right, domestic bit-
Hull 721 arc 2 ch 22
There were certain things, Inquisitor Pasiq knew, that were almost certainly losing options. For instance, she had a better chance of emerging in one piece from diving into the belly of a sarlacc wearing only a light coating of turmeric and fennel than she had of boarding that ship and confronting Lennart directly.
Her danger sense spiked every time she looked at that ship, or thought of it too intently. She had spent a little time on what fragments there were known of the earlier incident, and Adannan had almost certainly had the same warnings.
He might have ignored them, but she didn't think he had been that stupid; more likely made the sithly decision to confront his fears and chop them into small bits- taken a calculated risk.
Which had ended extremely badly for him, and although they would be unable under the circumstances to pull that particular trick again, the fact that they had meant they would probably be willing to try something.
Break the problem down to it's bare essentials. No actual orders from the Inquisitorius, but that was no problem at all- some people called it being given free rein, others called it being left out to dry.
If something that could be believably spun as creditable happened, they would back her, or at least try to claim they had been behind her all along; and it occurred to her that Lennart had probably been winging it in the same way.
She had to kill the man, and as many as could be of his comrades, and ideally the ship itself. She couldn't do this herself- barging in and trying to chop him to tiny bits wouldn't work; she had, count her, one reliable minion so far.
As many eyes as were likely to be on this business, in fact, she needed a case against him that could stand some kind of scrutiny- that would not immediately get her placed under suspicion. Vader hated her prince, and if he got wind of this that would be a disaster.
Moves by proxy towards that end made sense, too, and she already had a very useful one in deLante. What was actually happening in the corellian native's head was a secondary consideration, her subconscious was fighting back but it could be dealt with.
What the policewoman had direct and legitimate access to was useful enough, although there was no official criminal record on the young Jorian Lennart; still, the current situation was enough to mark him as probably one of the worst raving maniacs ever to disfigure the Imperial fleet.
In his own way he had as little respect for the law as she had- and that must have been the hook that got Adannan. Her colleague in the dark side had tried to recruit him, hadn't he- and look what had happened. Definitely one to avoid.
deLante did have to be fairly heavily leaned on, and doing so without letting her colleagues notice her changes in behaviour was actually a slog; in terms of strength of mind she probably rated an, oh, five out of ten, maybe four point five, but she had no idea when to give up and make it easy on herself.
Had eventually managed to get the executive summary of the public order incidents to date, and some of the analyses the Corellian Navy had been running on them, looking for things they themselves could use.
There was a wealth of raw material, but somehow it melted away in the lawyers' hands whenever it was worked up into leverage; positive public reaction, bought off and compounded, obscure bylaws- and some not so obscure; there was a clause about speeds on ion drive being inserted into the flight regulations now.
Bribery? In effect. The Starfleet not being willing to set the precedent of bringing him and his renegades to account- that mattered too. The man could have been a hero, but had used what he had gained from military victory to make this little pocket of bureaucratic unreality for himself.
Which was in itself an interesting thought. The Corellian Navy didn't quite understand it; facts accurate enough but analysis woefully lacking- they knew he was playing the game, but what sort of achievement and objective he was playing to win, they had no grasp of.
Do I? Pasiq thought. I live in a house of mirrors, but I think I can still recognise a plain image when I see it- so assume that I'm not looking for distortions that aren't there.
If he knew what it was going to be like; if he was starting from the same depths of cynicism that had taken her a decade of service to the dark side, after being inducted by murdering a roomful of fellow Padawan-
he had served the empire, and very well (she grudgingly admitted), but used the grace gained from that to avoid much of what should have been the consquences of serving, he had used success, spectacular success, at some parts of the game in order to get out of having to do the parts he didn't like the look of.
He wasn't a political infighter, not because he wasn't intellectually or temperamentally cut out for it, but because of what only made sense as a distaste- perhaps due to a surfeit- of it. At some point in his young life, Lennart had had a bellyful of back-stairs and back-stabbing, and turned against it.
There was little or nothing she could bribe him with then, even if they would be false promises- he would be expecting them to be anyway. Lies intended to lead him out of cover, that might be doable.
Would it be possible to use some of his crew as bait, take them and wait for him to attempt a rescue? It fitted his personality very well. He would do that- he was the type to, but not carelessly; suspect a move, suspect an ambush, it would turn into a fight. Winnable, but desperately unsubtle.
What would be purely personal enough to shake him out of his normal approach, what had been? His son in law? Yes, that would do.
On the other side of the fence, or more accurately the firewall, the initial moves did not go unnoticed. Black Prince's data-warriors had several bad habits, one of them being their tendency to practise intrusion routines, especially on those theoretically on their own side, at the drop of a molecule.
