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Prologue – More Government

Once, as everyone is aware, man’s reach was limited to one planet. He grew up on the Earth. The Earth, the very heart of sector one. For the first few thousand years, mankind’s technology did not include the ability to travel off his home world.

In his youth, man fought his wars and built his culture. He was also involved with social issues; religion, liberty, self-determination and even slavery. Luckily for man, his weapons’ technology hadn’t reached the point that total planet destruction was possible.

Yet, things never remain constant. In time the forerunner of one of our most terrifying weapons, the flame star, was developed. So, in order to control his destructive nature, and being a "sensible" creature, man found a solution. He would create international organizations where the nations of the Earth could unite and work out their differences. Of course, all cures can have nasty side effects.

Over time these pan-national bodies were given certain powers, in order to implement solutions, a set of laws that all men must follow developed. An example of one of these international bodies was a criminal court. Initially, that court could only gain jurisdiction over an accused based on a limited number of offensives and then only if a political state recognized its authority. Yet man and his organizations, if they are not wise, are subject to the weakness of always wanting more ... greed. That criminal court’s short list of jurisdictional offenses grew, and within a few decades, it was innumerable. When man finally made his push away from sector one, that court was renamed the Stellar Criminal Court (SCC). And it followed man into the void. To complicate matters, there were other pan-stellar bodies that operated hand in glove with that court.

The People’s Advocate (PA) gradually developed into a pan-stellar organization that could direct the actions of national governments. It didn’t matter if that government was one of those Earth nations or a stellar empire, the PA felt that its duty was to ensure that the petty states follow the order that she must enforce.

To avoid misunderstanding, this is the same organization that some pass historians refer to as the ‘A’. Both these names are arguably applicable. PA, simply short for People's Advocate is currently the preferred address. The A designation was more commonly used at the time. Currently, for social reasons, most educators are arguing that the A designation should be completely eliminated from use. Simply put, it has been discovered that the 'A' was a crude reference to the anal portion of the human anatomy.

Not all political states would recognize the authority of the PA, and many refuse to recognize that of the SCC. Therefore, to enforce its directives and the law of man, the PA created the People’s Marshal Service (PMS). The PA also drew from the military might of its subject states, to enforce its authority.

Space is large. The PA soon learned that its reach was limited. The farther a planet’s distance, the more the PA became irrelevant. There were hundreds of star states that bowed before the PA. There were many that did not. The PA well understood, politically, that unless invited there needed to be a reason for a claim of jurisdictional responsibility. Without a casus belli, other states including current member states would object. Possible secession movements then could arise. So, the PA found itself always searching for a reason to act. This manuscript concerns one of those reasons and its consequences.

The detonation of a flame star would be the reason. Sector 43 was composed of a host of non-member states, and the detonation gave the PA its opening.

Still, the PA had practical considerations. How does the PA’s sister, the SCC, enforce legal authority on such a distance sector? The only outpost that the PA had in that far off region was a single consulate on the planet Copernicus.

To make the situation more complex, the confederation that Copernicus was a member of, only granted the PA/SCC limited diplomatic immunity, and then only to allow Copernicus to gain some much-needed rent revenues. This Confederation of Stars never granted full official diplomatic recognition.

Didn’t matter, for both the PA and the SCC would fulfill their duty! The time had come.

Chapter 1 – Agent 73

“I work for most anyone that pays.” Agent 73 had lost his last employer. He was trying to drum up business. Agent 73, sometimes bounty hunter, became an independent contractor years ago. When he began he sat up a few rules that he still kept. “Of course, there are guiding principles that I follow. We all have a personal code. My code is simple.

“First, never any direct contacts, all business is over a secured feed, and I always use my code name. I’m surprised you allowed me to know you’re an Assistant SCC Investigator General. Do you really think you’re above the law or revenge? Well, you didn’t give me your name. Second I don’t do assassinations. Any death must occur due to the normal course of business and must have simply been the result of faith. Third, professional courtesy requires –”

“STOP! What do you mean you don’t kill?” barked the assistant SCC investigator general.

