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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 40 - The Adjudicator[]

In the Mind of Charissa Ngo
Virtual Environment
Taussen Star System
Early 3160



[Scene shift, Patrick House, Kowloon...]

"This is the home I grew up in." Clarissa said, "Your system pulled it from my memories?"

"Yes." he said, "The view you remember is fantastic."

"Thanks, it's better in person."  she said, and poured a pair of glasses of ijero. "I don't get home as much as I'd like. Now that we're not screwing around with trying to convince me everything is fine,  this isn't a bad zone to be in while I'm comatose."

"It's very hot here." he observed.

She passed him a chilled glass, "Summertime, I think this is home in February.  By late June the winter storms will roll in.  I remember hearing that Auntie Sharon's dad got lost in one and walked off the plateau."

He accepted the glass.  "You don't believe it?"

"First mystery I dug into as a kid.  It kind of set my career choices later in life." she confessed,  "I'm a good diggit." she added, and the sky darkened with a chill wind.  "Everyone has secrets. Sometimes you dig and dig and when you find out what happened. It's kinda too late."

She hopped down onto the grassy zone next to the deck.  He followed.

"Sometimes you're not too late." he said.

"Yep, sometimes." she sipped the spicy drink and the suns broke through.  "You didn't bail when I broke your illusion. Why are you still with me, and who are you really?"

"Really? I'm really Jon Cameron, I really do look about like this in the physical world." he told her, "Though my hairline's a little higher and I'm growing a bald spot on the back of my head."

She chuckled.  "Suitable for a senior officer, gray?"

"A few gray hairs." he nodded.  "When Eighty seven years old you reach, look as good you likely won't." said Jon

"Yoda? So you're either a classics nerd or you have my memories of Aunty Sharon's movie nights."

"Six of one, half a dozen of the other...I actually liked Star dealer better and episode fifteen was dreck."

"I don't know this..'star dealer'." she said.

"Cheesy 24th century holovid series that follows the adventures of a heroic Terran trader in alien space, only we never got the aliens." he told her, "The acting is top-notch even if the science is muck...the Intelligences say you preferred Procedural dramas?"

"What can I say?" she shrugged, "Once I realized they were following a formula I quit watching the true-detective novellas and started working on the real thing.  Who are these 'intelligences'?"

"You'll meet them pretty soon." he said, "Your body has to recover more first, they're...shocking to some. They provide a lot of the basic advice to the government, including diplomatic and economic strategy."

"I'd question their effectiveness, you guys sided with the Blakies and then with an obviously unstable madman." she noted, "Not really 'good' planning, that."

He shrugged, "Mistakes were made.  Humans still get final word on policy here...and I get the final word with the humans."

She paused and looked over at him.  "Director-General?" she asked.

"Pro-tem, but yeah.  We planned to come out of hiding after Kerensky defeated Amaris, but then the old man went on a shooting spree. Then looted the treasury, and stripped the hegemony of defenses before running off into the back end of beyond.  My ancestors didn't...want to risk the revelation unless or until some kind of Terran Hegemony that was viable could be reformed. By the time the Blake Protectorate happened, well...the Intelligences noticed how unstable they were.  Devlin was a hail-mary play to let us lay ground work, only it didn't...work."

"Fortress screwed it up, so did Gray Monday?" she hazarded.

"Yes. Gray Monday took us by surprise, we had a fleet all ready to move in to help stabilize the situation when it all came apart at the seams, but we were ready. Only cousin Devlin was MIA and then, well, then Terra was inaccessible."

"For fifteen years." she said, "You tried to prop up his loyalists."

He nodded.

"What changed the math?" she asked.

"The Lyrans deciding the Hegemony wasn't worth keeping." he told her, "It threw all the projections out the window.  The Intelligences are trying to process what your people are doing and they can't agree on projections."



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