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Into the Light Snippet #7

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 #7
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:51 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2417
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Sorry about the delay. I was at ConCarolinas over the weekend, and when Sharon and the kids came home on Monday, I stayed because I had contracted the con crud. In fact, I think it had set in Sunday, which is probably one of the reasons that I was too wiped to go to closing ceremonies and the dead dog party, as much as I wanted to be there.

At any rate, herewith the next snippet:

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“Helicopter approaching Key West, this is Key West Tower on Guard. You are entering restricted air space. Turn around now or you will be destroyed.”

“What the hell is that?” asked the pilot, Captain Jim “Boot” Hill, as he looked over his shoulder into the back of the Florida Army National Guard HH-60M Black Hawk.

“Those are our new friends,” Longbow replied, switching the cabin radio to 121.5 Mhz—the international distress frequency, or “Guard.”

“Doesn’t sound like the way any of my friends talk to me.”

Longbow smiled. “Maybe that’s because they don’t know how charming I am, yet.”

“Yeah, that’s probably it.”

Longbow switched the wafer switch to VHF and transmitted, “Key West Tower, this is Rescue One, flight of four Army Guard helicopters for landing at Key West.”

“Rescue One, you do not have authorization to land at Key West. Remain clear of our air space or you will be destroyed.”

“And how exactly do you propose to do that, Key West?” Longbow asked.

“Stand by.”

Longbow switched back to the intercom. “This is starting to piss—fuck!” he yelled as a gray blur rocketed past the formation in the post-sunset twilight.

“What the hell was that?” Boot asked, scanning the sky for more aircraft.

“An F-18,” Longbow replied, also searching for more. "The recon sats said they have at least one hangered here. Problem is, they might have two. We're not sure about that bit."

Boot gave him the very speaking glance of someone who, for some reason, felt he had been insufficiently briefed.

“Rescue One, Key West Tower. I understand you are now aware we could destroy you at will?”

“Tower, we understand your warning,” Longbow replied. The fly-by hadn’t given him the opportunity to see if the aircraft had been armed—which was probably intentional—and he wasn’t ready to concede the point. It did, however, prove they had a at least one operational fighter jet, which was more than he had at the moment.

“Good,” the tower replied. “Turn around and vacate our airspace immediately.”

“I can do that,” Longbow replied. “But if I do, I’m going to come back with a flight of four F-22s, and we’ll see who owns the sky then.” Two could play the bluff game.

“I don’t believe you can,” the tower replied. There was a pause and then the voice asked, “What is it you want?”

“Rescue One would like to land and talk to whoever is in charge. I am a representative of the legitimate national government,” Longbow replied. Well, mostly legitimate, anyway, he added to himself.

The pause was even longer this time, and Longbow knew he was making progress if the controller had to go talk to someone higher in the chain of command.

“Rescue One," the voice eventually replied, "you are cleared to bring one helicopter to Conch Republic International Airfield. Do not attempt to land at Boca Chica Field, or you will be destroyed. The other three helicopters in your flight must turn around now, or all four of you will be destroyed.”

“What is it with this guy?” Boot asked. “He’s got a bad case of ‘or you’ll be destroyed.’ Sounds like somebody with a Dalek complex!”

“No idea,” Longbow said, “but at least we have clearance to proceed. Send the other helos back while I talk to him.”

He switched back to the radio.

“Copy all, Tower. We are proceeding to the international airfield and sending three back to base.”

He saw the other helicopters peeling off and turning around, and he felt a sense of unease pass through him. While he was pretty sure he could survive a helicopter crash — heck, he’d "spacewalked" without any protection through hard vaccum from a stolen shuttle to take the Shongair flagship — still, he wasn’t one hundred percent sure. Nor did he particularly want to try it to find out. Then there was the crew to think about. They certainly wouldn’t survive it, and that made him feel something else he hadn’t felt in a while . . . uncomfortable. He’d never liked losing people under his command.

“You sure about this?” Boot asked, probably feeling the same way.

“Yeah, just get me on the ground, and I’ll work it all out.”

“I’m sure you’ll be good when we get there,” Boot said. “I’ve heard . . . stories . . . about you. My co-pilot and I, though . . . We’re a little more . . . vulnerable to enemy fire, if you take my meaning.”

