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Into the light snippet #19

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 #19
Post by runsforcelery   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 12:06 am

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

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

Guys, as I said over on the Gordian protocol forum, Real Life™ has been taking its toll lately. I apologize for having missed a week (or two). Here is a longer snippets and at least partial compensation.

______________________________________________________



.XIX.
Near Sokoto,
Federal Republic of Nigeria


“You wanted to make an entrance,” the pilot said over the intercom as the massive Starlander touched down on the wadi in northeastern Nigeria. “I think it’s safe to say we have.”

The ramp in the back of the craft came down, and Abu Bakr bin Muhammed el-Hiri could see dozens of men swarming around the craft. When the ramp hit the sand, he strode down it, and almost as one, all of them pointed their rifles at him.

“Don’t worry,” Jasmine Sherman stage-whispered behind him. “If they shoot you, I’ll make sure I avenge you.”

Abu Bakr raised an eyebrow at her over his shoulder. “I’m not sure what good that will do me,” he replied. “But I do thank you.” He regretted, for a moment, not accepting the ‘gift’ of vampirism that had been offered him when Longbow had been converted. While a huge part of him had wanted to cross over to the other side, so that he could more fully persecute and drive the Shongairi from Earth, he'd decided his eternal soul was worth more to him in the end.

“No,” he'd said. “This is not the way for me. This . . . this is a cheat. While it may seem like a gift, I believe this is a gift from Satan so he can steal our souls.” He’d shrugged. “Maybe it's Allah’s test—I don’t know. Either way, though, while it appears to give us what we want—the power to defeat the alien heathens—it takes away that which is most important to me—my eternal soul.” He'd shaken his head with his final pronouncement. “No,” he’d said, “if you do this to me, you'll do it against my will, and I'll fight you tooth and nail to keep you from turning me into one of . . . you.”

“That’s okay,” Longbow had said. Abu Bakr had never seen his comrade in arms as serious as he had been that day; even when surrounded by the Shongairi, Longbow had always remained upbeat. “I’ve got this one, Bro,” he'd said. “My soul doesn’t mean all that much to me, in a lot of ways. I know yours does, to you, and one of us should come out of this as the man he once was.” And so Longbow had nodded once, gone off with the vampires, and come back as one of the soulless ones. Abu Bakr didn’t love him less as a vampire—he’d fought by his side too long to give him up that easily—but deep down, he believed the vampires were . . . something less for having taken the easy way out.

Abu Bakr sighed, sure he’d made the right choice, even if it was the more dangerous one, and continued down the ramp toward the jeering men. Jasmine reached the ramp’s midpoint behind him and sat down while he continued to the bottom.

Allahu Akbar!” the only man without a rifle greeted him as he stepped off the ramp. “God certainly is great, for he has brought us this giant craft that we may use to spread our message anywhere we choose!”

All the men within hearing waved their rifles as they cheered his pronouncement.

“Have you come to join the cause?” the man asked.

“No,” Abu Bakr replied. “Quite the opposite. I've come to bring you back to the path. Boko Haram was once a positive movement for our religion, but it is no more. Now it is just a force for terrorism—for giving you access to the pleasures of the flesh—and no longer for the betterment of the Faith.”

“You talk about the pleasures of the flesh—our leaders have for too long known these vices. When leaders sin, it is the duty of Muslims to oppose those leaders and depose them. We have done so, and we continue to work toward a better world.”

“By stealing schoolgirls and ransoming them or forcing them into marriage or worse? By using children for suicide bombings? By destroying villages and killing everyone who lives in them?”

The man shrugged. “Obviously, if they were not for us, then they were against us and off the path of the righteous. They needed to be destroyed. It is as Allah wills it.”

“No, that isn't what Allah wills, nor is it what is right. I fought against the alien heathen to get our world back—a world of righteousness—and you are despoiling it with your actions. We—my government and I—are working to build a better world, where aliens from the stars can never come and make us their slaves, ever again.”

“You are from the government, then?” the man asked. He turned to the other men. “He is from the government!” he exclaimed. “He will bring us a great ransom!”

“No.” Abu Bakr didn’t say it loudly, but he said it with such conviction the Boko Haram leader turned back to him.

“What did you say?” he asked in an evil tone.

“I said ‘no.’ You won't take me hostage, nor will you ransom me.”

“And who will stop me? You?” The man laughed. “Your government?” He laughed harder, and was joined by many of his men. “We own the government here. In fact, we are the government. They pay us.”

