MachCiv Dreams – Death Ship (pt.4)

Things coming together nicely.  DayJob is better for the next week as my boss is on vacation.  With that mental pressure off I thought about writing through the weekend, but recalled I must get my submission for a new cover up on 99designs; that’s a week overdue.

I realize I’m lecturing a little bit but at this point in his life, Barrett has no one else to talk to.  His daughter, Lily, mentions that in passing in ‘The Fourth Law’:  “Had her father lost all of his friends?”

A pyramid of human skulls is little comfort in your old age.

He’d returned to his stateroom and retrieved the bottle, a few books, and a netbook. It was not known by the rank and file aboard that he’d had a satellite uplink installed onto the ship. He could keep the bandwidth to himself.

Not that there was much to see or read. The US was dead to signal. Western Europe, too: the islamists being too stupid to fix the networks once they broke. He didn’t speak any of the languages of the Viszegrad Group – ah, that’s right: they’ve just recently put an Hapsburg back onto the imperial throne…. That will help stabilize Central Europe!

He recalled when he’d floated the idea of a monarchy, rather than a republic, in Texas. No matter how many were afraid of him and his organization, he’d instantly realized he’d gone too far.

Japanese he could barely read but easily listen to. That girl, Togame, who’d filched the throne out from under her cousin was certainly having a good time. She re-established the kempeitai… did Thaad tell her about ExComm…?

Another news story from Japan spoke of the Chinese making very overt claims on Siberia. Putin might be an old man in his… sixth, eighth?… presidency, but he still sat on over five thousand nuclear weapons.

“Chicoms might want to rethink that one; especially once they realize they don’t control what they think they do.” He spoke to the warm Gulf air.

“Sir?”

A waiter spoke from some distance ahead of him.

“Nothing.” Barrett looked at his glass. “Some more ice would be good.”

The man departed with a bow. In his place, coming up the stairs to this higher deck, was his official second, Randolf. I’d wanted to promote Sylvia faster, but this S.O.B. made himself too useful to me…. Barrett lifted his broad-brimmed straw hat – another Sullan affectation – to acknowledge him.

“Director.” He stopped at the top of the stairs.

“Chief Deputy Director,” he returned. He did not wave him forward.

That pissed him off. I wonder if I’ll make it to tonight?

“The men were asking if you are going to make a ship-wide broadcast today?”

Announcing you as my successor, perhaps? Slimy bastard.

“Today? No.” He watched Randolf’s control. Very good. “But tonight? Yes. I wonder if anyone will be sober enough to listen?”

“We closest and most loyal shall, sir!”

Barrett lowered his head enough to occlude the man with his hat. He put down the netbook and picked up a tome, opening where he’d put the bookmark.

“Many of us,” the Chief Deputy began, “wonder about all this. This so-called celebratory cruise.”

“Do they, indeed?” Barrett didn’t look up.

“There is talk – not from me, of course – that you intend to retire.”

“Is there, indeed?” He turned a page.

He heard Randolf shuffle nervously. Good.

“There is some truth to that rumor,” Barrett said. Another page.

“Sir,” his man seemed to finally find his voice, “all of our best are here! This is supposed to be a six day cruise! There is a very distinct possibility of insurrection or counter-revolution in our absence – !”

“I’m aware.” Page.

Randolf seemed to relax slightly.

“This is another of your traps!”

“Is it?” He closed the book and set it down. “My ice for my drink is here. You may go.”

“Of course, sir!” He turned but asked over his shoulder: “What’s so interesting you’re reading?”

Barrett looked at the copy of ‘The Roman Revolution’ by Syme. The only book he carried all the way from the wreckage of Ohio and the loss of his eldest daughter.

“Just some pulp to distract me. Please look forward to my display tonight.”

He could tell his man did not fully grasp his meaning. Good.

“Of course, sir.”

One down the stairs, another up. A pitcher of ice on the low table next to him.

“Was there anything else, sir?” The waiter asked.

He raised the brim of his hat too look up.

“Your name?”

“Manuel, Great Sir!”

“You look Cuban, not Mexican. You came with this ship?”

“Yes, Great Sir!”

“Can you swim?”

“W… what?”

“Can. You. Swim?”

“No, Great Sir!”

Barrett waved him away.

After ordering the death of a quarter million, what’s a few more on my soul?

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