Read The Lotus Eaters Online

Authors: Tom Kratman

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The Lotus Eaters

BOOK: The Lotus Eaters
10.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Tom Kratman

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Tom Kratman
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A Baen Books Original
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471
ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-3346-0
Cover art by Kurt Miller
First printing, April 2010
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Printed in the United States of America


A State of Disobedience
A Desert Called Peace
The Lotus Eaters


Watch on the Rhine
Yellow Eyes
The Tuloriad

For Julia
What has gone before
(5,000,000 BC through Anno Condita (AC) 469):

Long ago, long before the appearance of man, came to Earth the aliens known by man only as the "Noahs." About them, as a species, nothing is known. Their very existence can only be surmised by the project they left behind. Somewhat like the biblical Noah, these aliens transported from Earth to another planet samples of virtually every species existing in the time period approximately five hundred thousand to five million years ago. Having transported these species, and having left behind various other, genengineered species, apparently to inhibit the development of intelligent life on the new world, the Noah's disappeared, leaving no other trace beyond a few incomprehensible and inert artifacts, and possibly the rift through which they moved from the Earth to the new world.

In the year 2037 AD a robotic interstellar probe, the
Cristobal Colon
, driven by lightsail, disappeared enroute to Alpha Centauri. Three years later it returned, under automated guidance, through the same rift in space into which it had disappeared. The
brought with it wonderful news of another Earth-like planet, orbiting another star. (Note, here, that not only is the other star
Alpha Centauri, it's not so far been proved that it is even in the same galaxy, or universe for that matter, as ours.) Moreover, implicit in its disappearance and return was the news that here, finally, was a relatively cheap means to colonize another planet.

The first colonization effort was an utter disaster, with the ship, the
Cheng Ho
, breaking down into ethnic and religious strife that annihilated almost every crewman and colonist aboard her. Thereafter, rather than risk further bloodshed by mixing colonies, the colonization effort would be run by regional supranationals such as NAFTA, the European Union, the Organization of African Unity, MERCOSUR, the Russian Empire and the Chinese Hegemony. Each of these groups were given colonization rights to specific areas on the new world, which was named—with a stunning lack of originality—"Terra Nova" or something in another tongue that meant the same thing. Most groups elected to establish national colonies within their respective mandates, some of them under United Nations' "guidance."

With the removal from Earth of substantial numbers of the most difficult portions of the populations of Earth's various nations, the power and influence of transnational organizations such as the UN and EU increased dramatically. With the increase of transnational power, often enough expressed in corruption, even more of Earth's more difficult, ethnocentric, and traditionalist population volunteered to leave. Still others were deported forcibly. Within not much more than a century and a quarter, and much less in many cases, nations had ceased to have much meaning or importance on Earth. On the other hand, and over about the same time scale, nations had become pre-eminent on Terra Nova. Moreover, because of the way the surface of the new world had been divided, these nations tended to reflect—if only generally—the nations of Old Earth.

Warfare was endemic, beginning with the wars of liberation by many of the weaker colonies to throw off the yoke of Earth's United Nations.

In this environment Patrick Hennessey was born, grew to manhood, and was a soldier for many years. Some years after leaving service, Hennessey's wife, Linda, a native of the Republic of Balboa, along with their three children were killed in a massive terrorist attack on Hennessey's native land, the Federated States of Columbia. The same attack likewise killed Hennessey's uncle, the head of his extended and rather wealthy family. As his dying testament, Uncle Bob changed his will to leave Hennessey with control over the entire corpus of his estate.

Half mad with grief, Hennessey, living in Balboa, ruthlessly provoked and then mercilessly gunned down six local supporters of the terrorists. In retaliation, and with that same astonishing bad judgment that had made their movement and culture remarkable across two worlds, the terrorist organization, the Salafi
, attacked Balboa, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including many children.

With Balboa now enraged, and money from his uncle's rather impressive estate, Hennessey began to build a small army within the Republic. This army, the
Legion del Cid,
was initially about the size of a reinforced brigade though differently organized. For reasons of internal politics, Hennessey began to use his late wife's maiden name, Carrera. It was as Carrera that he became well known to the world of Terra Nova.

The Legion was hired out to assist the Federated States of Columbia in a war against the Republic of Sumer, a nominally Islamic but politically secular—indeed fascist—state which had been known to have supported terrorism in the past, to have used chemical weapons in the past, and to have had a significant biological warfare program. It was widely believed to have been developing nuclear weapons, as well.

Against some expectations, the
Legion del Cid
performed quite well. Equally against expectations, its greatest battle in the campaign was against a Sumeri infantry brigade led by a first rate officer, Adnan Sada, who not only fought well but stayed within the customs, rules, and laws of war.

Impressed with the Legion's performance (even while loathing the openly brutal ways it has of enforcing the laws of war), and needing foreign troops badly, the War Department of the Federated States offered Carrera a long term employment contract. Impressed with Sada, and with some of the profits from the contract with the Federated States, Carrera likewise offered to not only hire, but substantially increase, Sada's military force. Accepting the offer, and loyal to his salt, Sada revealed seven nuclear weapons to Carrera, three of which were functional and the rest restorable. These Carrera quietly removed, telling no one except a very few,
close subordinates.