“We’ll be fine,” Longbow replied. Although his voice sounded sure, deep down, he was decidedly less so. What exactly was this whole ‘vampire thing?’ Did it have limits? Did it have an expiration or a damage limit? He’d been shot and survived, but what if he got blown out of the sky? Could he survive that? If so, would he still be in one piece?

He didn’t have the information on any of that. He'd wanted to spend more time discussing the limits of vampirehood with Vlad before the captured dreadnoughts had headed out on their mission of vengeance, but they'd never quite gotten around to it. Oh, Vlad had made the chain of command abundantly clear to all of them, left them with a stack of admonitions about things they were forbidden to do, and given Longbow and Pieter Ushakov a separate list of things to watch out for, but all that had left little time to explore the physical limits of what a vampire could face and survive, which left him somewhat in limbo. He knew he was more than human . . . but how much more? Would it be enough?

He shrugged and put the questions aside, compartmentalizing his fears as he’d learned to do long ago as a fighter pilot. Worrying about things you couldn’t affect was distracting and not conducive to mission completion. He had clearance to the airport, and he was enroute. He’d make it work.

“Look out the port side,” Boot said, interrupting his reverie.

They were passing the former naval air station on Boca Chica Key, and he could see the flashing lights of an F-18 landing.

“I see it,” he said.

“Suppose that’s the one that buzzed us?” Boot asked.

“Probably. I can’t imagine they have too many of them. If there'd been a squadron deployed here, I doubt they would've escaped the loving attention of the Shongairi.”

“Looks like the Hornet has missiles on its wingtips. He might have been able to shoot us, after all.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Longbow replied. “They always have Sidewinders on their wingtips. I think it helps their aerodynamics. No idea whether those missiles are live or just training rounds, though.”

“Fair enough. I’m just saying, let’s try not to do something where we find out, okay, Sir?”

“Sure thing,” Longbow replied.

“Huh,” the co-pilot, Captain David Packer, said a few seconds later. “You should see the marinas we’re about to go past.”

“Why’s that?” Longbow asked.

“They’re full. And not just with a boat in every slip. The entire tidal basins are full of ships at anchor. They’re packed in like sardines.”

“Might be some of the missing boats,” Boot added. “There’s certainly a bunch of them.”

“Yep, that’s them,” Longbow replied. “We confirmed their identities with the overhead imagery.” He didn’t have long to deliberate over it further as they reached the international airfield another minute later. A truck with flashing lights and a “Follow Me” sign was waiting for them, and Boot followed it to the ramp in front of the terminal building and a parking spot surrounded by klieg lights. A ground crewman took it from there, landing them and then having them shut down the helicopter as several trucks arrived carrying men with rifles.

Longbow slid out of the helicopter, keeping his hands where the men—now pointing the rifles at him—could see them. “Let’s go,” one of the men said, motioning toward the closest truck with his rifle.

“What about them?” Longbow asked, nodding toward the two helo pilots.

“They can stay here,” the same man replied. He gave Longbow an evil grin. “Don’t worry; nothing will happen to them . . . assuming you’re a good boy, of course. Now get in the truck!

Longbow got in the back of the truck, and it roared off down the ramp and onto Highway A1A. After a couple of minutes, they pulled into a set of luxury condos, and he was led to a room on the top floor. The leader of the group knocked, and the door was opened after a few seconds by a woman wearing . . . not much of anything. Longbow guessed it was a bathing suit, but the amount of material she wore could have functioned as a band-aid. For a very small cut.

She walked past them with her nose in the air and headed in the direction of the pool, so Longbow decided it actually was a bathing suit. One of the thugs pushed him in the back, and Longbow turned to glare at him.

“Go!” the heavy said. “Stop looking at the governor’s girlfriend.”

Longbow decided an object lesson would be lost on the governor if he didn’t actually see it, so he ignored the man and walked into the room, where he was greeted by another woman wearing something similar to what the first woman had worn. He shrugged; maybe it was some sort of a uniform. This woman smiled and pointed to the balcony.

“The governor will see you on the veranda.”