“Simple, I will not honor a contract for murder. Have I cause deaths as collateral damage, yes. But murder was never my intent –”

“Well, I don’t believe the SCC can make use of your services. What is more, my arrogant friend, the SCC and its personnel when operating per the law, are the law. By the way, my name is Assistant Investigator General Arnold Guy. I and the SCC have nothing to fear. We operate within the law!”

Agent 73 gave an audible moan. “We’re a long way from Earth. These people, these tribes, they don’t care about Earth’s laws. Earth is too far away. Let me guess, you’re at that PA base on Copernicus. The only reason the Confederation of Stars puts up with you is y’all pay an exorbitant rent to one of its poorest planets. Wasn’t for the cash, the PA, and its SCC partners would be gone. My advice to you is walk carefully.”

“Now a criminal is lecturing the SCC and PA on personal conduct. This transmission is over.” With that, the assistant investigator general ended the feed.

Agent 73 then mused on the situation. Interesting, why would the SCC care about this humble portion of space? They want someone dead. But who, and how can I profit? He should have listened to my third rule … professional courtesy requires giving general heads up to prior employers, and never working against their interests.

***

“Sergeant, please called this court to order,” commanded the Chief Magistrate of the Stellar Criminal Court as he came into the chamber.

The court’s officer cried out, “Please rise, this assembly of the Stellar Criminal Court is now in secret session. No information spoken is to be made public without the specific consent of the panel. Today’s panel is composed of Chief Magistrate Johnston, Magistrate Lion, and Magistrate Border.” The court’s sergeant at arms then sealed the chamber.

“Today we met to determine what action if any, this court should order concerning the charge, ‘use of a flame star.’ Such use occurred approximately four months ago in sector 43.” Chief Magistrate Johnston was eyeing the court prosecutor, Angus Arcola.

Also present as witness to the court proceedings was the People’s Advocate counselor at law, Cisco Brookshire. Mr. Brookshire would also be supplying all know information on the political situation of sector 43.

“Your Honors,” Angus Arcola was making a formal address to the court. “I request that Mr. Brookshire be given an opportunity to brief this court on the situation now occurring in sector 43. Especially as it concerns the circumstances in relation to the use of a flame star.”

Mr. Brookshire stood and faced the panel. “Gentleman, I’ll try to be succinct. In the region of 115 days ago, a civil war of some type was occurring in sector 43. The political state involved is known as the Republic. One of the warring parties, ah … who were know as supports of the Speaker, last name Randal employed a flame star in that conflict.

“Speaker Randal, it can be assumed authorized the use of the weapon. Speaker Randal did not survive the war. Forces of a General Jacinto were ultimately successful. Prior to the end of the conflict, a local third party intervened and brokered a peace.

“One Donna Brandenburg, who goes by the flamboyant title of ‘Monarch of Camden and its Commonwealth,’ was the intervening party. As part of the peace accord, Brandenburg offered sanctuary to a certain aid of Speaker Randal. This aid at the very least, help Speaker Randal gain access to the flame star.

“The aid, one Colonel Jackie Coachman, now resides in a city called Victoria. Victoria is the capital city of the Camden Commonwealth. The Camden Commonwealth is sometimes referred to as Camden and sometimes as the Commonwealth.

“Donna Brandenburg and Colonel Coachman seem to have a friendly relationship. Colonel Coachman currently is quartered in the same palace with this so-called Monarch Brandenburg.

“The peace agreement, between the forces of General Jacinto and those of Speaker Randal, required that a blanket pardon be given to all individuals that took part in the civil war.

“On a historic note, the Camden Commonwealth has continually refused to recognize the jurisdiction of both the SCC and the PA. As has all the other political entities of the sector.

“Last point, the Camden Commonwealth, is by all standards small. This Commonwealth only has a couple of dozen inhabited planets and moons with a population of some 22 million. A very small military, far less than hundred thousand, current estimates put it at no more than 72 thousand. Possibly the only reason it hasn’t been absorbed by another state is no one wants it. Though there are a few reports that claim it is highly respected by its neighbors.” Mr. Brookshire then sat down.

