The Thin Blue Line (The Empire's Corps Book 9) (v5.1)

The Thin Blue Line (The Empire's Corps Book 9) (v5.1) by Christopher Nuttall Read Free Book Online

Book: The Thin Blue Line (The Empire's Corps Book 9) (v5.1) by Christopher Nuttall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Christopher Nuttall
to rebel to know that hundreds of millions of colonists bitterly resented the corporations that milked their worlds for all they were worth. Most of their rebellions had been brutally put down. Now, without Earth or a unified military command, the next wave of rebellions might just succeed. “And what will that do to the economy?”
    The Commandant laughed, harshly. “There isn't an economy any longer,” he said. “It will take years, perhaps, to build something new. Right now, I suspect that a number of planets are planning to simply seize the Earth-held property in their systems. They’ll have to become part of the local economy.”
    Belinda considered the implications as best as she could. The Empire had done its best to ensure that each and every Earth-like world was capable of feeding its population, but it hadn't tried to ensure an equable distribution of factories, orbital industrial nodes or cloudscoops. There would be a colossal shortage of fuel for everything from starships to planet-side fusion plants, spare parts would suddenly become rarer than gold and anyone who had control over any production plant would suddenly be in a position to dictate terms to everyone who didn’t. The Empire’s collapse would lead straight to civil war.
    And how could anyone, even the Marines, hope to stop it?
    “Are you intending to present Roland to them as the next Emperor?” She asked. “I don’t think he’d want the job.”
    “Even if he did, I doubt it would be enough to stop the collapse,” the Commandant pointed out, dryly. “Legally, he might be the Emperor; practically, he controls nothing, not even his own life. At best, one of the warlords would use him as a puppet; at worst, he’d be killed out of hand by whoever got their hands on him first.”
    “Then what can we do?” Belinda asked. She had never despaired in her life, but thinking about the sheer scale of the coming disaster – the disaster that was already upon them, no matter how much they might wish to deny it – was terrifying. It was almost completely beyond her comprehension. “We’re staring at a war that will make the Unification Wars look like a genteel disagreement.”
    “That is unfortunately true,” the Commandant said. He took a breath. “We are not the only ones to realise this, Belinda. Governor Theodore Onge has also recognised the problem.”
    Belinda’s eyes narrowed. “Is he related to Grand Senator Onge?”
    “They’re related, yes,” the Commandant said. “It would probably not be politic for you to tell the Governor that you killed his family’s patriarch.”
    “Oh,” Belinda said. “And would it be politic for me to tell him that his ... patriarch did more than anyone else to start the crisis that led to disaster on Earth?”
    “Probably not,” the Commandant said. He tapped a switch and a holographic starchart appeared in front of them. Tiny icons beside each star marked the location of military, industrial and political nodes. An alarming number seemed to be marked STATUS UNKNOWN. “The Governor has been spending the last two weeks trying to organise a conference of the surviving civil and military authorities within the Core Worlds.”
    “A conference,” Belinda repeated.
    “A conference,” the Commandant said. “I believe he intends to convince them that they can gain more by sharing their resources and dividing up the bounty than by fighting. It may not be a laudable goal, from our point of view, but it might prevent further chaos for a number of years.”
    Belinda had her doubts. Trust was something in short supply in the highest ranks of the Empire, not without reason. There was no way an Imperial Governor would risk exposing his back so overtly, not when one of his rivals might take it as an opportunity to stick a knife in him. And even if Onge was being honest – and everything Belinda had seen and heard about that family suggested they were incapable of seeing anything, but opportunity for

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