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A Dark And Hungry God Arises 11 - Warden[2]

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:06 pm    Post subject: A Dark And Hungry God Arises 11 - Warden[2] Reply with quote

Anticipating that the Governing Council for Earth and Space will demand a video conference on the Angus/Milos spaceship theft scandal, Warden Dios has a private talk with Hashi Lebwohl before Godsen Frik can find him, then temporarily dismisses him. Not long afterwards, Godsen catches up with Warden in Warden's formal office.

Godsen is stressed as he enters that office, complaining he's being roasted by the Dragon for following Warden's orders.

"He said,"--Godsen was good at mimicry--"'What the fuck do you think you're doing, telling the whole world Thermopyle and Taverner got away? Don't you know what's going to happen now?'"

"And what did you reply?"

"I told him I was acting on your direct orders." Godsen's aura was crimson with tension and vulnerability, undermining his efforts to sound staunch. "I told him we did it to back up Joshua's alibi, so he can get into Billingate. And I told him"--the fluctuation of his readings signaled a lie--"I think you made the right decision. It's worth the risk. Everything we've done with Joshua won't be worth spit if Billingate decides not to trust him."

Warden asks Godsen if he's made a request to Holt to reprogram Angus/Joshua to rescue Morn. Godsen denies this, which satisfies Warden that Fasner doesn't want to intervene in that matter for now. Warden further tells Godsen the situation isn't his problem, and commands his secretary via intercom to let Min Donner and Hashi enter the room. They both come in immediately. Warden reminds them that Trumpet left with Angus and Milos, and he asks them if they have any objections to the mission.

Godsen objects to the choice of Milos, asserting he will soon sell them out, causing the GCES to de-charter Hashi's Data Acquisition department. Min wants to know why they won't rescue Morn Hyland. Warden drops the news that GCES is demanding a video conference with the UMCP (he's already prepared Hashi for this occasion).

Warden promises his top three people he'll give them detailed explanations later, then tells Hashi that the two of them should be sitting on the edge of his desk to project informality, making them look more honest. They do so as lights and cameras warm up, and Min and Godsen sit in the background out of view.

Abrim Len, president of the GCES, appears on screen to thank them for promptly replying and expresses hope the council's fears will be alleviated. Warden: "We're more than a little concerned ourselves. Hashi and I will do our best to answer your questions"--but cautions his data is incomplete. Len thanks Hashi for his cooperation by being there. Hashi: "I am always eager to do whatever I can to redeem my own errors." GCES Junior Member Carsin demands Hashi run the math to find out where Angus and Milos are headed. President Len interrupts by asking Warden how the escaped with a UMCP gap scout. Carsin wants to know how it all happened. Hashi starts by stating Milos was Angus' interrogator but had failed to get results.

"It was at this point that we acted on our interest in the case. We were interested in the first, I must confess--Enforcement Division no less than Data Acquisition." Carefully Hashi prepared the way for the issues on which Warden Dios hoped the Council would focus.

Hashi says they had a lot of interested questions about Angus and Morn, but no jurisdiction over what Com-Mine Security did until passage of the Preempt Act. He then wanted Taverner and Thermopyle turned over to his department to find the truth.

"But how to go about learning the truth?" the DA director asked rhetorically. "That was the complex question. If I made my suspicions obvious to Deputy Chief Taverner--for example, by revoking his clearances and authorizations--he would certainly do his utmost to protect himself. Then I might never gain the information I desired. Therefore my best hope was to preserve the illusion that I had reqqed him because of his special knowledge of Captain Thermopyle. There was, after all, no reason why this should not be the truth.

"Indeed, where Captain Thermopyle was concerned, I was daily given reason to believe in Deputy Chief Taverner's honesty. My own interrogations were as unsuccessful as it is possible to imagine. Despite my most advanced techniques--within the limits of the law," Hashi added piously, "I gained nothing which Deputy Chief Taverner had not gained before me.

"Therefore what grounds did I have to treat Deputy Chief Taverner as a suspected illegal? Among the UMCP, we hold the principle sacred that a man is innocent until proven guilty." Hashi was starting to play his part too thickly, but Warden didn't interfere. "The more I interrogated Captain Thermopyle, the more my distrust of Deputy Chief Taverner evaporated.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I did not revoke his clearances and authorizations because I had no evidence against him. Until he released Captain Thermopyle and fled, I had no foundation for my suspicions.

Now Warden cut in. Impelled by the pain in his optic nerves, he asked roughly, "Does that help? You should be able to ask accurate questions now."

