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Mamelukes snippet #5

Jerry Pournelle’s Janissaries series is alive and well. Drop in to discuss it and — especially— the latest addition: Mamelukes by Jerry himself with a little posthumous help from Phillip Pournelle and David!
Mamelukes snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Oct 17, 2019 1:59 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2418
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

At last! The next snippet! And it's only a week late!


Duck dropped me a line to say that we might want to put up a progress report on exactly what I'm up to project wise (and, just in passing, where the snippet has been), so I have posted exactly that in David's Dimension.


___________________________________________________________


"They'd heard all wasn't good between you and Tylara," Larry Warner said urgently. "Hell, Colonel, I thought that myself! They thought they were helping you. Take it easy, sir!"

"Easy! By God—"

"Hold!" Ganton shouted. "My Lord Rick, clearly some here have been misinformed."

Rick looked around for friends. There were a few among the Drantos lords. Bisso and the mercs looked steady enough. And the clansmen were fidgeting. Drumold had stopped shouting, but his face was red and contorted. There was a stir in the Tamaerthan camp where Balquhain had followed the dunie wassails. They'd be stringing bows. Balquhain should be able to control them. Should be. But what in hell is going on here? He dropped his voice to a near whisper.

"Tylara, what do we do?"

"I think I see the pattern," she said. "Will you trust me to deal with this?"

"Thank God. Yes, of course."

"Majesty," Tylara said. "You have won a great victory, yet the armies of the Five Kingdoms remain in the west. Will you send my husband to deal with them? Naturally I will accompany him. I have not been home to my children since this war began. And as there are matters of import to be decided at Court, matters that admit of no delay, I willingly return the office of High Justiciar to Your Majesty to dispose of as you will." She removed the chain of office and handed it to a frightened page. "Take this to the Wanax," she said.

"We accept," Ganton said. "You have my thanks and gratitude for your service to the realm, and to me." He turned toward Rick. "Lord Rick, Warlord, we charge you to return to the West and expel all foreign armies from our lands. We will next see you at a Great Council of the Realm, where we shall consider all these matters. Warlord of Drantos, you have my thanks. You have good leave to leave us."

"Majesty." Rick backed away two paces and turned. "Let's get the hell out of here," he muttered.











Chapter Four: Moving Out









It was as near noon as anything was on Tran. The True Sun stood an hour past overhead, while the Firestealer had an hour to go. Rick had learned that sun time has a different meaning when there is more than one sun.

Rick sat in the vestibule of his command tent. All around him the army was packing gear. Knots of men stood near the battlefield, gesticulating wildly as they tried to make an even division of the spoils and trophies of the battle. Beyond them at the central encampment there were shouts and curses as each group tried to claim what it thought was a fair share of supplies and provisions, wagons and packhorses. Nothing was packed and ready to go.

"So just how long until we can get on the road?" Rick demanded.

Sergeant Bisso shook his head.

"We're ready, but as to the others, damfino. Jesus, Colonel, what a mess, never thought there'd be this much trouble just breaking camp!"

"In war, everything is very simple, but the simplest things are very difficult," Rick said. "Clausewitz, who knew what he was talking about."

"Whole damn army's coming apart," Larry Warner said. "And I have a message from Lady Tylara. She says the Second Light Cavalry from Chelm wants to go with you."

"Why not, they're from the Littlescarp," Rick said. "That's their home, and Tylara's their colonel—"

"Sure, Skipper," Warner said, "but Ganton wants them with him. Ordered Lady Tylara to turn over command to one of his barons. Can't blame him much, he's learned how bad he needs scouts and those nobles don't like the job."

"Only his barons never did like having peasant class horsemen with the army," Bisso said. "And peasant class officers they hate like the plague. Which brings us to the artillery and cannon company."

