In which Commander Vepal considers a field tour.
Ah, Ambassador Vepal. I’ve been wondering what he and his team were up to since they didn’t show up in Neogenesis.
I’m not sure this story is going to answer that question, though. Vepal appears to be at a bit of a loose end; that suggests the story may take place before The Gathering Edge, which ended with Vepal taking an interest in Korval’s Yxtrang, and the implication that he intended to follow that trail.
Something about Perdition Enterprises and their secret mission strikes me as untrustworthy, and I suspect it’s going to turn out that the path of honor will involve acting against them.
The bit about how “those sent to intercept your ambassadorial team failed, so far as we know, to arrive” also strikes me as suspicious, or at least as something asking for further elaboration.
The fact that every person we’ve seen in a command position so far is Liaden suggests to me the Department of the Interior, and that they’re gathering forces for a strike against Korval. Although perhaps not directly against Korval, especially if their first choice for the job was an Yxtrang Conquest Corps; they’ve already seen Korval defeat one of those.
(An alternative that’s occurred to me is that it might be Rys’s team, gathering forces for a strike against the Department. But I can think of plenty of reasons to discount that: neither of the Liadens Vepal meets have familiar names, Rys’s plan was for a smaller and less overt strike, and it seems unlikely that Rys in particular would think of Yxtrang as a first option. Also, news of Rys’s progress is significant enough to be kept for one of the novels.)
A large gathering of mercenaries offers the potential for some familiar faces to show up again. Mentioning just the ones most significant to Vepal, we might get a return appearance of Commander Sanchez from The Gathering Edge — or, since a mercenary career was one of the options suggested for them, this might be the occasion for him to finally meet Chernak and Stost. I doubt the latter, though, the more I think about it; having done all the set-up for it in the novels, I presume that’s going to be paid off in the novels as well.