If their coup is to succeed, Drakon and Iceni must put their differences aside to prevent the population of Midway from rebelling against them, to defend their star system from the enigmas—and to ferret out saboteurs determined to reestablish Syndic rule Hemry, a retired naval officer who graduated from the U. Naval Academy in Annapolis before serving with the surface fleet and in a variety of other assignments. His short fiction appears frequently in Analog magazine. He lives with his indomitable wife and three children in Maryland. All rights reserved.
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If their coup is to succeed, Drakon and Iceni must put their differences aside to prevent the population of Midway from rebelling against them, to defend their star system from the enigmas—and to ferret out saboteurs determined to reestablish Syndic rule Hemry, a retired naval officer who graduated from the U.
Naval Academy in Annapolis before serving with the surface fleet and in a variety of other assignments. His short fiction appears frequently in Analog magazine. He lives with his indomitable wife and three children in Maryland.
All rights reserved. But now the war had ended in exhaustion and defeat. No one trusted the Alliance, but they had stopped attacking. And the mobile forces of the Syndicate Worlds, the once—unassailable fist of the central government, had been almost wiped out in a flurry of destruction wrought by an Alliance leader who should have been dead a century ago.
Drakon walked through the doorway. He could do that because multiple locks and codes had already been overridden, multiple alarm systems had been disabled or bypassed, a few deadly automated traps disarmed, and four human sentries in critical positions had been turned and now answered to him rather than to CEO Hardrad, head of internal security. But until Drakon entered the room beyond he could claim to have been testing internal defenses. Now he had unquestionably committed treason against the Syndicate Worlds.
Drakon had expected to feel increased tension as he entered that room; instead, a sense of calm filled him. Retreat and alternate paths were no longer possible; there was no more room for uncertainty or questioning his decision.
Within the next several hours, he would either win or die. Inside, his two most trusted assistants were already busy at separate consoles. On the other side of the room, Roh Morgan used one hand to flick a strand of hair from her eyes as she rapidly entered false surveillance feed loops designed to fool the automated systems at ISS into thinking that everything still worked properly.
Drakon was dressed in the dark blue executive ensemble every CEO was expected to wear, an outfit he personally detested, but both Malin and Morgan were clad in the tight, dull black skin suits designed to be worn under mechanized combat armor.
The skin suits also served well on their own for breaking and entering, though. Malin sat back, rubbing his neck with his right hand, then smiled at Drakon. What does that make me? For a moment, Morgan tensed, then one corner of her mouth curled upward as she gazed at Malin. Why should I care? Go ahead and give it a try. CEO Drakon, we should eliminate those four sentries.
They could still betray us. Very good. Now think about the fact that we lost the war. She shrugged. After the door closed, Malin looked at Drakon. You must know that. Morgan has told me the same thing about you, Drakon thought as he considered a reply to Malin.
Morgan knows that just as well as I do. But I am keeping an eye on her. I keep an eye on everyone. From what I know of the mobile forces commander, CEO Kolani, she will support the Syndicate government and the snakes. You are justified in believing that it is in her self—interest to stick to that agreement. But how will you run things, sir? But I am unclear as to what system will replace that of the Syndicate.
Too great a chance of being caught by the ISS. We both agree that we want to get out from under the merciless thumb of the Syndicate. You and I and everyone else knows how false that proved to be. And now we know that the Syndicate government is moving to try to maintain control by replacing CEOs wholesale and executing anyone whose loyalty is doubted in any way.
Beyond that. Iceni and I will talk when the snakes are dead. I strongly advise that you consider another way of governing. Our priority for the moment is survival. Now I need to talk to Iceni so she knows this surveillance node is blinded, and so we both know the other is getting ready to move.
He passed by the armored room where two of the turned sentries were pretending to see nothing. Then a little farther along before he reached the new, concealed access that had been painstakingly dug into this building from a neighboring structure, a task that itself had been a very delicate operation, requiring diverting and spoofing various alarms and sensors as well as the cooperation of those co—opted sentries.
Walking down a roughly hewn passage, Drakon entered the basement area of a shopping center, ignoring surveillance cameras there which had also been blinded, then went up a set of stairs and through an EMPLOYEES ONLY door whose lock combination had long since been compromised. The ISS snakes are going to be in for a real shock in a few hours, Drakon thought. For over two hundred years, the snakes have been staging surprise arrests and security sweeps. It would have been nice to be able just to hit the snakes right now, but Drakon knew the process was like a long line of dominoes that had to fall in turn, each knocking down the next as the plan progressed, as sensors and spies and surveillance gear all over the planet were spoofed or silenced, as military forces loyal to Drakon began to move under cover of those actions, as rebellion gathered without the knowledge of those who could still inflict terrible damage to this world if not taken by surprise.
So he kept to the plan, which had been unfolding slowly for months now and would soon begin moving very quickly indeed. That was why Drakon wore his executive suit despite his dislike for the garment mandated for all CEOs. No average citizen seeing him could tell by his outfit whether he was assigned to overseeing manufacturing or sales or administration or any other aspect of the integrated economic, military, and political system of the Syndicate Worlds.
He had once even suffered the indignity of being mistaken for a lawyer. But he knew that he had to appear to conform to routine right now in order to avoid tipping off the ISS. Drakon walked briskly but without any sign of concern by storefronts and out of the mall, then turned to walk past the outside of the nondescript building that secretly housed the ISS surveillance relay facility.
It took practice to look truly casual when you were guilty and strolling past those charged with enforcing laws, but no one reached the rank of CEO without plenty of experience at doing so. The citizens he encountered on the streets automatically moved aside when they saw the CEO—level executive suit, some eagerly seeking eye contact on the chance that a CEO might take notice of them, but just as many striving to avoid attracting his attention. Citizens of the Syndicate Worlds learned their own lessons, and one of those was that the attention of a CEO was a double—edged sword which might bring benefits or calamity.
What would come next? He had been consumed with figuring out how to kill the snakes without having half of this planet blown apart, and what he had said about not being able to discuss the matter with Iceni was true.
They had barely been able to risk the few, occasional, and brief meetings in which coded phrases and words sketched out the agreement to cooperate in taking down the snakes, saving their own hides, and perhaps giving this star system a chance to survive the ongoing collapse of the Syndicate empire.
Midway would either get caught in the death throes of the Syndicate Worlds or get free of that tyranny and look out for itself. But after that? All he knew was the Syndicate way, and as Malin said that had failed. The Alliance way? He had learned little
ISBN 13: 9780425262351
Plot summary[ edit ] The Lost Fleet[ edit ] The Alliance has been fighting the Syndicate Worlds a union of planets under a tyrannical, corporate-like government for a century. After obtaining a " hypernet key " from a Syndic traitor, they send a large fleet through a hypernet gate to directly attack the Syndic homeworld, but are ambushed by overwhelming Syndic forces. During the approach to the Syndic homeworld, the fleet discovers the escape pod of Captain John Geary in an abandoned star system. Known as "Black Jack" in the present, his legendary exploits are taught to every schoolchild and he is revered for his heroic last stand in the early days of the war. The Black Jack Geary legend includes the expectation that one day he will return from the dead to lead the Alliance fleet to victory.
The Lost Stars