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."Like Captain Oversteegen, I'm only a naval officer, Commodore, not a diplomat, and certainly not a sector governor.I am obviously not in any position to tell you what Governor Barregos' final official position will be.At the moment, however, Lieutenant Governor Cassetti, as Governor Barregos' personal representative, has provisionally recognized Torch's independence and entered binding treaty relationships with it.I suppose that it's always possible Governor Barregos will determine that the lieutenant governor exceeded his authority in taking those actions and repudiate them, but until such time as he does so, I remain bound by the existing treaties." His smile disappeared."And I will enforce them, Commodore," he added in a very cold voice, indeed."The two of you together wouldn't stand a chance against my task group," Navarre said flatly."You might be surprised by how much of a chance we'd stand," Roszak replied."And while you might very probably win in the end, the cost would be.considerable.I rather doubt that your admiralty would be very happy about that.""And speakin' purely as a backward and benighted neobarb," Oversteegen observed with deadly affability, "I really suspect, Commodore, that your government would be most unhappy with the officer who managed, in one afternoon, t' get them into a shootin' war with both the Solarian League and the Star Kingdom of Manticore."Navarre deflated visibly.It was rather like watching the air flow out of a punctured balloon, Oversteegen thought.The commodore was clearly picturing what a squadron or two of modern Manticoran ships-of-the-wall could do to the entire Mesan Navy.Especially if the Solarian League wasn't simply giving them free passage to reach Mesa but actually acting as a cobelligerent.Rozsak saw the same thoughts flow across Navarre's face and smiled once more, ever so slightly."I think, Commodore," he suggested gently, "that it might be best, all things considered, if you left the sovereign star system of Torch."Now."Chapter 47Berry found it difficult not to wince, watching the Mesan personnel filing past her into the building which served Congo—no, Torch, now—as the assembly area for its shuttle grounds.The faces of the children, of which there were more than she'd expected, were especially hard to watch.Their expressions were a combination of exhaustion, terror, shock—in some cases, what looked like borderline psychosis.Those people were the survivors of the savage slave rebellion which had erupted on Congo as soon as word began to spread that the space station had been seized by.Whoever.It didn't matter, really, as long as they were anti-Mesan.Congo had been a prison planet, in essence.Once all of the really powerful military forces at the disposal of Mesa, including the kinetic missiles with which the planet could be bombarded in case of extreme necessity, had been taken out of the equation, the Mesan personnel on the planet had been, for all practical purposes, in the same position as British clerks had been when the Sepoy Mutiny swept over them.Dead meat, if they didn't get to an enclave quick enough.The light weaponry in the hands of the overseers, by itself, was simply not enough to cow slaves filled with the fury of generations of oppression and exploitation.Not even close.Those overseers who did try to stand their ground had been overwhelmed—and their weapons turned to the use of killing other overseers.Not just "overseers," either.Anyone—even a child—associated with "Mesa" or especially "Manpower" had been under sentence of death, everywhere on the planet's surface.A sentence which had been imposed immediately, mercilessly, and in some cases accompanied by the most horrible atrocities.There had been some exceptions, here and there.Mesans whose duties had not involved discipline over the slaves, especially those who had established a reputation for being at least decent, had been spared in a number of cases.There was even one instance where an entire settlement of Mesan scientists and pharmaceutical technicians and their families had been protected by an improvised slave defense guard against slaves coming in from the outside.But, for the most part, any Mesan who hadn't gotten himself quickly enough to one of the enclaves where armed Mesans had been able to fort up and hold off the slaves until the surrender was negotiated had simply been slaughtered.The entire surface of the planet had been engulfed, for two days, in a wave of pure murder [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]