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Into the Light Snippet #8

Aliens? Invading aliens? What will Earth do? Well...we may have a few more resources than we first thought. Come join a friendly discussion about David Weber's newest Tor series - "Out of the Dark."
Into the Light Snippet #8
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:29 pm

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"No," Wilson said mulishly.

"Rob, it's going to happen. And you know, as well as I do, whether you want to admit it or not, that if Howell personally hits that 'But we need you' while giving you that earnest, eagle-eyed look, he'll get what he wants. He always does. Look at me!"

"I am trying so hard not to do that," Wilson retorted. "Look at you, I mean." He shuddered. "This is the first time I've seen you in a tie since you and Sharon renewed your wedding vows."

"Well, at least it won't be as big a shock to your system. You're used to wearing uniforms."

"I haven't worn one in almost six years!"

"And your point is? I believe that vow renewal you're talking about happened seven years ago."

"But —"

"Jesus, Rob." Dvorak shook his head. "Look, I know you have to put up a good fight out of self-respect. But I also know you don't want to be sitting on the sidelines when all this gets built, either. So, what the hell is the problem?"

Wilson half-glared at him for a moment, then grimaced.

"He wants to make me a fucking officer," he growled finally. "I was a frigging E-8 — a master sergeant — Dave. What do I know about being an officer? Hell, I worked for a living!"

"Um." Dvorak sat back again, rubbing his beard. He hadn't heard that bit, and he had to admit it made a lot more sense out of Wilson's recalcitrance. But still —

"Rob, there's going to be a lot of people doing a lot of things they don't think they're really qualified for, and that's probably truer on the military side than anywhere else, in a lot of ways," he said in a gentler tone. "The Puppies kicked the shit out of the US military, and you know it. An awful lot of vets got themselves killed fighting back on their own, too. You came close enough a time or two, yourself, and you handled yourself pretty damn well." He rubbed his still recovering shoulder, looking levelly across the table at his brother-in-law. "You might say you've got a pretty good resume where Howell is concerned. And I know you were never an officer, but you spent twenty damned years — twenty-three, if anyone's counting, really — figuring out how to save officers from themselves. You think that's not a point in your favor?"

"I don't have the education for it," Wilson said, looking away. "You know I screwed up, didn't use the education benefits."

"Yeah, I do." Dvorak nodded. He did know it, just as he knew how bitterly Wilson had sometimes regretted that. "But I also know that whether you want to admit it to anyone else — or yourself — you're one of the smartest guys I know. Maybe your 'book learning' is a little thin on the ground, but you've got tons of what my mom used to call 'wisdom,' and all those hard knocks you've picked up along the way have pounded a lot of savvy into that thick Irish skull of yours."

"You always say the sweetest things," Wilson replied. Dvorak's lips twitched, but he refused to be deflected.

"Look, let me point something out to you," he said. "You don't have a college degree. Well, I've got three of 'em, and when the Puppies got here, I was doing what I wanted to do, which was running a shooting range and selling firearms. Don't think all those degrees of mine were exactly part of the job description. And, even if your lack of formal education would have been a disqualifier before the Puppies hit us, what the hell makes you think it would be one now? Not just because of how badly Howell and Landrum need your experience, you idiot, but because we've got neural educators now. And I happen to know you've been spending a lot of time with them. Making up for some of those education benefits a younger version of you passed up, aren't you? I got a hunch from the few things Landrum's already said to me that with NET available, the traditional educational requirements for commissioned rank will be substantially revised, let's say."

"Maybe," Wilson said after a minute.

He sat looking at something only he could see, and Dvorak waited patiently. Finally, Wilson's eyes refocused.

"You realize that I know exactly what you're up to, right?"

"What makes you think I'm 'up to' anything?"

"Looking for cover — that's what you're doing. Next time Crazy starts in on you over this whole Secretary of State business, you'll throw me right under the bus, won't you?"

"In a skinny New York minute," Dvorak said with a smile.

"Well, you do realize that my . . . reservations about my own qualifications for higher office, let's say, are only part of the problem, right? You know what they want to call this new abortion they're cooking up, don't you?"

"No, not really." Dvorak shrugged. "Frankly, it's not my monkey. I've got plenty of those of my own."

"Well, I can see why they're talking about renaming it. Can't very well call it the US military when the current President of the US is busy cooking up something considerably grander, now can they? So, I guess calling it the 'Continental Union Armed Forces' makes some kind of sense. But they're talking about abolishing the term 'Marine' entirely." He shook his head. "That's a step too far, Dave. A step too far!"

"So what are they planning to use instead?"

"Oh, they're still working on that. The latest, according to my sources, is something along the lines of 'Continental Union Armed Forces Expeditionary Forces.'"

"You're kidding — right?"

"Oh, no I'm not. Just think of the acronym — CUAFEF. How the hell do you pronounce that? Sounds like a cat throwing up in the corner, damn it!"

"So, what would you call them?"

"Gotta be Marines," Wilson said firmly. "Don't care about anything else, but they gotta be Marines. 'Space Marines,' maybe. That's got a nice ring to it."