Longbow snorted—a hotel balcony was hardly a veranda—but walked out to find the governor seated, looking out at the Gulf of Mexico across the street. He took a sip from a fruity drink and waved Longbow to the seat on the other side of a small glass table from him.

“So,” he said without any introduction, “you’re some sort of representative from the government?”

“I am,” Longbow said as he sat. Two of the thugs followed him out onto the balcony and stood behind his chair, making the balcony seem crowded. “I’m Major Daniel Torino, U.S. Air Force, and I’m here to talk with whoever's running this little operation.”

Little operation?” the man asked. “You wound me. I’ve put a lot of effort into it, and we’ve got a nice thing going on here. It may not be as big as we’d like yet, but it’s growing every day. Drugs, piracy . . . we may even dabble a bit in the sex trade. We have big dreams.”

“And you are?”

“I’m Paul Beach, governor of the Conch Republic.” He cocked his head. “What government are you from, exactly?”

“The government of the United States of America.”

“I didn’t think that existed anymore, just like your Air Force. The Shongairi got rid of both of 'em.”

“That may have been true for a while,” Longbow said, “but we got rid of the Shongairi, and we’re putting the United States back together. The leadership has bigger dreams this time around—”

“—don’t we all,” the governor interrupted.

“I’m sure you have visions of taking advantage of the anarchy the Shongairi brought about—”

“—Where there is anarchy, there is profit,” the governor quoted, interrupting again.

Longbow frowned. “Do you want to hear what I have to say, or not?”

“Actually, no, I don’t,” the governor replied. “We're quite happy here with the government we’ve established. People bring us their toys—” he waved at the lights of ten sailboats anchored offshore, “—and we turn them into drugs or cash—whatever we need—and purchase the imports we need. All things considered, we have it pretty good here right now, and we don’t need any government up north telling us what we ought to do or how much of our money we ought to be sending them.”

The governor turned back to Longbow and smiled. “I do thank you for the gift of your helicopter, though. It'll make our logistics a lot more manageable going back and forth to Cuba.”

"I see." Longbow stood, ignoring the thug behind him and the pistol leveled at the back of his head. “I take it this is your final position, and you aren’t interested in what I have to offer?”

“Anything you offer will have strings attached. We here in the Conch Republic don’t like strings.” The governor made a shooing motion with his hand. “Now, run along. I’m sure we can find some transportation for you so that you can take my message back to your government.”

“I can’t do that,” Longbow said. “What I neglected to mention was that my offer is non-negotiable. You can take it . . . or I’ll kill you and find someone else who will take it. We will put a government together, regardless of how many criminals we have to execute to make it happen.”

“I don’t like the way you’re talking to the governor,” the thug who'd pushed him earlier said, holding his pistol to Longbow’s temple.

Longbow turned so the barrel was between his eyes, and he was looking up it at the thug. “Are you trying to frighten me? Because if you are, you’re going to have to try harder.”

“Are you kidding me, man?” the thug asked. “I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you right here, right now!”

“Nope. Still not buying it.”

“Why’s that?” the governor asked. “Because you think someone’s going to come save you? Maybe some special forces from that government you mentioned? You’re wrong. Maybe you think we’re afraid of your pretend president, or whatever he’s calling himself? Well, we’re not. We’re the Conch Republic now, and you’re on our land.”

“No, I’m not afraid because I could kill all of you if I wanted to, and there’s no way you could stop me.”

“What?” asked the thug. “You think you’re some kind of karate master?”

“No,” Longbow replied, holding up a hand, “I’m a vampire.” Jaws dropped across the balcony as his fingertips lengthened and the nails grew into claws.

“Fuck me!” the tough yelled.

He fired, but Longbow was already in motion. His hand swiped across the hoodlum, and the man’s eyes went wide as Longbow tore out his throat in a spray of blood. The other tough started to pull the trigger on his pistol, but Longbow swept it up and away, then chopped across the man’s neck, breaking it. Longbow grabbed the fresh corpse—almost half again his size—picked it up easily, and threw it over the balcony. It landed with a thud just after the first tough hit the balcony floor. A scream sounded from the suite’s interior.