“Mr. Brookshire,” began the prosecutor, “I have a few questions. Does the PA believe that this Monarch would comply with a request from this court?”

“Mr. Arcola, the PA has never received any type of support from any state in sector 43. It is the PA’s belief that this court’s requests would be ignored by the potentate Brandenburg.”

“Well, then Mr. Brookshire. Do you have a means to affect the orders of this court in sector 43? Can a private agent be used?”

“I am sorry to say Mr. Arcola, that the inhabitants of the sector are irrational. We made contact with an independent operator. One Agent 73, as soon as he realized who we were and what was our intention, he ended the feed. He was somewhat insulting to both the PA and this court. I will not bore the court with the agent’s adjectives.

“However, please be aware that the PA has other assets. We have a consulate in the largest state of the sector. In that office, there are armed marshals that can be used to arrest individuals, or otherwise execute the judgment of this court.

“These states are also heavily reliant on the products of Trooper Arms (TA). TA has long supported our organization. TA can be asked to embargo any or all states in the sector.”

“Thank you, Mr. Brookshire.” Mr. Arcola turned to the panel. “Magistrates of the SCC, I believe it is this court’s duty to issue a ‘Writ of Termination’ against Colonel Jackie Coachman.

“Do to questionable support from local authorities. I recommend the writ be issued per Article 14. A public execution in the streets of the Commonwealth should be attempted if possible. This Commonwealth, this sector must understand that the SCC takes its duties seriously.”

“Question for Mr. Brookshire.” Magistrate Lion was wearing a concern looked. “Once Colonel Coachman is lawfully terminated, what becomes of the marshal?”

“Magistrate, after the execution … it is done. Only a fool would interfere with a PA diplomat. The marshal has diplomatic status granted by the Confederation of Stars when that confederation granted diplomatic immunity to our local consulate.”

“Remember, we are talking about a flame star,” Chief Magistrate Johnston was speaking to the panel. “Colonel Coachman is subject to the death penalty. Anyone who supports her is also subject to that penalty. We won’t have any trouble. But that raises other issues. What about supporters of Speaker Randal that have been pardon. Surely some of those individuals aided the Speaker’s use of the flame star.

“And this Brandenburg, when she brokered the peace, she knew of the flame star’s use. Yet she arranged pardons for everyone? What is more, isn’t this Brandenburg currently supporting Colonel Coachman?”

“Gentleman,” said Mr. Brookshire not wanting this to get out of hand. “The court’s Assistant Inspector General Arnold Guy had forward a full report of his conversation with Agent 73. Unfortunately, there is too much truth to Agent 73’s logic. The possible hitch is that the inhabitants of the sector do not hold truck with reason. We are trying to bring them into the fold of both the SCC and PA. I recommend we limit who we prosecute to the chief remaining perpetrator. If we go beyond Colonel Coachman, we seem to bloody.

“We can wait, once this sector comes under our influence. We’ll then be able to outlaw Brandenburg if she is uncooperative, and possibly issue another writ of termination. Let us not forget 18 PA Code 3, and I quote, ‘Whoever, knowing that an offense against the law of man has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact’.

“Now the Brandenburg may not have intentionally violated the code, or its spirit, per say. She was trying to end a war. However, by the letter of the law, she is culpable. She’s such a big fish.”

“Currently she is the government of this Camden Commonwealth. We aren’t obligated to prosecute a political state that supports a war criminal. There is a precedence we can use. I proposed issuing, based on the poor judgment of the Commonwealth’s leadership, a Writ of Supervision.

“As far as those unprosecuted supporters of the Speaker that have remained in the Republic? They’re minor we only need the big fish to prove our authority!

“Mr. Brookshire,” spoke Magistrate Lion, “with regards to your marshal’s welfare. The marshal’s diplomatic immunity was granted by a confederation of some type. Yet the termination will be in a neighboring state, a commonwealth. Tell me again why this so call Monarch would recognize your marshal’s status.”

