Snippet it is

This is And Not To Yield, a novella approaching completion, though it would be easier if half of hun-dom didn’t somehow end up in my room every day.  It will (fingers crossed unless I mess it up very badly indeed) be in Worldfire’s five by five anthology of mil sf.  It was a bit of a challenge, since as ya’ll know (but no one else seems to) I don’t write mil sf as such.  This is first draft with all its typos upon it, and I’m sure I made a hash of military ranks, as usual (I’m worse with those than with digits which I transpose on a routine basis.)  So, don’t jump on me.  First this is not US military.  Second the military it is is writing its rules as it goes, because well, revolution and war.  Third, I’ll run this by military betas as soon as it’s done, sweartobunnies.

For those who haven’t read A Few Good Men, or even those who have, this is the same characters, ten years later.

 

And Not To Yield

 

Sarah A. Hoyt

 

The trial starts with a sad-eyed major sitting behind a desk. My desk. My office has been commandeered for my own martial court . We’re almost alone. The new laws require trial by jury – trial by twelve as the people call it – but that rule is not for military trials, where the autocratic rule prevails. Not as bad as under the regime we overthrew, the regime of the Good men, mind. You won’t get condemned and killed because one man, the sole, undisputed hereditary ruler of the Seacity is having a bad day. No. Though there are two privates by the door, both fully armed, ready to shoot me down if I should make a run for it, I’m not treated like a criminal.

Instead, I’m presumed innocent until proven guilty, and I stand in my full uniform, with the colonel insignia at shoulder and sleeve, above the patch showing the legendary mountain from which my land gets its name. And I have a defense council, a judge advocate. He’s not a lawyer but an old friend, Royce Allard, looking hot under the collar and a little afraid.

He should be afraid. The procedures might be impromptu, the courtroom an office, but the results of this procedure are full and binding and final. I stand accused of going AWOL in time of war, and of disobeying the direct orders of my superiors. Then comes the bagful of minor sins, including risking important information falling in the hands of the enemy and risking being taken hostage, and a few other things, possibly including, but not limited to using bad language and being seen in a ragged uniform. All together those are worth little. A few days in jail, a reduction in pay.

It doesn’t matter, because the major charges, if proven, will see me hanged by the neck till dead.

And they will be proven, because, you see, I am guilty.

***

War for me began ten years after revolution had freed Olympus Seacity; five years after I’d been made a colonel and head of our propaganda machine.

It is not war to pilot a desk. It’s not war to think up clever hollo-casts and methods to subvert the enemy’s carefully planted idea that their regime has given the Earth three hundred years of “peace and security”. It is not war to wait, to hope, to search the casualty lists every night, to pray to a God I wasn’t sure of believing in that his name wouldn’t be among the dead and missing.

Though we were both technically believers in the long forbidden Usaian religion, he was the believer, and I believed in him. And though both of us had been instrumental in the revolution that set the Seacity on the path of restoring the ancient principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the truth was that Nat – Nathaniel Green Remy – fought. I stayed home and planned and waited.

Home had been reduced to a small part of what had been my ancestral palace.

My name is Lucius Dante Maximillian Keeva. I was born to one of the fifty men who between them ruled all the Earth – the Good Men, as they were called — and raised as heir to Olympus Seacity and its subject territories. Or not quite. It turned out the intolerable rule of the man whom I have to call father had other dimensions, other implications. Some of which had led me to solitary confinement for fourteen years and to the raw edge of what I must for lack of a better word call sanity.

Nat – and his family – had hauled me back to life and humanity, and if what it cost me was surrendering power and position I never wanted and helping them install their government based on the principles of the long vanished United States of America, I could do that.

Two rooms in the house and the use of an office were all that would have been truly mine, anyway, had I ascended to rule as the Good Man of Olympus. The absolute ruler of that kind of vast empire is no more free than a slave. Oh, his particular whims and his odder tastes might be catered to, but like a slave he is the prisoner of his role, occupied with it from morning to night, his every minute poured into that role.

So, I wasn’t any the worse off for my change in roles, from would-be heir to the territory to officer in the revolutionary army. And other people were happier. Probably. Almost certainly.

Only the Good Men had not let things go lightly. Authority and power are not surrendered willingly, unless it is meaningless and the rule of the Good Men was very meaningful indeed.

For ten years we’d been involved in a war; we’d lost countless people. Young people had been killed in the army, and people of all ages had been killed as the Good Men resorted to terror tactics on the territories; released bio-engineered viruses; destroyed crops and generally made the life of the citizens of Olympus and our allies hell. Against this Nat fought. Against this I composed a war of words, a concatenation of holograms to make it clear to the people under Good Men Rule that we were the better choice; that they should rebel and come to our side.

It worked. Sometimes. Entire cities and seacities had come to our side. But not enough to end the war.

Which meant Nat continued fighting, and I continued to check the casualty and missing list, every night, after a full day of work, and just before turning in.

