Hey, it’s Friday!
That means it’s the end of the week for most people!
Not so much for writers. We write when the particular muse who is running our hands at the moment says, “WRITE!”, because we’ve all had the experience of refusing that command. “WRITE!” the muse says. “NO! I’m trying to eat/sleep/read/have a life! I’ll write it later,” the writer replies. “Oh no you won’t,” says the muse, and takes the idea and locks it away forever and ever.
So we write. We have tricks, through. I know one writer who goes out for long hikes and dictates; the act of walking stimulates his mind and lets him bring back the idea he left off the day before. I try to end a chapter and start the next one before I stop; that way I can look at it the next day and pick up the thread.
But enough about writing. You want your chapter!
If you missed it, the title reveal was Monday. No longer do I have to refer to it as just ‘Cassidy 4’ but can call it by its proper name. What name? Well, if you know, you know. If you don’t, watch this video:
That’s it: Welcome to the first post of A Quiet Revolution.
On we go! Chapter 2 – that would be C2, B1, V4.
Artemis City, Artemis Council of Ministers
“My patience has run out, Minister Pitt.”
“Primus, our search is still ongoing.”
The Primus, Vasilia Newling, was not notable for her patience and good humor. Neither was Kim Yvette Pitt, the Minister of Security. That hadn’t been much of an issue since Pitt had climbed to the top of her Ministry over the bodies of her rivals, often literally. Newling had found it quite refreshing, actually, to have a subordinate in Pitt who understood what it took to maintain control over the population of Artemis without worrying about coddling the masses. As a result, Pitt’s Ministry had been virtually exempt from any of the periodic purges that swept out from Newling.
Until now, that is.
“You have said that Crozier could not have left Artemis City.”
“That is correct, Primus.”
“Artemis City is not that large, Minister.”
“Primus, by comparison to groundhog cities, no. But it still encompasses over ninety cubic kilometers, and I have limited numbers of operatives to do the search.”
“And you failed to extract information of her whereabouts from her family.”
Jake Taylor, the current Acting Minister of War, winced. His superior and friend, Nicole Crozier, had gone missing a half-Lunar ago, during a botched attempt to apprehend fugitives from one of the Artemis Political Rehabilitation Center. She had been taking a rare weekend off, visiting her parents, and her mother had talked her into taking a shift at the restaurant her mother ran ‘for old times’ sake’. While there a squad from MinSec had entered and attempted the apprehension. When Nicole had marched up to them and demanded an explanation, in her role not as the manager’s daughter but as the Minister of War, she’d been accused of being in league with the fugitives. After that, all Hell broke loose, and both Nicole and the fugitives had disappeared.
Suspicion had fallen on him, as Nicole’s Deputy. Naturally he denied any connection between the fugitives and Nicole, which was absolutely the truth as he knew it. He also denied knowing the location of Nicole, which was far less true. She had contacted him while on the run, asking him which of the Navy ships was most loyal to her. She hadn’t said anything else, but he hadn’t survived eight years in the Ministry without a certain amount of street smarts, and he caught up to her just as she was ready to board the Roosa. She’d convinced him to remain behind and protect the men and women of the Ministry, people that would be the first to lose their lives if the ongoing, low-intensity conflict with the Terran Federation were to flare up.
So he lied, denying all knowledge of her whereabouts.
That kept him alive, at least long enough to get an appearance before the Primus, where he played his one card. He told the Primus to ask Minister Pitt where, exactly, Nicole was? He then spun a vast conspiracy theory out of whole cloth, pinning it all on removing Nicole as the lynchpin of a coup aimed, eventually, at replacing Newling with Pitt.
To his pleased shock, it worked. Newling was suspicious and paranoid enough to believe in the possibility, aided and abetted by Pitt’s prior vicious behavior in reaching her position. Taylor kept pounding away at the idea that Pitt needed to produce Nicole, as well as the fugitives, in order to disprove the coup idea, knowing full well that Pitt would never be able to find Nicole. His only worry was that Nicole would surface before Pitt had been eliminated as a threat to his continued existence, but he couldn’t do anything about that.