“No,” Abu Bakr said, shaking his head. “I’m not going to stop you.” He nodded up the ramp. “She is. Just as she'll stop you and anyone else who would seek to hold young women against their wills.”

“Maybe we'll take her hostage and ransom her, too!” The men cheered. “Maybe we won’t ransom her—maybe we will just use her and then kill her when we’re done with her.” The cheering grew even louder.

Abu Bakr smiled for the first time. “I’d really like to see you try.”

“What? You don’t think we will?”

“No; I don’t think you can.”

The man stepped back and nodded to two of his followers. “Akin, Mobo, go up there and bring her to me.”

“With pleasure,” Mobo said.

The two men handed their rifles to their neighbors and started up the ramp, grinning. Jasmine watched them with an expression of mild interest until they came within about two meters, then she flashed forward.

Akin and Mobo fell over backward, their torn-out throats fountaining blood. Jasmine seated herself on the ramp before most of the men even noticed she'd moved. She looked down at her right hand, then fastidiously wiped away a crimson stain.

And smiled.

There was a vast, ringing silence, and Abu Bakr stepped to the side to avoid the rivulet of blood working its way down the ramp.

“Those were your best warriors?” He shook his head “You’re going to need better ones than that, for my cause is pure and just, and my warriors will destroy any who oppose us.”

The leader stepped up to Abu Bakr, and a knife appeared in his hand. He pressed the point against the American’s neck.

“And what of you?” he asked in a harsh whisper. “What if I destroy you, first?”

"Oh, I think not," Abu Bakr replied calmly.

"And why n—"

Jasmine stood next to Abu Bakr, not a hair out of place, as the leader fell backward, his own knife buried in his chest. The crowd of men went silent as the man’s corpse hit the ground. A flash of motion caught their eyes, and three more women appeared, standing where Jasmine had been sitting.

“What is your name, Holy One?” one of the men asked, going to a knee.

“My name is Abu Bakr bin Muhammed el-Hiri.”

“I will follow the Wildcat, wherever he leads!” the man exclaimed.

“The Wildcat!” The rest of the men yelled, going to one knee. “Lead us!”

“Well,” Abu Bakr said, turning to Jasmine with a smile. “That was easy.”











.XX.
Regina, Saskatchewan
Canada




"First, let me thank you again for agreeing to host our meeting, Mister Prime Minister," Judson Howell said, looking around the polished table in the conference room that overlooked Legislative Drive. It was snowing again — or perhaps the word Dave Dvorak really wanted was still — and despite the conference room's warmth and the hot cup of coffee at his elbow, he was certain he felt a subliminal chill as icy wind roared softly across the Legislative Building's roof.

"You're most welcome, Mister President," Jeremiah Agamabichie replied gravely, then smiled. "And letting you borrow our facilities here seems reasonable enough, since it's your reactor in the basement powering the entire building!"

"No, it's yours. Or perhaps I should say ours, given the nature of our meeting. And while I'm thanking people, I especially thank you, President Garçāo. Not just for coming all the way from Bahia, but for the much appreciated gift you brought with you, as well." He touched the coffee cup at his elbow and smiled. “Secretary Dvorak and I had both been experiencing withdrawal symptoms — or, even worse, drinking instant coffee — before your arrival. I cannot begin to tell you how much getting the real stuff means to both of us." Chuckles circled the room, but then Howell's smile faded. "Seriously, I truly appreciate your coming to meet with us in person. I know it was a long flight."

"I suppose some might consider it so." Fernando Garçāo's English was excellent, although heavily accented. "It seemed less so in the Starlander you provided, however. I had not anticipated such comfortable accommodations. And the flight profile made it much shorter."

Which was true, Dvorak reflected. The Starlander was subsonic in atmosphere and it was almost six thousand miles from Sao Salvador to Regina. An atmospheric flight profile would have taken nearly eight and a half hours. But the same Starlander was capable of Mach 7 on a reentry profile, and its counter gravity could take it beyond atmosphere in less than seven minutes, so the actual flight time had been about forty-five minutes — less time than it had taken him to fly from Greenville to Atlanta back when Delta had still been hauling passengers.

"We've only diverted two of them to diplomatic duties," Howell said. "We really need more, but I hate pulling anything else out of the humanitarian lift effort." He shrugged. "As far as the 'accommodations' are concerned, at least it doesn't take the printers appreciably longer — or use up any more resources — to build a 'luxury model' to haul our august persons around."

