Topic Actions

Topic Search

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

Into the Light snippet #12

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 #12
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:24 am

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

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

Saskatchewan's preinvasion population had been just over one million. Despite its own grim death toll, its current population was at least 1.5 million, thanks to the refugees who'd poured in from farther east. Alberta had suffered its own influx as citizens of British Columbia sought safe havens. The Puppies had paid particular attention to the coastal regions in both Canada and the US, possibly because so much of the population and so many of the major ports had been concentrated there. That would certainly explain why California had taken so much damage, and it might explain what had happened to British Columbia, as well. Both Victoria and Vancouver had been wiped from the face of the earth in the initial strike, and the province's decapitated central government had crumbled quickly. Many of BC's survivors had sought the relative security of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and at least there'd been little starvation. Those two provinces had contained over forty percent of all Canadian farms, and the crops and livestock which had been produced for export had been available to carry their people — and their visitors — without the grim starvation which afflicted so much of the rest of the planet. Agamabichie and his government had even managed to put aside a sufficient bumper for the winter. What they didn't have was the capacity to move any sizable percentage of that food to places like the howling wilderness which had once been Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fuel was in extremely short supply, which was bitterly ironic, considering that Canada had been the sixth largest oil-producing country in the world and the refineries of Western Canada had produced forty percent of all Canadian petroleum products. But the Puppies had clearly grasped that human technology ran on fossil fuels, and precious few of those refineries remained. The situation was similar in the US, where the Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes ports had taken a special pounding.

That was bad enough from the viewpoint of transportation; it was far worse from the viewpoint of heating oil and gas. The government had been forced to throw up temporary housing for the enormous influx of refugees, and speed of construction and lack of materials, all hampered by Shongair interference at every step, meant very little of that housing would have met code. It was drafty, it wasn't all that well insulated, and an awful lot of people were going to get awfully cold in the coming weeks.

"We're aware of at least some of the difficulties you face, Mr. Prime Minister," he continued after a moment. "Secretary Tallman and Secretary Jacobi have done their best with the limited data available to them to estimate your most serious needs, but we're certain you have a far better grasp of that than we do. One of the things President Howell's instructed me to get from you is a list of them so we can see how we can help most effectively.

"Some things we already know we won't be able to do, I'm afraid. For example, our supplies of gasoline, diesel, natural gas — all the petroleum products — are extremely tight right now. We would be able to make some additional stocks available to you, but not in anywhere near the quantities we expect you actually need. That's partly because we don't have them ourselves, and partly because — frankly — you aren't the only place that desperately needs help.

"There are a couple of things we can do to alleviate that, however. We're now producing trucks configured for human operation with Shongair power plants. They use what Doctor Gannon — he's a Lawrence Livermore physicist in North Carolina — tells me is a fully developed version of the low-energy nuclear reaction technology people like NASA were playing with prior to the invasion. Don't ask me to explain what 'low-energy nuclear reaction' is or how it works." He flashed a quirky grin. "I know the acronym is LENR, that it uses a lot of nickel, and that because it uses 'slow neutrons' — whatever the hell those are — it doesn't generate radiation or radioactive waste. Which means," his smile disappeared, "that we can put them into trucks, into houses, into aircraft, and have a low-cost, long-endurance, high-output power plant that doesn't need fossil fuels at all. They're also a lot smaller than anything like them that we could have built before Fleet Commander Thikair was kind enough to leave us his orbital industry. We're turning them out as quickly as we can, and some of our more clever techs have figured out how to mount them in existing pre-invasion truck designs by switching out the internal combustion engines for steam turbines, so in addition to new-build vehicles, we're turning out a growing stream of conversions.

"We're also producing small, portable units that can heat — or cool — homes and public buildings. The need's so great that balancing output against expansion is our greatest nightmare right this minute, but President Howell told me to tell you that he will make absolutely as much of the new technology available to you as he possibly can."

