Book 17. Part One Summary, 2/2

Wrapping up the summary.

Konev and his men tend to the Canadian Lt while alerting higher-ups. To their surprise, Gen. Suvorov himself shows up in one of their reactionless motor ships. With Konev in tow, they move to the temporary HQ outside of Moose Jaw. Konev, using what little he knows of Centurion Hardt – Patel’s friend – manages to break the ice with her.

The next day, Reina interferes and orders Patel returned before things get worse. Konev and Patel set up a rendezvous with her unit just SW of Winnipeg, which, though further south, is already under the ice; the two lakes to its north acted as highways for the ice sheet, already halfway to Grand Forks. At the rendezvous point, Hardt and his team, backed by one of their S-3 flying saucers, meet them, inviting both the Canadians and Russian scout teams to a meal in a nearby abandoned golf course clubhouse.

There, the three team leaders, Konev, Patel, Hardt, stay alone on the outside deck in the freezing weather to talk frankly to one another about what seems to be going on around them. Messengers run out with orders for all three from their respective commands. Knowing more than he should – we’ll see why in the next installment (or you already know if you have the good sense to read Obligations of Rank) – Hardt renders Patel unconscious and, via some subterfuge, abducts her.

Some quotes below the fold.

“Bob’s here?” she demanded.

“He and a detachment,” why not try the truth to keep her talking? “seem to be acting as impartial observers to the actions in former central Canada.”

“But you’ve seen him, right?  He’s okay?”

Such is her insistence that I suspect a romantic component to this.

“We shared a breakfast about a week ago and then he and his rendered us some, ah, assistance,” Konev replied, keeping it vague.  “Very competent and professional.  I admit it was my first time interacting with legionaries.  You and he are friends?”

“Yes!  We met about a half-year ago in Kentucky Province,” she finally smiled.  “We’ve stayed in touch since then.  I know he just recently made centurion… um.”

The smile faded and she shut up.

“Then as we share a friend in common,” a gross exaggeration but a start, “then perhaps we can be, as well.”

She turned her head away.  Sergei suppressed a sigh and stood.

“Maybe,” he heard her whisper.


“You are right:  all armies, all governments, have factions,” Eloise began.  “Witness we have two capitals now.  And, Bob, er, Centurion Hardt, told me that my country will fall apart in my lifetime.  I didn’t believe him at the time.”

She paused to stare at the flat infinity to the north.

“But I am older.  I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for these past months and seeing Winnipeg gone… well, that was it for me, I guess.  Sergei?”


“Bob told me the imperials and you Russians are on Mars.  I called him a liar but he held his ground.” She looked up at him.  “Are you?”

What I know came from news reports inside the Rodina; not classified, but…

“Yes.  The Russian Empire works closely with others while laying claim to most of the surface from our hard work and sacrifice,” he said down to her.


“It is no easy thing to make a new world, Miss Patel,” he said, being formal to make a point.  “Russian men and women are giving their lives to this great work.”


General Suvorov was alone in the interior, standing before a map desk, looking down at a laptop.  Seeing the two enter, he said, “They’re here,” and turned it about.

As he did, Suvorov noted that the image on the screen instantly changed from the dirty outfit of a Chekist to the high-collared jacket of an officer of the Imperial Guard.  We are all playing games, he thought.

Seeing who it was, confirming his worst guess, Konev went to attention and saluted.  Not knowing what was afoot, Patel at least stood straighter.

“Are you, Sergei, single-handedly attempting to thwart my plans?” Reina asked with a neutral expression as she waved his salute away.  Likely, her most dangerous expression.

“Prime Minister,” he said, lowering his hand but still rigid.  “I am sure you have seen my reports.  My men and I seem to have been on the business end of unusual circumstances during this operation.”

“An operation whose phase one is essentially complete,” she noted, dropping into English.  It is?  “Phase two shall be establishing good government in our new lands.  But how can I do that with dissension in my army?  With demons loose in the land?  With the officer of a foreign nation in one of my command tents overhearing top-secret plans?  Your idea, Konev?”

She did not use my rank.  It’s over.  He replied in English to keep Patel in the conversation.

“Prime Minister.  I am ordered by my General to personally see to this person of interest.  A person wounded by our army.  Bringing her in here seemed wiser than letting her alone out there.  The decision was solely mine.”

“Wise, huh?” Reina’s trademark smirk returned to her face on the screen.  “You have anything to say, Lieutenant?  Do you even know who I am?”

“From how Sergeant Konev addressed you, I guess Reina Mendrovovitch, Prime Minister of the Russian Empire.” Her small intake of breath was ragged.  “And the author of so much trouble to my country.”

“Pacific, Western, Central, and Maritime Canada has been coming apart since the Breakup,” Reina said in a conversational tone.  “We are here to pick up some of the pieces.  We have no ambitions further east.  Our interest lies elsewhere.”

“Mars,” Patel spat.

Reina’s eyes slid to Konev’s.  It was as if ice formed on the computer screen.

“Running your mouth, Sergei?” she asked in a voice that would bring the ice further south, faster.


Honking from the two trucks they’d taken in Grand Forks, to the south, as they came around the corner to the south end of the bridge.  Sergeant McDonald leaped out.

Of vastly more interest was the saucer.  Gray and at least fifty meters in diameter, it rose from behind the buildings ahead to take up station about twenty meters above them.  The Scarlet Eagle of Empress Faustina and a “LEG X” were visible.

“You travel in some style, for a centurion,” Konev allowed.

“Besides your vodka and putting butter into tea,” Hardt replied, “what I appreciate most about your people is your sense of humor.”

“I was unaware we had any.”


“We three stand here, like this,” now it was Sergei’s turn to look away.  “Peace is so simple.  Our masters… our mistresses, make it so hard.”

Bob slid his arm about Eloise’s waist, not caring what the men inside might be thinking, and guided her to the rail, between him and Sergei.

“For all the example of the horror to their south,” Bob began, “the Canadians never fully understood what was happening, and why.  They prided themselves on their democracy and multiculturalism and that they were ‘not Americans.’”

“Bob…” Eloise tried to complain, stopping when he pulled her a little closer.

“I told you before, El.  And look at you now:  just like your country, you are between a Russian soldier and an imperial legionary, both of whom think you are very attractive.”  Bob was glad Sergei didn’t interrupt.

“But just like us three, Canada is now between two nations who have reactionless motors and fusion weapons.” He took his eyes from the setting sun to hers.  “You’re as smart as you are beautiful.  Rate your chances?”

“My… my country is doomed,” she admitted, picking up her drink and taking a gulp.

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