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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 25 - The Other War

09/01/3060 Aboard the FCV Manai, Grand Archipelago, Fortuna (formerly Fasa)

A hawk nosed man was semi-visible in the dimmed lights of the holo-tank sitting between two other dour fellows a thousand light years away. His voice was low, almost growling, and very German. “Scientist-Controller we have not received an update on our project in months. Where is Doctor Viken?”

On the other side were a young man and woman, both finely featured with darker skin than the pale spacers. The man spoke first, “We believe he was killed by your project's test subjects and his station needed to be destroyed to contain the breach. All that remains are his off-site backups, but we have not yet had time to free a Scientist to oversee the next step.”

There was a brief pause as the message transmitted nearly 1000 light years and 20 QR 243 HPG Relays away, “We do not appreciate these delays. Your predecessor promised us results. Our Convoy Protection Forces demand more capable soldiers.”

Taking a deep breath, the woman spoke, “You cannot rush this project Major. We are working with a great deal of uncertainty with the protocols and have our own security issues. I am certain The Chairman can send more crates of Mark Thirty-Nine Pulse Rifles to assuage the Captain-Generals.”

Major Meyer became more animated which was blurred during to the low fidelity of their tenuous FTL broadcast, “We do not need more rifles! The Hansa can buy comparable ones from the Lyrans. You on the other hand are the only ones that can give us super soldiers from your 'Iron Wombs.'"

"Your Chairman has built up good will and credit among the Council. I will inform my Captain-General that you,” he pointed to the man, “Scientist-Controller Calloway, are less than reliable. We have paid for Viken's services for years now and want his data transferred to Lubeck. If you cannot give us what we want. We will do it ourselves.”

“Only The Chairman can authorize a transfer of raw data.”

There was a moment that was filled with the gaunt spacers' grimacing, “We expect to receive what we paid for! Meyer out.” The holo-vid turned off.

“That could have gone better, Dexter.” The woman stood up and secured the room ensuring the holo-tank built into their gardener ship was secured and no longer transmitting to Fortuna's HPG. “It could have been much worse too, Mary. At least he wasn't demanding a refund, our projects are running a little over-budget right now, something I am sure The Chairman will mention later.”

“Meyer is asking for even more with a data transfer.” “I know. We only just secured the physical data from Circe to protect it here on Fortuna. Our father will not be pleased.”

His stepsister fiddled with the radio and returned the holo-tank to the immersive aquarium idle screen, “He won't do anything; The Major’s project is a small one for the HSF. We already have the capability to make their soldiers. Viken was merely playing around with crossing Elementals and Spacer phenotypes."

I wonder how they performed. Was his death quick? or did they take their time?”
“Either way what you say is True Mary, The Council of Merchants will not complicate things with their HPG link to the Homeworlds in our hands. Nor jeopardize the Free Guilds Jumpships we have been sending their way. Newgrange has been the best ally we could ask for.”

“We do our part for them as well.”

Dexter finished securing the holo-tank before placing their plates in the assigned place for a steward to pick up. Their annual full day conference with the Society’s allies in the Hanseatic League drained the HPG relays’ fuel tanks due to the power needed to manage the bandwidth. There would be a welcome period of silence as their jumpship tankers passed by to refuel them before returning to the normal transmission schedule. “We have been down here all day. Let's go topside. We have an hour before the meeting with Doctor Matsuda.”

“At least we won't have to worry about a nearly five-minute delay with him. He is only two relays away.”

They walked topside past other more utilitarian workers tending a multitude of aquariums, terrariums, and aquaculture ponds. The interior of the ship smelled of salt water and fish cooking for their evening meal in the galley. Upon reaching the deck they were bathed in the warm light of Fortuna’s sun setting behind one of the many volcanic islands of the Grand Archipelago. Waves from the primordial blue-green oceans crashed over the lichen and seaweed covered rocks that were just beginning to reach a state of self-sufficiency after generations of careful tending.

FCV Manai was one of a large fleet of ‘Gardener’ ships plying its placid seas spreading nutrients and seeding it with life adapted to its oceans. Those vessels were of a similar type as those developed in the Tanis system to mine Alexandra's arsenic laden waters.

With fresh air in their lungs the step-siblings returned to the dark interior of their ship to eat their meal while watching the ongoing meeting of Chairman (of Fortuna) Henry Hyouk and Chief Administrator (of Newgrange City) Dakou Wong. The Newts reported they were ahead of schedule having taken full advantage of this year’s confusion to liberate a number of spacecraft from around Bearclaw before the Snow Ravens claimed the system.

Finally their time came and Doctor Matsuda of Tanis, presently on Newgrange, came in over the the holo-tank while they went over the logistics of The Society's looming revolution in the Pentagon and Tanite Worlds. After an hour their schedule was complete.

They went to the observation deck to mingle with the other crew members of the FCV Manai. The deck was noticeable vacant with less than a dozen crew milling about in a much larger area. This vessel didn't have its full complement yet. Tomorrow they would pick up the latest batch of 'Guppies' that would take up most of the room for expansion.

Dexter leaned against the railing looking to the side as Fortuna's small moon rose to its zenith, “The Tanites retaining the services of Mandrill Marine to train their soldiers is a surprising revelation.”

Mary quaffed a batch of the latest distilled spirit from the ship's brew-master before spitting it over the railing, “Soloman needs to work on his feedstocks, yuck.

Well the Mandrills have plenty of opportunity to hone their skills fighting each other. We should try to build off of this. Its not like the Fire Mandrills will be a threat to our agenda in the future.”

“Mary, you are an insightful thinker but terrible drinker.
If we can back the Hellions and Mandrills they might take the Star Adders and Coyotes down a notch. The Jade Falcons and Diamond Sharks will continue the futile effort of maintaining strength in both the Homeworlds and Inner Sphere.

We can make them choose the Inner Sphere and make our job easier. Already the Khans have to be thinking about it, so much room for expansion and a siren's call leading them to Terra.”

He toasted the moon's shadow on the calm ocean, “and like those sirens, it will lead them to their doom.”

09/02/3060

A Free Guilds Mule landed on a cloud of water vapor burning out of the morning sky just ahead of the FCV Manai. That ship's crew watched it through filtered glasses that blocked out the white hot thermonuclear light. It was followed like any water landing as the vapor diffracted light like a prism creating a broad rainbow.

Dexter and Mary had changed out of their formal clothes to more breathable ones like those worn by people from Terra's Oceania region. The ship pulled into the dock as trams arrived from the Starport carrying the newest fifteen hundred souls to join the thirty million in system.

Mary looked out with binoculars at the new arrivals, “Think the Hansa left any cute ones this time?”

He joined her with his own pair of binoculars, “Oh Mary, you know those Bavarian bastards always keep the cute ones to themselves.”

The trams opened up and unloaded groups of people, some families but mostly singles with lowered heads and little more than the clothes on their backs. They were recruited (mostly voluntarily) and shipped across the stars from the Hanseatic League as payment for Society Tech. “We are lucky if we get decent workers out of these wretches.”



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