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HFQ Official Snippet #11

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:51 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2425
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Guys —

We've been in Poland and the Czech Republic for the last couple of five-days, and intranet connectivity hasn't been great. I think there was a hardware component to the problem at our hotel in Poland, which was otherwise very, very nice, and we've been having problems falling on and off of the Wi-Fi here in Prague. I think we finally have the problem, so here's your belated snippet.

We'll be leaving here tomorrow morning at 8:50 (Tuesday) and getting home at 00:02 Wednesday, so don't expect to hear anything else from us for at least a couple of days after that. ;)

__________________________________________________________



If he’d ever entertained any doubts on that subject, the SNARC imagery of the Army of God’s outposts would have put them to rest. Very few of those half-frozen men, shivering in inadequate clothing as they crouched around fires in whatever structures they’d found or whatever huts they’d been able to piece together, had any interest in going anywhere else. Nor would they survive if their shelters were destroyed, Green Valley reflected, his expression bleak under the two layers of snow mask — what would have been called balaclavas back on Old Earth — and the ski goggles he and every other man in the column wore. Freezing to death was a very unpleasant way to die, and the baron took no pleasure in the thought of inflicting that particular death even on his enemies.

Which wouldn’t stop him from doing it for a moment.





.V.
Two Recon Skimmers,
Above East Haven,
and
Nimue’s Cave,
The Mountains of Light,
The Temple Lands.


“I never imagined clouds could look so beautiful from above,” Aivah Pahrsahn said softly. She sat in the recon skimmer’s rear seat, turned to the left to look down from the rear canopy over its wingtip as it banked, and the moon shining down through the thin, cold atmosphere turned the clouds’ summits into shining silver and their gulfs into bottomless ebon canyons far below. “I always knew God was an artist, but this . . . .”

She shook her head, and Merlin smiled as he gazed out through his own canopy. They’d come two thousand miles from Siddar City in a little over three hours; they should reach their destination in the Mountains of Light in another hour and a half. He’d been a bit surprised by how calmly Aivah had taken the materialization of not one but two recon skimmers out of the snowy dark, but however calm she’d been, her sense of wonder had been obvious. If she’d felt any trepidation at climbing the access ladder into the needle-nosed, swept wing skimmer, she’d concealed it admirably, and her enjoyment of the trip so far reminded Merlin irresistibly of Cayleb Ahrmahk’s first flight.

He leveled the skimmer as he completed the turn, and glanced out over his starboard wing to where an identical skimmer kept meticulous station upon him. He hadn’t initially anticipated needing both of them, but each could carry only a single extra passenger and Aivah had insisted upon being accompanied by Sandaria Ghatfryd, who’d been her personal maid for the last two decades. At first, he’d been surprised by the anxiety that seemed to indicate, but that lasted for only a very few minutes after the two women had joined him in the service alley behind Madam Pahrsahn’s luxurious townhouse.

Sandaria was a good two inches shorter than Aivah, with mousy brown hair, a swarthy complexion, and an even more pronounced epicanthic fold than most Safeholdians, courtesy of her Harchongese mother. Merlin knew she’d been with Aivah for at least twenty years; what he hadn’t known (until Aivah explained there in the alley) was that she’d actually been with her ever since Nynian Rychtair’s convent days. In fact, Sandaria Ghatfryd had been a novitiate at the same time, and today she was a senior member of the Sisters of Saint Kohdy, not to mention Aivah’s second in command . . . and closest confidante.

Sandaria, unlike Aivah, had evinced a little nervousness when they emerged from the city via one of Aivah’s discreet routes and she discovered that she and Aivah would be aboard separate skimmers. She’d handled the silent appearance of the craft remarkably calmly; it was clearly the separation that concerned her. Unfortunately, except for the armored personnel carriers — and the full-sized assault shuttles — in Nimue’s Cave, they were the only passenger vehicles available. The assault shuttles were about the size of an old pre-space jumbo jet, and hiding something that size in proximity to Siddar City would have been . . . a nontrivial challenge even with Federation technology. The APCs were smaller and more readily concealable than assault shuttles, but they were also much slower. Even on counter-grav, they were uncompromisingly subsonic, capable of only about five hundred miles per hour, and Merlin preferred to have a supersonic dash capability in hand, just in case. And while the far smaller air lorries were easier to conceal, they’d been designed to transport cargo. It had never occurred to anyone they might find themselves shuttling people back and forth from Nimue’s Cave in job lots. Now that the possibility had suggested itself to them, Owl’s remotes were busy converting two of those lorries into air buses at this very moment, but the process would require another day or so, and no one had wanted to wait the extra time.

Besides, the second recon skimmer had let him bring along a second pilot.

“How much longer will it take, Merlin?” Aivah asked now, and he looked down into the small display which connected him to the rear cockpit.

Aivah looked back out of it at him as if she’d been using coms all her life. She’d operated the controls he’d demonstrated to her with equal facility and confidence, and a smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he reflected on why she’d needed only a single demonstration.