"And the price for this will be . . . what? Our acceptance of this plan of his to merge our two nations?"

"There is no price for it, Mr. Prime Minister," Dvorak said levelly. Agamabichie's eyebrows arched, and Dvorak shook his head. "We're making this tech available as broadly as we can on the basis of need," he said. "In fact, we're probably sending more of it to northern Europe and Scandinavia than to Canada, despite the logistic issues. Their need, frankly, is far worse than yours, because most of Europe lost cohesion when the Puppies moved in.

"Yours — and President Garçāo's, down in Bahia — are the two largest geographic areas to maintain unified government. You've faced harsher environmental issues; he's faced a lot more civil unrest — warlordism, to call it by its true name. But nobody in Europe managed to hold society together on the same kind of scale. And that means the two of you will be able to use what we can provide efficiently, without it's being hijacked, or diverted, or simply lost, than anyone else. Which means what we give you will go farther . . . and that we have to give proportionately more to the areas where it won't be used efficiently, because we'll have to compensate with quantity to overcome the lack of efficiency. Within that limitation, though, you'll get everything we can send you. No price tags, no strings attached."

Agamabichie sat back in his chair, his eyes suddenly intent, and Dvorak leaned back and crossed his legs.

"I . . . find that difficult to believe," the Prime Minister said after a long, thoughtful pause. "And —" visions of Adam LaCree danced in his imagination "— I expect that some of my ministers and advisers will find it even more difficult to believe than I do."

"I won't pretend President Howell doesn't hope his willingness to assist will buy some goodwill, Sir." Dvorak flashed another brief smile. "Probably a proper diplomat would beat around the bush and put that ever so much more delicately, but I don't think President Howell picked me because I'm a 'proper diplomat.' He picked me, I think, because I have a tendency to call a spade a spade, as we put it back home. But you're a smart man, so you have to be as aware as I am that helping your people get through this winter has to earn us at least some good press up here in Canada.

"On the other hand," the smile vanished again, "there is such a thing as common decency, Mr. Prime Minister. Our . . . core constituency in North Carolina's probably in better shape than any other spot on the face of the planet. You would not believe — or want to see — what the satellites are showing us out of China." He shook his head, his face suddenly twenty years older than it had been. "We don't know who issued the call for a general uprising, but the casualties were beyond catastrophic. We're trying to reach out to China, but so far we're having an awful time finding anyone in all that chaos in a position to cooperate effectively with us.

"But that only underscores the fact that anywhere we can help, we must help. No matter what we do, we're going to lose too many more people, and at least some of the survivors will blame us for it, after the dust settles. They won't believe we couldn't have done more for the people they loved, and it's hard to blame them for that. Whatever they think, though, it won't be because we didn't do everything we damned well could, because all of us need to live with ourselves afterward."

Agamabichie nodded slowly, digesting the sincerity behind that not-a-diplomat's eyes.

"You do hope we'll join this scheme of yours to merge Canada and the States, though, don't you?"

"Of course we do. And I hope that after I've had a chance to share our intelligence on why the Shongairi attacked us in the first place — and why it's imperative for us to get ourselves organized as a species before the Hegemony gets around to round two — you'll agree with us."

"Round two?" Agamabichie sat straighter, his expression suddenly intent.

"Yes, Sir," Dvorak said grimly. "Our belief, which we believe you'll share after looking at the records and the data we've captured, is that this was only the first wave. Given the limitations of even the 'Galactic Hegemony's' faster-than-light technology, they won't be back next week, or next year, or even next decade, but they will be back, and we have to be outnumbered literally trillions to one. So the one thing we can't afford is to still be squabbling with one another when the next Hegemony starship drops out of phase-drive somewhere around Jupiter."

Agamabichie's blood ran cold, but he couldn't pretend he was really surprised. And he was looking forward to poring over any records Howell's people might have. But in the meantime . . .

