(41) To Be Named
The Crusader Campaign (142-1123 to 147-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
Nightshade is on the way to Mora,
expecting to get there in five and a half days, probably arriving at
20:10 on 147-1123.
Shark has recorded the entire data packet (minus the
viruses) that was sent by INISO to his own hand puter.
Santanocheev is being kept unconscious in Sick Bay,
while the other three prisoners are in Low Berth. Shark keeps
watch on their VIP while the Doctor gets some well deserved
sleep. Shark runs a quick scan to make sure that he doesn't have
a suicide pill concealed somewhere, but he's clean.
Robert Morris is running various experiments with
the brown box encryption system.
Kalida wants to consider several things quite
carefully. Besides the general situation now, she wants to figure
out what did or what is happening at Adabicci. Now she
has time to consider it at last. The first thing to concentrate
on is Adabicci himself.
Whatever was going to happen, has happened
there. The threads that connected the Tussinian events
with the Adabicci system still hold. Of course Adabicci
is a long way away and harder to read, but she believes that Adabicci
himself is still in danger, but alive and in a somewhat stable
situation. It's not changing, and it might take some outside pull
to get things to change there. She can't really tell how strong
these threads are. There is something leading back to her, but
there are a lot of other things that could trigger it too. She
doesn't have control over most of it, but could trigger something --
goodness knows what -- that might have consequences back there.
Most of the influences in that region dissolve into a mass that she
really can't see.
She looks for a connection back to Caladbolg.
There's a definite connection, not the strongest but surely there.
As for Lanth, again there's a connection.
That's really hard to see too, because she doesn't know what most of
these threads are around it. She just doesn't have the
information to provide context to figure out the threads.
Santanocheev is at the root of a lot of these
threads concerning Adabicci, but she's connected too -- she's also
responsible. There's a connection between her and Santanocheev as
well. It's not clear what the nature of it is, but they're
pulling each other, Kalida personally as well as Nightshade and
She then tries to untangle the knots surrounding the
events of a few days ago. There was definitely a turning point,
but turning where and how she's not sure. The tangle starts to
pull her in, and realizing it would be really easy to get lost in more
complex levels of tangle, she pulls back.
She then checks on Geoff. It's hard to
tell. There's something weird going on, but none of the external
threats are affecting him. Whatever odd is going on where he is
-- Victoria, where he is supposed to be -- it's localized.
A quick look at Mora shows it to be a
fortress. There are threads pulling on it, it's pulling on
threads, but right now it's relatively calm compared with everything
around it. She can't tell anything about the incoming Rhylanor
fleet except that the situation is more complex than it used to be.
Kalida then finds Jack
privately and tells her that she's going to have to tell her
more. Not now, but soon.
Jack says she will, but after Mora.
"Right after Mora," says Kalida with
Mich starts a full diagnosis and maintenance
Kalida looks at the threads of their prisoners, in
particular whether the "Santanocheev" they have is really
Santanocheev. If he's not the real thing, then he's very tightly
coupled with him and still linked up to the same threads. Until
he's in a situation where he starts pulling or being pulled, she can't
distinguish the threads.
Her instinct based on following threads back through
time to before they captured him is that he's closely coupled rather
than actually being him, but it's hard to tell. That would depend
on her identifying the genuine one in the threads. Back at that
time there were two additional closely coupled, but one of them
dead-ended a few days ago. The remaining two are still at Tussinian.
As for the other prisoners, the two grunts are totally inocuous.
The third is linked in to the Santanocheev concept to a slight extent,
but not in any causative role, very minor indeed.
Robert working with the box. It's not
responding to the simulation of many ships around it. It seems
that was a dead end. The box is looking for some sort of response
and is not getting it, as simple as that. Nothing he replays, or
by playing its own transmission or anything else, is satisfying
it. The football sensors are not reacting -- he checks in case
the box was trying to establish communications in a brain somewhere.
The box is, however, feeding back through the
navigational system of the simulated ship. It keeps trying to
confirm its location. As it becomes clear that the box is trying
to interact with more of the simulated ship, Robert expands the
simulation to keep ahead of it.
The box is checking all sorts of strange
stuff. It checked life support, for example. It ran sensors
scanning for other ships, and Robert feeds it a tactical display of
ships from that time.
That takes up the whole day for Robert.
Kalida gets together with Sir Misha and Shark.