"Oh," Rick said. The light cavalry officers were yeomen freeholders. Not quite peasants, but the Tran aristocracy tended to regard them as no better. Worse, from their view, if an able man showed enough initiative, Tylara had learned that it was better not to inquire too closely into his father's status. Born bound or born free, good officers were hard to find. And all of the artillery troops, whatever their rank, were from the cities, free men, middle class. Of course that wasn't the term the nobility used. They'd talk about townsmen and burgher, when they were being polite. Usually they had ruder terms. Tylara's clansman background gave her a different attitude from the other great lords of Drantos, but it had taken her a lot of effort to accept the notion of middle class officers mixing with the hereditary baronage. "The nobility hasn't ever liked the gunners to begin with."

"Can't blame them," Warner said. "Those ironheads aren't that stupid, they can see that middle class gunners are their class enemy."

Rick nodded.

"'Nay, said the cannoneer, firing from the wall. For iron, cold iron, shall be master of you all.' A lesson the Drantos chivalry hasn't quite learned, but they're beginning to get the picture. So what's the problem? The scouts and gunners want to go home, and the Great Lords of the Realm don't want them in the army in the first place. Sounds like the problems solve themselves."

"Yeah, except you taught that kid king of theirs too well," Sergeant Bisso said. "He knows damn well he's never going to beat the Five Kingdoms with heavy cavalry alone. He hasn't got enough to begin with, and it's odds on the Five Kingdoms troops are every bit as good as his. Better if Strymon leads them."

Warner nodded agreement.

"If Wanax Ganton is going to win this new campaign the barons have their hearts set on, he'll need a combined arms army. Only he hasn't got one. Drumold's taking the clansmen home, you're taking the scouts and gunners – what's he got left besides the chivalry? Some of his native pikes, some hired crossbows, and the Royal Guard, but hell, even they look to you for leadership."

"Here she comes," Bisso said.

Tylara rode up, her expression grim.

"The Wanax demands use of our Chelm Light Cavalry," she said. "Rudhrig's son Guy is to command."

"Good choice," Bisso said.

"Sergeant, I agree that Guy is as suitable as anyone, but these are Chelm troops!"

"Yes, Ma'am," Bisso said.

There was a tiny twist of a smile on the sergeant's lips. So how much does he know? Rick wondered. Warner knows it all, but Bisso was never in on the full story of Tylara and her child assassins. He has to have guessed some of it. And I don't dare ask.

"How did you leave this?" Rick asked Tylara, and she frowned.

"It was a direct order from the Wanax," she said. "I did not think it wise to defy him, so I said nothing and came to you."

"You know better than that," Rick said. He thought of the phrase about rape and inevitability, then caught himself before he could say it. Tylara had been raped, and worse, by Sarakos, and while she might agree with the vulgar phrase— "You taught me better."

"So we submit? And thus I am to be gracious?" she demanded.

"Do we have a choice?" Rick asked.

"Yes," Tylara said. She looked to Warner and Bisso. "Do you not agree? You are all the counsel we have. Advise us."

"I ain't no officer, Ma'am," Bisso protested, shaking his head. "Skipper, tell me who to shoot, and I'll get the job done, but don't ask me!"

"It won't come to shooting," Larry Warner said. "Lady Tylara's right about that. If you refuse this request, the Wanax will find a reason to withdraw it. The problem won't come today, it'll be the long term relations with the Wanax you'll have to worry about. Chelm, you're OK there, that's damn near self-sufficient and you've got enough to defend it. But I can tell you this, an open break with Ganton would sure cause problems for the University."

Tylara put her hand to her mouth as if in surprise. It was a gesture Rick had never seen her use before, but it reminded him of someone. Gwen Tremaine sometimes did that. Thinking about the University could naturally lead to thoughts about Rector Gwen Tremaine, but why imitate her? Now what was Tylara up to? Or maybe her subconscious was sending a signal?

"I had not thought of that," Tylara said. There was no need to talk about the importance of the University. Everyone there was long ago agreed on that. But the University was in a critical location, in the hills where the borders of Drantos, the Roman Empire, and the Tamaerthan clan territories came together. It was nominally in clan commons land, but it would be no great trick for either Rome or Drantos to find precedent for a claim. So long as Rick's alliance of Rome, Tamaerthan, and Drantos held that had been the right place, but now—

"What about the clans?" Rick said. "What does an open break with Ganton do to Tamaerthan?"

