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The Road to the Stars – Chapter FOUR

Oh, Vasilia!

She was such a piece of work. Yes, I know, she was a product of her environment, she had no choice but to respond in the manner she did, she’d been groomed for her position since childhood, blah, blah, blah.

Doesn’t change the fact she was a piece of work.

I never did meet her. Everything I know of her I know from others, or from her actions. But damn.

Anyways. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow this book for free! You can buy it for just $2.99 as an ebook, you can get it as a paperback, and if you prefer it’s even available as an audiobook! Click any image to purchase (or click the button right below here). As always, there is an audio sample at the end of the chapter.

Chapter Four

“I want her dead!”

“Primus, you heard her –”

“I want her dead!”

“Primus, it’s not that simple –”

“I want her dead!”

“Will you stop behaving like a spoiled child and listen?”

That stopped the repetition, if only to change the focus to the Treasury Minister.

“Nobody speaks –”

“Oh, do shut up, Vasilia,” interrupted the older woman. “I changed your diapers when your parents were too busy to do it. You may have disposed of your half-brother, and good riddance to him, but you’ll find that I’m not so easy to shunt aside.”

The younger woman froze on the edge of saying something else, then visibly forced herself to relax. “Yes, Aunt Daria.”

“Very good.”

The discussion was taking place in the Primus’ quarters. Though larger than those enjoyed by the average citizen, they were by no means as luxurious or ostentatious as the most powerful woman in the Union could have demanded. She had summoned select Ministers to watch the transmission from the L5 habitat, including Treasury, War, and Intelligence, but notably excluding the President and Minister of State. Now, in the aftermath, these most-trusted advisors were trying to devise a strategy.

“Primus,” said Minister Dent, “Before we attempt anything, and I’ll admit that assassination may be the best option, we must have the opportunity to gather more information. We haven’t the data yet to be sure of our target.”

“And you heard her at the end of her speech,” added Minister Whitmore. “If we make an attempt, and fail, I fear for the safety of our people.”

“Even if we succeed,” advised Pitt. “If we are to eliminate this threat, we must do so absolutely and completely.”

“Cut off the head and the snake will die,” replied the Primus.

“This snake has two heads,” observed Dent. “You did notice the last name of this self-styled ‘Admiral’? Her reference to ‘my wife’?”

Pitt was nodding agreement. “Aiyana and Kendra. That would explain the actions of Cassidy the past few years.”

“Then I repeat: I want her dead!”

“Give my people at least a rotation to infiltrate and report,” said Dent.

“Your people are incompetent!” yelled Newling. “If they had done their jobs, we would have known about the connection between these – these – furies! We could have removed the problem before they completed their damned ship!” Newling stopped, visibly regathering her calm.

“Minister Whitmore, what does this TFS Enterprise do to the balance of power?”

“Officially, nothing.”

“Nothing?” sputtered Newling. “Nothing?!”

“I said, officially,” repeated Whitmore. “Cassidy has been very careful to emphasize that they are unaligned with any existing power, which suggests that they will be following their own agenda. Colin?”

The Intelligence Minister nodded. “That would be my read, yes. But we don’t know what their agenda is.”

“Yes, we do,” corrected Pitt. “Cassidy said it herself: go boldly, seek and explore.”

“Explore what? Seek what? We need more details!”

“And that is your job, Minister Dent.” The Primus’ voice was cold. “But we got off topic. Balance of power.”

“If the ship functions the way the designers intend, it will be the power in the system, ne plus ultra,” answered Whitmore. “None of our ships could stand up to it. The one liability of their design is the mount of the laser; it would appear that the only way to aim is to change the attitude of the ship itself. From what I’ve seen of their schematics, their defensive systems are more than adequate to blunt any attack we can possibly make. Failing that, they can run away.” She shrugged.

“Can we duplicate their systems?”

Whitmore looked pensive. “Perhaps, given time, and access to all of their plans.” She shook her head. “I need to speak to Minister Newling.”

“Oh? What do you need of the Minister of Technology?”

“Primus, if I understand correctly, what they’ve achieved is decades ahead of anything else we’re even considering. I don’t know that, even with their complete database, we could replicate their tech.”

“What if we had their technicians as well?” suggested Newling.

Whitmore was about to reply, then stopped and looked to Dent. “Colin?”

“Absolutely not!”

“Surely your organization can handle –”

“Knock it off!” The sudden yell from Newling brought the argument to a halt. “Answer the question, Whitmore. Yes or no.”

“Yes. If we have their techs, and their plans, we can duplicate their results.”

“Dent. Make it happen. I don’t want discussion or excuses..”

“Yes, Primus.”

“How long until we can build our own starship?”

“Primus, I can’t even begin to answer that!” protested Whitmore. “It’s taken them ten years of active construction. Yes, we have the experience in building spacecraft, but…Several years, at a minimum.”

“Then we have to do something to maintain our position of power. At our next meeting, I want options.” Newling stood; the audience was evidently over.

The Road to the Stars – Book 2 – Chapter 4

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