First up is the portrayal of Galactics in this book. Which really means the many, many ways the Darhel try and screw with the defenders.Galactics:
"That sounds good to me, Mr. Ambassador, but can the United States deliver? Half—more than half—of the modern arms you promised us are going elsewhere." Panama's president wagged a scolding finger.
Embarrassed, the ambassador from the United States swept a hand through immaculately coiffed, silver-gray hair. "Presidente Mercedes, I can't begin to tell you how much that upsets me. But . . . we had no choice. When the other Rio Pact countries invoked the aid of the United States, we had to deliver substantial quantities of up-to-date weapons to them."
General Taylor, as big and black and fierce as ever, scowled from his chair next to the ambassador. He knew that the impetus for the diversion of those arms had begun with State. He just couldn't identify his source. At the ambassador's raised eyebrow the general subsided.
Diversion of military supplies.
Maybe Brazil, Argentina, and Chile—all of them at United States' Department of State prodding—had suddenly become aware, once again, of the Rio Pact military aid gravy train. Maybe they were siphoning off conventional equipment that could have been used to defend Panama. But the PDBs, which would be gringo manned, were also invaluable for the defense of North America and useful for the defense of South. These were not being slighted.
The Rio Pact used to divert war material to every South American power.
"The law," said the Darhel's AID in an artificial voice, "stands above sentient creatures, above their political and commercial systems, above the perceived needs of the present crisis or of any crisis. Before there were men, there was law."
Mercedes nodded his most profound agreement. Without the law, I could never take as much as I do.
"It has come to our attention that the Republic of Panama, at the instigation of the United States, has decided to adopt certain defensive measures prohibited by your own laws of war. I refer specifically to the planned use of antipersonnel landmines."
Mercedes' brow furrowed in puzzlement. He recalled being briefed on some such but the details . . . ? Well, military details hardly interested him absent the opportunity for graft.
"I am somewhat surprised, I confess," Mercedes said, "that Galactic law even addresses landmines."
"It does not, not specifically," the alien shyster-AID answered. "What it does do is require that member states and planets of the confederation follow their own laws in such matters. Panama is a signatory to what the people of your world sometimes call the 'Ottawa Anti-Personnel Landmine Ban Treaty.' As such, Panama is expected to abide by the terms of that treaty, to refrain from the manufacture, stockpiling, or use of antipersonnel mines."
A detail, previously forgotten, suddenly popped into Mercedes head. "But we are manufacturing, stockpiling, or emplacing no mines. They all come from the gringos."
The undersecretary sighed wistfully at the wickedness of a depraved mankind. "Despite the earnest recommendations of the United States Department of State, the United States has never ratified the Ottawa Accord."
"As such," the shyster-AID continued, "the United States is free to use them at will. This is not the case for Panama, however, which has a duty—so we of the legal bureau believe—to prevent them from being manufactured, used or stored not only by its forces but on its soil."
The Darhel and State twist el presidente's arm into forbidding the US forces from using landmines agianst the Posleen.
"We wish to remind you," stated the elven-faced Darhel in a flat-toned hiss through needle-sharp teeth, "how long thisss department of your government hasss been a client of oursss."
"The Department of State is fully aware of the close and cordial relations we have enjoyed since 1932," the undersecretary answered, noncommittally.
See, I said in this book State was working secretly with the Darhel for 70 years before official contact. You thought I was exaggerating.
Lindemann rubbed a hand wearily across his jaw. "Yes, one would have thought so. Blame your State Department, actually."
"They brokered a deal between us, the United States, the Galactic Federation and Argentina under which substantial U.S. and some Galactic aid would be given in return for the creation of a combined command. Not building fortifications in the passes was supposed to be . . . hmmm . . . let me see if I can remember the words exactly. Oh, yes, I recall. The absence of fortification was 'symbolic of the determination of our two countries, with the help of the United States and the Galactic Federation, to stand and fight together as one.'
The reason there are no fortifications on a crucial mountain pass into now-Posleen-held-Argentina.
The Rinn Fain had already done everything he knew to do with the humans. He had sabotaged and misdirected their plans, split their efforts, and aided their president in every way a Darhel knew how to, to rob his own people.
It was nearly time to stop doing things with the humans and start to do things to them.
To this end the Rinn Fain, and all his underlings—Darhel, Indowy, and artificial, all three—manned stations that, in human terms, could only be thought of as electronic warfare nodes.
For now the Darhel avoided interference, for the most part. Except in a few cases they were content merely to analyze human radio patterns, intercepting and synthesizing the codes that the barbarians used to hop from one frequency to another.