Nicole’s family, though, were truly innocent in this. They knew nothing about Nicole’s disappearance, and so all the ‘extreme interrogation’ methods Pitt had at her disposal would produce precisely nothing. That wouldn’t stop them from trying, though, and he hated to think about the pain they were going through. There wasn’t anything he could do, though. Not yet.
“No, Primus,” Pitt was confirming. “They have not admitted to anything yet. We have had to stop our questioning several times to allow them a chance to recover, but our efforts continue.”
“And the other fugitives, the four who you hadn’t found? Have you succeeded in identifying or locating them?”
“They were identified, Primus, as Cassandra Carnahan, James Moore, Autumn Newling, and –”
“Autumn?” The Primus looked more than interested as she interrupted. “Are you talking about my cousin?”
“Yes, Primus. She was placed in the care of MinSec nearly a year ago.”
“Primus, she was sowing discontent within her Ministry.”
“She was a very junior member of a necessary, but not very prestigious, Ministry,” said the Primus with an edge in her voice. “How was she sowing discontent?”
“I would have to consult the records, Primus.”
Pitt was definitely on the defensive now, so Taylor figured he’d add some oxygen to the blaze.
“Eliminating a member of the Newling family? That’s a bold move, even for you, Minister Pitt,” he said mock-admiringly.
“And she has not been found either?”
“Primus, as I have said, we continue to search.”
“And as I have said, Minister, my patience has run out. I didn’t believe the questions that Minister Taylor raised, not at first, but your continued obstinacy in producing any sort of result forces me to conclude that he may well have stumbled onto something.” She nodded to a pair of her armsmen, who stepped forward and grabbed the Minister.
“Minister Pitt, I am removing you from your position. In deference to your family, and unlike what you provided my cousin, I am showing you mercy. I will not be collecting the ultimate penalty from you at this time.” The Primus had a reputation for removing threats to her authority, both real and perceived, in the most final manner possible.
“Minister Dent.” An older man stood up: Colin Dent, Minister of Intelligence.
“I realize that this is unexpected, but I need you to take on the role of Minister of Security for the time being, as well as your current post. Root out the rot. Discover the truth, expose the lies. Restore the Ministry. Can you do that?”
“I can, Primus.” Dent had spent decades in government service and had survived many different Primuses; this one was more vicious than most, but she could be managed if one knew how. “I presume I have a free hand?”
“Whatever it takes, Minister Dent. Taylor.”
“Two items. First, until such time as the fate of Minister Crozier is determined, it is my desire that you remain in your post as Acting Minister. I need my Navy to be ready to answer the call when it comes time to increase the tempo of our actions against the Federation, and I believe that you are best suited to maintain that readiness. I have some thoughts regarding the deployment of the Averroes which I would like to discuss with you.”
“My time is yours, Primus.”
“Also, I cannot entrust the former Minister to her own detention centers. Does the Navy have some way of restraining her and keeping her out of contact?”
“I believe so, Primus. The Marine contingent can certainly improvise confinement for her until we work out something more permanent.”
“Good. Pitt is remanded to your custody, then.” The Primus left the Council chamber, as did most of the other Ministers. Taylor found himself left with Minister Dent, Pitt, and the armsmen restraining her.
“Minister Taylor,” Dent said urbanely.
“Minister Dent. I don’t envy you your task.”
Dent looked distastefully at Pitt. “No, I don’t suppose you do. Still, needs must.”
He turned to Taylor. “It’s a pity, though, that Ms. Pitt never responded to my offers of friendship, as Ms. Crozier did; if she had, perhaps she wouldn’t be in this situation.”
“If you find anything about Nicole…?”
“I will certainly let you know, Mr. Taylor. I know you two were friends as well as colleagues.”
“And will you let her family go? I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m certain they had nothing to do with it.”
“As soon as I can ascertain that myself, of course. Good day, Minister.” And Dent departed.
“Come on,” Taylor said to the guards. “Let’s see where we can stash her.”