Which brings me to that August night. It was hot, and I was asleep, uncovered, in my too-large bed. My room is at the top of what used to be the palace, and the door opens to a terrace which in turn looks down all the way to the sea. That door was open, to a smell of salt air, and at first I thought what I heard was the cry of seagulls.

***

“How do you plead?” the sad eyed major asks, after the litany of charges against me is read. “On the charges leveled against you?”

“Guil—” I start. And my judge advocate is there. Royce’s hand clasps around my upper arm so hard that he will leave bruises. Which takes effort, since I’m six seven and built like the proverbial brick shithouse, and though Royce is not a small man, his hand doesn’t even fully go around my arm.

“Sir,” he says, and I wasn’t sure if it was to me or the major. “Sir,” he says, and this time he looks fully at the major. “Sir, Colonel Keeva pleads not guilty due to extenuating circumstances.”

The Major opens his mouth. For a moment I think he’s going to say I’d pleaded guilty, but of course he doesn’t. Instead, he closes his mouth and looks at me, eyebrows raised. Royce’s hand is like an iron band around my forearm. “Yes,” I stammer. “Not guilty due to extenuating circumstances.”

The Major nods. “Very well,” he says. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

“Yes.”

The judge gestures, and one of the privates by the door, a young man who looks too young to grow a beard and too innocent to be in any military, comes forward with a small, dark box, which he opens. Inside the box is my piece of flag. Not the flag of Olympus, which is a blue flag with the representation of the mythical mountain, but THE flag, the one sacred to every Usaian. At some time in the twenty first century, after the fall of the United States of America, and after the founding of the religion based on the founding documents of that lost country, someone had put all the flags they could find that had once flown over American territory before the fall into a climate-controlled room. Since then every member of the religion got a little piece of the flag. Some were inherited within families. Mine had three stars, and a blood stain. The stain had been acquired when a past owner had been martyred to the faith. Another past owner, martyred to the faith, was my only friend growing up, and Nat’s uncle, Benjamin Franklin Remy. Ben has been dead for twenty five years. Which is good because he might very well think I’d disgraced him and our shared scrap of flag.

The young man hands me the flag. I know what to do. Usaians have sealed all their oaths with a kiss on their piece of the flag, that visible symbol of their allegiance, for centuries.

I press my lips against the flag, and then it is set on the desk in front of me. I look at it and mentally I ask Ben’s forgiveness. “I never meant to sully the flag or the Usaians by association,” I tell him. “But you see, I had to save Nat.”

22 responses to “Snippet it is

  1. I volunteer to be a Military Beta.

  2. Which half of hun-dom? The top half or the bottom half?

  3. The half that made it to LibertyCon.

  4. The half that was able to disable their ankle monitors …

  5. I liked that

    • If you liked that, you’ll probably like the previous books in the series. Start with Darkship Thieves, then read Darkship Renegades and A Few Good Men. Here’s a handy link to the first one, and the second and third should be at the front of the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” list halfway down the page.

      • I know it sounds like a solipsism, but one of the greatest accolades I grant an author is “I liked that.”
        I have never read any of her work before. This is my literary introduction and first impression of her. For all it seems like faint praise, it does mean she has earned a fighting place for my meager reading dollars.
        Funny I can to this blog for the politics, but found an author. I would say an even closer relationship than a mere friend for all its one way information transfer.

        • Larry Correia (another author whose work I enjoy, both blog and books) sometimes says that the best kind of flattery an author can receive is the kind that starts “Pay to the order of…”

          In other words, when people buy his books and he gets royalty checks. (Or in the case of Amazon, not royalties but “here are your book sales, minus our distributor’s cut” since they’re not per se the publisher.)

          And speaking of knowing that your reading dollars will be well-spent, I love Amazon’s “sample this book” system. You can check out the first few chapters of Darkship Thieves, or whichever book, and see if they hook you or not. Or you could go to the Baen Free Library (here’s the section where they list Sarah’s books) and check out a whole novel of hers, plus a short story.

          I love how much is possible these days: reading Draw One in the Dark (her book in the free library) told me that I’d like the rest of her work, so I bought Darkship Thieves — and loved it. Whereas I’d never have taken the chance on an unknown-to-me author without the ability to sample their work.

  6. By the way, this is about as relevant a place as any to post this little anecdote I found while Googling something unrelated. It seems at some con, some science-fiction fans from Russia were selling KGB paraphernalia, including a KGB ID card. One of the purchasers was a fan who happened to work at the IRS, leading to the following exchange:

    “KGB, most feared organisation on planet!”
    Purchaser flashes his IRS ID.
    “Hokay, KGB, second most feared organisation on planet!”

    • Oh, and apparently the IRS-employed fan was/is a libertarian. Here’s where I found the story.