The former government of Sumer had a cadre and arms for an insurgency in place before the Federated States and its allies invaded. In Carrera's area of responsibility, this insurgency, while bloody, was contained through the help of Sada's men and Carrera's ruthlessness. In the rest of the country, however, the unwise demobilization of the former armed forces of the Republic of Sumer left so many young men unemployed that the insurgency grew to nearly unmanageable levels. Eventually, Carrera's area of responsibility was changed and he was forced to undertake a difficult campaign against a city, Pumbadeta, held by the rebels. He surrounded and starved the city, forcing women and children to remain within it until he was certain that every dog, cat and rat had been eaten. Only then did he permit the women and children to leave. His clear intention was to kill every male in Pumbadeta capable of sprouting a beard.

After the departure of the noncombatants, Carrera's Legion continued the blockade until the civilians within the town rebelled against the rebels. Having a rare change of heart, Carrera aided the rebels against rebellion to take the town. Thereafter nearly every insurgent found within Pumbadeta was executed, along with several members of the press sympathetic to the rebels. The few insurgents he—temporarily—spared were sent to a surface ship for

With the war in Sumer winding down, the Federated States, now under Progressive rather than Federalist leadership, unwisely fired Carrera and his legions. And, as should have been predicted, the terrorist money and recruits that had formerly been sent to Sumer, where the Salafi cause was lost, were instead redirected to Pashtia, where it still had a chance. The campaign in Pashtia then began to flow against the Federated States and its unwilling allies of the Tauran Union.

More than a little bitter at having his contract violated and being let go on short notice, Carrera exacts an exorbitant price from the Federated States before he will commit his forces to the war in Pashtia. That price being paid, however, and in gold, he didn't stint but waged a major—and typically ruthless—campaign to restore the situation in Pashtia, which had deteriorated badly under Tauran interference and faint support.

Ultimately, Carrera got wind of a major meeting taking place across the nearby border with Kashmir between the chief of the United Earth Peace Fleet and the Emir of the terrorists, the Salafi
. He attacked and in the attack and its aftermath killed thousands, captured hundreds, and seized a dozen more nuclear weapons, gifts of the UEPF to their terrorist allies. One of these weapons Carrera delivered to the capital of the major terrorist supporting state of Yithrab. When detonated, this weapon not only killed the entire clan of the chief of the Salafi
, but also at
a million citizens of that city. In the process, he framed the Salafis for the detonation.

That destruction, seemingly at the hand of an Allah grown weary of terrorism, along with the death or capture and execution of the core of the Salafi movement in the attack across the Pashtian-Kashmiri border, effectively ended the terrorist war on Terra Nova.

The price to Carrera has also been heavy. With the end of the war with the terrorists, and having had more revenge against the murderers of his family than any man ought desire, he has collapsed.

Unfortunately, he is still needed by his adopted home of Balboa.

Chapter One

How is Man to be well-governed? How is he to govern himself? Many approaches have been tried and many more proposed. Some of these have been, in the words of a philosopher of Old Earth whom we know of only as R.A.H. , "Weird in the extreme." None have worked; none have lasted. All have ultimately failed and usually in the most disastrous ways imaginable.
It must be admitted, as we begin our inquiry, that it may be that there is no answer. Possibly man cannot be well governed, or not for very long. Possibly he cannot govern himself very well for very long, either.
And yet, there may be a clue in the words of another philosopher of the home world, the man we know of as Sherlock Holmes (which is probably a pseudonym). Perhaps, just perhaps, if we can eliminate the impossible, what will then remain, however improbable, might be the answer.
Let us, then, begin our inquiry.

—Jorge y Marqueli Mendoza,
Historia y Filosofia Moral
Legionary Press, Balboa,
Terra Nova, Copyright AC 468

Anno Condita 470 United Earth Peace Fleet Spirit of Peace

Against the tapestry of stars the ship, its lightsail furled, spun on its own long axis. Below, likewise spinning, though at right angles to the ship, was the unimaginatively named blue, green and white world of Terra Nova. Between the world and the stars, past the ship's geosynchronous orbit, whirled the moons Hecate, Eris, and Bellona.

Inside the ship, on the low gravity observation deck, through a thick, transparent viewing port, Captain and High Admiral
pro tem
Marguerite Wallenstein searched for familiar constellations, mostly hidden in the bright sea of stars.

Eyes squinting, Marguerite managed to pick out the first of the five stars that formed the fangs of the constellation
. The head, however, was beyond her ability to perceive among the mass, even with those five to guide her. After a while, she gave up on the rest of
and began to search for the
Leaping Maiden
. This one was easier to see with the naked eye, situated as it was to the galactic north, in a field less dense with stars.

This is a waste of time
, Wallenstein half-chided herself.
But for the nonce it's easier than thinking.
For the moment, thinking was sending her blood pressure up and giving her a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

A leggy, blue-eyed blond who had missed beauty by an almost imperceptible fraction, Wallenstein was, despite appearances, well over a century old. The extra years and youth were the gift of Old Earth's anti-agathic medicine . . . that, and her position within the second highest of the home world's six castes.

In her hand, resting on her thigh, Wallenstein grasped a paper copy of a message received just that day via courier drone. The paper ordered her home for "consultations."

BOOK: The Lotus Eaters
10.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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