Certainly they didn't want to tip the humans off to what they were up to in time for the clever beasts to think of something new.
There were, however, certain of the humans who were physically out of touch enough to risk playing games with their communications. The glider pilots were a case in point. The Rinn Fain had taken considerable pleasure in remotely reprogramming their radios to make sure that anything they saw went unreported.
It was almost as pleasurable as taking control of the human's warships would be.
The Rinn Fain (a rank, not a name, and a very low rank at that) moves from passive sabotage with the assitance of State to active EW, hampering communications while leaking crucial data to the Posleen. It really is no wonder China fell so quickly, since it seems to have been hign on the Darhel's shit list.
Eyes still downcast the Indowy responded, "Lord, about the human anti-spacecraft vessel, the Texas, we can do nothing much. It is not on our Net and is shielded and compartmentalized from the human 'Internet.' The one they call the Salem we have penetrated, but we have not been able to take it over. There is something odd going on there. It will not fire on the humans. It has been the best I could do—forgive me, lord!—to keep it from firing on the Posleen. I do not understand it.
"The last vessel, the Des Moines, is firing on the Posleen and, worse lord, I am unable to penetrate it. When I try, it counterattacks. I think the AID aboard that ship must be . . ." The Indowy inhaled deeply. He really didn't want to be ordered to suicide.
"Must be what, insect?"
"Lord . . . I think the AID aboard has gone . . . insane."
The Galactics hack the warships Texas, Salem,
and Des Moines
and try to turn them against each other. However, Daisy Mae resists and is able to help Salem
so it's only incapable of firing, rather than targeting friendlies. Texas
is off the grid entirely.
Though his elvish face remained a stoic mask, the Rinn Fain found the thing dangerously frustrating. Every type of attack and attempt at takeover that he commanded the Indowy to try was foiled.
Lintatai . . . lintatai. I must avoid lintatai. But I must also stop those ships. Their fire is decimating the Posleen.
"Can you leak the location and nature of the ships to the Net?" he asked the always obsequious Indowy.
"Yes, lord, though the ships may move. It would have to be a continuous leak."
"Then make it continuous, wretch. The Posleen are stupid." the Darhel hissed. "Make it obvious."
Unable to subvert Des Moines
, the Rinn Fain leak it's stats and precise location to the Posleen.
Smiling through needle sharp teeth at the slave, the Rinn Fain answered, "I am not hesitating, insect. I am savoring the moment. So much perfect destruction to be unleashed, and no violence inherent in it to trigger lintatai. Moments like this are rare, wretch, and must be appreciated to the fullest."
Even so, the Rinn Fain pressed the button, which went from blinking green to solid red.
The Rinn Fain cutting commo to an isolated unit.
Without fanfare, filling its role as the Darhel's mouthpiece for unpleasantries, the AID began, "Your country is accused of war crimes beyond number, Señor Presidente. You have employed forbidden weapons. You have used the under-aged as combatants. You have damaged ancient, historical properties. Your forces have slaughtered the wounded. The Galactic Federation has no choice but to sever all diplomatic and commercial relations with the Republic of Panama. This includes, but is not limited to, technology transfers, arms provisions, energy supplies and all space-borne trade and personal and commercial travel."
Presidente Mercedes blanched for a moment. Even his greasy face seemed to congeal. Indeed, he was sufficiently shocked that he did not object when the human withdrew a Gaulois from a package and lit up the nasty thing without so much as a by-your-leave.
"What the fuck is this chingadera machine talking about?" the president asked of the Rinn Fain.
The AID continued to speak, though a slightly huffy tone crept into its artificial voice. "You recently decorated and promoted a woman, one Digna Miranda, formerly a lieutenant and now a lieutenant colonel. Were you unaware that she used children as young as twelve in her battles? Did you not know she had wounded Posleen massacred rather than treating them with medical care equal to that given your own?"
"Your chief logistics officer, Major General Boyd, provided casings, detonators and explosives for your soldiers to turn into forbidden self-activating weapons; 'antipersonnel landmines' is your term. Your forces have used frangible projectiles on the Posleen. Several historical sites, to include ancient churches, have been damaged and still others completely leveled by your illegal use of artillery. Ancient sites of the aboriginals of these areas have been left unguarded."
The spurious war-crime charges to remove anyone remotely competent or effective from the defense of Panama.