Yet another mystery solved, he thought dryly. No wonder the SNARCs and I never caught her decoding anything. She never needed to! And I do feel a little better about her remembering details of Ahbraim and Merlin to match against each other. “I have a very good memory,” indeed!

The rare gene group which produced true eidetic memory had been discovered (many skeptics had argued that “invented” was a better verb) in the mid twenty-first century, and gengineering it into children had been something of a fad for the next fifty years. It had been far less damaging than some of those fads had proven before the whole field of human genetic design was brought under rigorous control, but with the development of direct neural interfacing and the cloud storage of memories, everyone had effective eidetic memory. Interest in the ability had waned, and far fewer parents had opted to build it into their offspring. Nonetheless, it had remained far more common than it had been among earlier generations and it still cropped up occasionally — not often, but more frequently than on pre-space Old Earth — on Safehold.

Nynian Rychtair had it. She’d never needed to consult her codebooks when she wrote or read a message because she carried them — all of them — in her head. Merlin and Owl had always known she smuggled a voluminous correspondence back and forth across the Border States, despite the war, but so far as they’d been able to tell, all of it was fairly innocuous: correspondence with the business managers she’d left behind, letters to some of the young women who had worked for Anzhelyk Phonda for so long, or messages from refugees to family and friends left behind, for example. They’d been unable to keep track of all of that correspondence once it flowed into Zion or other major Temple Land cities, and since they’d “known” none of it had been eoncoded — and that Aivah was on their side, at least for now — they hadn’t actually tried all that hard, given all the other charges on Owl’s surveillance ability.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by USMA74   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:54 pm

USMA74
Commander

Posts: 238
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Location: Leavenworth, KS, USA

Thankyou so much RFC/MWW. Hope you all had a good trip.
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by Caliban   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:17 pm

Caliban
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 83
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin,USA

Aaaaahhhh, Thank You so very much, Sir. I can feel my synapses re-moisturizing even as I (re)read...

Hope you and your wife had a grand trip,with all the fun that comes with visiting Lands Previously Unknown.

Welcome Home- well, tomorrow or the next day, whenever it may be :mrgreen:
====================================


"A wise man speaks because he has something to say; A Fool speaks because he has to say something."
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by phillies   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:21 pm

phillies
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1982
Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:43 am
Location: Worcester, MA

...a second pilot...

Ummh, I suppose it is this new math, what with people wanting to replace marks with these newfangled Roman numerals, but Merlin, Aivah, Gottfried (however spelt) that seem to be three names, not four...someone seems not to have been named. Cayleb? Nimue?
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by Weird Harold   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:26 pm

Weird Harold
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 4478
Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:25 pm
Location: "Lost Wages", NV

phillies wrote:...someone seems not to have been named. Cayleb? Nimue?


Cayleb would be available, Nimue is half a world away.
.
.
.
Answers! I got lots of answers!

(Now if I could just find the right questions.)
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by Caliban   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:28 pm

Caliban
Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 83
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 12:23 pm
Location: Wisconsin,USA

phillies wrote:...a second pilot...

Ummh, I suppose it is this new math, what with people wanting to replace marks with these newfangled Roman numerals, but Merlin, Aivah, Gottfried (however spelt) that seem to be three names, not four...someone seems not to have been named. Cayleb? Nimue?


Um, Merlin and Aivah in unit #1.
Nimue and Sandariah in unit #2

After all, someone gotta pilot the second skimmer, and Merlin's 'sister' certainly has the required knowledge base... Or, maybe Owl. He has the skills, and textev already has him piloting the Lorry.
====================================


"A wise man speaks because he has something to say; A Fool speaks because he has to say something."
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by AncientMariner   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:31 pm

AncientMariner
Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

Posts: 49
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 11:36 pm

Thank you RFC for this snippet!!

A trip to The Cave in not one but two skimmers... Well, I think this is pretty good indication that she's in, or on her way into, the Inner Circle, along with her 2nd in command.

At least she must have been told a big chunk of The Truth, because I can't think how else to explain it.

Thoughts?
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by BobG   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:13 pm

BobG
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 288
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:23 pm
Location: Westford, MA

AncientMariner wrote:Thank you RFC for this snippet!!

A trip to The Cave in not one but two skimmers... Well, I think this is pretty good indication that she's in, or on her way into, the Inner Circle, along with her 2nd in command.

At least she must have been told a big chunk of The Truth, because I can't think how else to explain it.

Thoughts?

I still think there is something special and dangerous about Sandaria Ghatfryd. Could they detect if she is a PICA?

-- Bob G
SF & Fantasy: The only things better than Chocolate.
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by AClone   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:15 pm

AClone
Captain of the List

Posts: 743
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:38 pm
Location: Midwestern United States

Thanks, RFC--travel well. It is COLD here!
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Re: HFQ Official Snippet #11
Post by ksandgren   » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:16 pm

ksandgren
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California

Thanks RFC! Snippets have become the elixir of the gods, and like many other such things, are addictive.

Looks like Aivah is getting her travel immediately and not at some future date.
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