"Thank you, Director Lebwohl," said Len. "An admirably lucid account. Do I understand you to mean, then, that the 'error' you made reference to earlier was an error in judgement concerning Milos Taverner?"

"Just so, Mr. President," Hashi agreed placidly, as if he were at peace with the universe.

Len offers sympathy, then yields the floor to the critical questions of Carsin and other members of the GCES. Hashi reports estimates that the ship has gone into Amnion space, thus preventing pursuit without treaty violation.

Warden observes Min watching confidently, and Godsen watching nervously. Len thanks Hashi, and Warden expresses his confidence in the DA director. Then Member Martingale, representing Com-Mine Station, announces Special Council Maxim Igensard, who is starting an independent investigation into this matter. Igensard wants to know why the UMCP allowed Morn Hyland to say with Angus after Starmaster was destroyed, and why she was allowed to leave with Nick after Angus' arrest. Warden has Hashi deny Angus is an operative but admit that Nick is sometimes working for them. Igensard wants to know where Morn is now. Hashi responds they elected to make use of Morn as something which Nick could use or sell while he went to Thanatos Minor carrying a drug supposedly granting immunity to Amnion mutagens. The goal, Hashi states, was to undermine credibility for Thanatos Minor's bootleg shipyard.

Min Donner sprang to her feet. Radiating outrage, she moved right to the edge of the camera's view. Her fists were clenched to strike out. If Warden hadn't stopped her with a quick glare, she might have jumped at Hashi.

But the DA director appeared oblivious to her fury--or to Godsen's consternation. As if he wanted to make himself look as bad as possible, he added, "I had another reason also. She is a beautiful woman, Special Counsel Igensard. Because of Captain Thermopyle's treatment, we suspect that she is aptly suited to satisfy the appetites of such men as Captain Succorso. We gave her to him to lessen the likelihood that he would turn against us if his mission on Thanatos Minor proved"--pushing up his glasses, Hashi finished--"difficult."

Through the shocked silence which gripped the Council, Igensard said softly, "Director Lebwohl, you used the word 'vileness' to describe Captain Thermopyle's behavior. Don't you think the description fits your own as well?"

Like Min, Warden leaped to his feet. "That's enough!" he roared. "Call off your dogs, Mr. President!" He wasn't worried about Igensard or the Council: his overriding concern was to restrain the ED director before she disrupted what he was trying to accomplish through Hashi.

"I didn't agree to this conference so that my people could be abused," he stated loudly. "I did it because my charter carries the duty of disclosure. But I remind you that there's no duty of consultation. We aren't required to let you second-guess us! We did what we did with Ensign Hyland for the same reason we do everything else--because at the time that seemed like the best way to fulfill our Articles of Mission. It was a gamble, nothing more, nothing less. It either works or it doesn't. Either way, we don't deserve insults from small men with big titles."

If that didn't achieve what he wanted, nothing would.

President Len is about to respond in a calming effort as Igensard yells about Thremopyle heading in the direction of Hyland and Succorso, when Warden snaps that the conference is over and orders the communication link to GCES broken. Godsen warns Warden that displeasure with the conference will be forthcoming from Member Carsin, Counsel Igensard--and from Holt Fasner. Warden stops Godsen with one pointed finger and states they've put Milos where he can only betray them in one directon, and Angus is prepared for it. He turns to face Min and her shocked question about whether his and Hashi's statements about Morn were true, and Warden confirms they were. Min is pained but goes on to ask how Warden knew Com-Mine wouldn't execute Angus. Warden says he didn't know and was planning to send Nick against billingate. Min remarks that now that they've sent a welded Angus against Billingate, Succorso is unnecessary. So if Warden doesn't need Nick, why did Warden let Nick keep Morn to insure his flexibility? Why not have Angus rescue Morn? Warden answers that Morn and Nick have been compromised by their visit to Enablement, and Hashi supports this by suggesting they may now be Amnioni perfectly disguised as humans.

Min leaves the office in dismay, and Warden orders Godsen to leave the room as well. Hashi gets up to leave and gives Warden a dubious compliment about the conference being well played and expresses confidence the UMCP director's goals were achieved by it.

By some standards, the DA director's compliment was a worse insult than anything Maxim Igensard had said. Nevertheless Warden smiled wanly and said, "Thanks," at Hashi's departing back.

Like Morn Hyland--not to mention Angus Thermopyle--Warden Dios was now irretrievably compromised.

You can feel Hashi's confidence that Warden had control of this chapter's events all along, and that he's doing it because Holt's hold on power has got to stop. At this point, I just didn't see how it was going to work.
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