"No doubt." Garçāo nodded. "It was a pleasant journey, however."

"I'm glad. Especially since I imagine all of us are about to find ourselves dealing with a lot of significantly less pleasant information. In fact, I'm afraid it's time for Secretary Dvorak to start sharing some of that less pleasant information with us."

Garçāo nodded again, his expression bleaker than it had been, and Dvorak drew a deep breath, rose, gathered up his coffee cup, and walked around to the podium at one end of the conference room. A proper Secretary of State, he supposed, would've had an appropriately senior flunky deliver the briefing. He saw no reason to be that proper, however, and with the IT services which were now available, the only excuse for having a flunky — for this briefing, at least — would have been to prove his own importance.

"Thank you, Mister President," he said, setting his coffee on the handy shelf built into the podium. "And allow me to add my own thanks to both you and President Garçāo, Mr. Prime Minister."

Agamabichie made a small waving away gesture, although all three heads of state knew the true reason they were meeting in Regina and not Greensboro. Assuming their efforts bore fruit, Greensboro — or some other location in the US — would almost certainly become the future capital of their Continental Union. At this point in the process, anything they could do to undercut the inevitable protests that the US had reassumed its habitual role of international puppet master with indecent speed, was eminently worthwhile. Hopefully, holding this meeting in Regina — and, later, issuing the proclamation they intended to draft in Sao Salvador — would underscore the fact that Canada and Brazil were partners in the effort, not simple client states.

Yeah, lotsa luck with that one, Dave, he reflected dryly, even though the original suggestion had been his.

"Turning to the business at hand," he continued, removing his phone — and that was, indeed, what people had ended up calling them — from his pocket, "I'd like to begin with a few bits of good news."

He opened the phone and tapped the display, and the computer obediently dimmed the conference room's lights and activated the three-dimensional holographic projector which a crew of US technicians had installed in the conference room's ceiling. A breathtakingly realistic view of the Earth appeared above the conference table, rotating slowly. The beautiful, cloud-banded blue gem was just under three feet in diameter, and a sense of awe which had not yet become routine flowed through him. He touched another button, and the areas of the United States of America, Canada, and the Republic of Brazil superimposed themselves on the rotating planet in a sea of gleaming green light. That light covered eighty percent of North America, just over half of South America, and — altogether — over two thirds of the total land area of both continents.

It did not, however, cover any of Central America.

Yet, at least.

"The Continental Union's charter members, Gentlemen," Dvorak said. "Obviously, it's still early days and there are all sorts of legislative hurdles yet to be cleared, but I believe we can consider this what we in the United States call a 'done deal.' We're obviously still working on the exact wording of the new Constitution, but that seems to be going well, and Mister McCoury, Mister LaCree, and Ms. Araújo will submit a draft version this evening. It's been a . . . lively process."

All three heads of state chuckled.

Kent McCurry, who'd become Dvorak's undersecretary for political affairs — and, God help him, he'd realized he actually needed one of those — was a few years younger than Dvorak himself. He was also a cross-grained, often ornery mountain boy from Johnson County, Tennessee. He was wiry and sharp featured, with black hair, a close cropped beard which somehow always seemed about to escape control, and a double doctorate in history and political science. He took a certain almost childlike delight in stepping on other people's political corns just to see how they'd react, and he cultivated an air of cynicism, but that cynicism was an imperfect mask for how deeply he actually cared.

Eduarda Araújo, Edison Soares' Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, was as dark-haired as McCoury, with almost equally sharp features, although they looked better on her than they did on him. She was very dark complexioned, only about five feet three, with a fiery temper. She was also fiercely proud of the job her president had done and determined that no one was going to step on her country. One would have expected that to make her a natural ally for Adam LaCree's efforts to build in every possible safeguard to prevent the US from totally dominating the proposed Continental Union, but Brazil's ninety-eight million citizens would be a far better match for the estimated 110 million surviving US citizens. In fact, Brazil was clearly the second most powerful of the three nations currently involved. On the other hand . . . .