"You have to understand how many reservations Canadians are going to have about losing their identity and control of their own destinies if they merge with something like the United States. Assuming President Howell can put your own country back together again, you'll easily outnumber us many times over, and I can't believe anyone in North America would suggest a system of governance in which population doesn't count for a lot when it comes to elections."

"Of course you have reservations!" Dvorak chuckled. "In your place, I'd have a lot more than just 'reservations,' Sir! But the President's given quite a bit of thought to this." And, he did not add out loud, he's discussed it a lot with the poor son-of-a-bitch he drafted as his Secretary of State, too. "And as a consequence, what he intends to propose is a step back toward the compromise between the larger states and the smaller states at the time our own Constitution was drafted."

"Ah?" Agamabichie leaned forward, elbows on his chair arms, and tented his fingers under his bearded jaw. "I have to admit I don't know as much about your early history as I do about Canada's."

"You probably know a hell of a lot more about US history than I do about Canada's history," Dvorak said. "Most Americans don't read or study Canadian history at all, I'm afraid."

"I'm not surprised, given the . . . disparity in our populations."

"Gracious of you, and probably more gracious than your typical US citizen would be. I mean, after all, we routinely call ourselves 'Americans,' as if all the rest of you live on another continent somewhere. That's one of the things President Howell would like to fix."

"How?" Agamabichie's tone was blunt. "Frankly, that reminds me of the story about Hercules and the stables."

"Basically, he intends to propose a Constitution based on the original U.S. Constitution, minus one or two of its amendments. Specifically, he intends to exclude the Seventeenth Amendment."

"Which would be the one that —?"

"It would be the one that establishes the direct election of Senators," Dvorak said. "Originally, Senators were chosen by their state legislatures and represented the states' interests in a federal system that emphasized a much broader degree of local sovereignty than became the case in the last century."

"And why does he want to change that?"

"Because he's looking at a bicameral legislature, with a Senate and a House of Representatives, and each sovereign nation which ratifies his new constitution and joins his Continental Union will have the same number of Senators, regardless of population. That is, in the upper house, the former Canada and the former United States will have equal representation, and the Senate will retain not simply its legislative role but its right of advice and consent for cabinet officers, members of the judiciary, and everything else it oversees under the current US Constitution. Which means Canada and the US will have equal voices on those issues.

"In addition, he wants to incorporate the Electoral College. Before the invasion, a lot of people in the States felt that the Electoral College system was antidemocratic, and they were right. Its function was to ensure that smaller states, all of whom had a minimum of two Senators and at least one or two Representatives, wouldn't simply be steamrollered by a few bigger states which happened to have far more massive populations. Those issues aren't new; they confronted the original thirteen states, and the Electoral College was the compromise adopted to protect the little guys. Which is why President Howell wants to extend that same protection to any smaller sovereign nation that signs on the dotted line. Money bills will originate in the new House of Representatives, and every seat in the House will be up for reelection in every general election, which means the nations with more people will still have far more clout than ones with smaller populations, but the Senate — especially if its members owe their loyalty to their home nations rather than to the Continental Union's federal power structure — will prevent the federal republic from becoming a centralized democracy. What member states of the Continental Union want to do within their former national borders will be largely up to them, with as much local autonomy as possible, as long as minimal human rights guarantees are met."

Agamabichie frowned thoughtfully. That was a far more generous offer than he'd anticipated, but it made sense. Assuming Howell truly understood the . . . un-wisdom of forcing other nations to ratify his new constitution, that was.

"Should I assume you've brought a more detailed version of what you've just described along with you?" he asked finally.

"I have," Dvorak acknowledged. "And, with your permission and agreement, we intend to present a copy of those same plans to King Henry in Bristol. I don't think many of us folks from below the forty-ninth parallel really understand how the Commonwealth works, but it did occur to us ignorant colonials that it would probably be a good idea to get the Crown to sign off on this. For that matter, I might as well admit that President Howell sees the Continental Union as only the first step. And I don't think he'd object at all if the entire Commonwealth 'spontaneously' decided to get in on the ground floor, as it were."