"You were just complaining about acronyms," his brother-in-law pointed out. "You do know that if they go with 'Space Marines' instead, it's going to get pronounced S&M, don't you? Are you ready for all those kinds of jokes?"

Wilson folded his arms, set his shoulders, and glowered.

"It's better than sounding like a puking cat," he said mulishly. "And, trust me, they're gonna hear from me about that one!"

"Good luck," Dvorak said, shaking his head with a chuckle. Then he reached across the table with his good hand and smacked Wilson lightly on the shoulder. "You go get 'em, Tiger."

"I will. You see if I don't!" Wilson said. "I am so not going down without a fight on this one!"










.VIII.
São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos,
Bahia, Brazil




“You’re sure of this?” Fernando Garçāo asked, looking out the window of the conference room. The conference room—and the entire suite of offices on the fourth story of the building—had once belonged to the governor of the state of Bahia, Brazil.

They'd belonged to the governor, anyway . . . until the demonios came. Now, it was his office—the Office of the Acting President of Brazil. It was a position he’d never wanted or ever expected to have. A career lawyer and judge, he'd never had political aspirations. Even if he had, they would have been out of reach—several months prior to the coming of the Shongairi, he'd assumed the position of President of the Supreme Federal Court and become the chief justice for Brazil’s Supreme Court, which had pretty much ruled out any pursuit of elected office.

After being sworn in, he'd returned to his hometown of São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos, or Salvador, as it was more commonly known, to support his youngest daughter during the birth of her first child. Unfortunately, the demonios had chosen that time to arrive, and they’d bombed the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as well as the Federal District of Brasília. In the following days, a number of other, smaller cities and towns had been hit, as well as all of Brazil’s military facilities. Salvador, for some reason, had been spared, but by that point the damage had already been done.

The strike on Brasilia had decapitated the government, killing the President, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, and the President of the Federal Senate. The only other government authority above Garçāo in the presidential line of succession, Vice President Victor Lopez, had been killed when an orbital bombardment round hit Rio de Janeiro just north of the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado where Lopez had been conducting a photo opportunity.

Fourth in the line of succession, President of the Supreme Federal Court Fernando Garçāo had become Acting President Garçāo, responsible for discharging the duties of the presidency, pending elections to choose a new president and vice president who would be expected to complete the current presidential term.

He laughed ironically to himself. As if it were that easy. Hold new elections for a country suddenly reduced from almost 200 million people to just under half that, which had just lost the majority of its federal legislative, executive, and judicial branches, as well as much of its infrastructure and communications facilities. Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Guarulhos . . . the list of murdered cities had been both long and terrible, but he’d done what he’d been able to. He’d held the country together as best he could.

He wasn't all that satisfied with his "best," though.

Bahia, like the rest of the Brazilian states, was semiautonomous and had its own constitution, justice system, and legislative assembly. That had helped keep the country stable, mostly, as the surviving governors — over a third of them had died with their capital cities — stepped in to control their states under the iron rule of the demonios. Although some of the more rural states in the west hadn’t been heard from in some time—they appeared to have set themselves up as new mini-nations—most of the urban states along the Atlantic coast had survived the winter and the Shongairi rule, and they had avoided the complete collapse of civilization.

But then he'd discovered there was something even worse than having aliens ruling their society: having those aliens vanish suddenly, with nothing in place to fill the power void they left behind.

Before the aliens’ arrival, eighty-two percent of the country’s population had lived in its cities. While some people had left the remaining cities after the bombardment to shelter in the rural areas—those with the means to do so had, anyway—the vast majority still lived in Brazil’s coastal enclaves. When civilization fell, it had fallen quickly as desperate — or unscrupulous — human beings took their own turn at inflicting misery, mayhem, and murder on their fellows. The already wounded authority of what remained of local government had collapsed under an onslaught of violence and terror as crimelords who saw the opportunity to become warlords fought over the ruins the Shongairi had left behind. Recife and Natal along the coast had disintegrated into chaos, and much of the urban areas which had survived the Shongair bombardments had been burned. Thousands, and some reports said hundreds of thousands, of people were dead at the hands of their fellow humans in those two towns alone, and God alone knew how many more had died in the smaller cities which had also fallen to general uprisings and criminal activity.

Although the local police had held things together—so far—in Salvador and most of Bahia, the Comando Vermelho, a criminal organization engaged primarily in arms and drug trafficking, had taken over Aracaju, approximately three hundred kilometers to the north, and it was expanding its influence in Bahia. The gang was attractive to young, poverty-stricken males—with which the slums of Salvador had overflowed even before the invasion—and recruited them by sponsoring sporting events and karaoke funk-music parties where the Comando Vermelho exposed them to a variety of narcotics.

The Comando Vermelho had enjoyed a following even in pre-Shongair Bahia, which had suffered from one of the highest poverty rates in Brazil prior to the invasion and also held the title of the nation’s murder capital. In post-Shongair Brazil, the organization was a siren’s call for men with nothing better to do and no other options. It hadn’t taken much to embolden the criminal element to attempt a takeover of Bahia, and he knew much of Bahia’s poverty-stricken populace—facing the upcoming winter—was primed to rise with them if they promised something the government hadn’t been able to provide much of recently—food.