The specially programmed shyster-AID projected a chart of the existing chain of command of the forces of the Republic of Panama, with a similar chart of United States' forces next to it. The Rinn Fain was pleased to see the number of blocks crossed with an X, indicating that the chief of those sections was firmly in custody. Still others were highlighted, indicating that the heads of those were on the list to be picked up. Others, particularly at the very top, were outlined in purple, indicating they were already working for the Darhel and could be expected to continue to do so.
"What is the projection of recovery time, once the local barbarians have filled those holes?" the Darhel enquired of his AID.
"Analysis of personnel records and nepotistic connections indicates that few of those positions can be filled," the AID answered. "Rather, they will be filled, to a certainty, by humans who will use the powers for their own gain. Once these other people are safely in the hands of the humans' International Criminal Court the collapse of the defenses of this area will follow at the first push from the Posleen."
"Any rumblings from the United States about the two of their people the government of Panama has taken in?"
"The local United States embassy is ignoring the entire issue, except that their ambassador has enquired again about off-world travel. Their Southern Command seems to be trying to reach their president but our humans in Washington are deflecting the inquiries, so far."
"And when is the Himmit transport scheduled to arrive?"
"Three of the local days, milord," the AID answered.
"The prosecutor at their International Criminal Court is ready to receive the prisoners?"
"She claims to be, but she too seems frantic to travel off-world with her family."
The progress of removing all competent defenders.
And there was a new thought, too. Though he didn't know where it had come from, the Net had what appeared to be an open offer from the thresh of the continent of Europe. Perhaps the offer had been uploaded by a Darhel AID. Binastarion put nothing past the Elves.
In any case, the thresh of Europe or their Darhel patrons seemed to be suggesting that, should Binastarion and his clan succeed in taking control of the broad ditch that connected the two major bodies of water on this miserable world, trade—a human and Darhel form of mutual edas—might be possible, if the ditch could be kept functioning to allow European water vessels through.
Limp-wristed humans (or more likely, Darhel) offer to trade to allow continued usage of the Canal after the Posleen take it, which they aren't all that close to doing.
"In any case, sir, the Darhel were behind everything. They fed the locations for myself, Sally and the Texas to the Posleen. That's why we lost the Texas. They oversaw the misdirecting of vital supplies and equipment away from Panama. They bribed key individuals of the government of Panama to sell out their own people. They brought in the Europeans and the International Criminal Court to have all the most effective leaders of Panama's forces arrested, along with yourself and Salem's captain, for spurious war crimes."
"But . . . why?"
"The Darhel are terrified of what will happen to their species if humans win the war. They know what will happen if the Posleen win, and that is even worse, of course. But they're unable to defend themselves from either. So they want your side, our side, to win in the worst way possible . . . literally. They want us to win but to do so with so few humans left, and those left to be so corrupt and demoralized, that the Darhel can continue to run the Federation. And Captain, while this AID has no names outside of Panama, they've infiltrated everything here and in the United States, Asia, Europe, Africa. Even Australia has human cells working for the Darhel."
Motives of the Darhel, and it seems they get their wish.
The hold of the ship was dark and infinitely cold. It could have been heated. Moreover, it would have been, had it held a cargo to which heat or cold mattered. Indeed, on the Profitable Merger's last voyage it had been heated, minimally, as the ship had carried some fifteen thousand Indowy. These had been sold by their clan into Darhel bondage for no more than the price of their passage away from the Posleen onslaught. Both sides had considered the deal a bargain.
For the Darhel it was even more of a bargain. While the hold had been heated, just barely enough to support life, the provision of light had been considered an unjustifiable, even frivolous, waste. The Indowy made their long voyage to servitude in complete blackness.
Darhel evacuating Indowy from worlds under assault, for a price of course. Remind me to never take a Galactic 'no-frills' flight, they really, really mean it.
"There is, strictly speaking, no military profession among the Darhel. Nonetheless, they raised a sort of suicide corps from among their kind early on in the Posleen War. They have always had strong capabilities in intelligence, though it was normally of the industrial and mercantile espionage variety."
We knew they used suicidal button-pushers, but this is the first time we've heard they were organized. Darhel are quite good at snooping and piecing together disparate bits of data.
Himmit were preternaturally clever and effective scouts. That they were also remarkably successful smugglers went almost without saying, though the Galactics avoided saying it, even so. The ability of these creatures to avoid taxation and control was an infuriation to the Darhel, an annoying chink in an otherwise very tight system, the futile machinations of the Bane Sidhe notwithstanding.
Himmit smugglers laugh at the mere suggestionf of Darhel taxation or control. The Galactic economy gets curioser and curioser.