"Another bit of potentially very good news," Dvorak continued, "is that even though King Henry decided he couldn't leave Bristol at this time, his Government — and especially Foreign Secretary O'Leary — has been in close communication with Prime Minister Agamabichie and President Howell. And while Bristol isn't ready to announce it just yet, three other Commonwealth nations have indicated that they're prepared to join us: the UK itself, Australia, and New Zealand." He tapped the face of his phone again, and the three nations he'd named pulsed a lighter shade of green. "He believes most of the rest of the Commonwealth will be inclined to join in the future, but at the moment, none of the other member states have sufficiently intact national governments. The situation is particularly bad just now in the Indian subcontinent and South Africa."

Any hint of levity disappeared with his last sentence.

What the Shongairi had done to India had been bad enough. New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bangalore, and Hyderabad had disappeared in the first wave of KEWs, taking almost ninety million Indians with them. Staggering as that total was, it had represented little more than seven percent of India's total population, but it had dealt a savage blow to the union government . . . and it had been only the first blow. According to the Shongairi's own records, the sheer numbers of humans in India had frightened them, given the rate of attrition their occupation forces were suffering elsewhere. That had become especially true after the organized uprising in China, however, and no one had ever accused the Puppies of excessive restraint. They'd apparently decided it would be a good idea to prune back India preemptively, before it followed China's example. The resultant second wave of KEWs had been devastating . . . and then, with both nations' central governments destroyed, what was left of Pakistan and what was left of India had apparently decided to settle their longstanding, pre-invasion animosities once and for all. And just to make a horrific situation still worse, it turned out that both India and Pakistan had possessed nuclear gravity bombs the Shongairi had missed. Two of them had been trucked into India from Pakistan and taken out Amritsar and Lidihana.

That had truly alarmed the Shongairi. True, the humans were using them on each other, but nothing guaranteed things would stay that way, so they'd applied yet another layer of KEWs to the entire subcontinent. The third wave had eliminated every urban agglomerate — indeed, virtually every individual city with a population above a hundred thousand — and pretty much finished off anything like cohesive government — or society — in the region.

It was fortunate that so much of the Indian and Pakistani population had been rural, but not even that had been able to prevent unspeakable death tolls, especially when religious and ethnic 'cleansing' became part of the horror show which had engulfed one of the most populous areas on the face of the planet. Bangladesh had essentially ceased to exist, and by their current estimates, the population of the shattered region which had once been India was no more than 200 million. That was a huge number by the standards of most nations, but it represented less than fifteen percent of the pre-invasion population. And Pakistan had suffered even more heavily at Shongair hands, partly because it had a possessed a higher percentage of urbanization, which had put a higher proportion of its people into the first-wave KEWs' crosshairs, but mostly because the Shongairi had realized the origin of the Amritsar and Lidihana bombs and paid the country special attention in its third wave of strikes. Perhaps as many as 23 million of Pakistan's pre-invasion 200 million citizens were still alive.

And, as if to prove that nothing was so horrible that it couldn't be made still worse, the Shongair strikes had savaged the urban, richer, better educated, and more tolerant sectors of both countries. Too many of those who remained — especially in the mountains of Pakistan, where survival rates had been highest — could scarcely have been less tolerant, and fanatics on each side blamed the humans on the other side for all of their agony.

The Shongairi's withdrawal had only made bad worse by removing the occupying force which had gone after any concentration of armed humans, regardless of whether those humans were shooting at them or at other humans. Even that restraint had disappeared now, and there were still plenty of weapons available for humans determined to slaughter one another in the name of God or simple vengeance.

Every person in that conference room felt a desperate need to intervene — to do something in the face of such slaughter — but the carnage was too widespread, too bitter, and too deeply ingrained. There were literally thousands of individual leaders and warlords — far too many for even Pieter Ushakov and his vampires to find a vital individual or group to neutralize. It would have taken an army of vampires to make a dent in the madness, and they had less than a hundred of them, all told. God only knew where the carnage was going to end, how long that would take, or what would be left when it finally burned itself out.

And then there was South Africa.

The Shongair bombardment had destroyed all three South African capital cities — Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town — in the initial wave. Fortunately, then-Prince Harry and his family had been in Johannesburg that day, and their security detail had gotten them out of the city before the second-wave KEWs arrived. In all, South Africa had lost perhaps a quarter of its fifty-six million citizens in the first week of the invasion, and, much as in India and Pakistan, the massive casualties had exposed the ugly underside of the ethnic and racial animosities the country had worked so long and so hard to resolve. Tribal, as well as racial, hatreds had driven the bloodshed and largely finished off the authority of any surviving national government. It looked as if calmer heads were finally starting to prevail, however, and there were indications that the bloodshed had burned out — or, perhaps, burned up — the most hate-filled elements. It would be a while before South Africa as a nation was prepared to join any new world governments, yet if the current trend lines held, that might very well change within the next year or so.

