Schism of Blood and Stone (The Starfield Theory Book 1)

Schism of Blood and Stone (The Starfield Theory Book 1) by Brian Frederico

Book: Schism of Blood and Stone (The Starfield Theory Book 1) by Brian Frederico Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brian Frederico
indicated that the Sørensens were not prepared to defend the planet from an invasion. They were busy preparing Peter's funeral and the coronation which meant a focus on protecting people, not assets. It made them vulnerable.
    There were still questions though. If the Sørensens were orchestrating a coup, why hadn't they taken better measures to defend themselves? Why hadn't they hired more mercenaries? Why weren't more militias called up in case of violence?
    At first she had believed they were being as surreptitious as possible as to not attract attention, but the lack of any sort of defensive preparation was concerning. It made her suspect some sort of trap. Perhaps they had allies among the other noble houses. The Stens had their enemies of course. Perhaps the Sørensens had their co-conspirators. So far, it appeared as though the Sørensens were acting alone. Cassandra had a good diplomatic network in place on Magdeborg that fed her information so Salena was confident that the information was accurate.
    But a wise commander never relies on only one source, she reminded herself.
    “Good morning, Duchess,” said a voice so close so abruptly that it startled her from her thoughts.
    Dmitri Filipov, the stunted spy, stood a few meters away, blending in with the environment without actually doing anything. Somehow he'd managed to get his hands on a Teton navy uniform, cleanly pressed and presentable, but the man had no military training. Dmitri was unshaven and his hair had grown long and unruly, probably the remnants of his subterfuge on Magdeborg. Dmitri was short, barely a meter a half tall and of slender build and dark complexion. He had an incredible ability to be forgotten, to be dismissed as a nobody, unremarked and unremembered. Now that she thought of it, she couldn't have been sure he hadn't been here during her conversations with her children. While such a distinction might be crushing to any with a desire to be a functioning member of a society, it was ideal for what purposes Salena needed him for.
    Dmitri had served several different roles in Salena's service ranging from political adviser to spy. His skills were his incredible ability to recall fine details, none of which he ever seemed to forget. He was intelligent, dedicated and completely twisted. There were times when even Salena feared his capabilities. Once she had sent him to the Lolland stargate to gather information about a new Azuren legate. He returned with the information and even the legate's favorite robes.
    “Beautiful thing, the fleets of the Great States,” Dmitri said. “So much human effort, so much metal, power, focused in a single point like the great plumage of the nobility. Simply amazing.”
    “You've always fascinated me, Dmitri,” she said. “You must have been some sort of failed Azuren experiment.”
    “I'm sorry, Lady, I do not understand,” he said.
    “You're a bad liar and you also have no capacity for modesty so you know damn well about what I'm talking about.”
    “Is it my ability to learn the truth even when I am fed only lies? My ability to feel no pain? No remorse? No silly human emotions at all?” Dmitri asked shoving his hands in his pockets and leaning against the bulkhead.
    “And your propensity to speaking about the human race as if you weren't a member of it,” she huffed.
    “Maybe I'm not human at all. Maybe I am one of those failed Azuren experiments who hide amongst the human population. Or maybe I'm something else entirely.”
    “Feeling a bit dramatic today?”
    “Perhaps just whimsical.”
    “Good, so am I,” Salena said. Quick, even for her age, she grabbed Filipov's arm and drew it towards her as her other hand reached for a blade hidden in her robe. With great precision, she cut a neat line just a a few centimeters in length up his forearm.
    Filipov neither flinched nor reacted in any noticeable manner even as the wound began to ooze blood. Salena frowned slightly that she didn't elicit the

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