Loyalty to the Cause (TCOTU, Book 4) (This Corner of the Universe)

Loyalty
to the Cause

By Britt Ringel

This is
a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any
resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events
or locales is entirely coincidental.

LOYALTY TO THE CAUSE

Copyright © 2014 by Britt Ringel

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be
reproduced, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted
materials in violation of the author’s rights.  Purchase only authorized
editions.

K—My Love, Always

Author’s Acknowledgments

First
and foremost, thank you Karen for all of the time you devote to this endeavor. 
It’s unlikely that our readers know just how big a part you are in all this but
I know and that counts for something.

Mom,
thank you for your unending support.

Carol,
I can’t believe how many things you caught while editing that we missed.  I
apologize if I’m making you cross-eyed with all my mistakes but it’s nice to
know that you’ll catch them.

Law,
as always, your input is invaluable.  You take on the characters that I often
marginalize.  I’ve come to think of you as their champion.  Brewer thanks you
(yet somehow belittles you in the same sentence).

Derek,
you were a machine in this book.  I’ve never been beaten over the head with so
many “hads” and “ands” in my life.  Thank you for that!  Oh, and you also gave
me some tremendous help phrasing sentences in ways I would have never thought
of by myself.  Just one more to go.

A
BIG thank you to Orpheus7 on DeviantArt.  It’s his incredible work that created
Elathra.  If you enjoy this book, a big part is due to his generosity and
talent.  His work inspires me and, frankly, I can’t see Elathra as any other
starship than what he created.  Please check out his profile at DeviantArt
(it’s amazing): 
http://orpheus7.deviantart.com/gallery/
.  It’s certainly worth it.

Speaking
of generosity, I owe much to the owner of
http://all-silhouettes.com/
.  His creativity and support for
independent artists made the Order of Battle visual possible.  It goes a long
way in helping the readers keep track of a complicated battle.  He also does
more than star ship silhouettes.  You may want to click the link and see
everything he offers.

I
didn’t include any system maps in this novel but I still want to acknowledge the
software program, Universe Sandbox Creators.  I actually did create the Anthe,
New London, and Erriapius star systems while writing the book and they were of
great help to me personally.  The maps may not appear in the book but you can
see them on my website.  Thanks for supporting independent authors, Universe
Sandbox Creators!  If you have any interest in how star systems work, you
should look at their website: 
http://universesandbox.com
.

The last acknowledgment goes to
you.  If you’re reading this, it probably means you’ve read the first three
books and have stuck with me now for over a year.  I am humbled by the reviews
and comments I have received from you or read on Amazon and Barnes&Noble. 
The things you write mean a lot to me.  And I really do take them to heart. 
Thank you.  I hope this book is a worthy addition to the series.

For more maps, layouts and
information regarding the books in the TCOTU series, please visit
http://www.thiscorneroftheuniverse.com
.

Contents

Colossus-Class Snow

Galactic Map

Order of Battle

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Elathra Organizational Chart

Lesser Magellanic Corporate System
Zone

Officer Ranks of the Terran Navies

 

Colossus-Class
Snow

Armed
Vessel - Elathra

 

Tonnage:  3,480
tonnes

Length:  107 meters
(351 feet)

Beam:  22 meters (72
feet)

Draft:  29 meters (95
feet)

Crew Complement:  65
(8 Officers, 57 Enlisted)

Armament:  2
Bredalin neutron particle cannons, 2 Lyle Dual General Purpose (GP) pulse lasers,
4 Blackings laser carronades

Drive: 4 Junkkers-Dalmer
-213A1 drives powered by Kuritan 910 power plant

Sensors: Standard Blue-Suns
sensor suite, Twin Argus VSP-14 “Fisheye” Array

Defenses: Duralloy
armor, Endrix AIPS Screen

Galactic Map

Order of
Battle

Prologue

A
wide wall screen inlaid into
Envoy-3’s
outer corridor translated the light
from Anthe’s M8V red star to yellow.  Long shadows followed the Internal
Security troopers and their prisoner as they walked past the view.  The captive
looked furtively at the vast, open expanse of space on the screen, a sharp
contrast to the tiny cell that had been her home for the last forty-eight hours. 
An armored hand reached out and grasped her right arm to signal the arrival at their
destination, a door bearing the simple title “Interview Room Beta.”

