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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 41 - The Adjudicator[]

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



[Comstar claims it wasn't them...]

..You're saying it wasn't you, Stone insists it wasn't him."  Clarissa paced a wooden floor.  "Everyone has evidence it wasn't them."

She stopped.  "Someone, therefore, is lying their asses off."

She hopped up on the simulated wood of the judge's podium.  "Fact is, we have too many suspects. Let's narrow that down.  Method has been endlessly analyzed by better investigators.  Opportunity is obvious-Gray Monday was an internal event to the HPG network..."

The audience gallery flickered as presences formed.  "We have loads of witnesses.  Witnesses from the Republic, from the States, even from the Clans.  I've seen hundreds of hours of testimony, memorized reams of investigation notes.  I'm not the only one, by the way-if Radioman Chien is still alive, she's been digging into this thing for ten years."

Chien flickered into one of the boxes marked 'witnesses'.

"Glory, is that you?" asked Clarissa

"How would you even know...Hey, I have real legs in here! no more plastic below the knees! The myomers work but they itch...wow. Real legs again..."

"It's an illusion." she hopped off the desk, "Ladieees and GENTLEMEN!! welcometothegreatestshowonoroffearth! It's a circus and everyone is guilty of something!!"  Clarissa bounced along the growing box of spectators, "For your entertainment! Your justifications! To satisfy your very own prejudices! Welcome to the courtroom!!  The Legal process is adversarial for a reason, it's the same reason that the proper application of the scientific process is to break each hypothesis until you hit the one you can't break-and that one gets to be a theory."  she waved her hands, "The rest of this, this is just the stage dressing for that.  Justice Theater. Like the Security theater is all about perception, so why not hold it right here in our very own mutual fantasy?"

Some of the observers looked indistinct. Some of the more distinctive ones, looked uncomfortable.

"Let's try a different tac, shall we? Forget justice, let's look at the Facts."

An entire wall of the room dissolved, "THIS is the Terran Hegemony, mankind's most fought over territory in all of history. A thousand years or more of inhabitation, exploitation, over used, under used, annihilation, mass murder, incivility, atrocity, horror, and death.  The bulk of that over the last three centuries.  Trillions dead, and for what? The throne of a defunct empire? Because it is defunct.  The people responsible for saving it packed bag and baggage for crazy-town centuries before I was born."

As she spoke, images flashed along the walls, the ceiling and the floor.

"This is my theory."  Clarissa said, "When you get enough information in one place, you get an impact, the Hyperpulse Network sends raw information across a dimension we only understand through mathematical modeling and..ehm...personal exposure.  Here's your culprit, folks, it's us."  she said, "It's all of us."

The thing that plagued her jump dreams swelled into being.  "It hungers for information. It's made of information. It exists independently of any system, but it craves and it hungers...and it happens to be exceptionally strong around zones of conflict...where information related to inflicting horror and death on large scale is being generated and exchanged at a furious pace.  The Blackout happened not because of someone's clever plan or power play, it happened because of everyone's clever plans, and everyone's power plays!! Ain't that your theory, Arto?"

"You read my notes?" asked Chien

"I read your notes...it fits the evidence."  Clarissa said, "The timing, the impact, it's almost too random. The fact nobody has solid leads and everyone has analyzed the hell out of it with no traction. Even the Clanners don't know and it hit their separate nets at the same time. Which requires too much penetration by too large a group with too much sophistication to ever be able to keep it a secret.  The indicators are it was probably an attempted interdiction, but the way it spiraled, and the way it freaked the robes out?"

"So who launched the interdiction?"

"Method and motive, right?" Clarissa said.  "Method is bog-standard Comstar, only they don't have the motive...but someone did."  she turned to the audience.  "Someone had a motive.  Shit was not going right. What's the point of having a Cameron heir if he's not going to be pumping little Camerons into some willing incubator to upkeep salic law and inheritance or that he's chosen a non-feudal system to get around inheitance issues from not fathering offspring?  Stone failed you because he either was incapable or uninterested. A little service interruption. A reminder who owns the property, am I close? You guys didn't expect Gray Monday. You anticipated bringing him back here on a quiet trip for some adjustment and maybe a hookup with some prepared girl-type."

A coin flipped into existence, "Only bango, right? Am I close?  Gray Monday hits your nets too, probably scared the everloving dogshit out of you." she was addressing the growing crowd of indistinct audience.  "You stopped reading everyone's mail because there was no mail to read. Had to do your own fact-finding, had to do it in a way that was deniable and the Blakist remnant was right at hand. Looking to your intelligence for answers or the tools to find them. Problem is, those guys, they aren't exactly stable, and you maybe gave 'em too much, didn't you?"

The gallery was now far too large, you could hide a city in the bleachers.

"So you've tried to clean it up, only surprise-fifteen years of narrow obsession trying to figure out what went wrong and you missed us. Now your secret's out, You're looking for a plan zed aren't you?"

She flipped the coin into the air, and it froze. "I have a solution." she said, "Diplomacy.  Admit your part in it, explain yourselves. Not to me, to them...the states, the Clans.  Offer them an olive branch. Offer them some attempt at restitution for abandoning them when Kerensky left. When you let it all fall apart and could have done something, you can still do something...so do it."

She laid imaginary hands on imaginary wood, "I yield the remainder of my time to the rebuttal."



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