"No great harm, I think," Tylara said. "The clans have never had lasting alliance with Drantos. The new plows are bringing in greater harvests, and this when the growing seasons will be longer due to the Demon. Independence from Drantos lowers trade but it is no great hardship so long as there is peace with Rome. My Lord husband, my father tells me some of the Drantos lords have been boasting of past conquests within our borders. Lord Warner, you were present, I believe."

"Yes, My Lady," Larry Warner said. "It was mostly just talk. By nobody important."

"But the Wanax allowed it," Tylara said. "He did not forbid it."

"No, Ma'am, he didn't," Warner said. "He let them babble on."

"Including a boast that Drantos once ruled the Garioch as well as the lowlands?"

"Yes," Warner said. "And that's one thing that's got me worried about the University."

"Christ on a crutch," Rick said.

"Do not blaspheme. And Ganton is married to the Roman heiress," Tylara said. "Drantos alone is no great threat, but the clans have ever had one fear, that Rome and Drantos would unite against them. Now—"

"All the more reason not to cause an open break, I'd say," Rick said. "Right now Ganton needs us, and it's not going to make him need us less to let him borrow our light cavalry troops."

Bisso nodded.

"Time's on our side, Skipper. We're running low on ammo, if we have to fight I'd sure rather do it after the next supply shipment from Earth. So would the troops."

Rick nodded.

"Tylara, you wanted advice, I think you just got it. We do what it takes to avoid an open break with Ganton."

She nodded.

"I will ride back and be gracious," she said. "And endure the smiles and winks." She mounted, waved, and rode off, a dozen household troops falling in behind her. She didn't need the protection here, but a great countess required an escort, even in camp.

"So what happens when the king asks for us?" Sergeant Bisso said. He gestured to indicate the Earth mercenaries taking their ease next to their packed up gear and weapons. "He will, you know, and pretty soon, too. He's going to need his star weapon troops if he expects to get anywhere invading the North."

Rick nodded.

"I know. But not yet, not until we run Ailas off."

"Maybe," Warner said. "And maybe he's just working up his nerve. He's still a bit scared of you."

"Of Tylara, more like," Rick said. "So what other problems have we got?"

"What don't we have?" Warner said as he looked through his notebook. "Let's see. We assumed Sergeant Clavell was with the Nikeis forces when they arrived. Turns out he's not."

Rick frowned.

"Where the hell is Clavell, then? And what about Private Harrison? Didn't we send him with Clavell?"

Sergeant Clavell and Private Harrison had been sent as ambassadors to Nikeis as part of a "medicine show" routine to spread the word about hygene and sanitation. When reports came back about crop yields on the island, Rick had them arrange for shipments of seagull guano to the university.

"Yes, sir. We did. This whole battle was thrown together in confusion, particularly after your wife was captured. I wouldn't be surprised if Clavell and Harrison are still back in Nikeis. There wouldn't have been time for troops to come from the island. It's been a while since we heard from them, though. I'll look into it, but I suspect the halberdier regiment was from their colony on the coast, Terra Firma."

"Please do," Rick replied. "We can't afford to lose track of our people."

"It gets weirder. The Nikeisian infantry marched off in a huff, something about unequal division of the spoils. Rudhrig claimed they didn't do enough fighting to warrant a full share per man, and the last I saw their captain was shaking the dust off his feet in the general direction of Ganton. After he did it, all his troops did too."

Rick frowned.

"Does that have the Biblical meaning in Nikeis?"

"The Nikeisians are Christians," Warner said. "Claim they always have been. From what I can see they're pretty straightforward Roman Catholic. No pope, of course."

"So we can guess where they got that ritual," Rick said. "But despite the new Unification religion, there aren't many Bibles in Drantos."

"Yeah, and they're all in Latin," Warner said.