They had already had a go at the Corellian Navy and Civil Service computers, and knowing the usual habits of their shipmates, getting inside CorSec had actually been priority one.
deLante's desk computer was wide open to them, and her diary had already done the rounds to much amusement, but this was a worrying change in pattern.
A further search, then a root through the building's internal security systems, biometrics overridden with giveaway- priority access codes, the cameras, most usefully CorSec's own (illegal) searches to try to identify their visitor and work out what the stang was going on. It was obvious in the end; Inquisitorius.
Rafaella was on her own, in a set of chambers that were far too large for her; she wasn't the mansiony type, never really hung around with the rich kids, had a tiny student flat- I've already spent most of my life without much in the way of material possessions, she thought, should make becoming a robed ascetic that much easier.
Or, if I follow in my father's footsteps, probably a rogue acerbic...
The business of the ship went on, as it would have to do- I'm obviously not his only problem, she realised. Wonder what the guards would do if I tried to escape? Kriffit, trying to escape was essentially a conditioned reflex by this point, and where to? Here? Might as well start by having a nose around.
It was impressive, palatial even, but had very little touch of lived- in- ness about it- the pot plants were artificial, at least she hoped the carnivorous ones were, and the place had been cleaned and decontaminated within a nanometre of its unnatural life.
Entry hall, theatre, small gallery, variable environment play room, bedrooms, ready rooms- all spotless in a way that seemed unlikely for what she had seen of the ship so far- what had happened here?
There was, amongst all the executive luxury, an office, and a comp. That would be a good start. Sign in on guest access, all there was was an antique welcome page designed by a PR flack long since retired or cashiered that seemed to be a decade out of date.
Right, she thought, they obviously want me to do this the hard way. The fifth attempt to slice her way in worked- crashing the terminal, going to root and worming in there.
She wasn't a trained slicer, not as such- had taken a few official lessons as part of data archaeology, and a lot more unofficial ones after an incident in a temple on Umgul had pointed out to her that she really needed them.
Within five minutes she was sure this was a hacker's paradise, so many oddly shaped and oddly linked data volumes, security massively variable in presence and effectiveness, gems of information scattered around loose.
Five minutes later, she had changed her mind, and realised she should have known they would probably be keeping an eye on her; not necessarily her father, directly, some of his people. Not so much a paradise as a training ground. Too many other presences, too much changing at once.
Most of what she had found, and should not have been surprised by, was incomprehensible; multi-million line programs to control items of hardware she didn't understand and retained enough sense to avoid prodding, volumes of passive memory loaded with compressed seeds of algorithms ready to come to life, she supposed the data architecture of the ship was fairly close to the physical.
The veins of non- machine activity, image and text and voice, were much more useful to her, if she could believe all of it. Well, her father had warned her that his crew were somewhat off the wall, but this was demented. It amde almost as little sense as the late- republic judicial corps.
There was a copy of the ship's internal newsletter, which was interestingly insane. "Underground flying; a beginner's guide" including the photos of speeder bikes hurdling tunnelzoomers, some of which must surely qualify as evidence. The scores in an orbital freefall teras kasi tournament. Presumably, having to negotiate re-entry provided the pause between rounds one and two.
In "social", which she suspected had been put there for the issue, there was a bit about her that made her ears burn, and if she had been the bloodthirsty type vow vengeance; went quite a long way past innuendo in the direction of libel and slander- they obviously had only bits of the true story and were making up for it by some very imaginative wild guesses.
There was a piece on the captain's women, too, and speculation about how many more kids there were waiting to emerge from the woodwork, accompanied by some fairly imaginative drawing, especially of the half- humans.
She was trying to reconcile the fact of this journal's existence with the Empire, with order and discipline, and actually failing to do so when the last name on the list walked in on her.
It was her, same tall redhead, iridiscent armour and long sniper rifle; Rafaella got in the first shot by saying 'Apparently I'm almost your daughter in law.'
'Do you think the man whose crew could write that about him, your father, is remotely interested in normal?' Aleph-3 said. She had thought about it, and come to the conclusion that legally, administratively, they were much better off having an affair.
My nesting instincts are atrophied, if I was ever genetically capable of supporting them in the first place, she thought. Him, me, alive, now, that is what matters, all that matters; as he said to Rafaella's mother- would have said if she had been listening- the galaxy is still on fire, and we are not yet out of it; this really is the wrong time to be leaving hostages to fortune.
Not that it might not be a right time, eventually- after galactic spirit knows what. Any child of Jorian's would be a handful, look what one growing up without him managed to turn into. With the crew as role models and uncles in residence, too- let's face it, the chances of our producing a criminal mastermind have to be better than even.
