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

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Chapter 48 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

"If you can't afford to lose it, you can't afford to use it..

...isn't just good doctrine, it's the best doctrine-it acknowledges the limitations inherent in relying on any single advanced system-especially ones you can't build more of." Tabiranth's remote has seen some upgrades since the first batch were bought several decades ago. This one was styled after images of the historical Anh Cu'ong 604-the woman who dropped rocks on the Rim Worlds garrisons on Kowloon to kick off the revolution of 2768 that finally freed that world from the grip of the Republic's slavers.

It was a conscious choice, and a fine technical challenge for everyone involved.

On the display, were units of the Coast Guard that were taking up patrols along the anti-spinward so that AFFC units could respond to the invading forces hitting the coreward front. "It does leave some problems when you have something particularly hot in your pocket because it's the only one you've got." the AI continued.

"So...yes?" Elizabeth asked.

"NO." Tabby told her. "Your plan is full of holes and failure, you're too young, I'm too old, and full of unique parts you still can't fabricate. What we are going to do, instead, is continue with the approved plan from the Marshall of the Armies and the Archon, which means we will proceed as planned along a route to Tharkad, where you will make your meetings, do your business. ALong the way, we can stop at Blackjack so you can visit Henry, and proceed to Tamar to meet with your brother Patrick and his wife Evelynn, before returning home with stops at Tharkad and Coventry, along the way, we'll be delivering graduate officers to Navy units and collecting recruits for the return leg to Spider Moon, including the prison recruits from Blackgate and Rookwood prisons, and of course, enhanced security personnel because I don't want to be hijacked and they don't want to be dead of hijacker disease."

Elizabeth looked downcast, until she caught the meaning there. "What if we happen to run into trouble on the way..."

"Well, that's why I carry nukes, isn't it?" Tabby asked rhetorically, "...and ammunition, and the restored and upgraded Blackwasps and the manned fighters... in case there is someone who has a warship and can cause me problems...but we're NOT GOING TO LOOK FOR TROUBLE."

"Did her majesty say why she wants me in person?" Liz asked.

"I imagine so she can chew you out for dragging your feet." Tabby joked. "I mean, eighteen advanced corvettes in four years? that's almost pathetically low production compared to the Star League era! I have no doubt her Majesty will demand better miracles from you, now that you've taken a more active role in the company...or she may be inclined to put her foot down and make you act your age, instead of your I.Q."

Liz turned serious, "She knows I'm under a time limit, Tabby."

"So do I. When we get to Tharkad, I expect you to be a better patient for the doctors than you have been, and I insist you cease lying about the severity of your headaches."

"They give me drugs that fog everything up!!"

"Well...make sure they understand that when they examine you, Elizabeth. Attempting to downplay your condition or ignore side-effects isn't a smart move, it's not intelligent. Could you imagine the trouble if I instructed my test equipment to ignore faults because maintenance is inconvenient?" the remote laid a hand on her shoulder, "Do the right thing, tell the doctors, your maintainers what faults you're having and why you need to change up your prescriptions so you can make BEST use of the time you have."

The actual mission profile..

There was a series of convoy escorts along the mid and rear lines of the front, and it was necessary because the AFFC-N warships-in-service consists of twelve Sampan IIIs in three task groups, sixteen Sampan IVs, and four RX-78 or Fox class corvettes working in tandem with FedCom Guards RCTs to bolster defenses or cover retreats.

In the almost-year since the initial evaluation, they've gained only a small amount of data-enough to identify Clans Wolf, Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, and Smoke Jaguar.

and to see what these 'Clans' do to worlds that put up too much of an irregular fight with the destruction of the city of Edo on the world of Turtle Bay.

The Lyrans have an entire fleet that isn't up to facing a single Clan's KNOWN warship groups...yet.

Alarion and Galax were both promising Cruisers by 3055, but that's five years away. The larger assembly structures at Kowloon, Gibbs, and New Syrtis aren't fully complete yet-though Kowloon's large assembly structure is being built around a prototype for a destroyer class Elizabeth is hoping the Realm will purchase for mass production, and she's already got production lines for building the production lines in production and slated to be assembled at Winter, Arluna, and Mandoaaru in exchange for mineral rights to those systems' outer belts and outer planets.

Landmark Class Destroyer (Under Thrust 6 engines)

Landmark Class Destroyer

There is no guarantee that the Landmark class Destroyers will actually be purchased...or even that the prototypes will be fit for service until sometime in 3053 or 3054-the designs use radical concepts abandoned by the Hegemony early in the age of war, the concepts work, they're just not as versatile as more conventional layouts, and have more moving parts than they really ought to-especially given the need to rely on less efficient heat-sinking and power distribution...

but if they work the punch will be worth it in the short term, and the practice would be valuable in the long term.

For the moment, despite advance preparation. Having twisting free of Comstar's monopolies on certain technologies, the AFFC is still on the back foot. Trying to play catch-up and slow the invading juggernaut down...which means that Tabby can play escort for a pack of JumpShips and dropships assembling emergency lines, because she's the most potent warship the Lyrans currently have available.

It's risky, and both the Archon, and the AI, know it.

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