Locking
mechanisms rotated inside the portal and the door noiselessly slid open. 
Komandor Podporucznik Isabella Lombardi stood defiantly immobile at the
threshold, moving into the room only after feeling a forceful shove against the
small of her back.  Reaching twin chairs at a conference table, she thrust her magnetically
bound hands toward one of her escorts, who made no move to release her prisoner
identification bracelets.  Instead, a firm hand guided her into one of the
small, metal chairs.  The I.S. guard then pulled her restrained hands to the
conference tabletop and Lombardi felt powerful magnetic forces lock her wrists
to the surface.  She tried to lean back but found she had been secured just far
enough forward to not be able to reach the back of the chair.  Sighing, she sat
bolt upright but realized her position would become quickly uncomfortable.  Her
escorts turned and left, leaving her solely in the accompaniment of the cameras
mounted in the corners of the chamber.

The
last two days seemed more like years to Lombardi.  She had fled with Kapitan
Marco Romano and Starzy Sierzant Nilis Vidic to a lifeboat before her heavy
cruiser,
Phoenix
, had bared its core to Engineering.  The immense relief
of escaping certain death was tainted with the knowledge that a large portion
of her Hollaran crew had not been as lucky.  Staring at
Phoenix’s
white
fireball on the lifeboat’s monitors had been like looking at a funeral pyre for
hundreds of her shipmates.  Her morose thoughts drifted to her departed first
officer and mentor, Anatoly Valokov. 
At least he is at peace.  All of them
are… now.
  The exact number comprising “them” remained a mystery to
Lombardi in her captivity.

Making
matters worse, the heavy cruiser,
BRS Claymore
, and its insufferably
arrogant captain had recovered her lifeboat.  Lombardi weathered the indignity
of her personal encounter with the condescending Brevic ship commander considerably
well thanks to a mixture of combat shock and grief over the loss of her crew.  During
Claymore’s
twenty-minute voyage to the Anthe space station near the system’s
habitable planet of Pallene, Lombardi conspired with her shipmates while
Phoenix’s
chief medical officer, Komandor August Timoleon, performed rudimentary first
aid on Romano’s injured thigh.  Upon docking with the Anthe orbital, Lombardi was
immediately separated from her crew and interned in a two-meter by two-meter cell. 
Her only respite from the drab environment had been a brief interview with a supposed
Brevic representative of the Anthe system, prior to her current excursion to
Envoy-3
.

The
portal to Interview Room Beta slid open to reveal an aging man, perhaps in his late
sixties.  His clothes were plain but their quality bespoke of someone with
refined taste and desires.  The grey-haired man nodded humbly as he took his
place opposite Lombardi.  He smiled and began, “Hello, my friend.  I believe I
have made some progress on one of the many requests you had during your first
interview.”

“Surely
you mean ‘interrogation,’ Mr. Angelo,” Lombardi replied bitterly while
returning his smile.  She ached to call the man by his real name, Brewer, and
end his charade as a low-level civilian assistant to the Brevic Navy instead of
the head of the Bureau of Internal Security and one of only three secretaries under
the Minister of Intelligence.   However, she knew revealing her knowledge would
only serve her enemy.  “Where is the lackey you first had speak to me and why
am I even remotely surprised that the ‘Vics continue to refuse to abide by the
Laws of Armed Conflict.”

Brewer
shrugged in a manner suggesting an apology.  “You must understand that our navy’s
position is that your ship violated Brevic space under the guise of a false
truce.  They maintain this negates your crew’s status as prisoners of war under
LOAC.”

Lombardi
felt anger welling inside her.  She tried to resist the surge but failed. 
“Your troopers invaded my ship!  We simply defended sovereign territory of the
Hollaran Commonwealth.  We did not even fire upon the ‘Vic ships stationed near
us.”  Lombardi knew this was a distortion of the facts.  She had ordered
Phoenix
to fire but the Brevic ships had wisely moved out of range before the I.S. “Trojan
horse” operation had commenced.  It sounded convincing though.

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