She tells them she's still not certain this is the real Santanocheev or
not. If it isn't, it's someone who is very closely connected,
just as powerfully. Also there are more. There were
four, but one of them disappeared a couple of days ago, so there are
three now. They were all at Tussinian.
Shark sighs that it makes sense. The Doctor is
still asleep coming off the stimulants, so Shark would have to rely on
his own medical skills.
Kalida adds that the two grunts are exactly that,
while the other guy is sort of connected but weakly. The security
officer -- the only one with a gun -- was connected but not in a
position of power.
Shark considers that the INISO has access to tech
level 17 medical, since they outfitted Anastasia which had a
highly advanced Sick Bay. The Baron experimented with cloning and
memory transfer, and successfully performed the procedure on a
rabbit. He claimed he could do it with a human, but was drunk at
the time and so that's a little doubtful. If they could manage
the brain pattern transfer -- and it probably would not be perfect on Anastasia's
Sick Bay-- this person could be a clone, a backup of the megalomaniacal
Santanocheev. That means that medical testing might or might not
be conclusive. Still, they'd see what the Archduke's medical
systems can do when they get this person to him. Perhaps when the
Doctor wakes up, he might have some ideas, although the Archduke has
information which isn't available on Nightshade.
It's Kalida's birthday. Vonish produces an
excellent german chocolate cake for the occasion, and lays on quite a
spread for the party. It is of course an occasion that calls for
breaking out the good whiskey, and it is certainly appreciated by the
This is one party that Baron Bridgehead misses,
since he's still asleep.
Bridgehead turns up at breakfast next morning.
Kalida immediately asks
how to tell if a person is a clone and not an original? DNA
damage? Weird brain? She says he might want to check their
prisoner in Sick Bay, since there are more of them around.
Shark says that given that INISO provided the Sick
Bay and weapons for Anastasia, then Santanocheev has access to
that tech, and the Baron once told him he could clone with that
equipment. Santanocheev wouldn't care how many failures he
had. If he succeeded three times...
Bridgehead says he could run some tests which would
probably -- without the original DNA sequence of course -- in some
cases he could say it was a clone, but he can't prove it isn't.
The chances of success would be about 40%, and would take several days
to run the tests. He might be able to get a better indication if
they were doing brain pattern transfer -- he might be able to get a
better overlay on that.
Shark says that's important to know, and he'll help
in any way he can.
The Baron says that he will accept some assistance
moving Santanocheev over to the specialized bed in Sick Bay, and
accepts Kalida's offer of help too. Then it will just be a matter
of taking time and care. Now if preliminary results don't show
anything, they might need to wake him up to check a more active brain
Bridgehead then asks if anything's happened while
he's been out.
Shark tells him that they'll be coming out of jump
in Mora in a few days, but that the Baron hasn't missed
Mich's diagnosis indicates the ship is generally
red, but he potters around adjusting a few bit and pieces, as engineers
like to do even if everything is within spec.
Robert continues with the brown box. It's
still trying to send out signals, and is now asking for a crew report
on the state of the ship. That's easy enough to simulate -- he
calls in Mich to help with that, to type in the kind of response that
The box reports that it is unable to establish
contact with any ships in the vicinity -- no ships in the vicinity are
friendly ships, it reports.
Robert wonders idly what the box might try
next. He keeps simulating other ships, as it was when they took
the box in the first place.
The box keeps trying to transmit, and still isn't
getting any answers it wants.
Next Robert makes the box think it's on another ship
as well, time-division-multiplexing it. At one time on this ship,
at arrival it's on another ship to receive it.
The box feeds back into the simulated propulsion
systems of the original ship and tries to take off the moon where it
Robert makes sure it has all astrogation systems
The box takes the ship out from the moon, feeds into
the astrogation system, calculates a jump, and jumps. The
calculations are badly wrong, and the ship would have a drastic misjump
event probably involving a large explosion.
Robert sets the ship's location information back
onto the moon.
The box shuts down the ship's life support systems
and asks for crew feedback.
Robert gives it zero life signs on board.
The box shuts down the ship.
At this point it's time to get the command crew
involved. Robert tells Shark what's going on.
Shark comments that Robert can't reset the
simulation, as the box has moved forward in time. He asks if
there's any computer memory or computer inside that box.
Robert answers that the box contains strange
circuitry. He suggests reinitializing to the point where it's
installed in a new ship.
