There are some people who will continue to deny the truth even when it hits them squarely in the face.
— Ambassador Alexander Channing, Psychean Guard, c. 5201
20 Novem, 5249 PD
D’Arcy and his team of “experts” had been presenting for nearly an hour before the first consul reached the limits of their patience.
“This is insane,” Kara said flatly, glaring across at D’Arcy. “You actually expect us to believe that nothing happened? Half the people in this room felt it and the other half probably watched while someone else did. Why are you wasting our time?”
“On the contrary, Miss Grace-Forester, I do not actually believe that any such large-scale assault took place. Further, if something did happen, I fail to see how anyone this far away could have felt it.”
Kara opened her mouth to respond, but Mugabe beat her to the punch. The dark-skinned man’s tone was deceptively mild.
“Perhaps the elder Farragut could enlighten us on that count with some examples from history?”
Rachel cleared her throat and took time to apparently gather her thoughts before she began speaking. ‘There are several examples from Post Diaspora history when psychics perceived major events from great distances. LeSarte—”
“Oh hell,” D’Arcy snapped. “When in doubt, fall back on LeSarte. You know there are people who think he was a charlatan. A clever actor.” He glanced pointedly toward Lindsay.
Oh he didn’t just start this game, did he? “I hope you’re not implying the same of me, Consul. Everyone in this room has been a witness to what happens when the goddamned visions come.” If not for Brendan being here the last time, I don’t’ know what might have happened.
that act you and your pilot pulled off was quite the show,” D’Arcy said, voice dripping malice and sarcasm. “How long have you been—what is it you refugees call it? Bonded?”
Lindsay went cold. All she could do was stare blinking at him for a moment before her heart began beating again. “Yes, that’s what we call it. Why does it matter?”
“I would imagine that the Council is entitled to know when an…asset such as yourself chooses to take up with a refugee and potential spy for a hostile power—”
“Consul Morgause,” Sergei interrupted. “Are you implying that Commander Cho is not entirely loyal to the Foundation?”
D’Arcy shrugged, attempting to appear nonchalant, pretending that he hadn’t just accused Brendan Cho of betraying everything the young man held dear.
Aidan Church snorted. “There’s no way,” he said. “The man is the best flight instructor we have. Every native-born pilot we’ve got, he trained. Spies wouldn’t do that, not at the level he’s performed at.”
“Not to mention his volunteering for the mission to liberate Senator Farragut’s daughter and Ambassador Channing’s son,” Amelda said. “Really, D’Arcy, I think your suspicion in this case is sorely misplaced.”
“Regardless, I think we are entitled to know what our lauded and coddled Oracle does beyond these august chambers,” D’Arcy said, staring at Lindsay once again.
Stay calm. Stay calm. You can borrow someone’s sidearm and shoot him later. “I don’t see why it’s anyone’s business but mine.” It was a struggle to keep her voice even. “But if you absolutely must know, going on seven years, and they’ve been fantastic.” Her eyes narrowed. “How long has it been since you had a woman in your bed, D’Arcy?”
Sergei cleared his throat. “That was uncalled for, Oracle.”
She folded her hands in front of her and looked toward the Speaker. “No more or less so than the rest of this conversation.”
Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Frederick leaning forward, whispering something in Adam’s ear. Adam just smiled and leaned back to murmur something in response.
Wonder what they’re saying.
Lindsay took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. “Consul Morgause is trying very hard to pull wool over all of our eyes and deflect this council from the matter at hand. All the evidence not marshaled—indeed, ignored by Consul Morgause—points toward a massive attack on one of the outlying worlds. We haven’t been able to confirm which one because is scrambling to make sure it wasn’t one of theirs. Everyone here knows that something happened, though, whether we want to admit it or not.”
“But where is the evidence?” D’Arcy demanded. “All you have are rumors and headaches.”
The door into the chamber creaked fully open then. Adriano Scarelli looked grim as he stepped into the room, swinging the door shut behind himself with a loud bang.
“I didn’t want to interrupt,” he said as he strode across the floor. “But it seems I picked a good time to do it.” He stopped in the heart of the room, standing at the center of the rose. “It was the Whispers.”
“I beg your pardon?” Sergei said, half rising from his seat. “What was the Whispers, Mr. Scarelli?”
“The planet someone killed,” he said. “It was the Whispers. Mission Systems has a ship coming in as we speak carrying refugees. Found a crippled ship on the edge of the system. They saw it happen.” He drew himself up a little straighter. “Furthermore, I am here to inform you that Mission Systems has begun to dismantle its operations in the inner homosphere and is in the process of transporting our personnel and shipyards to the agreed-upon position in orbit of E-Trel five.”
Lindsay watched D’Arcy Morgause collapse back down into his chair, cotton-pale with sweat beginning to bead on his brow. His specialists were looking at each other nervously. One woman gnawed at her lip so hard that Lindsay was sure she was about to draw blood.
The room was dead silent for exactly fifteen seconds before Adam Windsor stood up.
“What’s the ETA?”
“Our ship from the Whispers should be here in thirty-six hours. As I understand it, the system has become an even larger navigational hazard than it used to be.”
“There’s no guarantee—” D’Arcy began to say.
“That we will take on any survivors from the destruction of our nearest neighboring system?” Amelda interrupted, voice tart. “Consul Morgause, you are not the one who makes that decision, now are you? That is left to a very specific subset of this Council and you are not a part of it.” Her gaze sharpened as she turned her eyes toward Scarelli. “Do we know how many, Mr. Scarelli?”
“No,” he said. “If I can get estimates before they go to jump, I will certainly do so.” He swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing as his gaze swept the room. “…I’ll let you get on with your meeting.”
He spun on his heel and walked away.