The Price Of Freedom by William Forstchen & Ben Ohlander

The Price Of Freedom by William Forstchen & Ben Ohlander

Author:William Forstchen & Ben Ohlander [Forstchen, William & Ohlander, Ben]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-03-14T00:00:00+00:00

Chapter Eight

Senator James Taggart leaned over the wet bar. His cloak of office lay casually thrown over a chair back, alongside the gavel that marked his position as the year’s Master of the Assembly. The gavel conferred no special powers outside the Great Hall, but its presence in the small committee rooms lent him a certain weight and respect not usually accorded a freshman senator.

Thedays Ways and Means Committee meeting had been reasonably successful, or at least no more rancorous and chaotic than usual. The committee decided what programs lived and died, which military bases closed, which planets received largesse, how much taxes increased, and who paid them. It was a key committee and a plum assignment. It was also a royal headache.

He sighed. He supposed it was inevitable that he and his colleagues would be called the “God Squad,” but they simply didn’t have the money to meet basic expenses, much less to fund all the projects that the senators begged them to consider. His esteemed colleagues often fought like dogs over scraps, with entrenched interests locked in mortal combat over sparse resources.

Unfortunately, many of the contenderswere deserving . So many planets desperately needed help, and with tax receipts down, they had little to give. Their task was to reach above the squabbling and find projects whose impact would be out of proportion to their funding, rather than the other way around.

The funding issues and Ways and Means problems didn’t cut much ice with politicians who had built their careers on larding up their home planets, or faced reelection and were desperate to take their restless, unemployed constituents at home some tangible proof of their efforts. Threats and bribes flowed freely as elections closed in on those whose heads were on the block.

Och, Paladin, me boy, don’t take on like that, he chided himself,th ‘ others’re just tryin’ tae do the best they can for th’ folks back home.

He was lucky that, unlike the bottom feeders infesting the Assembly, he didn’t have to whore himself to take care of the home folks. His own planet, Altair, was a soldiers’ colony. Altairians appreciated soldier’s talk, the blunter the better. He had promised his people only to try his best. He felt proud to serve them, proud they placed their trust in him.

He rubbed his finger along his jawline. “Now where hae’ I put that wee bottle o’ single malt?”

The door chimed, announcing a visitor.

“Come in.”

Geoffrey Tolwyn entered, wearing an everyday uniform. Taggart took that in, along with his sober expression and stiff back. Tolwyn rarely came to the Senate in anything less than full dress, and then only to address full committees. The fact that he would deign to visit a single senator in his office suggested something was up.

Tolwyn looked around the small room. He nodded in approval. “You’re doing well, Paladin, to rate an office this close to the Assembly Hall.”

“I’m gettin’ by, Admiral,” he said, smiling. “To what do I owe this pleasant surprise?”

Had Tolwyn come to


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