Did he mean that?
Orlin lowered the handset and looked out the window of his luxury groundcar.
The streets of the Capitol rolled past, ancient trees and living Harex towers mixed with old brick and stone and more modern steel and concrete. Orlin watched it go by, bathing his eyes in all the colors of dress worn by the vast crowds of people out and about on their daily business. Women in dresses out walking their children to school. Men in tailored longcoats in a hurry to get business done. Workers in light construction armor tearing down an old building here, or putting up another there. More of the latter than the former.
He thought of the independent provinces, so long locked in poverty by their own rebellion. Here in the Empire proper the people were wealthy and the stores were full of goods. Most of the people he saw on the streets probably had their own unicomm, and tutored their children on a family computer at night.
Not true out there.
Except for the largest cities, most of Okend was still suffering from the aftermath of the Storm. Rusted factories dotted the land, filled with machinery made useless by burned out electronics and surrounded by subsistence farms. High-speed connections that had once shuttled important data across the world as fast as light lay forgotten underground, the control stations that powered them casualties of the same event as the factories.
If only the data and the factories could be restored…
But the darrs were all tied up in their own concerns now, too petty to cooperate and fix things, some even calling themselves kings and giving the Emperor’s throne only the barest of nods.
He had been set to fix all that…
Until the kevas had pulled this stunt.
Nat. Fools. Old, stodgy, superstitious fools.
Didn’t they care about their own people? Didn’t they want the Empire put together?
Rixken couldn’t do that.
His brother had the assertiveness of a treemouse.
And now… now he would have to…
He looked at the handset he was holdin, curly cord running to the cradle set in the door next to him. Was HarMakeg still there?
He lifted it to his ear.
Orlin put his response in order. Tensed his gut.
This was necessary.
“Yes. I meant it. If you’re certain ParDaten won’t do it, then you’ll have to take care of it yourself.”
“ParDaten might let him go before I can get there,” HarMakeg replied. “My personal forces are still tied up in Ambril and if I spare any now, ArPegel might think he has a chance and drag this out forever. I have a few small mercenary units I could send, and I could shift in Imperial units to free up my people, but both will take days.”
“Call up Reggs, then. I have Black Legion on retainer and they have a full company near Velgrin, two hundred miles to the west by highway. Tell him I want that border station gone.”
He could imagine HarMakeg smiling, and it made him feel a little sick, just this once.
“Gone, your Majesty?”
This chapter is part of the in-progress serial web novel The Unbroken Blade, intended to be book one in The Shattered Empire trilogy, and features a mix of sci-fi and thematic elements reminiscent of near-future military fiction such as Gasaraki or Isaac Hooke’s Atlas series and sci-fi combat classics such as Mechwarrior/Battletech and Gundam. The story is rich with battle and conflicts of honor and conscience arising around a civil war on the forested world of Dankar, far from our own, but is primarily focused on how the main characters deal with the challenges they face, not their machines or their world. Follow this blog to receive each chapter as soon as it is released. Like and share to give me a shot of encouragement. Full chapter updates on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.