Rick didn't ask how Warner knew that. Back in Africa the troops had called Larry Warner "Professor", and that stuck well enough that he was now Provost of the University when he wasn't called into active duty. It would be like Warner to know.

"So Ganton won't know they've just cursed him and that his ambassador wasn't here?"

"Not sure they have," Warner said. "But it looks like that's what they meant. They sure went away mad."

"Christian," Rick mused. "Allied to Rome, then?"

"No," Warner said. "They've got their own Patriarch, and from what I heard their chaplain wasn't all that thrilled about the new Unification. They're nominal allies of Drantos, but they trade with Rome and the Five Kingdoms and everybody else, and they seem willing to let their trade partners think part of the trade is tribute if that makes people feel better."

"Who the heck are these people?" Rick asked, and Warner shrugged.

"I never thought about it a lot, Skipper, but if I had to guess I'd say Crusade-era Venice."

Rick frowned.

"Does that fit? There wasn't a Demon Star passage in Crusader times, was there?"

"Well, that's not the only anomaly," Warner said. "Been meaning to talk to you about that—"

"Not to interrupt a good conversation, Colonel," Bisso said. "But it's getting late, and we got problems a lot closer to home."

Rick nodded.

"OK. But get messages off to our people in Nikeis and find out what's going on and what they've been up to. I want a report as soon as possible, and they're authorized to use the semaphore and message riders to speed it along." When Bisso nodded, Rick said "And what other cheerful news do you have for me?"

"Drumold," Bisso said. "Your father-in-law is fit to be tied. Claims he's getting the short end of the stick on rations. Not enough to get home, he said."

"And you know what that means," Warner said. "Them clansmen sure as hell won't starve."

Not going home through the wealthiest section of Drantos, they wouldn't. Borderer clansmen were quite adept at foraging for themselves. Surely Ganton knew that?

"Do you think this is deliberate?" Rick asked. "Put them in a situation where they have to steal to live, and then accuse them?"

"Skipper, it sure don't make sense to goad the clans into a fight," Warner said as he shook his head. "He's going to need those archers and pikemen every bit as much as he needs us."

"Some of the barons think they'll get them as conscripts," Bisso said. "Conquer the clan territories, and conscript the troops. Cheaper that way."

"Jesus, are they that stupid?" Rick asked. "Conscript archers?"

"Yeah, some of them ironheads are dumber'n a box of rocks," Bisso said.

"Ganton isn't."

"No, sir, maybe not, but then we don't know what his game is," Bisso said. "He sure wasn't acting too bright this morning."

"Or maybe he was," Warner said. "And we just don't know what he was after."

"It's a damned dangerous game," Rick mused, and Warner laughed.

"Skipper, tell me what we do that won't fit that description?"

"Yeah. OK, let's get our troops on the road. The longer we stay here the better the chance our young Wanax will decide he wants something else we can't give him," Rick said. "We'll deal with Drumold's rations later. Get 'em saddled up."

Warner grinned.

"Yes, sir. Head 'em up, move 'em out."

"Rawhide," Rick said. "And which one of us grows up to be Dirty Harry?"











Chapter Five: The Ruined Chapel






There was a chapel at the crossroad. Most crossroads in Drantos had some kind of shelter. There was usually a cistern, and always at least a stoneheap to revere the conductor of the dead. This was a stone building with tiled roof, as large as a village church, as befitted the crossing point of two major roads, one leading south to Armagh and on to Edron, the other west to Chelm. Rick wondered idly why the roads led through a place unsuitable for a village. The church was on a small hillock but the land around it was low and swampy. There was just enough dry land to allow a small garden and churchyard. The village this church served was nearly a mile away on higher ground.

Probably just happened, Rick thought. Cows wandered through and made a track. People used it, and crossroads are so holy in this part of Tran that no one dared move either road to better ground.

Warner squinted up at the suns.

"Got about three more hours of real daylight," he said. "And some of the clans got a late start. They'll be streaming in until after dark. Think we ought to stop here?" He indicated some low hill land west of the crossroads.