“Magistrate,” began the counselor at law, “the Confederation of Stars is by far the largest state in the sector, more than half that sector. The Camden Commonwealth is tiny, almost insignificant in comparison. The diplomatic protection of the largest state will be enough to frighten the little Monarch into submission.”

***

Agent 73 reporting in the blind; SCC representative seeking an assassin, intended target remains unknown. Name of SCC operative seeking assassin is Assistant Investigator General Arnold Guy, currently located PA Consulate Copernicus. End of transmission.

***

Colonel Jackie Coachman, formerly of the Republic, spied Admiral Richard (Dick) Kingston entering the grounds of Victoria Palace. “Admiral, may I have a word?”

“Why of course. How is our favorite guest today?” replied the admiral in a cheery manner.

“Sir, I had been feeling well. As you know I once was head of covert operations for the Republic. In that position, I made use of several independent operatives –”

“Jackie, what you got?”

“Sir, this morning one of my more trusted sources informed me of certain PA operation details. I would like to forward that information to you. On a secure feed of course, and I’d redact the sender information before sending.”

“Interesting, it won’t concern us. We’re so small the PA doesn’t even know or care that we exist. No, but … the Republic might need to know. Send it to me, I’ll forward it to Captain Wainwright’s M-2 shop, and those gunners of his can make sure the Republic receives it. Will that make you happy?”

“Yes, Sir. That’s all I wanted.”

“Colonel, I’ll pick you up in an hour. We’ll have burgers and fries at the club.”

As he left her, the admiral had only one thought. Ah … again with the burgers and fries! Oh well, can’t be helped, darn special of the day … if only the club system had more credits, we could improve the menu. Why doesn’t anything ever change, why are we always broke?

Now I have to bring bad news, the Monarch isn’t going to like it.

***

“So, what we got going on today?” Donna Brandenburg had entered her Chamberlin’s office to find both her admirals waiting.

“Your Excellency,” replied the Chamberlin, “it’s the budget again.”

“Oh great, are we out of credits already? We just started the fiscal year a few months ago.” Donna sat with a frown across her forehead.

“Excellency, it isn’t that bad.” Admiral Robert James was trying to be straightforward. “The problem was that war against the League was a bit more costly than expected.”

“Ah … Bob, how much more?” Donna, while not please was listening intently.

“Donna, we’re making the repair and upgrades to the fleet. But we need, at least for this year, to tighten our budget in training. I’ll let Admiral Kinston explain.”

“What? Oh, you’re a great guy, Bob,” replied Admiral Kingston as he gave Admiral James a vile stare, “it those Cutlass Mark 7s again. They’re just too rich for our blood. We simply don’t have the credits, unless we cut a ship or a marine unit.”

“Admirals, Chamberlain, y’all know that Trooper Arms has stopped supporting all mark 2s and 3s. There are no longer parts or ammunition to be had. What we have on hand will dry up, in what three months?”

“Your Excellency,” began the Chamberlain, “there is actually plenty of parts and ammunition on the surplus market. The prices there are very reasonable.”

“You’re kidding, if TA learned we broke their contract they’ll never supply us again. Y’all know how they feel about contracts. It is clearly stated and they keep reminding us that we can only buy from them. They won’t deal with a political state that buys on that secondary market. We have the right to sell to non-political states on that market, but we can’t buy.”

“That’s not altogether true.” Chamberlain Jerry Fields had pulled out the TA contract. “It says here that in case of extreme circumstances, the leader of a political state may petition in person, for relief from the TA Regional Administrator from any portion of this agreement.”

“Petition in person! Is that kind of like begging?” The Monarch once again had that frown.

“We do what we do for the good of the Commonwealth!” Proclaim Admiral Richard Kingston puffing out his chest.

“You know Admiral, I think I know why you’re called Dick,” said the Monarch as she glared up at one of her favorite people, “ok, for the good of the Commonwealth I’ll beg. I wonder if I’ll need a set of knee pads?”