    • Also, the start of that particular discussion thread was an open letter from Spider Robinson about the problems in the publishing industry, written in 1997. Which is a very interesting item in itself, as it shows that the current problems in the industry are nothing new. Spider saw it coming over 15 years ago, though he didn’t see the Amazon/ebook revolution coming, which means the tone of the piece is far more despairing than the tone of modern pieces on the same theme. But for anyone interested in the publishing mess, this is a piece of that history that not many people know about.

      • Sort of splains why Spider isn’t around much any more.
        Always had a soft spot for the dude in spite of that revisionist hatchet job he did on Robert’s discarded outline. Spider does and always has lived just a tad to the left of Eric Flint, bless his big socialist heart.
        I do miss those periodic visits to Callahans, and God Is An Iron will always haunt my hind brain and bubble up at the strangest times.
        But based on that letter I can only assume he gave up and has in fact resorted to honest work, dealing drugs or some such, as he has vanished from any current publishing lists and has apparently not chosen to pursue the indie path. A true pity, I’ve missed him.

        • Spider Robinson apparently is writing a novel called Orphan Star, but his writing had slowed down because of health problems.

        • And while I can read Eric Flint and enjoy his writing because his politics don’t leak into the story (much, though there is the “unions are great!” bit at the start of 1632, and some stuff in the Crown of Slaves series)… Spider Robinson is a different matter. Yes, he’s got a big heart for people, which I appreciate. But there’s also a strong sense, woven throughout his books, that the hippie movement of the 60’s and 70’s was a good thing. Free love, drugs, all of it. Having seen with my own eyes the damage the hippie movement did to so many people, and the damage it’s still doing via the ongoing effects of the sexual revolution (for example, so many people growing up in fatherless households, when fatherlessness is by far the best predictor of problems later in life such as a criminal record or drug addiction or poverty)… I just can’t stand to read Robinson’s works because of that. He has a big heart, but it’s led him to embrace “solutions” that cause WAY more harm than good, and he can’t see that — and because those ultimately-harmful “solutions” are woven throughout his books, I can’t stand to read them.

      • Clark E Myers

        For those who want to pursue the past take on still current issues it might be worth looking up what Norman Spinrad had to say (write). Especially in considering the weight to be attached to the given writer’s political views and the given writer’s views on politics in SFWA.

        • As to this Spinrad comment, might there be a link? An appropriate search term?

          • Clark E Myers

            Part of the point is the different political views among the parties debating – much as emphasized even in this thread.

            I’m not coming up with good current links and I don’t have copies myself.

            The Spider Robinson letter of some years ago mentioned supra includes

            I’m not the only one squawking. At least one colleague recently circulated an urgent open letter similar to this one, triggered when he learned that after over 25 years of award-winning publishing, he can literally no longer sell a book in New York–even to editors who like his work. The sales figures for his last book (and ONLY his last book) just weren’t good enough…

            Spider Robinson op.cit.

            The colleague is Norman Spinrad:

            Just a few weeks after Norman Spinrad’s internet open letter expressing distress with the publishing industry, Spider Robinson….
            Spinrad’s open letter, available on his web page, describes his dissatisfaction with Bantam’s treatment of his two previous books, and offers his new novel, He Walked Among Us, to any US publisher who will publish it “properly” for a $1 advance.

            Locus 1997. Notice the date.

            Look up Spinrad on JerryPournelle.com for a number of secondary references .e.g..

            Friday, August 6, 2010 … For another take on what’s happening to publishing, along with a couple of good inside publishing stories, see Norman Spinrad’s accounts of his publishing career. Norman is an old friend. He was vice president when I was president of SFWA, and at the time he lived in the Laurel Canyon area a couple of miles from here. …

            Dr. Pournelle

            Black Gate Magazine wrote:

            You can read the complete post, along with lively comments from Jerry Pournelle, Paul Riddell, and Knopf Art Director Chip Kidd, here.

            There is a snippet reinforcing some of our hostess’s recent suggestions on cover art.

            when the book finally came out, Dona and I looked for it in the new books rack. It wasn’t there! We couldn’t find it. Major panic! We finally did. It turned out we had looked past it three times without noticing it. And I was the author.

            For more recent material on publishing and on Mr. Spinrad’s views in general see:Guest Post: A Viable and Just Business Model For the Ebook Age
            April 03, 2011 SFWA
            See also:
            An Interview with Norman Spinrad, Anarchist
            September 05, 2011 SFWA

            FWIW I’d always add Syndicalist to Anarcho in giving my own (not exclusive) take on Mr. Spinrad’s political notions. If everybody was like me it might even be a viable as well as attractive political scheme.

  7. Clark E Myers

    Try http://normanspinradatlarge.blogspot.com/2010/08/complete-publishing-death-spiral-parts_13.html for a currently valid site on the subject of the publishing death spiral – I don’t find any of the previously mentioned comments from big name pro but there is some back and forth.