"Good place to make camp," Rick agreed. "This is where we part company, and we still have things to talk over."

"That we do," Warner said. "The stream looks all right, but better avoid that well. Ground's low, and I know there's a village up on that ridge."

He pointed. The village would be a mile away, but it was as likely that the sewers drained down this way as to the other side. The Unified Church now knew the germ theory of disease, but that hadn't spread to all the country parishes, and many places were still devoted to the old religions of Yatar and Vothan.

Cistern, not well, Rick thought, but it wasn't worth correcting Warner on the difference. It was unlikely to be biologically isolated from the swampy ground water.

There were no villagers in sight. That was to be expected. People in border villages tended toward thin loyalty to either side, and mostly hoped to be ignored by foraging parties. These would be lucky. Rick's supply wagons were full.

The church building itself seemed intact, but the doors stood ajar and the site was deserted. He looked inside.

"Pretty well looted out," he said. "Nothing much left."

"Furniture went for campfires," Warner said.

Tylara rode up in time to hear Warner's speculation.

"Who would dare despoil a temple?" she demanded, and Warner shrugged.

"Both sides been through this crossroads more than once, My Lady. Not much dry wood in the swamp and that's all stripped out. Could have been almost any outfit short on firewood. At least they didn't burn the place down."

Tylara went inside to look. She returned looking less upset.

"It was a Temple to Yatar," she said. "Not yet converted to the new Christian faith. There is no hint of a crucifix or Stations of the Cross." She turned to Rick. "With your consent I will see to arranging a Mass, and perhaps we can find someone to attend this place until the regular clergy return."

"With my consent?"

She smiled thinly.

"We are not in Chelm, My Lord. And I am no longer Justiciar. I have no authority here that you do not give me."

Never stopped you before, Rick thought.

"Whose county is this?" he asked.

"Lord Ajacias was Eqeta here. Of course the title and all his lands are forfeit for treason," Tylara said. "But this was Church property, and should be returned to the Church in any event. I know no one who has the benefit of bestowing this parish. Ajacias or one of his minions, but that would likely be forfeit with the titles."

"Ah." So whatever clergy were installed during this lawless time would probably keep it. Some lord would end up with jurisdiction here, but he'd be unlikely to turn out an established pastor. And Tylara would have favorites among the converts to the Unified Church. "Then, my love, take possession for the Church, and do whatever pleases you with this place, with my blessings," Rick said. He looked around for his orderly. "Jamiy."

"Sir."

"My compliments to our unit commanders, and they can circle the wagons. We'll camp here for the day. And get my caravan set up. Oh and tell our corpsmen they can house the wounded of Ta-Meltemos here after the mass."

So another village is converted to the Unified True Church, Rick thought. No one was consulting the villagers. Tylara certainly wouldn't. The old pagan cults of Yatar and Vothan had initiates and a priesthood, but they weren't an orthodoxy and didn't think about heresy. The new church didn't either. Yet. Rick had heard rumors of resistance to the new Unified Church, mostly from the Five Kingdoms. Combine patriotism and religion and you could get nasty persecutions. Heretics became traitors and vice versa.

God save me, Rick thought. I don't want to bring the Inquisition to Tran. But what can I do? The travelling medicine shows taught the germ theory of disease, and the Unified Church had adopted that as revelation. That helped because simple sanitation worked what looked like miracles compared to what they'd been doing.

Science and religion. Have to see they don't conflict. One more damned job I don't know how to do. And I don't have time to think about it.



* * * * * * * * * *



Rick laid out the map on his field conference table. Unlike most maps on Tran, this one was accurate over reasonably long distances: Rick had drawn it on a tracing from a photograph taken from orbit. Mapmaking had never been a high art on Tran, and even Roman maps became distorted when they covered more than a few days' marches. Roman cartographers were vaguely aware of the problems associated with different map projections, but they had never worked out what to do about them. Roman maps were good locally, but could be misleading over large distances. Maps drawn by anyone but Roman engineers were hopelessly distorted.

