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The Bull and the Genie[]

Chapter 5 - Book II - The Ninety-five Theses[]

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Disaster[]

Space Port - City of Samantha, Taurian Concordat


"Protector, we have to increase our forces—the Davions are going to use this as a cover to invade!"

Thomas sighed. Grover had been going on about this ever since they'd boarded the dropship for his quick trip to MacLeod's land.

Grover wanted them to forge an alliance with the Capellans, using their still hidden fleet to stop the Davions.

And then we destroy our relationship with the Lyrans. Thomas wanted to do what Grover asked. It would be the chance to smash the Davions—but the consequences…

No.

"We're stronger than we ever have been," Thomas said. "The Davions will keep, and I don't want to get involved in this war. Let them beat each other to death for the right to rule a corpse."

Edward, you would be proud of me. "Strap in, Honey," Thomas told Janice, the eight year old obediently moving to her seat as they felt the rumble of the thrusters.

It'd be good to be back home.


The agent waited at his post. He'd set several small packages in the attitude control systems. Not the main drive. The main drive might fail, but his orders were clear. This was to be an assassination. The evidence had to be clear.

Already there were the bank drafts from a covert source… difficult, but not impossible to trace back to New Avalon. A few HPG receipts in the trashcan at the house, evidently forgotten, contacting a bank in Solaris known for acting as a go-between. Nothing more. Too clear a trail might lead to questions that must not be asked. Just the natural mistakes made by a traitor in the pay of the Davions.

Complete with a single detonation module at home, forgotten, evidently, where it had fallen behind a desk. The Taurians would find it. And they would take it apart and find that the module was supposed to be radio detonated. But that it had been modified to be detonated on a timer.

Just what a perfidious nation would do to silence a traitor.

The agent felt the first shudder through the ship as the first tiny explosions went off, lobotomizing the complex systems that kept the supremely non-aerodynamic vehicle flying. Alerts sounded, shouts.

The agent did nothing. For there was nothing to do, save bask in the fact that the Celestial Wisdom would know that his faith had not been misplaced and that his agents life—and death—had served the Celestial Wisdom's will.


Traffic Control, Samantha Downport


There were things you never forgot. Taurus Prime suddenly spinning, utterly out of control was one of those.

"Taurus Prime! This downport! Hit your thrusters and head back to orbit!" Janinne Richards said. If they could get into orbit they could find out—but then, the main engines went to full, the modified Overlord rising up, killing it's velocity.

C'mon, c'mon you ass-heavy bastard, get up. It was still pointing in the right way and it didn't matter what vector it had, just as long as it—

And then half the attitude jets locked on, visible even over the blast of the main engines, and the ship, barely 50,000 feet in the sky, was now spiraling down… for the city.

<<ALERT, ALERT, CIVIL DEFENSE CONDITION RED! CIVIL DEFENSE CONDITION RED!>>

The speakers were blaring, but there was no time to get to the shelters, and the crowds out for a pleasant Sunday walk were probably wondering what that blazing star was in the sky and why was it getting bigger—


(("ABANDON SHIP, ABANDON SHIP!"))

Thomas' security detachment was shoving him down the corridor, the spinning ship alternately pinning them against one wall and then trying to fling them into another. He had a death grip on a crying, terrified Janice.

Then the lights went out, came back on, and there was the life pods, designed as a final resort.

But then the ship spun again, and Thomas was pinned against the wall, a body guard falling into him. Something broke in him, and Janice screamed as her arm snapped like a twig.

The open hatch had a single security officer, hanging onto it. "Sir! Hurry!" he called.

Not enough time.

Thomas reared up and pulled Janice handing her up to another guard. The girl trying to cling to him.

"Daddy!"

"Be brave, my little treasure." He held her up and the guard moved, but the damned ship twisted again and the guard fell, only Grover managing to grab Janice. Grover held on to her.

What are you doing! Climb! Climb!

But Grover didn't, and then Thomas realized why. He was timing the spinning of the ship. And then, in the moment when the terrible force on them was lessened, Grover threw Janice down the corridor, into the waiting arms of the guard.

"Go! Go, dammit, go!" Thomas roared.

"Protecto—"

"Edward is the Protector now! Go! Save her!"

"Dadd—" And with that the hatch shut and Janice…

She'll be safe. Edward will take care of her. My son, I'm sorry to lay this burden upon you.

He glanced at Grover.

"Thank you."

"It has been an honor, Thomas."

And then the pressure was back and redoubled, and there was no time to speak as the lights died, one last time.


Taurus Prime impacted in downtown Samantha, in the business district. It was a kindness. Taurians tended to take their weekends seriously and there were few retail stores or restaurants there. When the dropship impacted at the base of the 100 story Taurus Financial center, just over 500 workers were in, and died with, the building as it tumbled.
The total casualties would eventually be around 50,000 people, counting the crew and passengers of the dropship. Had it been a work day, as many as 500,000 could have died.

But it was cold comfort for those reeling from the worst disaster to ever strike the Taurian capital.
Just outside of town, at his family's estate, Edward Calderon stared in horror at the rising smoke, just before he was bundled off to a secure location.
"It was the last good day I had for a long time." he would later say.

From: The Fall of the House of Liao
3135 Sian. Federated Commonwealth Press.


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