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Self Configuring Modular Robot (Chapter Cover)

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Chapter 88 - Self Configuring Modular Robot[]

"It's multilayered...

...and long running." Baroness Spider Moon, Elizabeth Ngo, sat in the hot-seat in front of the Estates General. DBC, CBC, Wolfnet, and ComStar camera crews were hanging on her words-for different reasons.

"Baroness Ngo, I'm sure everyone here knows about your strides as a scientist, but that doesn't qualify you to speak on the subject of National Finance." Ingrid Hasseldoffsen, Baroness Glencoe (Donegal), noted.

"I don't have to be, I hired experts." Liz stated bluntly, "The Forensic Accounting was conducted by neutral experts with no ties to any other government agency or contractor. I was horrified by the results they brought me, and we're not halfway done yet. Nashan Enterprises alone has suffered a sixteen billion kroner loss in the last fiscal year-one that was invisible to Her Grace Duchess Doons, your sponsor-because her people didn't know they were losing the money. The folks at Lockheed-CBM did a housecleaning a few years ago now, and that housecleaning didn't catch the parasitic drag on their finances. I'm finding numbers that have to be expressed using scientific notation and, Ladies and gentlemen, it's not just in the Commonwealth."

"What makes you so assured of that?" Lukas Marsden (Butlerville, Pandora) asked.

"Oh, that's because if it were only impacting the Commonwealth, then we would have lost the Commonwealth two hundred years ago." Liz said it bluntly, "The issue is widespread. In the last five year period, the loss is on the order of ten to the twelfth power in Kroner just in the Commonwealth. As I show here, in this chart..." she waved a hand and the displays lit. "That represents roughly thirty percent of the total collected tax receipts nationally. In other words, pilferage on a scale undreamed of, and it's hitting every one of your pockets, along with the pockets of every employee, constituent, subject, or citizen under your watch. Our national economy is bleeding money at what can't be a sustainable rate."

"And what is your 'prescription' for this? who is responsible?" Charlene Luvon asked, looking frustrated.

"Well, 'who' would be a lot of people." Elizabeth stated, "I do not, at this time, believe it is the action of a single conspiracy. The losses are inconsistent, and it is my belief that even a concerted effort may only recover around sixty percent of the wealth that's been bled, because it's not just one group or person. The first move, therefore, is to isolate and identify specific priorities, start with the easily found cheats, embezzlers, and frauds. Move from there, to the less visible. My very first prescription, is to conduct a punitive audit of the Department of Quartermaster, removing unqualified or easily identified corrupt individuals in positions of authority and power within the department. I'm not just speaking of senior officers, but also senior civil servants, then, begin audits on every military contractor with the Judiciary on the hotline, looking for backhanders, this will, of course, have to include seated members of this body who may have accepted bribes or kickbacks in exchange for the use of their influence."

"When would this hypothetical audit begin?"

Elizabeth sighed, "It has already begun."

Lohengrin personnel in uniform, escorted by Military Police, began filing into the chamber. "I would suggest that attempting to resist arrest at this time will be accounted as an admission of at least partial guilt." Elizabeth added, "Not all of you are going to be arrested, but, we did have to call in reserve militia to help with the arrests and processing."

Cries of outrage erupted and the chamber was deafening.

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