"At least I doubt anyone's ever going to accuse President Howell of thinking small," Agamabichie said dryly.

"No." Dvorak shook his head. "No, I don't think that would be the very best way to describe him, somehow."

Agamabichie chuckled, then leaned back again.

"If you could deliver that communication center to Bristol at the same time as you deliver President Howell's proposals, I think that would be a very good thing," he said. "In the meantime, you're absolutely right about the amount of help we're going to need, and those new reactors of yours sound wonderful! My people have already drawn up provisional lists to ask for. Once we've had a chance to look at what sort of help you can deliver, we'll fine-tune them. And I'll consult with the Cabinet and the Opposition on President Howell's . . . political initiative. I have to tell you, though, that while I'm far more optimistic about their ultimate willingness to consider it now that you've described the safeguards President Howell has in mind, it's going to take a while to bring them around. And I think all of them will insist on studying the data — the intelligence — you've gathered on the Shongairi and this 'Hegemony.'"

"And they damned well should," Dvorak responded. "I would, in their place, at any rate!"

"I'm glad you understand. And I also hope —" Agamabichie's eyes narrowed again "— that you'll shed a little light on just what the hell really happened to the Shongairi?! All anyone here in Canada seems to really know is that one minute they were about to kill the entire human race and the next minute President Howell had control of all their assets in the solar system!"

"I thought we'd told everyone how that happened." Dvorak raised his good hand shoulder high and waggled it back and forth in a tipping motion. "Didn't the broadcast come through here in Regina?"

"Oh, the broadcast came through," Agamabichie assured him. "It's just that nobody really believes it."

"Well they should," Dvorak replied.

"Really?" Agamabichie's skepticism was abundantly clear, and Dvorak chuckled.

"Really," he said. "It really was Vlad Tepes, or Vlad Drakulya, or whatever you want to call him, and if he isn't a classic 'vampire,' he’s certainly the most convincing counterfeit to come around in a long time."

"Vampires?" Agamabichie shook his head. "In this day and age?"

"Well, he's been around for five hundred years or so," Dvorak pointed out, "so you might say he predates 'this day and age.' I'll concede that quite a few people have problems believing it until they've actually met him . . . or one of the other vampires, anyway."

"So you're seriously suggesting there are more of them around?"

"Oh, yes!" Dvorak chuckled. "In fact, I've brought one of them along. She's Vlad's personal representative to President Howell's cabinet. I think you'll like her. And —" there was a curiously steely twinkle in his eye "— Jasmine is very, very convincing. Trust me."


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:36 am

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

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

LIKE! :)

Also, like how I guessed correctly about the make-up of the "World Government". ;)
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by Bluesqueak   » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:57 pm

Bluesqueak
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 369
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:04 pm

Good stuff!

It just occurred to me that one of the many, many mistakes the Shongairi made was to leave the bodies of Buchevsky and his soldiers to 'rot uneaten'. Which meant some were still just about alive ( or possibly really recently dead) when Vlad came back.

Now, regarding the Shongairi. Will Vlad and Stephen blow them up from orbit, or will they give them the same 'submit or die' offer Thikair gave Earth? Because the Shongairi DO have a submission reflex, plus an honour code that says not submitting to the stronger is dishonourable. Not to mention the poor sods of 'client races', who might be just delighted to get their planets back instead of having them blown into teeny tiny pieces.
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by bigrunt   » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:54 pm

bigrunt
Lieutenant Commander

Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:34 pm
Location: St Augustine FL

runsforcelery wrote:"Basically, he intends to propose a Constitution based on the original U.S. Constitution, minus one or two of its amendments. Specifically, he intends to exclude the Seventeenth Amendment."


Ask a question from the last snippet and the master answers. I wish we could get rid of the 17th amendment now, but that is for a different thread.

