Chapter 34: A Thing beyond Fucking Crazy

Grand Marshal Pedro Maas of the People’s Democratic Front sat at his big new rosewood desk and smiled a big new triumphant smile.  He looked over the information on his portable again and shook his head contemptuously.  “This is a thing beyond fucking crazy…”

            “I have no doubt, Marshal.”  Assemblyman Rupert Blane paused at the indignant look Maas shot him and corrected himself: “Grand Marshal, beg your pardon.  However, we need to reach a decision on this matter promptly.”

            “I see little profit in sending valuable ships of mine to be destroyed with theirs,” Mass said, leaning back in his chair and putting his feet up.

            “Sir,” Blane tilted his head in that irritating pre-lecture rite of his.  “We have promised the carriers and reneging would be unwise.  They still control shipping lanes throughout the Expanse and Iceni Queen is en route with a sizable war fleet.  It would be risky to provoke them.”

            “We’ve survived all rivals,” Mass said dismissing worry.  “Those pirates and their hangers-on will come to heel once order’s been established and our forces consolidated.”

            “Yes, but that day is still some ways off,” Blane said in a cautious tone, the only one he seemed to own.  “Their services are still essential, as is the buffer they provide against the Federation.  It’s only because of McAllister’s antics they’ve been too preoccupied to pay much attention to the political situation here.  That will not last.”

            “Then you agree we should support the assault?” Maas asked bluntly.

            “I do, fully,” Blane told him.  “If they succeed, they become a military force on the Federation’s boarder; useful in the short term as a shield.  Eventually, when we do move against them, as a lever for concessions.”

The assemblyman began pacing back and forth, lost in thought as he spoke.  His hands were close to his chest, fingers spread and pressed together at the tips in sinister fashion.  Maas couldn’t stand the man.  He never held a weapon in his life but had the temerity to chair the military oversight committee.  A respected member of the legislative council, however, he needed to be handled with care.

“Now, assuming for the moment they are successful and manage to hold on to the station, we gain access to the most advanced shipyards in the galaxy with the Jupiter yards dispatched.  This will allow us to restore and add to our fleet; and with proper warships, not the converted scrap we rely on now.”

            “It’s a wild long shot at best,” Maas protested, “even if they’re initially successful the FDF will be on them like paint.”

            “If they fail,” Blane continued, “they are out of our way immediately.  In either case, if a tenth part of the rumors about McAllister’s tactical prowess are true, they’ll do enough harm with our assistance that the Federation Council will deal with us quietly.  With all the uprisings and chaos right now they want a quick end to the conflict, not a wider war in foreign space.  Win-win as I see it.”  The little weasel actually smiled.

            As he left the Grand Marshal’s office, Blane decided it would be best to send no dispatch.  Deacon would certainly want to hear the good news as soon as possible but security was tight and Maas would respond presently in any case.

 

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