Time to reset again! Yes, we’re into the final third of the book, so get ready!
And of course we’re starting on Luna, seeing what’s going on behind the scenes.
The Primus wasn’t happy, which was pretty well her default setting that year. Whoops. My bad.
Put it on your calendars now: November 24.
Because Adam is going to do a blockbuster sale and promotional blitz that day!
He’s going to be all over the web, including at least one (and maybe two) LIVE appearances, PLUS giveaways and contests and all sorts of other fun things.
MOST of this will be on Facebook (see the button below), but he’s also going to be on the Meet The Author Podcast at 7pm EST (4pm PST) on the 24th as well.
Don’t miss out!
Artemis City, Council of Ministers
Fury and fear mixed in the council chambers, an unpleasant miasma of adrenaline and sweat and musk. The only one not actively concerned was Taylor, whose Ministry was uninvolved. He wasn’t safe, but he was at less risk than any other Minister.
“How could this happen?” bellowed the Primus, slamming a hand down on the arm of her chair hard enough the plasteel bent.
“Dent! You’re Minister of Intelligence; why didn’t you catch wind of this?”
“Primus, the mission of MinInt, within the Union, is to support the requests and efforts of the Foreign Ministry.”
Dent’s eyes flicked to the seat that the Foreign Minister should have occupied, a silent rebuke.
“With no such active requests or, in this case, a mission which was only beginning to be organized, our service is concerned primarily with maintaining and strengthening our existing connections, not gathering new information. It is primarily nations inimical to our interests in which we are actively engaged in intelligence-gathering.”
“And you had no idea this was coming?”
“My late cousin would be far better suited to answer that, Primus.”
Dent didn’t bother making the dig subtle. At least the means and methods of Arthur’s death were left to him, not a lackey and not to the thugs who still made the bulk of the MinSec personnel.
Fortunately for the Dent family, the Primus was still focused on her anger at the Guild’s ‘betrayal’ and ignored the subtleties.
The dark-skinned woman standing behind the empty Foreign Minister’s chair jumped. Her brown eyes wide in fright, she managed to squeak, “Me?”
“Yes. Who are you?”
“Second Deputy Foreign Minister Iyen Vinson, Primus,” she answered.
“Where is the Deputy?”
Vinson had the presence of mind not to answer honestly.
She didn’t say the Deputy Foreign Minister had refused to leave his office and ordered her to the meeting in his stead. She didn’t say he’d threatened to turn her into MinSec for treason and accuse her family of the same if she hadn’t complied. And she certainly didn’t say he’d yelled at her that she’d ‘best have her affairs in order’ and ‘better you out an airlock than me!’
Instead, she answered, “He thought it more appropriate I attend this meeting.”
“Then you answer me. If MinInt didn’t know this was coming, why didn’t the Foreign Ministry?”
“My understanding, Primus, is limited; my area of expertise is the Martian Colonies.” She ended with a questioning note and awaited the Primus’ acknowledgement before continuing.
“I think the Guild had become frustrated with the oversized role they played in the SUN compared to their influence on the politics and positions of the Union.”
“Those traitors! How dare they!”
The Primus kicked up from her chair, sending it flying backwards, and gesticulated wildly.
“We gave them everything! We protected them! We sold them their food, bought their metals!”
She kicked at the fallen chair and it tumbled further away.
“It’s war, a war for our very survival as a star nation, and in war people die! And they had just as much of a voice in the Union as we did, one vote, one seat, out of four. There is nothing which could have been fairer than that! Their inability to sway anyone to their way of thinking is a failure of their people, their policies, not some sort of effort to suppress their policies!”
Vinson was smart enough not to say anything.
The abused chair was picked up and flung at the rear wall, barely missing one of the armsmen dispassionately watching the demonstration. The assembled Ministers and assistants might not have been so sanguine, but they still concealed their discomfort.
“Fine,” Newling growled. “They want to throw in with the Federation, let them. It just gives the Federation more space to defend. Taylor!”
His attention snapped back. Definitely the wrong time to be thinking what he had been thinking.
“I want you to create a plan of battle to bring this war to the Guild. They have to defend fixed points: Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, Hygeia, the rest of their miserable rocks, right?”
“Yes, Primus, though we’ve never considered offensive action against the Guild.”
She waved off the objection, if she even recognized it as such.
“I want them destroyed. Saturate their defenses with nuclear weapons, force the Federation to try to defend their new allies, then hammer the habitat when the starships are occupied. I leave the details to you.”
“I will begin planning, Primus, but it will take time. If only Artemis is to be involved, then –”
“No. This is a Union matter. The Guild has betrayed the entire Union by their actions; we will unite to crush the traitors.”
“Very well, Primus. As I said, I will begin to plan, and I will involve my SUN counterpart.”
“No survivors, Taylor. We must wipe this plague from space before it infects anyone else.”
“As you say, Primus.”
Taylor risked looking to Dent. The older Minister seemed lost in his thoughts.
“What was your name again?”
“Vinson. You are now Foreign Minister. The preservation of the Union is your only task, one which you will fail at your peril. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Primus. I will do my best.”
“No, Vinson. Do better.”
She stalked from the chambers, and Taylor came to a decision.
“Minister Dent?” he said softly as the gathered ministers started talking.
“Colin?” he repeated, louder.
“Ehm? Yes, Minister Taylor?”
“Might you have time to discuss a matter of mutual importance? In the next few days, that is.”
“Certainly, Minister Taylor. I am happy to put MinInt at the assistance of the Ministry of War, as you know.”
“As we know, yes. Thank you.”
Sometimes going too far was only the beginning.