So do England, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland all get in to the new union as separate states? It seems like the commonwealth would control the Senate.
___________________________________________________________
I am the runt of the litter (Granted it was a litter of really big pups)
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:16 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

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

Depends on if King Henry (for unknown reasons) wants the Commonwealth to be a "single state" in the World Government or not. ;)

bigrunt wrote:
runsforcelery wrote:"Basically, he intends to propose a Constitution based on the original U.S. Constitution, minus one or two of its amendments. Specifically, he intends to exclude the Seventeenth Amendment."


Ask a question from the last snippet and the master answers. I wish we could get rid of the 17th amendment now, but that is for a different thread.

So do England, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland all get in to the new union as separate states? It seems like the commonwealth would control the Senate.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by PeterZ   » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:32 pm

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 6277
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:11 pm
Location: Colorado

Dang, I was close on the form of government. We'll see how they decide on the chief executive. Assuming an electoral college chooses that executive without a direct election, then population will still drive who gets appointed. That smoked filled back room negotiation for President will be interesting.
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by phillies   » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:45 pm

phillies
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1933
Joined: Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:43 am
Location: Worcester, MA

PeterZ wrote:Dang, I was close on the form of government. We'll see how they decide on the chief executive. Assuming an electoral college chooses that executive without a direct election, then population will still drive who gets appointed. That smoked filled back room negotiation for President will be interesting.


The votes are then for the peopel in the states who chose the electors. If the guy is important enough, supporting the prefered side for his office overshelmes interest in state issues.
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:47 am

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 6277
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:11 pm
Location: Colorado

phillies wrote:
PeterZ wrote:Dang, I was close on the form of government. We'll see how they decide on the chief executive. Assuming an electoral college chooses that executive without a direct election, then population will still drive who gets appointed. That smoked filled back room negotiation for President will be interesting.


The votes are then for the peopel in the states who chose the electors. If the guy is important enough, supporting the prefered side for his office overshelmes interest in state issues.


Ayup, however, given Canada's reactions to joining the US, there will be significant nationalist concerns involved for ANY country involved. I can see the less populated countries seeking a coalition driven by those sorts of individual characteristics and policy preferences. An interesting dynamic will be the US' early dominance in Hegemony tech and how that will be shifted around when a leader is chosen from outside the US. Are all those resources now under the control of the new world federal government or does each state/member nation have a degree of sovereignty?

I ask because the ACW asserted the primacy of the Feds when push comes to shove. Will that same understanding apply or will each state have the legal option to secede?
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by Randomiser   » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:36 am

Randomiser
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1413
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:41 pm
Location: Scotland

The Commonwealth is a very loose body. Not all of its members have the UK sovereign as their head of state. King Henry may be wielding more power in the UK at this point, but that doesn't mean to say Canada, Australia, NZ, India or the bunch of African countries involved are going to let him decide for them. Scotland and NI aren't, in RL at least, Sovereign states, so aren't eligible for membership on their own. The Republic of Ireland most certainly isn't part of the Commonwealth :twisted: But, yes, if all the Commonwealth countries came in they would dominate the Senate at first. Supposing they ever had sufficiently aligned interests to vote together.

DrakBibliophile wrote:Depends on if King Henry (for unknown reasons) wants the Commonwealth to be a "single state" in the World Government or not. ;)

bigrunt wrote:Ask a question from the last snippet and the master answers. I wish we could get rid of the 17th amendment now, but that is for a different thread.

So do England, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland all get in to the new union as separate states? It seems like the commonwealth would control the Senate.
Top
Re: Into the Light snippet #12
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:36 pm

PeterZ
Fleet Admiral

Posts: 6277
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:11 pm
Location: Colorado

The entire book can't be about rebuilding the Earth after the Shongairi. That just sounds boring. There has to be some skipping into the future pretty soon.
Top

Return to Out of the Dark