Timbiqui Dark (short story)
|Author||Jason M. Hardy|
|First published||13 February 2010|
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||15 February 3029 plus more than a week|
|Series||Operation Rat (series)|
|“||In our sixth Operation Rat story, Jason Hardy shows us the political side of things when the big stompy 'Mechs aren't around on Timbiqui.||”|
In the Fourth Succession War, the Lyran Commonwealth world of Timbiqui has recently fallen to the Free Worlds League without a shot being fired. On 15 February 3029 marquesa Caroline Exley delivers a public address where she confesses that she leaked information about the world's utter lack of defenses, thereby enabling a hostile yet bloodless takeover by the Free Worlds League. She abdicates her position. This causes a political shakeup on Timbiqui, and dramatically shifts the political landscape towards the pro-Lyran camp, precipitating a possible return of Lyran rule again without firing a shot.
The whole situation does not sit right with Marqué Edward Carlos Robinson, a member of the planet's Court of Marqués for less than a year. On a hunch, he begins a private investigation that soon reveals it to be highly unlikely that Exley could actually have leaked information as she claimed. It seems Exley's confession was a lie. She seems to have virtually vanished. A survey of the Exley estate by a private investigator hired by Robinson yields no results.
His curiosity piqued, Robinson investigates further and finds that the leak as such is largely considered a blessing for the planet, sparing it the horrors of war; Exley's confession then turned the public opinion strongly against the Free Worlds League to the point where they are pulling out again. Robinson goes so far as to contact the appointed Free Worlds League Deputy Governor Patton Edgars. He finds that Edgars is rather cynical, to the point of openly stating that Robinson should have bribed someone to get the meeting rather than go through the complicated protocol that he actually used. He is nonplussed why Robinson would want to discuss Caroline Exley or her motives, and Robinson leaves disappointed with the general attitude he has seen from the ruling elite so far.
The last person Robinson meets is the Vice President of Internal Communications for Timbiqui Spirits, Warman, under the pretense of a lucrative communications contract offer. Meeting him face-to-face she discerns that he is a marqué, and he has figured out that Mrs. Warman is in fact Caroline Exley, who has resumed using her maiden name. Although she does not want to discuss the situation, their brief talk confirms that she switched from politics into business in a well-planned move, putting her in a position where she can profit from the changes in planetary government. She, too, is nonplussed by Robinson's insistence that allegiance matters and that a planet with billions of inhabitants should not be used to play games, and finally points out that she now earns five times more than as a marquesa. Robinson walks out, and decides to finally do what everybody told him to do — not care about what Exley has done, or why.
- According to the NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 1, p. 63, Timbiqui was among the undefended worlds captured in House Marik's Operation Dagger; NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 2 explains that on 28 July 3029 the Free Worlds League ordered the withdrawal of military units from several worlds including Timbiqui, fearing they might be cut off and isolated in an concerted offensive by the Lyran Commonwealth and the Tikonov Free Republic. This was a preemptive move against an attack that was, however, neither planned nor ever came to pass.
This implicitly means that the story, which has no timestamps besides the very fist scene on 15 February, concluded after a maximum of five months.