“No thanks,” Longbow said, looking at the corpse on the balcony. “You’re not my type.”

The governor slid his chair away from Longbow until he was brought up short by the wall. One hand pointed at Longbow over the remains of his spilled drink as it dribbled from the table's edge.

“H-h-how . . . ” he stuttered, his eyes wide. “How did you do that?”

“He missed me,” Longbow said, looking distastefully at a drop of blood on one of his claws. “Probably drug-tainted,” he noted, then wiped it off on the dead thug’s pants.

“No, he didn’t miss,” the governor replied, pointing at a depression on Longbow’s head that closed before his eyes. “I saw it! The bullet went through your head!” The man’s teeth chattered, and Longbow could see he was quickly losing control of his faculties. “How are you still alive?”

Longbow shrugged. “I told you. Vampire.” He smiled as he righted his chair and sat back down. “Now, we were talking about what message I was going to take back to my president. Is it your intention to rejoin the Union, or do you want to see some of the other things I can do?”

"No." The governor gave Longbow a terrified smile and shook his head sharply. “No, I think I’ve seen enough,” he said. “Where do I sign?”





.VII.
Greensboro, North Carolina
United States


"I'm telling you, you might as well just give up, smile, and go with it," Dave Dvorak told his brother-in-law.

"The hell I will!" Rob Wilson shot back grumpily, prodding at the mashed potatoes on his plate.

The food court around them was filled with the hum of conversations and the clatter of cutlery. Despite the food court's serve-yourself cafeteria style, disposable plastic tableware and plates had not yet been added to the printers' production queues, so the total dinnerware and flatware inventory of the Walmart Superstore four miles west on I-40 had been purchased by the fledgling national government. The job of dishwasher had made a strong, although probably temporary, comeback, and the entire eating experience had gotten rather noisier.

"You really think you're going to be able to turn him, and Sam, and Landrum down?" Dvorak said skeptically.

"Hey! Just because you got sucked into this dog-and-pony show doesn't mean I've gotta do the same thing," Wilson growled. "Besides, it's not my job. It's not even what I did when I was still in the Suck!"

"Oh, is that true?" Dvorak sat back in his own chair. "I guess my own lengthy career in diplomacy and sensitive high-level international negotiations explains how he browbeat me into taking my new job?"

"Don't even go there!" Wilson waved an index finger under his brother-in-law's nose. "I had a lengthy conversation with my beloved baby sister about this 'Secretary of State' gig of yours. I believe her exact words were 'like a bee to honey.'"

"I put up a substantially stiffer struggle than she gives me credit for," Dvorak said with dignity. "She's still . . . just a little pissed, is all. I'm sure she'll get over it in time. Like, sometime in the next, I dunno — you think maybe ten years? That sound about right?"

"Hah! More like twenty — if you're lucky!"

"Then that's another reason you should sign on the dotted line. Misery loves company."


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #7
Post by ywing14   » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:00 pm

ywing14
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 381
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:40 pm

Really looking forward to the new book!
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #7
Post by richardinor   » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:40 am

richardinor
Commander

Posts: 202
Joined: Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:23 am
Location: Oregon

Any news on a publishing date?
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #7
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:59 am

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2282
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

Like!!!!! :)
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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 #7
Post by Tregonsee   » Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:53 am

Tregonsee
Midshipman

Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:14 pm

Much more likely they would use military Guard 243.0 MHz, even at a civilian tower.
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #7
Post by Theemile   » Fri Jun 07, 2019 3:40 pm

Theemile
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 3584
Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: All over the Place - Now Serving Troy, Mi

I'm surprised the Governor didn't set himself up in Truman's little White House. Such people usually look for things like that to establish their credentials.
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RFC said "refitting a Beowulfan SD to Manticoran standards would be just as difficult as refitting a standard SLN SD to those standards. In other words, it would be cheaper and faster to build new ships."
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Re: Into the Light Snippet #7
Post by Mycall4me   » Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:33 pm

Mycall4me
Ensign

Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:07 pm

Hot diggety dog! This just keeps getting better and better as the snippets keep coming! Too bad there's no idea on a publishing date. Oh well, I'll just have to make do with the snippets for now.
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