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The Gap Into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge 13 - Chapter 9

 
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Cord Hurn
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:09 am    Post subject: The Gap Into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge 13 - Chapter 9 Reply with quote

Nick demands Morn have an abortion.

Quote:
Morn was glad that she'd never made the mistake of thinking he would welcome any child, even a son. And she was glad for a chance to defy him at last. In fact, she was delighted--so keenly pleased that her heart sang. Her greatest danger at the moment wasn't that she might back down: it was that she might let too much visceral joy show.


She feels it's time to push for what she wants, to have her offspring and to avoid having her police secrets sold on Thanatos Minor, and to do that she's willing to openly defy Nick's "wants". Nick asks Morn what her reasons are, and Morn says she wants a son by which to remember Nick after he gets tired of her and breaks off the relationship.

Quote:
Her lies touched him: she saw that. His hands flexed on the armrests; an oblique grief moistened the fire in his eyes. He believed the masque: he was accessible to this appeal.

At the same time he was too stubborn, too suspicious--and too intelligent--to lose his way so easily. He had to swallow twice before he could find his voice. Then he said, "Crap."


Morn reassures him by reminding him he has the power over her to get what he wants--but then she lets him know that she'll inform everybody he deals with that he bargains with the UMCP. Nick is taken aback by that threat at first, but then he harshly laughs. He observes that he can sell Morn to "forbidden space". This almost makes Morn panic, but then she observes aloud that he won't have enough money to both flush Orn's virus and fix the gap drive if he sells only her. And if he sells any of his crew in addition to her, she points out that his crew will never trust him again.

Nick states that he and Morn have reached a stalemate, and Morn asks him what suggestions he has. He responds that if Morn can give him a cure for Orn's virus in the computer systems, then she can keep her baby, and they won't go to Thanatos Minor. Morn doubts she can solve the virus problem, and entertains thoughts of sabotaging the ship and escaping in an EVA suit, ditching her id tag and going as far as she can in space until her air runs out. But then she realizes she can no longer take the option of suicide seriously as a course of action.

Quote:
And if she killed herself little Davies Hyland would die with her.

Her desire to save him surprised her. On a conscious level, her claim that she wanted to keep him had been a smoke screen to disguise her real reasons for resisting being sold on Thanatos Minor. But now she saw that this claim was true. Maybe she wanted her son as a way of defying Nick; maybe she wanted him for himself; maybe she was overcome by the desire not to add Davies' name to the list of her victims; maybe she was under too much pressure to refuse the logic of her hormones: she didn't know. Whatever the explanation, however, the conclusion was clear: she had become prepared to fight for her baby's life.

Which meant she had to find a cure for Orn's virus.

That was the decision she reached. Aware of what she was doing, and galvanized by it, she accepted Nick's terms, just as she'd once accepted Angus'.


For the greater part of the next two weeks, Morn works on the problem of Orn's virus whenever she doesn't need to be data third on the ship's bridge, or entertain Nick in her cabin, or work in a little bit of sleep and eating. She uses the artificial energy provided by her zone implant to forgo sleep as much as possible.

Then she has hope for her idea of performing a datacore time-study. She reasons that running a such a study will show what kinds of changes Orn programmed, which will in turn give vital clues to the nature and location of the virus. But after four more days of scant sleep working on this time-study, her hopes crumble away: the results of the study show no change in programming from the day before Orn first boarded the ship to the present time. Morn is stunned at this failure of analysis, and allows her fatigue to overwhelm her, choosing to not touch her zone implant control to bolster her energy. Vector finds her slumped over the auxiliary control board, drags her down to the galley, pours hot coffee down her, and asks what seems like an odd question.

Quote:
"Do you play cards?"

The retreat of her grief left her exposed to exhaustion. Numbly she nodded. "Poker. A little. In the Academy. I wasn't good at it."

Apparently she'd given him some kind of permission. He seated himself, picked up a mug of coffee, and said, casually, "It's interesting how games endure. Chess, for example. And poker--as a species, we've been playing poker practically forever. And then there's bridge. I've seen gaming encyclopedias that don't even mention whist--which is where bridge came from--but back when I worked for InterTech we used to play bridge for days. Orn was particularly good at it.

"Bridge and poker." Vector let out a nostalgic sigh. "The only time life is ever pure is when you're playing games like that. That's because they're closed systems. The cards, and the rules--and the ontological implications--are finite.

"But of course poker isn't really a card game. It's a game of people. The cards are just a tool for playing your opponents. That may be why you weren't good at it. Bridge comes much closer to direct problem-solving--the extrapolation of discrete logical permutations. You can't ignore who your opponents are, naturally, but you win with your mind more than your guts.

"You're trying to win this one with your guts, Morn. You need to use your mind."

Morn drank more coffee. She didn't say anything: she didn't have anything to say. Instead she concentrated on the pain in her throat.

"WE have a maxim in bridge," he continued. "If you need a particular card to be in a certain place, assume it is. If you need a particular distribution of the cards, assume it exists. Plan the rest of your strategy as if you have a right to be sure of that one assumption.

"It doesn't always work, of course. In fact, you can play for days without it working once. But that's not the point. The point is, if your assumption is false you were going to fail anyway. That assumption represents the one thing you have to have in order tp succeed. so you might as well count on it. Without it, there's nothing you can do except shrug and go on to the next hand."


I've enjoyed card games many times in the past, so Vector's odd little "pep talk" with Morn manages to spark interest in me, simply because it conjures up some entertaining personal memories of poker games (I've never played bridge, though.) Vector's words manage to conjure up a spark of interest in Morn, as well, as she resists the temptation to reach into her pocket, turn off the zone implant, and just fall deeply asleep.

