The General is Volume 4 in Rick Sutcliffe's Irish Christian SF series A quad amputee in an extended care hospital at Chilliwack of Tirdia, a series of disappearances on Hibernia's streets, mysterious goings on at Society of Erce meetings, and the career of Tad O'Kelly, bard, soldier and drunk--all intersect as Mara and The Friends of the Day face one of the gravest crises yet in the never-ending series of high-tech skirmishes leading up to the possible re-establishment of Tara's throne. The stories of The General play out in Hibernia's Afghanistan, Edenderry, Luna City, Tara herself, and various points around Hibernia, as well as Tirdia's Chilliwack in British Columbia.
Rick Sutcliffe's The General
The General is alternate-history Irish-flavoured Christian science fiction and is the sequel to The Peace, The Friends, and The Exile (Volumes One to Three of The Interregnum).
The General recounts Tadgh O'Kelly's life from his 1987 graduation as Kilkarney's top cadet to his career as an army forensic investigator. As the years go by, he gradually knits the threads of evidence from numerous kidnappings of women and children into a noose, but finding the guilty neck to tie it around takes all his skill, and not a little help.
A second arc of the story cycle follows Mara Meathe from her arrival at Tara's court. She confronts Frank Haggerty, then is given a series of assignments by the Donal. Fellow Afghan campaign heroine Maeve Derry encounters Brian O'Niall and Mara's friend Jana in Centralia. They discover a worldwide conspiracy against The Friends of The Day. Subsequently, Maeve, Mara, and Nellie Hacker are called to West China by Cath Maguire, to fight floods, bandits, and yet another conspiracy. When two helicopters are lost with all aboard killed, Cath is charged with cowardice and sent to Tara for court martial. Her former Kilkarney Cadet-Sergeant Tad O'Kelly is made Senchus to try the case.
The third arc takes place on Tirdia, near the BC Fraser Valley's Chilliwack. Nellie goes to Tirdia to assist Day MacAllister with some court appointed espionage. During a delivery of sensitive electronics from MacAllister Enterprises, her car is stolen. With RCMP Inspector Morris O'Malley, Army Intelligence officers Sandy MacFarlaine and General O'Connor, and local paperboy Lucas Caine, she recovers the stolen goods. Most of the thieves escape, apparently via a local nursing home. There, Lucas discovers Jane Doe, a quad amputee who's blind, can't speak, and appears to be a hundred years old but thinks she's twenty-one. In danger from two nurses with a macabre hobby and doctors who'll despatch her when they're finished experimenting on her, the paralyzed, half-dead woman is also a key to cracking Cath Maguire's case, provided she can persuade Lucas to heal her and help her escape to Hibernia without telling him what's going on.
"Two dead low-level hoods, an empty shop with no leads, and no evidence to lead us to higher ups," summarized the Inspector later that afternoon when they were back in his office. "None of this can be made public of course," he added.
Lucas was still stunned by the havoc he and Nellie had wrought. Mr. McIlhargey had taught him to throw knives that way, and he was confident he could have duplicated Nellie's feat, even thrown a knife with each hand. He'd also known the uppercut to the nose was a killing hit, designed to drive numerous bone fragments into the brain. He was instructed to use it only if lives were threatened and he had no alternative. Mr. McIlhargey's drills were certainly effective, and he'd have to tell him so when he made his regular visit next Thursday evening. Still, it almost made him ill to realize he'd killed a man with one blow.
He'd followed Nellie's signalled instructions instinctively, as Brian said he must in a crisis, and it had all worked. The practise of killing was vastly different from the theory, though. In mere seconds of compressed action, the pair had abruptly ended two men's lives. The alternative was being dead themselves, but it gave one something to think about.
He supposed they were in hell now, though Lucas wasn't quite sure if he believed in either heaven or hell. They were certainly dead, duly pronounced so by the military police coroner who'd been called to the scene when the colonel insisted the local 911 folks not be notified.
"Tad? Tad?" Gerta's shouts broke his sick concentration. "Tad, if you don't answer me within five seconds, I'm calling the palace medic."
Tad gripped the arm of his chair hard and disciplined his breathing.
"Not a medic, Gerta, but I need a favour." It was all he could do to speak.
"I'll be all right, Gerta." His words were coming more easily now. "Is Liza still on the moon?"
"Franck, is he still commander?"
"He loves it. He's a colonel now, and plans to retire there in a few years." Gerta's answer was slow, measured, suspicious. "Why?"
Tad passed the three numbers and the date, but not the other information to Gerta. "Can you get Liza to ask Franck what the significance of these three numbers were for that date?"
"Sure Tad. I'll do it, but are you really OK?"
"Just an overreaction to something," he lied. "I'll be fine when the pressure's off."
After he broke the connection, Tad made a dash for the toilet room and threw up everything he'd eaten. Then he knelt to cry and pray.