One reason they think I'm a military genius, Rick thought. Amazing what a good map will do. Couple it with a compass and a magnetic field which nearly matches the planet's rotational poles and I don't spend a lot of time getting lost. Rick remembered one of Warner's lectures on how there had to be a magnetic field for life to survive here.

The others filed into the caravan. Rick's traveling command post was built up from two wagons placed side by side. It was large enough to hold the conference table and had whiteboard walls for diagrams. The only problem with it was that even broken into four wagons, two for the post itself and another two for maps and furniture and supplies, the command post moved slowly on Tran's primitive roads. The headquarters was often several days behind the commander. This time it hadn't arrived at the battlefield before Rick was headed home, meeting it on the way and turning it around.

Rick took his place at the center of the table. When he first did that it shocked Tylara, who expected a commander to sit at the head of the table, but it hadn't taken her long to see the advantage of being in the middle of things. Now she sat next to Rick and watched closely.

Tylara's father Drumold sat across from Rick and Tylara. He looks tired, Rick thought. Can't be too surprised at that, he's got to be past sixty. That's old on Tran. Life in the saddle ages you fast.

"My son sends his regards, and begs to be excused," Drumold said. "He's out hurrying along stragglers."

Rick nodded understanding. The clansmen were more disciplined than Drantos nobles, but that wasn't saying much. The Romans seemed to have the only really disciplined native forces on Tran. Except for the Nikeisian infantry, Rick amended. The Nikeisian axe and halberd men had fought in orderly ranks, and consequently took few losses, which may have been why the Drantos lords thought they hadn't contributed enough.

"So where do we stand?" Rick said.

"With the Wanax?" Tylara said. "Not high."

"Colonel's still Warlord of Drantos," Warner said.

"Aye," Drumold said. "And will be so long as Ganton finds it useful to have him so. But not a moment longer, to my way of thinking."

"And how long will that be?" Rick asked.

"He needs you to chase that Five Kingdoms army back home," Drumold said. "After that, you can hold the west as Eqeta, and there won't be an enemy standing on Drantos soil. Where's the need for a Warlord? Unless you'll lead his armies north. Will ye? Will you be bringing your star lords to fight when the Wanax invades the Five Kingdoms?"

"I sure hadn't planned on it," Rick said. "We don't want the Five Kingdoms! Not now, anyway." Rick pointed to the map. "Look, this climate change is getting whole nations on the move. Southerners streaming north, and from what I hear the whole high plains is going to be a dust bowl. Whatever's up there will come down."

"Westmen already have," Bisso said. "Tough little buggers."

"What scares me is there may be people up there tougher'n the Westmen," Larry Warner said.

"What makes you think there is anyone tougher than the Westmen?" Bisso asked. "Please tell me you made that up! The Westmen damn near killed us all at the Hooey River!"

"Just a hunch," Warner said. "They've got legends about their paradise being west of where they live, but they never go there. Maybe somebody's keeping them from going?"

"Interesting," Rick said. There was a time when I'd be the one to know that sort of thing. Now all I do is pee on fires. He shook his head. "But the important point is, there'll be lots of people trying to settle in Drantos. Too many to support. We can't keep them out, so what do we do with them?"

"Hell of a lot to kill," Bisso said. "Not enough bullets."

"Leaving aside the ethical problems," Rick said. "So if we can't keep them out and we can't kill them, the only thing left is to move them on to somewhere else. The easiest place is the Five Kingdoms, but we can't push the refugees in there if we own the joint!"

"Actually, we could, Colonel," Bisso said. "Easier, really, if nobody's trying to keep them out."

"Good point," Warner said. "Hmm. You know, Colonel, maybe he's got something there. Hard cheese on the Fivers, but Hell, it's going to be tough on them anyway. Not that you need reminding, but the important thing is to keep those damn madweed farms producing. First crop of refugees, we can put to work in the fields. Promise them safe passage north if they work hard and don't cause trouble. If we hold the Five territory, we could do that. Send them north and give them land to settle on."