***

It’s 0300 in the boarding house. The old warrior is the only one awake. He sits there, as he has these past months when no one is around and watches the commercial feeds. Those broadcasters are once again lamenting the previous war and deriding his last commanding officer.

“I tell you it was an entire army, backed by a huge amount of naval support and that imbecile lost it. He cost us the war!” The current announcer was small in stature, but she was highly animated in her declarations against the old man’s colonel. “Ok, this is how it is. As you know I have several confidential contacts within the army. They tell me that this worthless … will I won’t say it. Not on the feed. Anyway, he was only a first lieutenant before the war and had been for a very long time. He was known as a drunken womanizer and not much more, plus –”

“Margaret, please” interrupting her co-host, “I understand what you’re saying. Trust me I am on your side. I’m just saying others are to blame as well. Someone promoted him to lieutenant colonel as soon as the war broke out. I would guess his family, who as we know are quite powerful, put pressure on someone. These are the people we should be looking for, we need justice. Forget the little failure, he’s locked up. He’s in the Commonwealth chained in some dark hole. We’ll never see him again. Good riddance!”

All the commercial feeds are the same. We lost the war because of the army’s failure at New Hanover, due to personal weakness in leadership. Yeah, yeah, yeah, incompetence, drunkenness, cowardice, so on and so forth. They don’t know what happen. Hmm … would speaking the truth be treason?

Chapter 2 – A Veteran and the Truth

Almost four months had passed. He now seldom leaves the residence. He was governor of the planet Sterling till the end of the war. Former Governor Henry File was respected, his judgment and belief in justice and loyalty were never questioned. But now he couldn’t bring himself to do that beyond what was necessary for his social position. Shame for his family’s name and the heartbreak over the loss of a son was all there was. His son Tony had proven himself incompetent, possibly worst, at the battle of New Hanover. President Hood himself had exiled Tony File from the League of Friends for his performance in that battle. Terrible things had been broadcasted about Tony’s character. Governor File sometimes wishes that his only son had died on New Hanover, better than rotting in a Commonwealth dungeon.

“Governor,” spoke the servant over the communicator, “a gentleman is at the gate. He seems to want to … I’m not sure. He’s older and wears the League’s army uniform. I think he is a veteran.”

Unseen the governor put the weapon back in the drawer. “Asked him why he needs to speak to me.”

“He claims to have been with Colonel File at New Hanover.”

“Very well, show him in.” He wants to curse me for having a coward as a son. I’ll let him have that.

“Sir, I’m Sergeant Ruben Wilfred. I was a sergeant in the army for 30 years. I retired ten years ago, but when the war with the Republic and Commonwealth broke, I reenlisted. I thought I’d be assigned to some support unit. Instead, I served in your son’s regiment, the 792nd.”

Now he’ll tell me how ashamed I should be. How my family has let down the League. How contemptible the File’s have become. Only these thoughts could the governor see. The pain was unbearable, but still, he would listen.

“Sir,” continued the old sergeant, “never have I had more respect for any man than I had for my colonel. What the broadcasts say is a complete lie. They make the 792nd sound like one of those elite assault regiments --”

Julie, who for months had been trying to comfort her father, had been eavesdropping burst through the door. “What! What do you mean a lie?”

“Julie,” spoke the governor, “settle down, and let the gentleman tell his story. No rash statements or actions. Please, Sergeant, continue.”

“Sir, Lady,” began the old veteran, “the 792nd was a scratch unit. We were scraped together from prisoners and derelicts pulled off the street. Hardly any training or equipment, we went into New Hanover with just one officer, your son. There were only me and three other sergeants ... they had also come out of retirement for the war as well. We never totaled more than 125 men on New Hanover, but we landed and set up a good defense, your son saw to that. We were told that the port, our objective, at most was lightly defended and President Hood himself promised backup.

