This book should be available now, so this is the last snippet.

The Road Of Danger – Snippet 88

The Sissie‘s guns slammed, destroying a pair of guard towers. Why those? Adele wondered, but when she magnified a surviving tower–there had been eight originally–she saw the towers mounted automatic impellers. Their osmium slugs wouldn’t penetrate the corvette’s hull, but they could damage the thrusters and High Drive and might even put holes in the outriggers.

Not these weapons, though: tower guards, colorfully dressed in green uniforms, were abandoning their posts so quickly that one cartwheeled to the ground after missing a rung of the ladder. A fifteen foot fall might mean a broken neck, but at least–Adele smiled–your family would have something to bury.

Rocker’s three rounds destroyed the gatehouse and the ground car racing toward it. Somebody trying to escape. Fragments of the car’s metal body sailed off like scraps of paper in a storm.

The main house was a rambling structure of glass on stone foundations. Sun hit not the house but a shed adjacent to it. The plastic roof exploded, making the aircar underneath flip like a tiddly-wink and shattering glass on that side of the house. The vehicle was still in the air when the second round hit it. Cory and Sun had planned this affair very ably.

The Sissies were cheering their lungs out. Some of the uninvolved crew could watch events on flat-plate displays in their compartments, but the rest were caught up in the moment and imagining what the cannon’s regular pounding meant to the folks down-range.

Even before the Sissie shifted to Mangravite’s estate, it had carried out the most lengthy and thorough attack on ground targets of Adele’s memory. Sun and Rocker didn’t aim at individuals running in terror, but they ignited every vehicle and outlying building before they destroyed the main house with half a dozen bolts.

Sun was seated beside Adele, but she expanded his face on her display instead of turning her head. The gunner moved his pipper and thumbed the trigger with a look of concentration and glee.

All the targets were gone, ablaze or glass-edged scars raked into the soil.

The turrets fired simultaneously, devouring a small outcrop just beyond the fence line with four bolts. The rock shattered and fused simultaneously

Sun shifted from a targeting grid to a terrain display. He leaned back against his cushions, his face glowing with perspiration and exhausted delight. He closed his eyes.

“Sun,” said Adele on a two-way link. The gunner, at least, thought his job was over for the time being. “What was that last target, if you please?”

Sun turned and gave Adele’s profile a beatific smile. “Mistress…,” he said, using the intercom perforce to be heard over the rumble of the ship under way. “It was Cap’n Vesey’s idea. You see, she figured as soon as the shooting started Mangravite would heigh himself off to the bunker Master Cazelet found. So we gave him plenty of time to do that.”

“I see,” said Adele, nodding. She waited for the rest.

Last thing we did was seal the other way out,” said Sun, “which Cazelet found too, using the commo routing. Since the bunker was a big secret, there may not be anybody even trying to find the fat bastard, right?

“I see,” Adele said, marveling at the watchwork complexity of the revenge which her RCN family had planned and executed on her behalf. She smiled. Mother wouldn’t have understood. But I understand. “Thank you, Sun.”

Ship, this is Five,” said Vesey over the general push. “Master Cazelet, you have the conn. Carry on according to plan. Over.”

Acknowledged,” said Cazelet. Adele, watching over his electronic shoulder, saw the midshipman fill his display with the ship status readouts. “Ship, prepare for acceleration to orbit, out.”

The corvette steadied. Vesey had been using three-quarter flow with the thruster petals in their middle position. Cazelet now sphinctered the throats to maximum compression. As the Princess Cecile started to rise, he steadily increased the flow of reaction mass to the thrusters; acceleration built with the gradual majesty which the inertia of thirteen hundred tons demanded.

Officer Mundy,” Vesey said over a two-way link. “I regret there wasn’t time to discuss plans with you, so I hope you’ll approve. Ah, the blockade runner Ella 919 just returned from Sunbright, and I made the acquaintance of her commander, Captain Tommines.”

“Go ahead, Vesey,” Adele said, since the acting captain seemed to have lost her tongue. Vesey viewed Daniel with religious awe. Though her professional qualifications were of the highest order, she struck Adele as emotionally younger than midshipmen several years her junior.

Vesey’s relationship with Adele was more complex and not a little disquieting. Their RCN status was clear–and perfectly acceptable to Adele, who in her heart felt that the only really useful power would be the power to force people to leave her alone.

Vesey, though, appeared to regard Adele as a mixture of mother and of high priestess of the Cult of Daniel Leary. The first role disgusted Adele; the second was so ludicrous that Adele would have broken out laughing if she had been the sort of person who did that.

Daniel was a brilliant officer and a friend better than Adele had thought existed outside of Pre-Hiatus romances. He wasn’t a god, however.

Her lips twitched in a hard grin. Well, perhaps one of the lustier gods of ancient myth. Adele was fairly certain that Vesey saw Daniel in a more reverent–and very false–light.

Ah, yes, mistress,” Vesey said. The dorsal turret rang against its barbette just astern of the bridge bulkhead; dogs clamped it in place. Lesser shudders were probably the ventral turret doing the same. “Tommines was singing the praises of Kiki Lindstrom, owner of the Savoy, because she had drawn Alliance cruisers away from his ship and saved him from certain capture. She’d then escaped by an amazing transit into the upper reaches of Sunbright’s atmosphere.”

She coughed. “Tommines thought the Savoy‘s captain was a Novy Sverdlovsk officer named Petrov. I’m fairly confident Tommines was wrong on that point, so I set a course for Sunbright. With your permission.”

“I agree with your conclusions and with your plan, Captain,” Adele said in an expressionless voice. She thought for a moment and said, “I watched the way you dealt with Master Mangravite, Vesey. Do you recall my suggesting once in the past that you might lack the ruthlessness which an RCN officer requires?”

Ah,” said Vesey. Adele didn’t turn to look at her, but she could easily imagine how stiffly the younger woman sat at the command console. “I remember a discussion, mistress, but I believe that suggestion was made by your servant.”

“If you believe Tovera made an unchallenged statement of that sort without my acquiescence,” Adele said, her enunciation as sharp as a microtome, “you are mistaken. In fact I did have that concern. I was wrong to do so.”

She made a chirp which was as close as she generally came to laughter. “I don’t think even Tovera could have bettered the way you dealt with Mangravite, Captain.”

Ship, we have reached Cremona orbit,” Cazelet announced as the High Drive kicked in. “Next stop, Sunbright!