Australia and New Zealand, on the other hand, had taken far lighter losses from the Shongairi, at least in absolute terms. Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide were lost in the first wave of strikes, taking with them nearly half the total Australian population, but there'd been very few secondary strikes, and New Zealand had escaped almost unscathed. Between them, they still mustered almost seventeen million citizens, which was a higher percentage of their pre-invasion populations than almost anywhere else on the planet.

Despite that, unfortunately, the Shongair decapitating stroke had been even more successful in Australia than most places outside the United States. The prime minister, his cabinet, and the governor-general had all been in Canberra, trying to cope with the implications of the unprecedented, world-wide computer hack which had been the first phase of the Shongairi's attack. Parliament had been in session, as well, while the Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security pondered the same information, which had put all of the federal government neatly into a single crosshair. The good news, such as it was, was that the state and territorial governments had survived much closer to intact, and the Shongairi had seemed content to let the huge island stew in its own juices until they had secured control of the rest of the planet. As a consequence, Australia was reassembling itself even more rapidly than the United States and needed less outside assistance than most while it did so.

Malaysia should have been an even brighter story.

It wasn't.

Kuala Lumpur, Sebrang Perai, and George Town were part of the grim totals of the first-wave KEWs, but the best estimates were that twenty-two million — almost seventy percent of its pre-invasion population — had survived the strikes. There'd been an unfortunate tendency to slide into warlordism among the survivors, however, and long simmering religious tensions had flared into ugly, violent life. The death rate was lower than that in the subcontinent, but that was about the only good thing to be said of it. No one knew how long it was going to take for something like stability to return or what that stability was going to be like. No one expected it to return anytime soon, however, and some of the early indications suggested the emergence of an even stricter and less tolerant variety of Islam. In particular, many of the imams were demonstrating a strain of Luddite thinking, casting the Shongairi as Allah's punishment on Western ways and technology, which scarcely seemed promising for the future. Worse, the same sort of conflict had spilled over into Indonesia — especially on Borneo — and the southern Philippines. All in all, the situation didn't look good, and given the poisonous religious component in the strife, inserting vampires into that mix seemed . . . strongly contraindicated, just at the moment.

Dvorak shoved that thought back into its cubbyhole. He was sure it would crawl out again — probably when he was trying to get to sleep — but for now he had more pressing matters.

"According to Foreign Secretary O'Leary, it's very likely the Republic of Ireland will be joining along with the rest of the UK. In fact, we should end up with all of Great Britain, although she says some of the Scots are being — I believe her exact words were 'bloody difficult' — about it." He quirked a brief smile, then sobered again. "We already knew the UK had been hit badly, but I'm afraid it was even worse than we'd thought. Foreign Secretary O'Leary estimates the current population at no more than twenty-seven million."

Someone inhaled sharply, although, to be fair, that was about forty percent of the pre-invasion population, which was a higher percentage of survivors than in other places . . . like China and India.

Or, for that matter, the United States of America.

"On the other hand, the Foreign Secretary's informed us that the King believes it might be wiser to delay any announcement that the UK or Australia and New Zealand intend to join the Union." President Garçāo's eyebrows rose in surprise, and Dvorak shook his head quickly. "I don't think there's any doubt about his ultimate intentions. It's more a matter of timing, and, frankly, I think he's right."

Garçāo frowned slightly, and Dvorak understood at least part of what was probably bothering him. The Brazilian, Howell, and Agamabichie all agreed that the Continental Union had to hit the ground running, and adding three more nations to the original ratifiers of the Union Constitution, especially spread so broadly around the globe, would have to help in that direction.

"The King's feeling is that while our ultimate goal has to be to create a planetary union, and while there's a great deal to be said for striking while the iron is hot, there's also a great deal to be said for growing the ultimate union as . . . organically as possible. For letting it, as Foreign Secretary O'Leary put it, coalesce out of the chaos rather than take on the form of something imposed upon the world. And, as the King pointed out to the Foreign Secretary, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK are all primarily English-speaking nations who, despite the vast geographic distances between them, are generally perceived as part of the white, Anglo-Saxon world. To be blunt, it's King Henry's view that it will be far better for us to begin as the Continental Union President Howell first envisioned, with as many of our South American neighbors onboard as possible, before 'overloading' the new edifice with those same white Anglo-Saxons. If India and South Africa — even Nigeria — were better positioned to ratify the new Constitution at this time, it might make sense to move directly towards the Planetary Union. As it is, I think His Majesty has a pretty fair point."

