That means you, lucky reader, can now read another chapter in the yet-to-be-released Volume Four in the Cassidy Chronicles, A Quiet Revolution.
I’m not kidding – the book should be out mid- to late-April, the cover hasn’t even been revealed yet, but you can read it for free before it comes out!
Well, one chapter at a time.
Don’t forget that today is the Virtual Book Club! If you haven’t signed up – why not? All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in!
Also, there’s a playlist – two songs were posted yesterday – and the song for this chapter is at the bottom of the post!
Last week, we checked in with Double Dip and Shooting Star, and the issues they’re having getting the Direwolf squadrons up and running.
This week, we’re meeting a brand new star nation!
Ceres, Miner’s Guild
“They’re bleeding us dry!”
“When was the last time Artemis did anything for us?”
“My son was killed on their stupid raid!”
“We don’t need them!”
Tamara Kumlien, Moderator for the Miner’s Guild Representative’s Hall and de facto President of the Miner’s Guild, looked to her fellow Negotiators. Representative’s meetings were always fractious and had become increasingly so since the actions Artemis took against the Terran Federation, now almost a quarter-year past. She’d hoped that it would have died down as the conflict slowed to a simmer, but instead the voices had simply gotten louder and more persistent.
If she hoped to find any support for clamping down on the yammering she was disappointed, and she suppressed a sigh. Most of the Negotiators were notable for their equanimity and skill at finding compromises; that was the main focus of their position, after all. Putting down an incipient rebellion was anathema to some and certainly strange to all. She didn’t know if that was a side effect of the composition of the Negotiators and Representatives, and frankly didn’t care. Mining, the lifeblood of their nation and economy, was still a dangerous, physical job. Most of it was done by the men of the outposts, leaving the governance to the women, an arrangement which suited both sides just fine. And while it cut down on the physical conflicts between Representatives, the infighting was still fierce.
Finally losing her patience, she slammed the chunk of iron ore that served as a gavel down on the bench.
Unsurprisingly, they did, or perhaps not so surprising. She’d held her post for almost a full Ceresian year, 4.6 Earth years, and had been a Negotiator for three years before that. People were used to listening to her and, when pressed, obeying her.
She hoped it was still true.
“I hear a lot of talk but no solutions,” she said now. “What’s the first Rule of Negotiation?”
A number of voices in the crowd said, “Never bring up a problem without providing two solutions.”
“Right. Does anyone want to fix that?” She swept the room with her gaze, bringing in everyone and nobody in particular.
“You! Lusardi! Your voice was one of the loudest. You want to repeat what you said, so maybe everyone can hear?”
Anne Marie Lusardi stepped forward. She was married into one of the oldest lines in the Belt and could have held a Negotiator’s position if she wanted it. She was usually content to stay in the shadows and pull the strings on her puppets, which was one reason Kumlien called her out. If she could squash Lusardi’s position, then most of the yammering would fade away, and she could return to governing.
“Moderator, we have been waiting for Artemis to tell us what they’re doing since they launched this war against the Terran Federation. We’ve watched our children join the Union navy, just like they always have, but now we don’t know if they’re going to come back to us whole, or at all. Every one of us knows someone who was lost on the Brahe, and yet nothing’s been done. Nothing’s been said. We can’t go on like this, Moderator, and we won’t.”
“That’s a good statement of the problem, Anne Marie. What’s your solution?”
“Boycott the Union or withdraw.”
There was a collective intake of breath.
“That’s rather extreme, isn’t it?”
She decided to be neutral about it, rather than jubilant. She’d long felt that the Guild put more into the Union than got back from it; if Artemis didn’t inflate the prices of the food and tech they sold back to the asteroids, the Guild would have a hugely positive trade surplus. As it was, their ores and metals provided them with an enviable balance. Still, it chafed, being bled as the treasury for the Union and getting cabbages and toys in return.
“Even you will admit there has been provocation,” countered Lusardi.
“Of course there has been! But has it reached a level for that response? Remember, Artemis won’t let us go quietly.”
“And if we call our children back? Who will man their ships?”
That was more like Lusardi: subtle and devastating.
“I call for an Executive Session,” she announced. Under the rules, the Moderator could announce such a meeting at any time, but only once a day for a maximum of a half hour. It allowed the Negotiators to hammer out policy points in private while not giving them enough time to make massive changes or get bogged down in details. The Representatives would do more than enough of that.
“Representative Lusardi, your presence is requested.” That was another rule; any Representative could be requested to stay, but there was no obligation attached and they could turn it down with no consequences. Few did, but they could.
“Thank you, Moderator,” she said as the hall emptied. There was no discussion until the last of the uninvited exited, then she turned her attention to the Negotiators and Moderator.
“Sweet Goddess, Tamara, it took you long enough.”
“I couldn’t take the jibber-jabber anymore, Anne Marie. You could have guided them, you know.”
Lusardi shrugged. “There isn’t really any unity in the Representatives as to what we should do. Some of ‘em want to put their heads in a hole and hope it all goes away. Some want to rush at Artemis and damn the consequences. Most just want to go back to normal.”
“But we know that’s not happening, not with the Federation in the picture now.”
“No.” The two women ignored the rest of the Negotiators, which seemed to suit them well enough. “What’s your thoughts?”
Kumlien didn’t hesitate. “We ought to negotiate with the Federation and see if they’ll take us in. We can offer them the metals they need, and they can cover us with their starships when Artemis decides to take us out.”
“They could use our expertise,” agreed Lusardi. “You heard about their mining colony? That’s perfect for us, so why aren’t we in on it? Because the fool in Luna got her suit in a twist about starships.”
“Excellent point. Negotiators?”
Ten heads swiveled to look at her.
“All in favor of opening independent discussions with the Federation, with the explicit intent of withdrawing from the Solarian Union and joining the Federation?”
Ten hands raised.
“Very good. Representative Lusardi, it is my honor to appoint you Special Envoy to the Terran Federation, with the primary mission to negotiate our integration into the Federation.” And that will get you out of my helmet long enough to settle the rest of the yahoos down.
Lusardi’s face showed her understanding and even grudging appreciation of the astute move, but she merely said, “As the Moderator says, I am honored by your trust. I will serve the Guild well. And now, if you will excuse me, I need to make arrangement before passage in-system.”
Well, well, well. That was unexpected (I hope)!
You know, there IS a way for you to get your hands on an eARC (Electronic Advance Reader’s Copy) of A Quiet Revolution. before the market release in April.
Watch this video. It tells you everything you need to know!
As promised, a song to go with this chapter! Things Have Changed, by Bob Dylan. Did you know he won an Oscar for this song?