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

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Chapter 25 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

It's always better to... your research BEFORE making an eight month trip to the far side of the Inner Sphere...or even just to the far side of the Lyran Commonwealth.

Ardan Sortek was doing his research ahead of time, and finding a hell of a lot of what is 'known' is pretty shoddy, mostly because the sources available through normal channels don't line up with his mission profile.

On the video screen in front of him, a 41 year old man is screaming in agony. On the screen beside it, is a profile of another man named Dinh Ngo, a man in his fifties whom the Archon apparently has entrusted with something absurdly dangerous.

Why he's watching the last hours of Truk Van Ngo's life? because it relates to Duke Dinh Ngo, the man Ardan Sortek is going to be speaking directly with.

One is connected to the other by more than blood, there's an anger there and it could foul everything up.

Other parts of the history are clearer. The Duke's Heir apparent, David Ngo, married to a third daughter of a Kirklin family from the Federated Suns. They had two sons and a third child on the way. David, at least, would be considered relatively stable and loyal to the coming merger of the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth.

Career Military, and according to Von Kleist, his LIC contact, cut out from the covert side operation by his father, a relationship characterized by observers from both sides as 'rocky' with the exception of the children.

Dinh Ngo's history is the sort of thing that IS impressive to a professional spook. The man endured three years under intense, invasive, and at times inhumane interrogation covering for Katrina and Arthur Luvon under Archon Alessandro's regime, with the proof being permanent injuries and permanently white hair.

According to the Lohengrin file, Dinh Ngo broke four interrogators-and didn't break once, not even under intensive narco-interrogation.

Someone like that, is exactly who you WANT covering this kind of operation...but there's the problem. That kind of will comes with obstinate blind-spots and petty vindictiveness.

Dinh Ngo's business-his main income, is as a tooler. That is the man's an engineering expert and owns a somewhat massive industrial tooling outfit...and he refuses to do business with entities from outside the Lyran Commonwealth.

Including the Federated Suns.

It's because of that younger brother...and how the man died.

"..that's what everyone believes." Ardan muttered. These things are always more complex than that.

On the screen, the recording from 3021, showed Truk Ngo's last moments before organ failure, and the record ended.

"What is the complexity...?" He focused on the Duke of Kowloon. "What is your REAL game?"

Boojum repair yard, Kowloon system

The frames were arrayed in a wagon-wheel of branches along centralized corridors linked to modules. In the distance, the larger forge assemblies were being fed processed ore.

"It's...spread out, sam." Duke Dinh Ngo commented.

Sam Cartwright nodded. " din' exect us to put together a murphying Tower and box did you?"

"But it works?"

"It works. We've got the JumpShip lines going, you've even sold a few."

"...and the Sampans?"

"The modified Type 51 Gunboat are under build, we have captains and crew though?? it's hard to find people with enough talent to do more than merchie-work."

"So We're what...?"

"Gonna need to start rotating people from TF1 back through to train the newbies, and soon." Cartwright told him, "there's only so much you can teach in classroom."

"We need to ramp it up, Her Majesty's wanting to use the Guard soon-maybe three years? can you have a fully functioning squadron ready in three years?"

"Only if you're fine with them being green as grass." CArtwright commented. "We don't have enough experience base and this isn't like Mechwarriors, we can't just go scoop a bunch of mercs to leven the crews out with veteran officers, because nobody's had a damned Navy that does what we're building in about five centuries."

"alright, assume green. Who do we have that you'd put in charge?" Dinh asked.

"Paul Vu Dao, Callie Li, Mai Huyn." Cartwright listed off. "Those are my top picks. If your sister hadn't gotten herself disappeared out with The Folk I'd have her on my shortest list..."

"Mai isn't on the table." Dinh stated, "though she did send a message by courier last year-from somewhere in the Outworlds, she's running with the Salvigne line of The Folk...and she's apparently happy. Got herself a marriage contract and everything. Wanted me to know Dave has cousins running with The Folk now."

"Lucky lady then."

"How's our chief advisor?" Dinh asked.

"Tabiranth's keeping busy overseeing the tech program over Snark, and helping the outer burrows work up their disaster relief operations, I think that warship's...happy? I guess?"

"That's good, pass along a message-we're getting visitors. Her Majesty spilled the beans to her in-laws about Tabby, and the Feddies want a look."

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