And, interestingly enough, it would seem that it was, indeed, His Majesty's point. Dvorak very much doubted that Prince Henry Charles Albert David had ever expected to become King Henry IX, but now that he had the job, he intended to do it. He'd returned to Bristol as quickly as he could, sneaking back onto the island by small craft while the Shongairi were still interdicting air travel, and judging by the firm, no-nonsense approach he'd taken where warlords and looters were concerned, he clearly hadn't wasted his time in the Army. He'd been forced to walk a fine line between restoring local order and provoking a Shongair intervention, but he'd managed to keep his balance. In terms of organized, functional infrastructure, North Carolina was still well ahead of the UK, but Great Britain was making up for lost time under the King's energetic leadership. And, given the way most citizens of the UK had come to regard the youthful monarch who'd done so much to bring some sort of order out of chaos, it seemed likely the Crown was going to be rather more actively engaged in shaping British policies than it had been.

It sure as hell had been this far, at any rate.

President Garçāo's frown had eased as he digested Henry's reasoning. Now he nodded, but his expression remained troubled.

"As the president of one of those South American neighbors, I heartily approve," he said. "The problem is which of my fellow South American countries we nominate."

"Venezuela is . . . not a promising prospect," Dvorak replied, and Garçāo's nostrils flared. The arrival of the Shongairi — and the destruction of Caracas, Maracaibo, and Barquisimeto — had finished toppling "the Sick Man of South America" into a black hole that appeared bottomless. "The situation there has spilled over into eastern Colombia, as well, but despite that, it appears Colombia is probably a more promising proposition. Unfortunately they're still trying to put their national government back together, and we haven't had much luck getting into contact with it at this time. Peru took an awful pasting along the coast, and it was the middle of their winter when they got hit. President Izquierdo is making a lot of progress, and we're providing as much humanitarian aid as possible, but it's going to be at least another eighteen months before he could even consider something this significant. Ecuador and Bolivia are in better shape than Peru physically, but politically —" He shook his head. "We don't have anyone in either of those countries who can speak for more than a few thousand people, and this has to be something that's done on a national basis if it's going to have any legitimacy going forward."

All three heads of state nodded gravely at that. That was another reason they were the ones beginning this.

More and more local governments in the shattered United States were acknowledging Howell's legitimacy as president. It would be entirely too long before the nation's physical infrastructure could catch up with its political infrastructure, but something that was still recognizably the United States of America was emerging from the ruins. There were still places where anarchy governed, and it was likely military force would be required to sort out quite a few of them, but no one seemed to doubt any longer that they would be sorted out.

Agamabichie and Garçāo had smaller populations, but both of them had been the legal successors — through a somewhat strained procedure in Agamabichie's case, perhaps — to their dead heads of state. That gave them a degree of legitimacy that was simply lacking in places like Bolivia or — even worse — Venezuela, where it was very much a matter of every man for himself, bullets counted far more than ballots, and God help the hindermost.

"We're not sure about Argentina," Dvorak continued. "Ancieta Montalván seems to have some serious reservations about how close she wants to get to us. That could be a problem."

"How great a problem?" Agamabichie asked.

"Well, as Vice-President and President of the Senate, she was clearly President Salcedo's legal successor when Buenos Aries got hit, so she's got a lot of legitimacy," Dvorak replied. "And so far as we can tell, she's doing a damn good job of putting things back together. They're down to about sixteen million people, and it's taking her longer than I'm sure she'd like to reestablish the federal authority, but starvation was never a big problem for them. They had more problems with the winter weather, frankly. But Jorge Medrano — he's the Navy commodore who's become Minister of Defense — doesn't much like or trust the United States, and it sounds like he has a lot of influence with her. Hopefully, that's not going to be an insurmountable problem in the long term, but at the moment, it clearly is. The good news is that we think he's an honest, forthright fellow who just doesn't like us very much, so we're hoping we'll be able to change his mind in that regard in time. Or that's the way it looks from here, anyway."

