Yes, we’ve reset the chapters again!
That means we’re into the last ‘third’ of this book. I say third in quotes because it’s not divided by number of words or chapters; it’s divided by events.
But you don’t care about the technical minutiae.
As always with the scenes within Artemis, Adam had to do his best to reconstruct them from people’s memories and any electronic records which might still exist. Now, nothing against the people who were there, but there are definitely liberties taken with these chapters.
Have you entered to win the $50 Restaurant.com gift card? No? Why not? You’re running out of time!
Artemis City, Council of Ministers
“Why didn’t it work?” demanded the Primus.
The assembled Ministers surreptitiously glanced at each other, consternation on their faces. Until moments ago, none of them had the slightest idea that anything was afoot, and now they were expected to weigh in on the Primus’s secret project?
Unsurprisingly, then, it was Nicole who spoke first.
“Primus. A single missile had no realistic chance of penetrating their defenses, even one as advanced as the one you’ve described.”
The Primus started to erupt before subsiding. “Explain,” she said with an effort of will.
“We know what the Federation’s ships are capable of,” Nicole said. “The missile was coming in faster than anything we could manage, but their starship, sorry, starships, can go FTL. That means they can intercept anything traveling sublight.”
Nicole stopped when she saw the storm brewing.
“On the other hand, I think that a swarm of those missiles might have a chance of getting through. Where one might not penetrate, multiples might be able to swamp the defenses and let one slip through.”
The storm subsided at the veiled praise. Nicole decided that she needed to make it a little more explicit and climb her way out the hole she dug for herself.
“I must say that the warhead was impressive,” continued Nicole. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything with quite the same level of potency. There certainly isn’t anything in our inventory which can equal it.”
That was sufficient, for now. “This was the only one of this design,” said the Primus. “But the Titanites are producing more, and others.”
“If I can ask, Primus, how did they get that much antimatter? Assistant Minister Patterson said that’s one of the problems we have in moving from fusion to antimatter power generation. And antimatter makes much more potent warheads in a smaller package.”
The Primus was distracted. “Patterson?”
“She’s in MinTech, in charge of Power Generation.”
Newling grunted. “I don’t know the details,” she admitted. “They said something about a gap in Saturn’s rings but not much more. We’ll fix that, of course, but for now they can have their secrets.”
“It’s probably not important. But I had a thought about any more missiles they build.”
“Go ahead. That’s why you’re still Minister of War; you don’t play with petty bullshit.”
Nicole was shocked to hear this; she’d worried that her bluntness would end up killing her and had taken steps to rein in her usual candor. She’d forgotten today, in her fascination with the new weapon the Primus revealed, and had half-feared what she’d bring down on herself.
“The target of this missile was their habitat, correct?”
“The warhead they used had a yield in excess of 450 megatons. That wouldn’t just destroy it, that would totally vaporize the habitat, everything and everyone in it.”
The Primus’s eyes gleamed and her tone was harsh. “That is the point, Minister.”
“It’s overkill, Primus. You could destroy the habitat with a hundredth of that force. It wouldn’t be vaporized, merely shattered and dispersed, but the end result would be the same. What that means, though, is a hundred warheads could be created with the same raw materials as the one already built.”
Nicole could see understanding spreading and so pushed the matter further. “A hundred of those missiles, approaching from different directions? Some would get through.”
“And that’s the end of the Federation.”
I wouldn’t go that far, thought Nicole but didn’t say. “It would be a crippling blow,” she temporized.
“Can Titan build a hundred of these?” asked Kreitzer, earning a look from the Primus.
“We have arranged to provide them the technological support they need to further our mutual goals.”
That would be no. Kreitzer needs to be careful here.
He seemed to recognize the danger and simply nodded.
“Primus, if we can be permitted to coordinate with Titan on their next attack, and if that attack comes in concert with our Scimitars, then we can actually end this war victorious and with minimal additional loss of Artemesian forces.”
“I agree with you, Minister Crozier. There are other considerations at play, of course, which I cannot share with you. But I’ll have the information on my Titan contacts sent to you, and you can do your job.”
“Primus,” Nicole said, before her attention could move on. “One more question.”
“Do you have any timetable for their production of weapons?”
The Primus thought, then shook her head. “That isn’t something we discussed. Tell me when you learn it.” She turned to Minister Dent. “What progress are you making on discrediting Cassidy?”
“The information has found fertile ground in various organizations who hold grudges against her,” said Dent. “There are a number of lawsuits underway, any one of which will cripple her and her organization. If she survives the attack Minister Crozier is now planning, she won’t be in any position to rebuild.”
“Lawsuits?” scoffed Newling. “I thought that this would get her locked away.”
“It isn’t that simple,” Dent explained. “Not on Earth, at least.”
“I thought you said this would be quick!”
“No, Primus. I said it would be more effective than any direct action we could take, and it should be.”
“Nothing is guaranteed on Earth, Primus. We can influence but not directly interfere.”
“More the pity. Very well. Keep me informed as the cases progress.”