“You’re sure of this, Raul?” Fernando Garçāo asked again. “The Comando Vermelho is organizing a food riot for next week?”

“I am.” Raul Beltrame, his Minister of Justice, was responsible for the Federal Police and enforcement of Brazil’s federal laws. “We've heard about it from too many of our informants to be mistaken.”

“What do they hope to gain from a food riot? More dead? Haven’t we had enough death in Brazil already?”

“They hope to take over the country,” Beltrame replied. “And they don't care how many people outside their organization die to support that cause.” He shrugged. “They barely care how many of their own low-level operatives perish in the operation. Life is cheap to the leaders of the Comando Vermelho.”

“So they get the people to riot. Then what?”

“They swoop in and give them food,” Edson Padilha, the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Supply replied. “If they do that, they're suddenly heroes in the people’s eyes, and they've positioned themselves to do exactly that." His lips twisted. "They’ve been buying up all the stocks they can find, which is part of why we’re having so hard a time supplying the cities. They either force the farmers to sell it to them, or they kill the farmers and take if from them. In either case, they dry up the stream of food heading into Salvador.”

“So, what are our options? What can we do about it?”

Padilha shrugged. “Kill the killers?”

“Is that possible, Raul?” Garçāo asked. “Can you find them and stop them? And maybe take back the food they’ve stolen along the way?”

“We're trying, but every time we get someone into their operation, they're exposed and murdered by the Comando Vermelho.” Beltrame sighed. “It appears we have a mole in the Federal Police, and that's making it hard to find volunteers to try to penetrate their organization.”

“Maybe we should just invite the demonios back,” Edson Soares, the Minister of Foreign Affairs muttered. “Sure, they killed half our people, but at least they knew how to enforce their will.”

“That isn’t funny,” Natalia Perez, the Minister of Human Rights, said. “Half our population is dead, and you think it’s a joke?”

“No, I’m just saying things were better when they were here,” Soares replied with a shrug. “I also know they'll be back. A race that powerful? There’s no way they just ‘ran away’ when they were winning. Something must have caused them to focus their attention elsewhere—maybe they were losing a war on another planet and needed the forces—but there isn’t anything we did to cause them to leave. We didn’t make them leave, and we can’t prevent them from coming back. Why not have them come back now so they can drop some rocks on the heads of the Comando Vermelho?”

“While I do not want them back, that is, however, a subject I would like more information on,” Garçāo noted. His eyes moved to his Minister of Defense. “Do we have any idea where the demonios went? Do we know whether they're gone not only from Brazil, but from the entire world?”

Diego Sanchez shook his head. “We can’t confirm it, but the aliens appear to have left all of Earth. We have no idea why, though.”

“I can confirm it,” Mateus Romero, Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communications, replied. “My people have been on the HF radio to stations across the planet. Not only have the aliens left Brazil, they've vanished entirely from Earth.”

“Do these stations say why that is?” Sanchez asked, obviously annoyed to be just hearing this for the first time. Garçāo turned back to the window to hide his own displeasure at not having been given the news earlier.

Romero chuckled. “I wish we knew. They're saying creatures from our dreams and cinemas— vampires, believe it or not—appeared and drove them away. The Shongairi appear to have left Europe or Asia first, and now they're gone from the Americas as well. What caused them to do so, though, hasn’t been revealed yet. Not to my satisfaction, anyway. That is why I haven’t said anything before now.”

A sound . . . or a feeling—or something—set Garçāo’s teeth on edge, and he looked up into the sky outside the window.

“Hold on, everybody,” he said, pointing up beyond where they could see from their seats at the table. “I think we have bigger problems, Diego.”

“What do you mean?”

“I think Edson was right,” Garçāo replied as a massive shape floated down softly to fill the entire window. “It looks like the demonios are back.”


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #8
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:53 pm

DrakBibliophile
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LIKE! :D
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Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #8
Post by phillies   » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:08 pm

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DrakBibliophile wrote:LIKE! :D


Agree. I expect the large thing has a human or vampire crew.
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #8
Post by gcomeau   » Wed Jun 12, 2019 10:57 am

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phillies wrote:
DrakBibliophile wrote:LIKE! :D


Agree. I expect the large thing has a human or vampire crew.


It would have been insane of them not to keep at least some Shongari transport capability behind given how thoroughly wrecked terrestrial ones were, and the Brazilians are definitely due for a visit, so yeah almost certainly.
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #8
Post by iranuke   » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:58 pm

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Do we know a publication date?
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #8
Post by Eagleeye   » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:31 pm

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iranuke wrote:Do we know a publication date?

Not yet. But I guess, that it will hit the shelves not before the end of 2019 (at the earliest), and more probably sometime in Spring 2020. It all depends on how much editing the manuscript still requires (iIrc, RFC mentioned somewhere, that the snippets we got so far are from the first completed draft) - and how much priority Tor gives the book production process.
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