Boy, Adam stuffed a bunch of chapters into this part of the book! Then again, there was a bunch happening.
Alexis Carnahan. What a piece of work she was, and I have to say I don’t feel badly at all about what happened to her. Not in the slightest. She was demanding – which I can deal with – and unreasonable – which I can’t – when she worked on the then-Pegasus Project.
Adam’s got a new collection; isn’t the cover cool? He’s gathered the four volumes which contain the Artemis War, the prequel (telling how Cass and I got started on this crazy road), plus an exclusive novelette, The Martian Gambit, all in one place and then slapped a price of $9.99 on it all.
Personally I think he’s nuts, but hey, I just lived it.
If you want to order, click the cover image or the button below.
As usual, the audio for this installment is at the bottom, and you can also buy the book in any format by clicking the other button or any of the cover images.
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
Artemis City, Council of Ministers
“I assure you that the fault lies in your ham-handed engineers, not my warp drive!” Carnahan screeched, ignoring most of the assembled Ministers to focus her ire on just one.
“You were told of the issue, Dr. Carnahan,” Kreitzer Newling calmly replied. “James Moore, who you had removed from the project, was meticulous about his notes. He logged the fault when he found it, he logged the messages he sent to you, and he documented the meeting he had with you to tell you in person. I’ve had the recordings of the meeting recalled, and it matches his description exactly.”
“Who? What? I don’t know what you’re talking about! My drive is perfect. Perfect! If your precious ship, if your idiot navy, can’t manage to reach its potential, that is in no way my fault!”
“They did reach the potential,” Newling said, still calm. “Before their weapons tests, they reached and maintained warp four, just as you promised.”
“Then they broke the drive somehow!”
“No, Dr. Carnahan. They didn’t. You did, by your carelessness and negligence, your arrogance and stupidity. You were told that the conduits installed in Averroes were inadequate for the load which would be placed on them. You were provided a solution for the problem. And instead of thanking the person who brought you the information, you had him removed and –“
Newling stopped. He almost said, ‘thrown into prison,’ but the Political Rehabilitation Centers were not something discussed openly, certainly not with an outsider.
Instead he finished with, “Disgraced. Now our most potent defense against people who would steal our freedom is unavailable for weeks as we work to repair him. For weeks, our citizens will be vulnerable to attacks like the one that obliterated a squadron of cruisers and killed a thousand crew. This is on you, Dr. Carnahan.”
Now he turned to Tom Whitmore.
“I ask for justice, Mr. President.”
“I grant you justice, Minister.”
“Minister Dent,” Newling now said. “What is the appropriate charge?”
“Treason,” said Dent. MinSec acted as not only the police but the prosecutorial arm of the government.
“I’ve done no such thing!” yelled Carnahan. “You have no right! I am a citizen of the California Confederacy and I demand to be returned home!”
“There is no extradition treaty with the California Confederacy, Dr. Carnahan,” said Danna Pitt. She was the Minister of Justice and rarely spoke at the Council meetings. Her role was largely to provide a veil of legitimacy to any decision the Council reached, a role she played most effectively.
“You may attempt to contact them, of course. After your trial.”
“Trial? What? This is absurd! Nobody does this, nobody!”
“Take her away,” Dent ordered. “Prepare her for her trial.”
Two MinSec guards flanked Carnahan and without much difficulty marched the scientist from the chambers, still shrieking her protests.
It was all a show, of course, decided in advance, planned and scripted as carefully as any sensie ever produced.
Taylor needed a scapegoat, to protect Captain Newling. First he went to Colin Dent, to verify Newling’s story of the engineer who found the problem. Dent was skeptical but, like many others, had liked Nicole. He dug up the recordings that showed Moore bringing the problem to Carnahan and her dismissal of the issue. He also found the request Carnahan sent to have Moore removed; he carefully omitted the order from MinSec to put him in a PRC.
Armed with this he went next to Nicole’s friend Kreitzer. He and Kreitzer weren’t close, but they were cordial, and Taylor knew that the failures aboard Averroes would be weighing on Newling as well. He also shamelessly mentioned that the Captain was related to Kreitzer, just to provide a little extra motivation.
That had been enough. Newling had choreographed the entire scene, and now both he and Taylor had a bit more breathing room.
“Minister Taylor,” said the Primus.
“Tell me about the Worden and the Roosa.”
“The Roosa’s Captain was accused of certain improprieties by a loyal MinSec agent.”
“The report didn’t come to me, Primus. I received only a request from Acting Minister Jones to hold them for questioning. Before we could take them into protective custody, the Roosa lifted. From reports by loyal Navy personnel, they loaded their families aboard. Once they lifted, only the Worden was in position to intercept. The rest you are familiar with.”
“I am. Very well. Expedite the repairs to Averroes. Kreitzer.”
“The other two dreadnoughts.”
“El-Baz and Al-Battani. Yes.”
“You have the information to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”
“Yes, Primus. The engineer sent copies of his reports to his superiors, as well as a file copy on his system. The conduits are being upgraded. It will add some time to the refit, but only a few days, perhaps a week.”
“That’s the first piece of good news I’ve gotten. Can we bring in the engineer who spotted the error? He would seem to be the right person to oversee it.”
“Unfortunately, Primus,” said Dent. “The engineer, James Moore, was sent into a PRC. He was one of those who were disappeared the day before Minister Crozier, and we have as yet found no trace of him.”
“The Pittbull’s generosity knows no bounds,” the Primus growled. “Pity she’s gone. Redouble your efforts to find him, Minister.”
“Good. Have we a report from our Foreign Minister? Has he succeeded in his mission?”
“No, Primus,” said President Whitmore.
It was all part of the act, the dance they performed to pretend that they were a democracy and not a one-person tyranny. In the Council chambers, Ministers reported to the Primus, which was all well and good. Ordinary citizens weren’t permitted in the Chambers, after all. But when a Minister was away from Artemis City, they reported, officially, to the President, who then delivered any pertinent information to the rest of the Council.
“Which ‘no’, Whitmore?”
“No, Primus, we have no report from Minister Dent.”
“Primus, Minister Dent had requested a secure communications link be installed in the Haise. He didn’t trust sending messages back due to the sensitive nature of his mission, even using standard coding, if there wasn’t additional encryption. There wasn’t time or space to do the installation, though, before his departure. The smallest portable unit was too large to fit into the frigate and we were unable to pull him into the yard to do a more permanent fix,” said Taylor.
“I do have confirmation from the Captain of the Haise. They have been advised by Minister Dent they will be departing Titan within the next two days.”
“And the transit time?”
“Standard acceleration is 3 Earth g; five days”
“A week, then?”
“Yes, Primus,” acknowledged Taylor.
“Very well. I want to see him as soon as he returns. Keep me informed.”