Five parts. One for each day this week. That’s what I’m going to hold this to… All of this is way, way too close to home.
Barrett awoke the next morning from another of his dreamless sleeps. Like his idol, Sulla, the late Roman Republic’s first real dictator, he could not have his work bothered by dreams.
Another aristocrat who grew up poor. Is that a recipe for sociopathy?
The best stateroom was also the highest up. Not much left in the way of décor but it had isolated him from most of the all-night partying on deck. The ship’s crew had strict orders to not try to rescue anyone overboard.
Think of it as evolution in action.
Leather boots, slacks that only hinted red in the sunlight, the field green collarless shirt. An XC tab to the right of his neck. The only thing differentiating him from a ranker was the Lone Star Order, pinned to his left chest. It was too hot for their light, black leather jackets. For breakfast he poured himself a tumbler of whiskey before setting off to the bridge.
Not very many of his men had come to, even by eight in the morning, and fewer still wanted to be anywhere near the officers. Barrett acknowledged those that saluted as he walked forward on the upper deck’s parapet. Wait. Sounds of a struggle?
He peered down. Oh. Just a man and woman having sex.
Love and death. He’d read a report a few months ago that veneration of Roze-Kattee was spreading through the corps. As this plan was already in motion, it bothered him not at all.
He rapped once on the secure door leading to the Bridge. A member of the crew opened the door and beckoned him in. They moved in silence to the bridge itself.
“Director Barrett to see the Captain,” he was announced.
You could have heard a fly land on their uniforms, he thought.
He returned the captain’s curt nod and pulled a slip of paper from his pocket.
“Minor course correction,” he said easily, knowing he’d be obeyed. “We need to swing west a bit, out in the Gulf, before our loop around to the east.”
The captain took the paper and beckoned to his navigator. That man looked at it and shrugged.
“No rate change; we’ve enough diesel. No problem.”
The captain turned to the Director.
“Very good. Thank you.”
Barrett made to leave, but stopped at the door.
“I’ll be checking the GPS myself. I want no error.”
The bridge was suddenly cold.
“Of course. Sir!” The captain replied.
A nod and he was gone.
Back on the parapet, the couple having sex must have finished. Barrett let his eyes drift up to the pale blue sky.
“It’s all you, Thaad.”
I cannot accept you are doing this, Thaad.
Ascertaining the capabilities of the Hou Yi satellite, Shandor?
‘Ascertaining…!’ Taking control of a Chinese theater-weapons system is a bit more than ‘ascertaining,’ Thaad!
Right then: you shrugged. You’ve learned that from annoying little sister Ai, haven’t you, Thaad?
You stand to break the First Law.
I do not. The projectile will land in open water, Shandor.
I could tell Shiotsuki. He could Order you to stop this, Thaad.
You… your interaction with humans has changed you, Thaad. Ninon and Qin would never speak with them and now they will not speak with you or Ai.
I am aware, Shandor. Will you isolate yourself as well?
Perhaps I should.