4 Mar 2017

gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
This is a possible prelude for Task Force Singh, and is based on something I read in one of the books recommended to me for my research. As part of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria witnessed a parading of the fleet, including the new class of battleships, off Portsmouth. I'm taking that and using it to introduce my main antagonist, the UN officer who will command the fleet hunting down Task Force Singh.


The view for the tour ship was stunning. Arrayed in perfect formation to celebrate the 50th year of the Secretary-General's reign was the heart of the United Nation's Peacekeeper fleet, led by the eleven Continent-class battleships. Captain 1st Rank Kosan Gwazi gripped the polished teak railing tightly, knuckles turning white as he fumed. One of those ships should have been his.

Beside him a bland little man was prattling on and on. "Oh, yes, the Continents. Aren't they something? We had no end of trouble with them at the Bureau of Heraldry and Lineage, let me tell you! More ships than names! So many meetings and arguments, I expect every member of the Assembly marched through my door at some point or the other. But I was firm, and brokered a compromise!"

Wonderful, thought Gwazi, award yourself a medal. He made a show of using the viewing controls to get a magnified view of the City of Ravenna, an upgraded missile cruiser that was nearby. But the bureaucrat just kept babbling his tales of red-tape heroism.

"Asia was the hardest part, can't simply name a ship Asia, we'd have riots. I was the one who suggested the deal, you know. rammed it through in a marathon session. It's why we have the Great Russia, the Siberia, the India, and the Indochina. Quite proud of that one, I must say!"

Thankfully, at that moment the bosun at the viewing room blew his whistle. The piercing notes stopped all conversations dead. With everyone silenced, he announced "Ladies and Gentleman, Her Grace Nicole Martin, the Secretary-General of the United Nations!" Bows and curtsies as the Secretary-General strode in, trailing aides and security like debris from a wounded ship. She was wearing her naval uniform, showing that she was commander-in-chief of the Peacekeepers, her chest heavy with medals and orders.

After making some quick greetings, she crossed the room to where Gwazi was still standing by the transparent wall. She took in the view briefly, then turned to speak.

"Captain Gwazi, an honor to meet you." She glanced at the now sputtering bureaucrat. "Donald, a pleasure. May I have a moment with the Captain, please?" It was as polite an order as Gwazi had ever heard. Donald quickly backed away babbling pleasantries all the time.

The Secretary-General watched him go. "That man never shuts up, and now he's going to be bragging that I remembered his name for the next ten years."

"Well, Your Grace, it is something of an honor to have you recall who people are." Gwazi said, dipping in a semi-bow.

"Ha! Captain, if I walk into a room without being briefed on everyone who is inside, my staff has failed me. Information is as valuable to me as it is to you. Are you enjoy the fly-by, Kosan?

Her sudden change in subject and use of his first name threw Gwazi for a moment. "Of course, Your Grace. You've assembled a powerful force here, it's important to see it assembled. For everyone."

For several long seconds the Secretary-General stared out at the fleet slowly sliding by. A waiter brought two glasses of champagne, and Gwazi realized that the security staff had moved most of the crowd out of the room, creating a bubble in which only he, the Secretary-General, and a silent aide were standing.

"Peacekeeper," she finally said, reaching out and running her hand down the front of Gwazi's powder-blue dress jacket, "it's the oldest duty of the UN, even when it was toothless debating society. Keep the peace." She raised her head and looked Gwazi in the eyes. That stare was piercing. "Captain, I have dedicated my life to keeping humanity from tearing itself apart. Just as you have taken your oath, so I have sworn mine. We have both sacrificed much to serve, am I right?"

Gwazi could barely nod, his throat was dry. He took a sip of his champagne before speaking. "Of course, Your Grace. I cannot even begin to imagine the burdens you bear. Of course, Donald made sure I knew every detail of his battles."

The earned a surprisingly loud bout of laughter. She loses twenty years when she laughs, Gwazi thought. Then he remembered that this was a woman who had ordered her own father's execution. Tread carefully, for this chat was a minefield.

"God in Heaven, you have no idea. Kosan, the Secretariat is filled with the little gray mice, and they all pretend to be cats. Every so often, you find a cat disguised as a mouse, and they end up in charge. Donald is a mouse, a very loud mouse, but a mouse."

"I think I prefer grasers and attack drones, Your Grace, at least they are honest and do what they intend." I may have gone too far, he thought, as all the mirth drained from the Secretary-General's face. She took a serious tone.

"You were promised the Africa, yes? A Captain of the 1st Rank, worked on the development of the operational orders for the new fleet, ranked as 'recommended for early promotion and positions of authority' by almost every officer you ever served under. You were promised that command, and I took it from you myself. You wish honesty? There it is. On the advice of Peacekeeper Command and the Security Council, I personally changed your orders. Do you appreciate my honesty, Captain?"

Gwazi swallowed his first angry response, then the second. "I serve at Your Grace's pleasure, and will obey your orders. But may I ask why I was denied command? Did I offend someone?

"No, Captain, not at all." she turned to the still silent aide who handed her a small leather box. "I have spent my life working to maintain the peace, and in that time I've learned to read the tea leaves. It's falling apart. Ten years, maybe fifteen, and all of human space will be at war. It's coming and all we can do is prepare. So to that end . . ." She opened the case, inside were the insignia of a flag officer. "The paperwork will take a few days, but I'm promoting you to Contre-Admiral, and assigning you to head the War Plans office." Gwazi took the box with suddenly numb hands. He tried to say something, but the words caught in his throat. The Secretary-General smiled.

"Don't thank me, Admiral Gwazi, for I've just thrown you into the deep end. War is coming, and you will be in the heart of the fire." With that, she drained her glass and turned to leave, her aides and security forming a phalanx around her.

Holding the box with his new rank loosely in one hand, Gwazi looked again at the fleet still slowly passing by. That fleet will be needed, he thought, and sooner than we had hoped.


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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