Authors: Jerry Pournelle,S.M. Stirling
Tags: #Science Fiction
He sipped at the brandy and took another pull at the pipe, the comforting mellow bite at his tongue.
"Congratulations on the Velysen raid," he said. "Ah . . . Skida . . . what happened to his wife and sister-in-law is creating a lot of indignation."
"Just what Skilly wanted; Dion, you know we not getting these ranchers to
us, whatever. And just killing them, it make them mad only and want to fight us." She extended a hand palm up, then curled the fingers. "Threaten they families, and we have them by the
He sighed again; the basic strategy was his, in any event. "I know; and they'll push for harsher measures on the non-Citizens, which drives them into our camp."
The worse, the better,
that what that Russki mon Lenin say, no? Very nice statement you make to the
denouncing violent splinter faction and then blaming oppression for driving us to it." She took another slow sip of her wine; he had taught her that, to appreciate a good vintage. "How things going at the University?"
"Slowly, but we've got a structure there now. Particularly in the Sociology and Humanities divisions; there're a lot of scions there who're worried about making their Citizenship tests. Plus the usual hangers-on."
"Many ready to go Helot?" she asked. It was a bother, keeping the other recruits from eating the student types alive, but the survivors were valuable when they'd toughened up. Too many of the rank-and-file NCLF fighters broke into a sweat if they had to think more than a week ahead.
Dion's face creased in a bleak grin. "There will be, after we provoke the next riot. Sore heads and sore tempers, and once they're commited . . ." They toasted each other. "I've gotten another half-dozen CoDo Marine deserters for you, too, and another officer."
Skilly thumped the arm of the chair in delight "Good man!" she said. Trained cadre willing to work for the Helots had always been a problem; there were plenty of CoDo officers up on the beach, but most of them were picky.
Too squeamish to be useful,
she thought. The ones who weren't tended to have other problems that restricted their usefulness.
"Roughly, what else are we going to need in the next year or so?"
She frowned. "Dion, we got as far as we getting without serious outside help, like we discussed. Plenty recruits and enough arms"—Sparta exported the simpler infantry weapons and equipment, and the Movement had been diverting a percentage of that for years—"money coming in steady, but raids and holding up trucks not enough; we need electronics, commo gear, heavy weapons, this precision-guided stuff. Better network in Sparta City and the Valley towns, too. And techs, and a secure conduit off-planet. Not just to those Liberation Party
, either. Even
help, going to be long time before we can slug it out with the Brotherhoods."
He set down glass and pipe and tapped his fingers together beneath his chin. "We've got it."
Skida raised an eyebrow. "Money?"
"Enough to pay your debts? Who we owe for this?"
Croser ignored the first question. Neither he nor his father had been very good at financial management. The Revolution would take care of the situation, but that wasn't any of Skida's business. "A lot more than money. From the Senator." A snort. "It was the Royal government hiring Falkenberg's people that decided him to do more for us than the trickle we've gotten so far. Weapons, shipping out for what the NCLF takes in, loans—
loans—technical personnel. . . .
"A group from Meiji is arriving next week." This time his grin was a wolf's. "Full conference of the clandestine branch section heads as soon as the Meijians have been briefed."
Skida's teeth showed dazzling white against her skin. "That my mon!" She raised her wine. "To the Revolution!"
He leaned over to clink his snifter against her glass. "To the Democratic Republic of Sparta!"
"To the first
of the Republic, Dion Croser!"
"To the first Minister of Defense"—the Royal government had a Ministry of War—"Skida Thibodeau!" he said.
They emptied their glasses and she uncoiled to her feet, walked over, braced her hands against the armrests of his chair and leaned forward until their faces were almost touching. Lips met; her mouth tasted of wine and mint. The man's nostrils flared, taking in the strong mixed scents from her clothes and skin, woodsmoke and sweat and leather and horse. Dion reached for her.
"No, not yet," Skida said huskily; her eyes glittered in the firelight. "Skilly wants a shower first. And then we lock the door for a day. Skilly has been in the outback too long. Skilly is so horny goats and girls and even my hidehunters were starting to look good."
She drew back with taunting slowness, and looked over her shoulder. "Scrub de back, mon?"
"The principal military states 'own' perhaps ninety-five percent of all military expertise, if that can be measured by the number of publications on the subject. They have even managed to turn that expertise into a minor export commodity in its own right. Officers belonging to countries which are not great military powers are regularly sent to attend staff and war colleges in Washington, Moscow, London, and Paris . . . the principal powers themselves have sent thousands upon thousands of military 'experts' to dozens of third-world countries all over Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
"The above notwithstanding, serious doubt exists concerning the ability of developed states—both such as are currently 'liberating' themselves from communist domination and such as are already 'free'—to use armed force as an instrument for attaining meaningful political ends. This situation is not entirely new. In numerous incidents during the last two decades, the inability of developed countries to protect their interests and even their citizens' lives in the face of low-level threats has been demonstrated time and time again. As a result, politicians as well as academics were caught bandying about such phrases as 'the decline of power,' 'the decreasing utility of war,' and—in the case of the United States—'the straw giant.'
