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“Advance intelligence reached Queen Celeste and her Ascendants. You had probably just begun your own schooling. They already had awareness of the Vedani. They had a dark policy of shutout and information suppression. The rapidly evolving possibility of a politically independent-minded planet gaining the sudden edge of an outright alliance with what they’d treated as an exploitable danger caused them to react with violence. Maybe facing full fragmentation and with too many shameful secrets they wished to contain, they decided they could continue their control of the Pan-Galactic Imperium by creating one more.”

The Princess’ eyes were narrowed, gaze turned inward examining scenes in her memory as though on a tiny screen. They paced each other evenly. Lips pressed tightly together, at his pauses she met Sturlusson’s look sidelong to confirm that she was following keenly.

As they passed the end of the oblong school building, it appeared as on some holiday, but the big double doors that would have been at the end were missing. The other shore of this little lake – a reservoir – was easier to examine from here. There was an outlet that flowed for some way toward a ledge. This path would soon depart from the shore, into trees.

Raev continued. “They didn’t have time, or they didn’t act like they examined branches of reasonable strategy. They reached into their arsenal to come up with something efficacious and brutal. How often do the leaders of entrenched governments retain power by acting against the founding principles? Occasional accounting is performed.”

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