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

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Chapter 17 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

Kowloon System, Lyran Commonwealth - 3024

He looked worried for the fourth visit in a month. I feel bad for him-his son is serving post-academy service on the Draconis Combine front, and is already talking 'career'. Duke Dinh's wife had died of cancer from radiation exposure shortly after his son went to the Nagelring on Tharkad.

I do feel bad for him. Weird, isn't it? I suspect it's not what humans would call 'empathy', I merely recognize that the emotional stress is degrading his performance and impacting an already fragile health status.

He's attempting to maintain function in a condition that is non-optimal and rooted in human neurochemistry and biology-a replacement would be unlikely to function as well...still.

I'm not sure what I could do. I have access to SLDF trauma files and a library of information thanks in part to my Host's people's obsessive record keeping and habit of caching every piece of information they can lay hands on.

I do not know how to help this man in distress, beyond advising him on a narrow field in which I DO have superior expertise.

Admiral Murakami, you never gave me the tools to help them get over their grief and fears.

Duke Dinh, I think, will not be visiting the Spider Moon facility again. It was his wife's home and she was born in the tunnels there. He has found a suitable liaison officer in John Cartwright-922, his appointed 'Commodore of the Coast Guard'. Cartwright listens to my suggestions for the local training establishment with suitable skepticism, and I find I rather enjoy debating the finer points of military organization with this former LCAF(Naval) Dropship captain.

Many of the plans we've laid out have to be taken slowly, in stages, both for military necessity, and because of economic strains-for example, the jumpships laid down for the planned logistics wing are currently drafted into service with the Commonwealth and its allies, and with them, most of the dropship production for the last five years.

We've focused on expanding the production lines, and training production personnel. The expansions should serve to make up for lost time developing the Coast Guard's 'black squadrons'.

I was asked if I would participate, in this war.

I declined. In part, because there is plentiful lack of spares for my systems and many of my critical components are already damaged. My logic was accepted by Her Majesty the Archon, who agreed that sending a unique museum piece to fight in yet another round of the same civil wars that have raged across the former Star League was probably not the best idea-not until we have a proper battlegroup, anyway.

A solo WarShip is nothing but an expensive target for nuclear tipped missiles fired from fighter airframes without an escort. With a proper point defense...and they still have trouble manufacturing repair parts for my remaining Blackwasp remotes.

Still, she has signed off on the long range production and training plans for the Coast Guard Naval Reserves-a precursor organization for reviving the Commonwealth Navy.

Which, so I have learned, will be needing to cover a much larger area once the Archon's daughter inherits the throne.

I have, with Cartwright's help, begun finishing touches on the new Naval doctrine. I based it on removing what failed, downgrading traditional tactics that failed to deliver significant advantages, and emphasizing gaps in the inherited SLDF doctrines currently extant in the libraries of the LCAF.

I expect that. Once peace is achieved, I will be able to assist with Commodore Cartwright's assent. I will begin training crew and officers to carry out this revised and improved naval doctrine. We have a few targets in mind, including a bandit kingdom under the control of a group of deserters led by a man named Valasek.

The Oberon Confederation will be a good test of logistical denial and extended range operations. While removing a constant irritant that has plagued the coreward and anti-spinward borders of the Lyran Commonwealth.

It's scouting and commerce raiding, but it's better than nothing, and more useful than previous policies that have allowed these bandit kings to prey on the civilians, and it will provide training and 'blooding' for new officers and crew-at least, until we run out of Pirates, Bandits, and Slavers.

But, that's in the future. For the right-now, I'm helping them work out the necessary designs and production that will ALLOW for an expeditionary naval force with a six to eighteen month cruise duration.

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