These conversations are chronologically ordered and non-simultaneous.Aboard GTD AtreusVampires. Track 12, count 24, origin Solaris platform (DD-03/CCV01). Response smoke. Smoke up. Count 23. Response phalanx. Phalanx up. Count 12. Response chainmail. Damage report - New track. Vampires. Track 13, count 48, origin Solaris platform (DD-03/CCV01). Response smoke - Continuing pattern 2, WINTER KING, target Solaris (DD-03/CCV01). Mass check. Heat check. Power check. Initiate fire cycle. Stand by - Sir, Serkr reports their target is withdrawing. War plot updated with the last sweep - Scythe Actual, pull in to bullseye plus one, provide close cover against bomber attack. Be advised, hostile group CCV is launching a new package. Check datalink -
"Rear Admiral Leinonen wishes to report that the Saturn engagement was successfully resolved."
"I've seen. Very good."
"Sir. Will we be pressing our advantage? The Toutatis
may stand and fight - "
"Not today, Captain. Some day we'll dance our little dance to the end. But not today."Aboard UEFg Masyaf
"What was it like for you in there?"
"The Red Room? I barely remember. I didn't stay long."
"Nothing to heal? No damage to fix? Typical."
"Vidaura brought me in. I was ready the moment the implants took. Before that, probably."
"Speaking of damage. Looked outside?"
"She's a wreck. You think she'll fight again?"
"Remains to be seen."
"Is this supposed to be a metaphor, Falconer?"
"**** no. I don't think she'll
survive one mission."Aboard GTD Carthage
"Captain. Please, take a seat. Would you like a drink?"
"Not today, sir. I - here - have the latest reports. Armor's back to spec, including the reactive packages. But the structural damage goes deep."
"We won't be able to transit the node."
"Not for another two weeks, minimum."
"And the battle group?"
are both fit to fight. Crews have been cycling through Neptune HQ for decompression and psych scrub. The Radhanite
has finished her drive workup. As for the rest..."
"As wrecked as our air wing?"
"I hate this place, Captain."
"This dockyard. This system. This war. I hate what it's done to us. I hate what we had to do."
"It was a decisive victory, sir - "
"That's not the question. Was that ever the question, with him in command? The question, Captain, is what you pay, and why. What you feed the machine."
"Sir. On that note. I - several other captains and I would like to assist you with the letters you've been writing."
"That's my job. Call a staff conference for 0800 tomorrow, Captain. I'm going to detach the Radhanite
for some maneuvers and I want to have the fuel to top her off when she returns. We're on our way out of this war, Captain, but we're not gone yet."Luna City, Luna"Elements, Overwatch. I have municipal access. Target is local and traceable.""Elements, Entry. We have your trace. We have authorization to bag. Executing -- ""Hold! Overwatch has one-five individuals breaking out of social traffic and converging on the suite. Hand weapons and armor -- "
"****.""Hostiles are in the municipal net. Attempting to isolate and - "
"They're SOC. Grab the target and get out. I'm scrambling local law enforcement and spaceborne assets. Execute now!""Copy that. All elements, there's another shark in the water, we are executing immediate. Go go go."
"****."Jiuhua Shan, Anhui Provincelisten to this conversation
"Admiral. May I?"
"Martin. Please. Call me Wen Jian. It's been too long."
"It's a lovely model. Laser planed?"
"Yes. She's the Arifiel
. One of mine."
"I came here to ask you a question, face to face. It's one we've asked and argued about before. But it comes back to me again and again."
"Yes. You read it. Is it the reason? For all this?"
"It is never, ever wise to seek a single cause for something so vast, Martin. Your Council taught me that."
"But is it a
"Of course it is."
"Steele's coming. I don't need to be an Admiral to know that."
"He'll hit you as hard as he can, every day, every hour, to keep you on your back foot. And then he'll give you an opening. He'll give ground. You'll spring for it. You'll take the lives he offers you as credit: this is a real victory
. You'll stretch yourself out and feel a little hope and then...he'll snuff you out."
"You know him?"
"He tried to do it to me in an exercise, when I really was an Admiral. You have weeks. Days."
"Second and Third Fleets are out of our control. If we could just draw them back from Steele - save their strength for - "
"I have a question for you, Martin. Vicmouth's report. Taudigani's recovered files. I've decided to act, and I want your approval."
"What will you do?"
"Nothing. But my son - "War in Heaven Act 3: Tenebra is coming soon.