[more to come]
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Cord Hurn
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:11 am    Post subject: Forbidden Knowledge 13 - Chapter 9 Reply with quote

Quote:
The electrical coercion in her brain seemed unable to master her fatigue. Nevertheless it reduced her numbness a bit. She cleared her throat and mumbled thinly, "Whose watch is this? I don't even know what day it is."

Vector consulted a chronometer built into the food-vend. "Liete's on for another hour. Then it's Nick's turn." He hesitated momentarily before adding, "You missed your last watch, but Nick told Mikka to let you stay with what you were doing. He may treat you like shit, but he's counting on you."

Treat you like shit. That touched a sore place in her. A small sting of anger spread outward from the contact. The effect of the zone implant grew stronger. Nick did indeed treat her like shit. She had every intention of making him pay blood for the privilege.


Well, I certainly can't blame Morn for being distracted by anger, due to her abuse from Nick and her general tiredness. But she rallies to grasp Vector's point that she should assume there's something she can do to neutralize Orn's ship-crippling virus. She tells Vector that she needs to speak with data first Mackern.

Quote:
Vector shrugged. Lifting himself stiffly to his feet, he moved to the intercom.

"With your permission, Nick," he told the intercom. "Morn wants to talk to Sib Mackern. She says she needs him."

Obliquely Morn realized that she'd never heard Mackern's first name before.

Nick's voice came back: "Where?"

"In the galley."

"I'll send him." The intercom clicked off.

The data first arrived only a minute or two after Vector sat down again. He must have been somewhere nearby when he received Nick's orders.

"You wanted to talk to me?" he asked Morn. The idea appeared to aggravate his uncertainty. Whatever he used instead of self-confidence to keep him going was as nearly invisible as his pale mustache.


Morn wants to know how Sib would try to plant a virus. Mackern answers that he'd write it into the data board, but quickly objects that it would take a lot of time to study the systems for where to put the virus and that the virus coding would have to be incredibly complex for the virus to stay hidden, and all the time he'd be at risk of being caught in the act.

Sib then gives the opinion that Orn could have written the virus programming ahead of time, but Vector states that he doesn't think Orn had a way to study Captain's Fancy's systems before coming aboard. Morn now comments that she feels they should assume Orn was telling the truth when he bragged about putting his virus into the ship's computers the same day he came aboard. Mackern observes it's technically possible that Orn could hardware a virus onto a chip or even a motherboard. Then he objects that that's "still impossible".

Quote:
Vacillating between sleep and concentration, Morn asked, "Why?"

"For the same reason he couldn't write the virus ahead of time," Sib replied. "There are too many different kinds of computers, as well as too many different kinds of programs to run them. He couldn't hardwire a compatible chip unless he already knew exactly what equipment we have. And we're assuming he couldn't know that before he joined ship."

"Not to mention the expense," Vector put in. "Ordinary sods like us can just about afford a hard-memory chip or two for systems like these--if we've got steady jobs and we like to save. Mother-boards might as well be on the other side of the gap."

"But not, " Morn murmured as if she'd decided on sleep, "interface cards."

The data first opened his mouth; closed it again. A wince in his eyes made him look like he was afraid of her.


This turns out to be Morn's breakthrough moment in solving the challenge of Orn's virus. Morn is able to control her fatigue, using the zone implant's artificial energy, long enough to explain to Vector and Sib that interface cards are cheap and standardized, and to be used they'd just need a few dip-switches set on them, be plugged in, and have the leads connected. Morn suggests that Orn's cabin be searched, and Vector remarks that's worth a try. Vector wakens Mikka via the intercom to tell her about Morn's idea, as Morn sinks into unconsciousness.

Some time later, Morn is woken up by Vector, and he and Mikka lead her from the galley to the bridge as Sib follows. They present themselves to Nick, who asks what's going on. Mikka tells him Morn persuaded Vector and Mackern she'd figured out the virus, and they in turn persuaded Mikka to search Orn's cabin. Mikka reports she found a box of interface cards there, and that Mackern thinks Orn altered these cards. Mikka attests she supervised Mackern replacing each and every interface card in the computer systems with freshly unsealed cards. Mikka thinks that if Morn and Mackern are right, then the virus is now gone. Nick insists on Sib Mackern testing that conclusion, and soon Vector whispers in Morn's ear that everything now works fine; the virus is gone. Morn is so tired at this point that she barely understands what Vector is saying.

But Nick then snarls at Morn that she has won, can keep her baby, and won't have to have that baby on Thanatos Minor. But, it turns out, there's a catch.

Quote:
His eyes blazed with murder or wild joy, she couldn't tell which.

"I'm going to take you to Enablement Station."

As soon as Morn heard the name, she stopped breathing.

The entire bridge seemed to stop breathing.

"They'll help you have your baby, all right. And we won't have to put up with some squalling brat for the next decade or so. They'll give you a full-grown kid in about an hour.

"Maybe that way, I won't have to leave you behind."

His last words reached her, but she didn't absorb them. She was thinking, Enablement Station.

Forbidden space. The Amnion.

She may have heard Nick's vindictive laughter. He'd intended this from the moment he first made his bargain with her.


Morn faints. Nick gloats. And it seems we're about to learn something about this "forbidden space", after all.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They are really starting to play each other for the upper hand!
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Cord Hurn
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

StevieG wrote:
They are really starting to play each other for the upper hand!


You are quite right, StevieG, and I think in this chapter they are being very open about their manipulations of each other...they are starting to cast subtlety aside.
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