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Self Configuring Modular Robot (Chapter Cover)

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Chapter 87 - Self Configuring Modular Robot[]

"It's endemic.. the procurement systems in the Commonwealth, and it's not even isolated to the Commonwealth!!" piles of 'homework' greeted Arthur Steiner-Davion when he walked into the recovery room.

"Liz?" he asked

"Hi Arthur." Elizabeth's appearance was a little better than it had been last week. She had regained color and wasn't shaking. an aide in a white business suit took this moment to retreat, looking slightly cowed.

"What are you doing with your Baronial staff that has them whispering in the hallway, Liz?" he asked.

"Nothing...much?" Liz offered, "We're doing a new thing, it's called 'Forensic Accounting' in preparation for next week's Estates General hearings."

"Mom told me." he said, joining her bedside, "You're supposed to be avoiding stress."

"Crushing my enemies is going to be very relaxing." she assured him. "I'm thinking that hanging traitors is also very relaxing, otherwise why would so many despots in history do it? Wanna see my enemies list?"

"Liz, that's not healthy." he told her.

'Yeah, well, neither is selling faulty components to the Navy." she told him, "At least, when I'm done it will be right up there with injecting yourself with polonium. My lawyers tell me the counts of fraud we found just in parsing Mount Asgard's procurement records might be enough we'll need a whole continent to serve as a white-collar prison. The trouble of course, is that it's more widespread than just the Lyran member-state. Ms. Whyte's working with your dad to Subpoena records from Federated Boeing."

"Uh, what??"

"Long term, wide-spread corruption. If Li's people hadn't bumped into those bad air-scrubbers accidentally we wouldn't even know it was there, leeching the nation to the tune of trillions of Kroner." Elizabeth explained, "I've had to hire people to help with the work load, Art. It's enormous and pervasive, the taxpayers are being soaked for tens of trillions, maybe hundreds of trillions, I'm starting to think I'm going to need scientific notation to simplify the accounting. If I didn't know better, I'd think we were looking at a massive interstellar conspiracy going back generations."

Arthur straightened, "Why wouldn't it be?" he asked.

"When you have a choice between incompetence, and conspiracy? incompetence tends to win out, a famous scientific mind in the 20th century termed it 'Hanlon's Law'-for this to be a conspiracy, they would have to have near-perfect internal security, to a level even MIIO can't manage, and they'd have to be able to pass it down through generations." she shrugged, "I don't see anyone being that well organized and still being human."

"and on the flip side??" He asked, "What's the counterpoint to your point?"

"Okay, not ONE conspiracy. Hundreds, maybe thousands, each of them thinking it's 'not that harmful' and 'just their due'. THAT is completely credible-they aren't coordinating or talking to each other, they would each be horrified and offended by the actions of the others. It's more organic, and therefore, more likely, than some centralized super-brain coordinating the impoverishment of not one, but multiple realms simultaneously. Some, like certain departments of LIC are doing it intentionally for military reasons, some are doing it to gain a lever on competitors or because they think they can. my point is, around sixty percent of military expenditures we've had a look at, Arthur? are overbudget to the tune of 200% of what they should be, and those are the relatively clean ones."

"The other forty percent are worse??" stunned Arthur asked

"Yeah. kind of explains things, doesn't it?" her eyes glittered with malice, "Why our forces were so very easy for the Clans to overcome in the first wave, I mean? or why the RX-79 was delayed, and still isn't up to the performance it should be for the sticker price? What what it actually costs the Federated Commonwealth brigade should be able to have a Battlemech for every man assigned to it from the cooks to the techs to the Mechwarriors themselves, not one of those units should have to rely on a civilian JumpShip for anything except moving the brothel personnel. We've all been systemically ripped off and I think it's been for any case, I get to testify to the Estates General, and your parents are talking about giving me the long-dormant exchequer post, provided I'm a good girl and let the doctors torture me some more."

"How did that go?"

"No seizures this week, no headaches." she shrugged, "I guess it's working a bit...?"

"I brought some stuff, Liz, if you can drop the work for tonight?" he offered.

"Yeah, I can do that. mostly it's letting my people do their jobs now..."

He finally grinned "Coolness! mind getting rid of the minders?"

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