Friday, March 3, 2017

Work In Progress: The Set-Up

This is more stuff that I chose to cut out. The reason is that this scene, focused on someone other than the protagonist in both attention and presence, deals mostly in world-building and I don't need this for the story I'm telling. What needs to be present is better executed after the inciting incident; the story begins with Lacann's arrival in-system, and sets up the immediate stakes right there. What I'm putting down below--while interesting--doesn't play into that at all. That's why it got cut.

Duke Far followed Senator Radu into the senator's quarters, meant for the commander of Pell's Cottage. The younger man took his chair behind a desk, while the elder man took up a chair adjacent to it. The lights dimmed, and a holographic map of the galaxy appeared on the desk.

"The matter at hand, Senator?" Duke Far said.

"Briefly, Your Grace." Radu said, "Only so we are certain to discuss later from a point of common understanding."

The old duke nodded and stroked his graying beard. "Very well, then. Proceed, Senator."

"It is my understanding, from my sources, that the Court of Stars has split due to the ascension of the one your faction deems 'The Usurper'." Senator Radu brought forth an image of Imperator Veehs, a still from his self-declared assumption of power, "He, at present, enjoys sufficient noble and popular support that open opposition near the Court itself is suicide."

"Correct." Duke Far sat forward, eying the map. "My sources tell me that the majority of League parliamentarians are dead, imprisoned, or--like you--in hiding while the Imperial Navy occupies your worlds with the aide of local collaborators running puppet regimes."

"True." Radu said, sighing, "It is also true that the Imperator is already radically reorganizing the Imperial military? Not just a purge of those insufficiently loyal, but wholesale turnover of material as well as personnel?"

"Yes, that's been planned. The material will turnover first, with personnel turning over at a slower rate; the existing forces will not be replenished as they were during the war. They will be spent on the occupation and pacification campaigns, replaced by new units raised from newer sources personally tied to--and loyal to--the Usurper"

"And I hear that what remains of the United League military has scattered, scuttling whatever it could not abscond with, but that your final loses were so severe that there wasn't much left to either take or destroy."

"True on the material. Not so with our personnel. Seeing that defeat was inevitable, and knowing what the terms of any peace would be, many of us were ahead of you and your allies in reverting to a guerilla structure."

"But because of what you had to do to escape, your group lacks the means to act effectively."

"And your side, being mostly politicians and other public figures, lack the experience required to lead a successful campaign; you're too long accustomed to delegating such affairs to subordinates, as a class, concerned more about assassins in your chambers than armies at your gates. Or you like the Imperial Order handle it. Either way, you lot talk better than you fight."

Duke Far laughed. "I said as much to the others recently."

"Then we are at a common understanding." Radu smiled, "Good, we can skip to getting organized."

"The first thing we'll need is our own logistical network. Long before we start shooting, we need that sorted, and that means routes and nodes out of the Usurper's notice- like this place."

"Agreed, and also set up using a cell network for compartmentalization." Radu noticed Far staring at the map. "You're beyond that now, aren't you Your Grace."

"We have a window right now to seek out hidden bases, under the cover of seeking out old ones. We should use that."

Radu followed Far's gaze to a place in the map where a planet icon has a question mark on it. "Are you thinking of anywhere in particular?"

"Is your man Lacann the only scout present?"

"No." Radu took off the image of Veesh and brought up a handful of men on base. "I have these men, each able to operate on his own as Lacann does."

Duke Far pointed at that planet icon and several more on the map, all off the main lanes and well away from known areas of operation during the war. "These planets. Send then there."

"Why these worlds?"

"They're all worlds who broke contact with the Court of Stars generations, even centuries, ago. No one knows why, and even before the war the records immediately before they lost contact were sealed by order of the Elector Council. Yet they exist, and if not for the course of both war and commerce they would've been returned to galactic society long ago."

Radu read the man's face. "You're not just seeking open worlds. You're looking for allies."

The old duke gave the young senator a knowing grin. "Of course. We're looking at another war, and soon. At the very least, we need people willing to shelter our people for the duration, if not join their banner to ours."

"And your allies consent to this plan?"

"As much as they have to this meeting, or that yours have, for that matter."

The two men gave knowing looks to each other. "Your Grace is known for acting first and getting compliance later." Radu said.

"A brilliant engineer once said, 'Build it and they will come.'" Duke Far said, quoting Radu's father.

A moment passed, and the mood again shifted. "The first Imperial ships to be decommissioned will be the converted consular cruisers, such as the Gale Wolf." Duke Far said, "Arranging for them to be diverted and disappeared won't be difficult, but I can only get so many that way."

"Right now, Your Grace, any new material sources will do- especially in contacting mysterious unknown peoples."

Duke Far sat back. "Enough for now. Let's recess, dine, and reconvene thereafter. Have your scouts come this time, as I want to get this joint operation moving immediately. Once it succeeds, we can present the results to our allies-"

"-as a fait accompli, which they will accept as an excuse to go along."

"Fortune favors the bold." Duke Far said, and they left for the Officer's Mess.

The following scene I did to explore this went over the other planets, assigned scouts to each one, and gave them the same survey-and-report mission with the understanding that permission to make contact would be the next step followed by a diplomatic mission to formally open relations and begin negotiations. In other words, the reason for Lacann going to the lost colony is part of a larger operation to establish a covert network of guerilla supporters. Not mentioned here, but in the second follow-up is that Lacann's target world is said to be a colony founded about a millenia ago after another galactic war where one of the winning officers refused the Court's order to disband and go home, instead taking his warband with him into exile (and their families with).

But that's not the story. That's the fame around the story, suitable for an appendix entry, but not for inclusion in the story proper. The story is about Lacann's mission to the planet, not the people who sent him there.

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