'How much of this did you write?' Rafaella said, taking an interestingly accurate guess at how things worked around here.
'Quite a lot of it.' Aleph-3 admitted. 'I did have to make sure they didn't accidentally stumble upon the truth. That and he does badly need something to cheer him up at the moment.'
'What? I can't imagine someone in that position having that kind of sense of humour- I read his file, but what, don't people fit moulds any more, hasn't the job changed him? I couldn't believe the rebel alliance file was actually accurate.'
'That is bad news, considering you're essentially here to change him.' Aleph-3 said. 'I can't imagine him being himself without it.'
'He said I took after my mother.' Rafaella wondered out loud. 'No one else knows who my biological mother was- the blue admiral knows I'm a sensitive, but not exactly why- I never knew before how easy it is to make decisions from an armchair.'
Aleph-3 looked at her questioningly, and she went on 'We critique the past, it's blunders and it's bad decisions, it's well meaning blunders and it's black and open horrors- and if you're an academic, that's enough. Listening to him describe what it's like to be there in the middle of it all...
He got it across, what it's like, but I also knew that he wasn't telling anything like the whole truth, that there are layers of meaning I'll never be more than an outsider to. Perhaps I've simply sunk too deep in the armchair but I cannot reconcile one with the other, this elite that I will never be genuinely a part of, the comedian-terrorist.'
'The fact that you saw that much is a good start but still... I can't separate them.' Aleph-3 said. 'They're just him with and without his war- hat on, it makes perfect sense to me that he was like that before joining the starfleet, even though the details are horrifying in a fascinating way, and most of the crew are the same.
He's a hero because he's a lunatic, and a lunatic because he's a hero, which should be no surprise because heroism is essentially lunatic anyway, or at least seriously abnormal.' I have come a long way, the clone thought.
'That's exactly what I'm here to do, isn't it- to renormalise him and bring him to the dark side, to be the burden that makes him finally compromise with the powers that are, and you tell me I'm close to it myself- do you know what I want?' Rafaella said.
'I want the world to stop spinning. I want the storm to die down, I want to have a chance to breathe, and settle, and work out who and what I am now.' There was a long pause. 'Not going to happen, is it?'
'Not without someone applying a stang of a lot of braking force, anyway.' If I had any real mothering instincts at all, I would reach out to her and hug her and hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right, Aleph-3 realised.
She's an adult, and one who can usually cope, but there is a difference between being thrown in at the deep end and dropped into an ocean trench in cement jackboots. Comforting her as if she was a child would actually be the safe, infantile option. Not one her father would take, either.
I don't particularly want to lie to her either, with a midi count that high she could get quite touchy about that if she wanted to be, and there's still an excellent chance that everything won't be all right.
'You're just going to have to reinvent yourself on the run like the rest of us, and you don't have that bad a start. Square one isn't the issue. Square two is where your problems begin.'
'On the level of knowing things, I know that, but...where do I start, what do I do?' Rafaella said, lost.
Aleph- 3 again chose to deal with her as an adult. 'Legally, you're still a prisoner in custody, but at some point we're almost certainly going to have to say "bugger the law", so we may as well do it now.'
'This is the Empire...' Rafaella said, unbelieving.
'No, this is us. Besides, when did any aristocracy ever follow their own laws?' the supposed upholder of the law said.
'Historically it's not that rare.' Rafaella disagreed. 'As long as noblesse oblige still holds, as long as they still believe in their own civilisation...oh.'
'You also have a very large target painted on your back.' The stormtrooper pointed out. 'You'd make a good intelligence agent but that would just be throwing you to the wolves- you'd be more important than the mission. It might not even be safe to let you go shopping, unless it was as bait.'
Or me, for that matter, she thought, knowing it wasn't really true- she just wanted an excuse to borrow Pel Aldrem's now- impounded hand cannon. Rafaella on the other hand had been brought up with stable, sensible people, it had taken, and nuclear artillery was not an organic part of her future unless things went badly wrong.
'My life is basically over, isn't it?' Rafaella said, gloomily.
'The old one is, and that's probably the best way to deal with it- all that is past is prologue, which I remember your father quoting to me. Data mining is the obvious thing to put you to, and it's a good start for you to help yourself.
There's an argh-group called, sort of like an O-group but with less discipline, two hours; it'll be the first time you've been seen by most of your father's friends and colleagues; take the time to make yourself feel human again, a good long, hot soak always helped me wash the past away.' Something I probably did entirely too much of.
oh, just for fun, as a result of the web reaction to the london riots I found this; http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2006/06/22/may-the-force-be-with-you/
- SW related nonsense that may be worth a chuckle or two, don't forget to read the comments.