“Well, that port wasn’t lightly defended. And I heard Hood refusing to give your son support. The colonel told the President we could hold … ahh … between you and I, the colonel was wrong. There was too many of those Camden Marines, lightly defended my … anyway, that dear President of ours wanted us to fight to the death. The Commonwealth Navy was putting rounds within feet of our position. It would have taken 30 seconds for the regiment if you could call it that, to be wiped out. Ah … your son wasn’t drunk. I don’t care what the broadcasts say. It is true he had a small bottle, but he said he had that bottle for 20 years, and I believe him. Well, once we decided it was time to give up, he passed it around the sergeants. The five of us got two little sips; we needed to toast the regiment and then duty, whatever it made be.”

“My son wasn’t a coward.” The governor was upset but was trying to remain calm. “Sir, thank you. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No sir, I just wanted to make sure my colonel’s family knew the truth. I know what the President has the broadcasters saying. I don’t want to speak treason … I just want to make sure the family in private knew what happened.”

Before he let himself out, the old sergeant left his contact information. He promised that if he could do anything to help, he would.

***

The small corvette Brave Weasel had been decommissioned ten years before, but now the proud ship had been reactivated. She had received her pennant six days earlier and immediately began the journey to the free space between the Confederation of Stars and the Republic. That was the location of Trooper Arms Supply Port 43. The supply port was, in fact, an enormous space station that provided the entire sector’s stellar states and empires with the latest in armaments. It was also home to Laurence Hart, TA Regional Administrator.

The Monarch of Camden and its Commonwealth, Donna Brandenburg, along with her logistics department head, Major Charles (Chuck) Yankee found themselves aboard the Brave Weasel as it made its approach to the spaceport.

“Well Chuck, I did bring knee pads. I might have to do some galactic class begging.”

“Your Excellency, they won’t have you beg. They just need to understand that we only want to keep our old cutlasses operational for a few more years. Also, we will buy the new models in due course. We just lack credits now.”

“Maybe, has any other country ever been given the right to buy on the second-hand market?”

“Ah … I’m sure someone has.”

“Oh great … we’re docking might as well get this over. Let’s put on our game faces and do it. It has come to the triarii!”

“To the bitter end!” responded the major.

“We’re going to get reamed!” proclaimed the Monarch.

***

“I’m going,” Julie File replied with determination. Julie was the spinster daughter of Governor File and older sister of Colonel Tony File. She was pleasant of features but had always been the somewhat naive sheltered child of the governor. She had been off-world, but always as part of an organized tour and chaperoned. Now, alone she insisted on illegally entering the territories of the League’s mortal enemy, the Camden Commonwealth. Julie’s intentions were simply, first find her brother’s prison, and then petition for his release. Her first problem was information; everyone she had contacted in the last 48 hours wouldn’t say a word on the subject of Tony.

“Julie,” said her father looking up from his desk, “as ridiculous as it seems, to answer your questions is a capital offense. That sergeant was risking his life by telling us the truth. The President has issued a decree, and that is now the truth, and to hell with the facts! Besides, you can’t leave the League of Friends’ safety. Just going out alone for you is dangerous. A lady like you is prime pickings for outlaws. You will be kidnapped for ransom the first day. Nowhere in this universe is a high-born lady safe. You know that’s why you never leave unescorted. Besides whom could I get to go with you? First, it is an illegal journey, and second you and your bodyguard if capture, by either side, will be imprison. Hell, that vixen that runs the Commonwealth would have you up against a wall as soon as she could lay hands on you.”

“Then come with me.”

“Julie, you know I can’t. My absent would be noticed in a day.

“You can’t go!”

“Father, Tony is my brother. I’m going to find him, with or without your blessing.”

“It will do no good. All reports are clear … Tony has been imprisoned on Camden.” The expression on Julie’s face moved the governor; he was both startled and proud of his eldest child. “Oh very well, but at least let me locate an escort. Who … what about that old soldier?”