Shark then proposes that Mich do a full atomic level
scan, like they did on that small statue a long time back. It
might be worth seeing if there's anything at that level that they've
missed. Clearly it's got some memory of its own, some situational
memory, so it's not just taking inputs from the outside and
Mich says that will probably take a day or so to get
enough detail. He starts work.
With nothing else to do at the moment, Kalida goes
back to her stateroom to see if she can get the footballs to trigger.
Shark sets up a feedback loop to help her, then goes
off to work on his flying pig. It's doing reasonably well with
its gravbelt, and now he starts adding (non-functional) flapping wings
Bridgehead reports that he has no idea if it's a
clone or not. He'll need Santanocheev awake for an extended
period -- at least a couple of hours -- to do a full brain scan to try
to establish if it's a transferred personality. He'll also need
Santanocheev to be not blinded.
At Sir Misha's direction, Bridgehead performs the
test. Shark surrounds Santanocheev with white curtains so he
anything of the ship. Shark remains in the "tent" with
Santanocheev asks Shark what's been happening.
Shark tells him they're a few days from arriving.
"Arriving where?" asks Santanocheev.
"Our destination," says Shark helpfully.
"So has your captain been convinced of the legality
of this operation, that I'm actually doing the right thing here?"
"That's not for me to say."
"Very well. Can you tell me how long I've been
"That's not for me to say."
"Why did you wake me up?"
"I'm evil?" says Shark.
"All right, I don't believe that. So what's
happened, or is that not for you to say? Could I talk to somebody
who it is for them to say?"
"They didn't want to talk to you."
"Ah! So there is somebody who might talk to
me, if they wanted to, who would say something other than it's not for
them to say. Well, that's progress, I suppose. And you're
not telling me why you woke me up. How long am I going to be
awake? Am I going to see anybody else?"
"Until we're done," says Shark.
"What do you mean, 'done'?"
"I can't say."
"Ah, you can't rather than it isn't your
place. Well, I suppose they don't tell you everything. It
must be a difficult position, kept in the dark about all sorts of
things like that. Ever considered they might be withholding
things from you?" asks Santanocheev.
"Join the club," says Shark quietly and somewhat
nastily, "Oh, never mind, you did."
"I'm clear about what I'm doing. I'm
performing a legitimate operation to remove a traitor, a treasonous
person from a position of authority where he should not be, where he's
threatening the Imperium. What's so strange about that?"
Shark says, "Do you think your medication is
"Yes," says Santanocheev, "I'm fine."
Shark looks disappointed.
Santanocheev asks, "So, where are we going?"
"That's not for me to say."
"Is there anything that it is for you to say?
Just to save me asking too many questions."
"Ask what you like."
"Where is everybody else that you brought with
me? Did you have anyone else, and where are they? Are they being
"They feel no pain."
Santanocheev sighs, then says, "Have you looked at
the data packet? All the material, and the evidence?"
"I wouldn't understand it."
"Oh, I'm sure you would. Are they keeping it
Shark just stares at him.
After three hours, the doctor is done. It's
been a while since Bridgehead has done one of
these scans, and he says the results probably won't be ready until
Mich is still scanning the box.
At breakfast Bridgehead says he's still working on
the data. He hasn't anything conclusive yet.
Kalida has checked on Jack to see what she's been
doing during the jump. Jack's being her usual quiet self, not
doing anything particular as far as Kalida can tell.
By dinner, Mich has completed his scan of the
box. There is more structural detail at the lower level, but it's
not like the superheavy starmap in the statue. There is some sort
of extra circuitry. It's overly complex and he has no idea what
it is, and it's even too weird to make an effective model for
simulation. It's simply ridiculous.
Bridgehead, however, says he believes that the brain
patterns are natural and have not been tampered with in any way.
He looks at Mich and says he checked for any psionic interference, and
their guest is clean. He says to the crew, while still looking at
Mich, that he's seen samples of both sides of such interference so he
knows how to recognize it.
Nightshade comes out of jump at 20:10 in
stealth mode. All they need to do to reach the Archduke is to
turn up and they will be admitted to the palace.
that the original schedule from Tussinian should have the
here on 171 if they'd kept the same pace through Mora as before
the Battle of Tussinian. That would be 24 days from now, just
over three weeks.
There are eight fleets here. Every fleet from
the Mora subsector is on station in the capital system, brought in from
their outlying usual bases.