Rick frowned.

"You're proposing that we help Ganton with this conquest?"

"Rather have the Fivers unhappy with us than have our own Wanax hate our guts! Sure, why not?"

"We don't have enough troops to do all we have to do now," Rick said. "Let alone this. It was all we could do to keep the Five from conquering us, now you want to go the other way?"

"We still have that problem," Warner said. "It won't get easier. Skipper, we got long term problems, too. Bisso can tell you, the troops are getting restless."

Rick looked the question to Bisso.

"It's true enough, sir. We don't know where we're going. Look, Murphy was a private soldier. Now he's set up as a great lord all on his own, with wives and kids and land. Mason's an officer, marrying into the nobility. Warner's got his university. What have the rest of us got? More'n that, what do we look forward to, Colonel? We got no lands, most of us have concubines but not real families, we can be called out to fight any time. Hell, Colonel, Chelm yeomen have more rights than we do!"

"I've never heard you talk like this before," Rick said.

"Never had the chance, what with Sergeant Major Elliot and all. Colonel, I'm not saying anyone's muttering about mutiny. We know what happens! Warner got sold into slavery, Gengrich damn near lost his whole command. Only good things that happened to us were after you took over. I'm just saying we don't see where we're going. We trust you, but frankly, sir, when I hear you talk like you don't know what we're doing either, it scares hell out of me!"

Tylara was about to say something. Probably to protest the sergeant's tone, Rick thought. And that wouldn't do.

"So, just what do you want out of all this, Bisso?" Rick asked before she spole.

"Me? Retirement to a gated post with a good pension, with grandkids coming to visit on holidays. I reckon there's others with more ambition, but that'd suit me just fine."

"And the others?"

"Like I said, sir, there's others with more ambition, 'specially when they see how Murphy's set up. But I reckon being retired on good pay in a safe place wouldn't be the least of what they want."

Rick nodded.

"A military colony in a safe place. Training a new regiment. Might surprise you to know that's always been what I had in mind for the company, Bisso. The big problem is making things safe enough. Right now—"

Bisso nodded.

"Right now, there's no place on this planet safe. Skipper, I know that, Elliot knows that, most of the men know that. But you did ask."

"I did indeed. OK, Warner, you think the best way to get a peaceful old age is to install Ganton as High Rexja of the Five Kingdoms. Maybe so. So why does Ganton think he can do it now?"

"He has this claim," Warner said. "Lady Tylara can tell you, the Wanax thinks he'll get allies in the Five. Legitimists. Isn't like this never happened before."

Tylara nodded agreement.

"My Lord husband, you have yourself said that sometimes when you have enough problems, they solve each other. Could this be so now? Our Wanax has ambitions, but he also has claims that will win him support in the North. We need a place to send the refugees from the south. If we help Wanax Ganton, we will have such a place."

"I need to think on it," Rick said. The problem is, they may be right. But I'm tired! I don't want to fight any more.

"Perhaps God wills it," Tylara said. "That we bring the true religion to the heathen."

And she means it, Rick thought. Of course true religion brought benefits like hygiene.

Bisso looked uncomfortable, but Warner nodded.

"There's already Unification converts in the Fiver armies," he said. "Maybe they'll defect to us. Some already did. It's always been uneasy between Yatar and Vothan up there."

"There have never been religious wars on Tran," Rick said. "And I sure don't want to be the cause of one."

"All due respect, Skipper, how do you know?" Warner demanded. "History on Tran means what your grandfather told you, plus maybe some legends like The Time and Skyfire, and damned little details of those. For all you know they've had religious wars out the wazoo."

"Do you know what you're starting?" Rick asked.

"No sir, and neither do you," Warner said. "But after watching that parliament, I think Ganton's going to try no matter what you do."

Rick looked to Tylara and got a confirming nod.

"He is a Wanax determined to satisfy his nobles, particularly when they urge him toward what he wants to do anyway," she said. "Yes, he will press his claim."

