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Silent enim inter arma Tribunals (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 15[]

Silent enim inter arma: Tribunals[]

Visitor Meeting Room
Kernigan Prison complex
Albany, New York Sector
North America, Terra
Sol Star System
Republic of the Sphere

"Hello, David." Elizabeth greeted Lear first.  Like with Victor's visit, they were separated by a layer of armored Ferroglass, "and Devlin Stone himself, interesting."

"You rejected Victor's offer." Devlin said, "Which means I'm the next step up."

"There is supposed to be a trial.  I've been in custody for a month." she said, "You have my logs, all of the physical evidence, public opinion, and an international coalition.  Why haven't I been convicted yet?"

"Do you want to be?" Stone asks

"No." she said, "I don't, but it very much feels like you're dragging your feet.  A second plea offer in only two weeks feels like things are not quite working out to your projections."  she leaned on her elbows, "So, your plan isn't working and you're improvising or you're not improvising and your plan isn't working. So you're frozen.  The program's hanging.  Something wasn't supposed to happen, and now you don't have the predictive algorithm right."

"Why are you gloating?" David Lear asked, "This could kill you."

"I'm not gloating...okay, maybe a little bit." she held her fingers apart in a pinching shape, "Here's what happened; Your plans failed.  They would've failed anyway, if you didn't have the fix in, but you thought you did. That until I was sent to step in and actually make the mission work in the absence of extensive local cooperation.  The locals would still have resisted, but the coordination for those went out the window when I turned most of the major objectives into volcanic holes in the ground when they were supposed to be staged fights where virtue and justice make up for being outnumbered and outgunned eight or ten to one. In the  process of doing that, I reduced coalition casualties by over eighty percent compared to planned casualties necessary to provide a loyalty bonus when the victory was secured."

"That's...insane." Devlin said.

Liz rolled her eyes, "Which makes more sense?  That a regiment can take three or four SLDF technology divisions in a fortified position without taking over fifty percent casualties, without using nukes? In a ground conventional fight, keeping in mind that I've fought Manei Domini and i've seen interrogations of 'Shadow division' personnel?  Your plan to assault the Cairo Brian fortress would not work unless they were caught by surprise. With the doors open and most of the gunnery personnel in the chow hall.  It was a Frontal Assault. Dramatic, makes a great narrative, militarily insane..."

"Unless?" David asked.

"Unless you already knew you would take it with a specific proportion of casualties, which could only happen with internal supporters sabotaging it and disarming or degrading a significant portion of the defenses.  When my staff and I looked at the plan for Cronus we analyzed it based on previous data, including the Amaris War data provided by Clan Jade Falcon."  She shook her head, "Your plan only works with dedicated top-level assistance within the enemy's defenses, and given how Blakists compartmentalize information, it would get you just enough resistance to make it look someone who hasn't fought them before without the mighty Devlin Stone in the theater."

"That's why you changed the plan?" Devlin asked.

"Yes." she said, "You're a single point of failure, and you like to get in and mix it up.  If Anastasius Focht came up with that plan, I'd have known he had men on the inside to make it work.  You don't have the background to make that likely, no prior history, right?? So your plan was garbage unless it was a setup. For it to be a setup, a lot of other strange things would also have to be true. Too many to be more than a lunatic's conspiracy theory.  Either way, it wasn't worth it to me to let you fail, because these people killed billions. If they weren't stopped, the odds were too good that they would keep doing it."

"Why won't you take the deal then!?"  Devlin argued.

"Oh, it's bigger than that." Elizabeth stated.  "There's been a problem, and it goes back to the Terran Alliance days.  Winning forgives everything else, including how you won.  It's killed whole worlds, it's why Terran contractors were fine with manning the lines on Hesperus after wiping the blood off the consoles.  It's why Krupp Interstellar was fine with letting their shipments be 'augmented' with viral bombs aimed at Alarion-because for the last god knows how many centuries, 'winning equals forgiveness' and 'if we don't look at it closely, it goes away'."

Lear blinked in surprise.

"You were right, Devlin, to bind me over for trial.  I killed millions of people to accomplish a military objective. I disrupted the carefully preserved equilibrium of the Sol system. Broke a government that's been going in one way or another since the twenty first century, and brought strategic war to a world whose last brush with it was the Amaris Crisis.  I absolutely did these things. I absolutely should be called to account for them in a court of law, with the possibility of execution as a war criminal for doing them.  I told you on the shuttle pad the day before you demanded my extradition, that I'm in this to make the future better for my children and theirs.   There must be a rule of law, and it can't play favorites."

"You expect to lose my god..." said Devlin

"I want to win, that is my objective, but I expect to lose." Liz said, "It's like your battle plan, Devlin.  Objectively I don't have good chances, but I have to fight the battle anyway."

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