A snippet

From a work in progress

Ed Cartwright, Tyrian representative to the Terran Confederation Assembly, nodded at the security guard at the entrance to his apartment building.

“Welcome back, Assemblyman.”

“Glad to be back, Andre.  How are the kids?” Cartwright handed his ID to the guard and placed his hand on the scanner.

“Getting bigger every day.  You know how it is.” Andre ran the scanner through a reader and glanced at the telltale which confirmed that ID and hand both belonged to the same individual who was a resident of the building.

“I do indeed.  Any messages?” Cartwright took his hand off the scanner and placed it on the door, waiting for Andre to unlatch it.

“Usual junk, Assemblyman.  Usual junk.”

“Thank you.  If anyone calls I’m out.”

Andre chuckled. “Bad day?”

“Very.  So if you don’t mind.”

“Oh.  Yes sir.”

The traditional buzz and click indicated the unlatching of the door and Cartwright pushed himself through.  As the door locked shut behind him, he sighed. Andre was one of the more pleasant guards Cartwright had dealt with, a retired Marine double dipping in the Confederation Civil Service.

The lift deposited Cartwright on his apartment’s floor.  While he could, with his position, have a luxury suite at the Tyrian Residence in the capital city, or even a private mansion, he preferred an apartment close to the Assembly Hall.  A comfortable apartment, to be sure, and providing privacy in a way that the ever present staff at fancier accommodations could never afford.

Cartwright slid his keycard into the slot in the door and typed a short code into the pad.  The door opened and the lights in the apartment blinked to life. He hung his jacket in the autocloset which would clean and press it before he needed it again then removed his dress sidearm and placed it in the rack next to the door.

The processor in the kitchen already had a mug of cocoa waiting for him, lightly seasoned with cinnamon and just the right temperature.  He took it with him to the nook that held his private comm console.

Cartwright slurped down a big swallow of chocolate then set the cup down.  He tapped a code into the console. A moment later, the machine confirmed a C plus route available to his destination.

A face appeared in the screen.“Lieutenant Winthrup, Tyrian Militia Cruiser Göll.  How may I–” Winthrup’s eyes widened. “Admiral. How may I be of assistance.”

Cartwright chuckled. “It’s just ‘Assemblyman’ now.  I need to speak to your captain. Speare, isn’t it?”

“Yes sir.  One moment, sir.”

The screen went blank for a few seconds then Speare’s face appeared within it. “Admiral Cartwright.  How may I help you.”

“Stand by to take a data transfer from this terminal.”

“Yes, sir.”

Cartwright slid a data chip into the reader on his terminal.

In the screen, Speare looked away, waited a few seconds, then turned back to Cartwright. “Transfer received.”

“Those files include a new set of orders issued under my reserve rank.  You’re in kind of a limbo right now. You haven’t, officially, been handed off to Confederation Navy so we can do this without breaking chain of command.”

Speare’s brows knit in puzzlement. “Yes, sir?”

“The Eres are leading those…Yabanjin, Ybanji, whatever they’re calling them…forces to an ambush at Chakentak.  If all goes well, the Eres will decisively crush the Yabanjin and buy plenty of time for us to plan for the future.”

“Nobody ever said the Eres couldn’t fight, sir.”

“Tell me about it.” Cartwright shook his head.

“And if all doesn’t go well, sir?”

“That’s what your orders are about.  And remember, Captain, the Yabanjin got where they are by copying somewhat outdated Eres tech.  We can’t afford to have them copy ours.”

Speare’s grin went feral. “You can trust us, Admiral. ‘Till Valhalla.”

“‘Till Odin’s Table.” Cartwright cut the connection.  A moment later he let his head fall into his hands. He hated giving orders like those.  He belonged out there, with the men on the lines, riding with them to victory or Valhalla, not here in perfect safety, hundreds of light years from the fray.

But Roberts had asked him to take this damn position and the people of Tyr had agreed.  And so he was stuck until a new Assemblyman could be chosen, perhaps someone who liked working behind the scenes.

Cartwright snorted.  One thing the Tyrian people would not accept was a person who liked the kind of political maneuvering required in the Capitol.  Just his luck to both hate it, and be good at it.

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