"Will he do it well?"

Tylara shrugged.

"On that matter you have as much knowledge as I. He is young and vigorous and has charm. His men will follow him and he is not a lackwit."

"But will he win?"

Tylara's shrug said volumes.

"So the question is, how are we better off, helping him or dragging our feet?" Warner demanded. "We help him and he wins, maybe he resents our help, but that's the worst of it. We drag our feet and he probably loses. He'll blame the loss on us. He's not going to like it much, and we still have to save the bacon depending on just how bad he loses. We sure won't be better off than we are now. He wins without us, he's going to be pissed off and have the strength to do something about it. Either way isn't much of an upside, is it?"

"So just how do you propose we conquer the Five Kingdoms?" Rick demanded.

"I don't know, Colonel, but if anybody can do it, you can."

Tylara nodded.

"I have not always agreed with Lord Warner," she said. "But you have always said he is right more often than he is wrong. And he is not wrong in this, My Lord husband. If it can be done, you will do it. And what choices have we? We cannot retire to our estates and pretend there is no world outside our walls! The world is all around us, inside our very keeps! You explained that very well to Prince Strymon. The Time is upon us, and we each do what we must, and on you lies the heaviest burden of all."

"Oh bloody hell, I don't want to fight any more," Rick said.

"Seem to remember you telling us that what we want isn't always a factor," Warner said. "Skipper, would you get mad if I tell you to shut up and soldier?"


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Mamelukes snippet #5
Post by Keith_w   » Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:31 am

Keith_w
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Thank you this snippet RFC. It's been a long time since I last read Storms of Victory, but I think that the previous 4 snippets were from the end of Storms, so this is your first snippet that actually covers part of the post-Storms story. Certainly it raises my anticipation.
--
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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Re: Mamelukes snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:24 am

runsforcelery
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Keith_w wrote:Thank you this snippet RFC. It's been a long time since I last read Storms of Victory, but I think that the previous 4 snippets were from the end of Storms, so this is your first snippet that actually covers part of the post-Storms story. Certainly it raises my anticipation.



Actually, all of it is post Storms. Storms ends with Rick and Tylara racing each other across/away from the battlefield after meeting in the middle of the last desperate stage of the fighting. Mamelukes begins with Rick knowing he's going to lose the race because his horse if much tireder than hers. (And, another factor which should have colored his thinking, because he's a lot heavier than she is.)


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Mamelukes snippet #5
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:36 pm

TFLYTSNBN
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runsforcelery wrote:
Keith_w wrote:Thank you this snippet RFC. It's been a long time since I last read Storms of Victory, but I think that the previous 4 snippets were from the end of Storms, so this is your first snippet that actually covers part of the post-Storms story. Certainly it raises my anticipation.



Actually, all of it is post Storms. Storms ends with Rick and Tylara racing each other across/away from the battlefield after meeting in the middle of the last desperate stage of the fighting. Mamelukes begins with Rick knowing he's going to lose the race because his horse if much tireder than hers. (And, another factor which should have colored his thinking, because he's a lot heavier than she is.)


Now that you have revealed that Rick weighs more than Tylara, you are at liberty to also reveal Tylara's bra size just as Larry Niven was very explicit about Teela Brown and Hydroprillar.
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Re: Mamelukes snippet #5
Post by Montrose Toast   » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:41 pm

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As RFC said.

What you are remembering is the first 4 chapters of the draft Mamelukes that was published on Pournell's site over a decade ago. This is the first entire snip that is past that old snippet from JP. Snippet 4 ends slightly past that old teaser.
"Who Dares Wins"
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Re: Mamelukes snippet #5
Post by Keith_w   » Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:52 am

Keith_w
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Location: Ontario, Canada

Montrose Toast wrote:As RFC said.

What you are remembering is the first 4 chapters of the draft Mamelukes that was published on Pournell's site over a decade ago. This is the first entire snip that is past that old snippet from JP. Snippet 4 ends slightly past that old teaser.


Thanks.
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A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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