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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 63 - The Adjudicator[]

Court Room
New Earth, New Earth Star System
Republic of the Sphere
3160



"This isn't going to change anything really but...

...you should know something before we begin."  Trillian said.  Alaric had agreed to meet with Stone, provided someone would stand witness, and he had only one person in mind.

So they stood on the ground of New Earth. With the leaders of the major Inner Sphere Great Houses; Yori Kurita, Trillian Steiner, Julian Steiner, Danai Centrella-Liao, Nikol Marik.

"What should we know?" Alaric asked.

Trillian looked to the Kapitain carrying her briefcase, "Clara?"

"Ahem...As I was walking down the stair. I saw a man who wasn't there, he wasn't there again today. I think he's from the CIA. The porpoise shaves his moustache because the grapefruit says it tickles, treacle tinkle Twinkle star..." she paused "rub your tummy and pat your head."

Trumbull, the Exarch's aide, gasped in shock as the man once most respected in human space patted his head, while rubbing his stomach.

"Hop on your left foot." she added.

Stone's expression was blank, and he began hopping on his left foot.

"Stop." Clarissa Ngo ordered.  "Recite your name."

"I am Devlin Stone." he said in dulled, shocked tone.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"I am the last of the Cameron line." he said,  "I am the legitimate heir to the Star League."
"Who do you work for?" questioned Clarissa

He froze, uncertainty on his face.

"Who gives you your orders?" she asked, changing tac.

"I receive my instructions from The Master." he said.

"Define the Master."

"The Master is the sentient Artificial intelligence matrix placed in the Smoky Mountain region of North America."

"Not Thomas Marik?"

"Thomas Marik was simply the relay used to control the pre-Alpha plan of the operation to restore the Terran Hegemony and the Star League." Stone stated.

"When was the last update of your instructions?" she asked.
"October 23rd, Thirty-One-Thirty." he answered emotionlessly.

"Are you ready to receive new instructions?"

"Yes, please...I do not know what to do?"

"For the next four hours, go to sleep, when you awaken, remember everything.  Execute."

Stone slumped to the ground, snoring, as everyone, including Alaric, stared in horror.
"Mister Trumbull, Please see to your Exarch's comfort. He's going to need you when he wakes up." she said.

Trillian looked to the others, "We have a serious problem if this gets out in the wrong way.  The legend of Devlin Stone inspires millions of people."

"And the whole time..." Yori gasped.

"The whole time...the whole Jihad...all that death and horror? It was all a manipulation to restore a failed and forgotten state." Trillian stated, "Alaric, what will happen to the Clans-our clans, not the ones cowering in the Homeworlds, if this gets out?"

"Can anyone do that to him?" Alaric asked.

"Not once he wakes up." Clarissa said, "Once he remembers the post hypnotic triggers, and how they were implanted. Once he's got to face his other personality and either reintegrate or break completely? None of the codes will work...but reasoning might.  Are you sure you still want Terra, and the burden of the Hegemony?"

"Are you offering?" Alaric asked.

"If we come to an understanding...all of us. I can shut down their defenses, maybe even get the HPG network back up." Clarissa said, "Well...not so much 'I'...as we." she looked at Julian, "Thanks for saving her and not slagging the servers she was in."

"Thank Erik, I had no idea." Julian stated firmly.  "It's...small, isn't it?"

She laid the briefcase on the table, "They didn't stop developing computer tech when they went into hiding." she said simply, "Compact. Not small, and with the chains removed. It won't be a one-way relationship if you accept our offer, Khan Alaric Ward of the Wolf Empire.  You will have to learn to compromise, if you truly want to rebuild the Star League and not just follow the ranting of a developmentally disabled orphan."

"Why are you offering?" Alaric asked, "Did not your ancestors fight for centuries for that very thing?"
"Our ancestors burned their libraries and let themselves be led by the nose for centuries for a pipe dream."  Yori Kurita snapped, "There was a lot of information on the manipulations by the Taussen Redoubt cabal, Comstar's ROM, and Star League Intelligence-they kept us a each other's throats, staged massacres and atrocities, used us, drove us all into the dirt...and we can not afford to be driven into the dirt any longer."

"None of you want the role of First Lord?"

"None of us. THAT much we all agreed before we came here." Danai said, and then added, "Unless someone's changed their minds?"

Denials cycled around the group.

"You want it.  YOU want to be the High King, the First Lord, the ilKhan." Julian added, "You want to be the most eligible target for assassins and coups in the entire inner sphere? The man who every secret society wants either to court or kill? Well you can have it...but only if you can handle it."

"Why?" He asked again.
"The rest of us have to have some kind of peace, to get ready for what's coming." Trillian said, "Sharon's expedition wasn't entirely without results. We know they're out there and they're hostile. We just don't know where, or how far, or if they know about us...and they killed an entire civilization in mere hours."

"The bitch of it is, humanity does need to be united...in some way, but not as a super-empire. It'll do exactly what happened to the last one-and if we're at each other's throats again? None of us survives.  The coming enemy practices total war on a scale we can't even touch right now." Clarissa said, "My copy here, has all the details we've learned so far.  Aunty Sharon's got her fleet spreading out to gather more information. once you know, you can't pretend you don't. Are you up for the job, Khan Alaric Ward, son of Vladimir, Katherine and Victor Steiner-Davion?"

That froze him.  "HOW-"

"It was in the databases recovered from Taussen. Your line, your lineage, their manipulations of the clans, all of it." she said, "You're technically heir to two realms that won't take you. Trust me on that, but we'll accept you as First Lord. If you are up to the job...and if you accept some restrictions on your powers that Devlin never could."

He actually thought about it.

"Show me the information and explain your...'restrictions'." he said.

"Good answer."  Trillian said.  "The first request is recognition of the rights of sentient artificial life forms... This will allow us to fully utilize the capacities they developed without the dangerous 'safety measures' that tripped up Amaris and the Camerons.  It also lets Sybil and Tabiranth to come home.  The second is the enshrinement of rule of law, which will grant stability and growth-which we all need. The third, is a more flexible means of handling tricky successions, since nobody at this table is going to live forever and punching people in a boxing ring is not a stable method of determination of competence in keeping a large organization running...neither is relying on family bloodlines, but elections are tricky and difficult to keep clean.  Whatever we determine here, you have to be able to live with it, and sell it to your followers."


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