the boots on the ground when Cu'ong planned the destruction of the Rim Worlds ships and bases from deep orbit."

"You are being quite a host...so much...history."

"History isn't legendary, Khan Elam." Patrick said, opening the safety gate on the lift to the surface, "Legends are inspired by history, but there's always a difference between the narration of a legend, and the facts of historical past. While we're on the way, mind explaining something from YOUR history?"

"What?"

"Clan Wolverine." Patrick said. "How in the hell did that happen??"

"We...do not use that name." Nelson said.

"Interesting....going up."


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