"I met President Montalván before the demônios, although I'm not certain she would remember it," Garçāo said. "She is a determined woman, and one who thinks for herself. I very much doubt that anyone's influence with her would be strong enough to overcome her own judgment."

"That's our feeling as well, Mister President. It's just that like too many of us, right this minute she has a little too much on her hands to be worrying about new supranational constitutions."

"And then there is Mexico." Garçāo sighed.

Mexico had become, in many ways, the Americas' South Africa, although for rather different reasons. The cartels had seen their opportunity . . . and taken it. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion had actually negotiated a deal with the Shongairi, acting as the Puppies' local enforcers in Colima, Guerrero, and Michoacan. None of the others had been quite as blatant as the CJNG, but all of them had possessed copious stores of military-grade weapons, and they'd seen the invasion primarily as an opportunity to increase their own power. With the collapse of the Federal authority after the initial KEW strikes, Mexico had disintegrated into feudal territories ruled over by the druglords who ran the cartels.

"Yes, there is, Mister President," Dvorak agreed. "The good news is that in part because of the CJNG, Mexico's total casualties were actually lower than they might've been. The Puppies had more pressing problems elsewhere, so they were content to let the cartels — who, unlike Pakistan or India, at least didn't have nuclear weapons — finish off the last vestiges of the Federal authority. After all, the process simply divided the country into smaller, more readily digestible bites under the control of humans who'd at least indicated they were willing to 'be reasonable' by Shongair standards.

"I rather suspect —" his thin smile was remarkably unpleasant "— that they eventually began to realize that the cartels' 'submission' was just a bit less genuine than they'd thought, but it did mitigate the death toll. And while conditions in Mexico are pretty horrible just now, at least there are still a lot of people living there. We estimate there are around sixty or seventy million Mexican citizens, and they took over half their total casualties in the initial kinetic strike. So once we can . . . neutralize the cartels, we should be able to find Mexican partners who can help us both reconstitute their country and turn it into another South American candidate for the Continental Union."

"No one could be happier than I if that were to prove possible, Mister Dvorak," Garçāo said, but his expression was profoundly doubtful. "Unfortunately, the one thing the cartels and the traficantes have proven over the years is how extraordinarily difficult to 'neutralize' they are."

"You're quite right about that, Mister President," Dvorak agreed, but his smile had turned even thinner and more unpleasant. "On the other hand, no one else ever sent them a . . . negotiating team quite like the one we're planning to send."


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by Garth 2   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:37 am

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This is going to be such a good read, most stories of this nature seem to brush over the consequences of rebuilding
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 8:40 am

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"On the other hand, no one else ever sent them a . . . negotiating team quite like the one we're planning to send."

Definitely! :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Good read! :)
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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 #19
Post by WeberFan   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:22 am

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WOOOOO HOOOOOO :P :P :P :D :D :D

Thank you David!

Said it before, I'll say it again....

Real Life is FAR more important than snippets!

Enjoy EVERY SECOND with Sharon and the kids. You only have ONE CHANCE to share your kids's lives as they grow up.
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by phillies   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 3:04 pm

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There is nothing for which to apologize, except that you have not manage to triplicate yourself so taht we get your novels three times as often.
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by Zephyrus   » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:33 pm

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runsforcelery wrote: "I rather suspect —" his thin smile was remarkably unpleasant "— that they eventually began to realize that the cartels' 'submission' was just a bit less genuine than they'd thought, but it did mitigate the death toll. And while conditions in Mexico are pretty horrible just now, at least there are still a lot of people living there. We estimate there are around sixty or seventy million Mexican citizens, and they took over half their total casualties in the initial kinetic strike. So once we can . . . neutralize the cartels, we should be able to find Mexican partners who can help us both reconstitute their country and turn it into another South American candidate for the Continental Union."


Perhaps you meant "Latin America" when referring to Mexico? Because it's certainly not in South America.
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by omi20   » Mon Sep 30, 2019 8:52 am

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Great Snippet but one minor quibble Boko Haram was not ever strong in the Sokoto area which is the northwest more in the area around Maiduguri and the north east
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by Isilith   » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:31 pm

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omi20 wrote:Great Snippet but one minor quibble Boko Haram was not ever strong in the Sokoto area which is the northwest more in the area around Maiduguri and the north east


In OUR world that might be true...
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Re: Into the light snippet #19
Post by phillies   » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:32 pm

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Location: Worcester, MA

Good to read that the Argentine leadership has some good sense.
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