(41) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (142-1123 to 147-1123)

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142-1123 : Jumpspace (from 0607 / Mora / Spinward Marches)

    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 her crew.
    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 determination.

    Mich starts a full diagnosis and maintenance sequence.

143-1123 : Jumpspace (from 0607 / Mora / Spinward Marches)

    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 crew.
    This is one party that Baron Bridgehead misses, since he's still asleep.

144-1123 : Jumpspace (from 0607 / Mora / Spinward Marches)

    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 pattern.
    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 anything.

    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 would need.
    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 was sitting.
    Robert makes sure it has all astrogation systems online.
    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 manipulating them.
    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 to it.

145-1123 : Jumpspace (from 0607 / Mora / Spinward Marches)

    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 can't see anything of the ship.   Shark remains in the "tent" with him.
    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 out?"
    "How long?"
    "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 sufficient?"
    "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 treated well?"
    "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 from you?"
    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 tomorrow.

    Mich is still scanning the box.

146-1123 : Jumpspace (from 0607 / Mora / Spinward Marches)

    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.

147-1123 : Mora / Mora / Spinward Marches

    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.
    Kalida says that the original schedule from Tussinian should have the rebels 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.