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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 121 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"Victor, there are going... be problems with this high-handed action!!" Katherine Steiner-Davion stormed at her brother in the royal apartments. "Mass Arrests? Purges??"

"Reform." Victor told her, "We have until 3067 to get into shape to fight the Clans for real and maybe not that long if our diplomacy works out with the other States."

"You're using a meat cleaver where surgery-"

"I'm cutting out the dead weight." he said coldly. "Mom tried to make it gentle and easy with Dad's help. Dad is Dead and Kat.....some of the crimes we've uncovered-my god, the middle of a shooting war we've got officers who were stealing military supplies. Stealing the budgets to pad their own accounts, not minor ones, senior ones...people it turns out we knew were doing it!!"

"Because mom needed them for political reasons! We need to keep the realm stable."

"I don't buy it, and I won't have it." he said, "We compromised until forty percent of the Lyran state was under foreign occupation. We compromised, and it left us in a position to be invaded, we compromised, and half our nation is a laughingstock. I'm done with compromising to appease sedition, compromising to appease outright treason." his eyes burned with quiet fury. "We were losing to the Clans. I won a few small victories, but we were losing, Kate-not because the soldiers were cowards, or unskilled, but because we let the rot infest the military and we were losing...well, it's my watch now, and I have determined that we will not lose any more, not again, not on my watch, no more tolerance for the wasteful, corrupt, or incompetent. I'll give the loyal incompetents the chance to resign, I'll give the loyal, but wasteful, a chance to leave or get with the program, and the corrupt get a cell or they get to breathe vacuum."

"That's... that's crazy, can't do this!"

"I'm doing it, so obviously. I can." he said, "I'll be living nightmares for the rest of my life, but listen close, Kathy...I do not intend to leave my heirs with the mess we inherited from generations of 'making do' and accepting the unacceptable to appease the kind of men who steal vital supplies from the front line in a war or accept bribes to put our soldiers in inferior equipment under incompetent commanders to die when they should have lived."

"What got into you?" she asked softly, "Victor...what is eating you?"

He shook his head. "We can do so much better, Kathy, than we've been doing. Somebody has to make it right, someone has to fix it, or your kids or mine will inherit a nation that only exists as a memory of a better age...Now, I want to ask you...are you willing to be a part of saving us from barbarism and conquest or not?"

"Of course I want a part of it!!" she said.

"Good, because I'm going to need someone to be my conscience in this. It's too easy to see the darkness now that I've had too-close-a-look into it...and if things don't go well with the Combine, I may need an heir, and you' the social stuff than I am. once I'm done reforming things, they may need you to hold it together. Are you up for it?"

"What are you saying?", his sister asked him

"I'm thinking about rescinding the requirement for military service. If you're up for it, you might end up being the next Archon-Prince...once I've fixed things so we aren't going to lose the next war, once I've made sure you HAVE a realm to inherit." he paused, "A realm with a future that isn't shuddering down into the dirt."

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