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

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Chapter 138 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"I think...

...the Taurian Fleet's got a major expansion coming." Arthur commented. He had a Marshall in the smallcraft bay that doubled as the officer's mess on the Feather.

Marshall Doru frowned, "What do you mean?"

"Over a dozen JumpShips taken, and several of the DropShips on the ground were disabled but recoverable, that's a lot of extra iron for your folks to work with-if you have the bodies."

"You're not taking any?"

Arthur shook his head, "My ex-girlfriend, right? She's Elizabeth Ngo, family's a major toolmaker in the FedCom and they diversified into shipyards and shipping construction. New build stuff, you know? I don't need what is it now, twenty? used jumpships that my engineers tell me need yard time to get them fit for service."

"Must be nice, being that wealthy." the Taurian military leader commented.

"It has perks, like I can afford to be generous and my writ of orders lets me be generous. We might have captured those JumpShips, but it's a joint operation, and your nation's supplying the bulk of ground forces for it, since letting things go back to status quo ante is a bad, bad, bad, idea, and because the Concordat is a liberal, forward-thinking and most of all stable neighbor, it's a good idea to cultivate your nation as, if not an ally, then a safe strategic trading partner, which means being generous pays long-term dividends for my side."

"Broken and worn out JumpShips?"

"Well, that makes it easier to offer shipyard services-built in customers. The Concordat used to have naval yards, and the clans aren't going to go away." Arthur noted, "and my ex, Liz? I think she'd rather sell YOU shipyard kits, than sell them to the Federated Suns...hence the 'ex girlfriend' part."

"Isn't that violating a dozen laws?" Hadji asked.

"Not if you're not an enemy, besides, my brother can tax her on the sales, and the production. I don't want to have to do this again in twenty years, but with the Davion Brigade of Guards, Marshall." Arthur said seriously, "If the Concordat's got a strong presence in the region, and things are stable and peaceable between our nations? then I won't have to."

"What makes you think that's going to be on the menu?"

"Peter's lined up for Regent on the Lyran side, and Yvonne's not interested in military matters. Katherine doesn't qualify to rule on New Avalon since her five was spent in civil service, which means odds are good that while Victor's going to be Archon Prince, I'm going to get stuck with the Prince Regent job when he's on Tharkad...which means needing to keep this half of the realm stable and at peace, and growing...which benefits you, since I like prosperity and growth, not violent wartime conquest, lots of bodybags, and writing letters that begin with 'the federated commonwealth regrets to inform you'."

"So this was all about what?? setting up a trade deal??"

Arthur chuckled, "No, this was all about being sick to my soul at what Fuchida's Fusiliers did to three planets because things are so chaotic out here, or what the Tortuga bandits are, 'were' doing for the last couple centuries-the Wolf Dragoons operation slowed them down, but I want to put an end to it and let people get to the business of rebuilding until they can advance....and Taurians, by definition are people-just not mine, but that doesn't mean we can't become friends...and when you don't have enough rich friends, then it's a great idea to make some."

"We're not really rich, Arthur."

"No, but you can be." Arthur replied. "Lizzie calls it the 'three P's contract'. Peace, Prosperity, and Progress. Isn't that nicer than bunkers and bodybags? It's just unfortunate that we're going to have to kill a lot of folks to get things peaceful again."

"We'll be ready for phase four in another ninety hours." Doru told him, "Are YOUR guys ready?"

"Yes, sir." Arthur nodded, "We're ready when you give the word."

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