***

Andrew Buchanan’s family had been the Mayor of the Palace on Mist for generations. Now he and his son Steven were looking up at Victoria Palace in need of intervention. The Great Lord Granger had taken his title due to crop failures that were not of his control. His hope was that an old schoolmate, Jerry Fields, who was now chamberlain, could convince the Monarch to force Earl Granger to restore his title. He knew dip down it was only a fool’s hope; he and Fields were never friends.

“Well Steven, Jerry says he can see us now. Be respectful, he has the Monarch ear.”

“Father, this is strange. Granger has always been our earl. He and Donna aren’t on good terms. How we have to be nice to the Monarch? It doesn’t feel right.”

“Steven, Earl Terry Granger cast us off, we didn’t cast him off. Now we have nothing, he took all that we had, except for a few credits. My classmate, yes he works for the Monarch, might be able to help. So be respectful.”

After a short walk, they found themselves entering what once must have been a luxurious office. But now, it was tired looking, in need of some restoration. Amazingly the rest of the palace was only in slightly better upkeep.

“Is that Andrew Buchanan? My old school chum? How have you been doing, and is this your son?” The chamberlain was trying to be warm. He was trying to let bygones be bygones.

“Hello Jerry, seems like you’ve done well, the Monarch’s Chamberlain.” Andrew hoped this display of old school camaraderie wasn’t a mean spirited trick.

“Well Andrew, ah … when you asked to see me, I looked you up on the feed. Didn’t the earl understand that once those raiders destroyed your supplies, production would drop? Hell, that was months ago, everyone in the palace figured out the consequences as soon as that tragedy took place.”

“Well, Earl Granger doesn’t accept failure. He is a mighty man, and … I don’t wish to say anything that would be considered disloyal.”

“I can understand that. Your family has in the past done well with the earl. So now he is no longer your lord, what can the Monarch do for you?”

“I’m in need of a title, without one I have nothing. Of course, I know none are available. The next best thing would be the granting of an agricultural charter. A charter, that enables a right to create a farming community. There is any number of planets that could use one. New Salem M&A, has a spot they believe would be quite successful. Their enabling charter doesn’t allow them to farm, just created farming equipment and other agricultural supplies. I would only have to buy equipment and supplies from them exclusively for ten years!”

“Andrew, it does sound wonderful on the surface … who is the lord of the location?”

“Earl Nickolas, it’s not New Hanover. The location is on Indianola.”

“Indianola! That’s a waste planet. There isn’t anything there but dirt and rock.”

“There is a very large underground water source. Or so New Salem M&A believes, and if true and controlled … could be valuable.”

“Well, you know how regulated all commerce is. Donna, won’t be in until next week, I’ll let you present your case when she returns.”

“Jerry … I’m in a bit of a bind. What’s the least expensive boarding house hereby?”

“Oh Andy, what am I going to do with you? There are several vacant rooms on the third floor. The wing had been closed … we opened it recently for a couple of long-term guest. We’ll put you and your son up until you can give your presentation to the Monarch. I’ll have one of the staff show you up to a room … might need some cleaning.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I am now retired. In the past I was an accountant. In addition, I have some military experience. I also have licenses as an aircraft pilot, a ham radio operator, and an inactive attorney. I run regularly. Sometimes I play the clarinet. Recently I have taken up calligraphy and the ukulele. Funny thing, I believe the ukulele is bringing out the minion side of my nature. Also as my ukulele skills increase, so does my craving for bananas. Go figure?

Q. Tell us about the cover and the inspiration for it.
A.
The cover illustration is a simplistic representation of the letter of the law. It is black and white, there is no room for justice, ruling without regard to equity.
Q. Which writers inspire you?
A.
A favorite author of mine is Cornelius Ryan. In particular his book A Bridge Too Far, an account of operation Market Garden. Other books I’ve enjoyed are Co. Aytch by Sam R. Watkins, The Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord, and 1776 by David McCullough. Admittedly, I like to read histories.
Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
I started with the intention of improving my handwriting. I began a self-study of calligraphy after buying a pen. It wasn’t long before I wanted to pen anything besides the alphabet, so I started writing stories and it dovetailed into novels.

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