"So long as it was only Western society that was becoming 'debellicized' the phenomenon was greeted with anxiety. The Soviet failure in Afghanistan has turned the scales, however, and now the USSR too is a club member in good standing. In view of these facts, there has been speculation that war itself may not have a future and is about to be replaced by economic competition among the great 'trading blocs' now forming in Europe, North America, and the Far East. This volume will argue that such a view of war is not correct. Large-scale, conventional war—war as understood by today's principal military powers—may indeed be at its last gasp; however, war itself, war as such, is alive and kicking and about to enter a new epoch. . . ."
—The Transformation of War:
Free Press, 1991
The above was written by Martin van Creveld and published shortly before the United States began the largest conventional military action of the second half of the 20th century. We are now to consider where Creveld, one of the best military historians of the last or indeed any century, was correct—and where he went wrong.
"That was an impressive show, Major," Alexander I said as the last of Filth Battalion clambered aboard the trucks in the square below.
They were locally made, diesel-powered flatbeds with wheels that were balls of spun chrome-steel alloy thread. Primitive compared to ground-effect machines, but better than the horse-drawn wagons found on many worlds. There were plenty of draft animals on the streets of Sparta City, but there were electric runabouts and diesel-engined vans as well, and even a few Earth-made hovercars.
Here in Government House Square where the mercenaries had paraded for their employer's inspection the town looked much like a Californian university campus of the older type, complete with tiled walks, gardens, and neospanish architecture. The Hall of State could have done for a convocation, with its green copper dome and pillars; the Palace was a rambling affair that might have been the Dean's residence.
"I hope you don't mind our detaining you and your officers," Alexander said. He was a tall spare man in his fifties; much like an older Prince Lysander, except that his gray-shot hair was blond and worn ear-length in a cut fashionable on Earth two generations before. And for the infinite weariness around his eyes; Owensford knew it for the look of tension borne too long.
"By no means, sir," Peter said. He bowed slightly, reflecting that the Spartan monarchy was an informal affair, at least so far.
David I, the Freedman king, was already seated at the briefing table. Crown Prince David, actually, but his father Jason was quasi-retired, victim of a debilitating disease, and David was Freedman king for all practical purposes. David was a stocky man, dressed like his colleague in brown tunic and knee-breeches of extremely conservative cut; one of the more elderly bureaucrats near him wore a suit and tie, old-fashioned enough to be bizarre. Another man had a shaven-bald head, monocle, quasi-military tunic and riding crop; that would be
Bernard von Alderheim. His father had been from what was once Königsberg, East Prussia, then Kaliningrad, and now Königsberg again; his daughter was Prince Lysander's fiancée, and he was the most prominent industrialist on the planet. He was also titular head of one of the largest and most important Phraetries.
Owensford remembered from the briefing.
All in all, you can certainly tell we're seven months' transit from Earth.
He took his seat among the Legion officers.
Uniforms on one side of the square, civilians on the other, except for the man in the dull-scarlet tunic and blue breeches of the Royal Spartan Mounted Police. From the look of his boots, the "mounted" meant exactly that.
"The junior officers and NCOs can handle encampment easily enough," Owensford said. "You will understand, we're anxious to get the basic facilities in place before our noncombatants and families arrive." Some next week, and the rest over the following months. "The Legion's accustomed to being fairly self-contained, and billeting might create problems."
Alexander cleared his throat. "I don't anticipate any trouble with that," he said. "We've got the first five hundred recruits for the Field Force standing by, and there's earth-moving equipment we can make available."
"And anything else you need, I can find for you," Baron von Alderheim said. "Will you also need workmen?"
"Thank you, no, Baron," Peter said. "Learning camp construction is as good an introduction to military discipline as any."
Ace Barton nodded agreement.
"Very good," von Alderheim said. "Castramentation. The first lessons for a Roman soldier."
Peter smiled slightly, unsure of what to say. "Sire, shall I introduce my officers now?"
"Please do," Alexander said.
"My chief of staff, Captain Anselm Barton. Captain Andrew Lahr, Battalion Adjutant. Captain Jameson Mace, Scouts commander. Captains Jesus and Catherine Alana, Intelligence and Planning and Intelligence and Logistics, respectively. George Slater, our senior company commander."
Alexander I raised an eyebrow. "Slater?"
George Slater grinned. "Yes, Sire. My father will be your War College Director when he gets here."
"Ah. Thank you. Mr. Plummer—"
"Yes, Sire." The speaker was a small man, elderly, conservatively dressed but with a splash of color in his scarf. "I'm Horace Plummer, secretary to the cabinet. This is the Honorable Roland Dawson, Principal Secretary of State. Mr. Eric Respari, Treasury and Finance. Sir Alfred Nathanson, Minister of War. Madame Elayne Rusher, Attorney General. Lord Henry Yamaga, Interior and Development. General Lawrence Desjardins, Commandant of the Royal Spartan Mounted Police."
The gendarmerie chief was a blocky man with a thin mustache, with the heavy-gravity musculature most Spartans shared and a dark tan that must have taken work under a sun this pale; not a desk man by preference, Peter estimated.
"This is the War Council," Plummer said. "In formal meetings the Speaker of the Senate would be present, and others can be invited to attend if their expertise is required, but these are Their Majesties' key advisors. Your military orders will come directly from Their Majesties. For administrative purposes you will report to Sir Alfred. Their Majesties ask that you make your initial presentation now."