Please forgive that I’m sending you an asynch even though I’m sure you’d accept a “real” call. I need for what follows to remain as factual as possible, so I need the opportunity to edit before you see it.
About twenty minutes ago, I finally tried to confront Korbou about his silence regarding either of us. The exchange went something like:
Me – “Are you putting off thinking about this, hoping one of us will lose interest and make the decision for you?”
Him – “…I’m waiting for one of you to get interest.”
…at this point, I’ve written and deleted a few thousand words about my reaction to his statement. I want very much to just blather on and on for a couple of hours about how I’m feeling as a result, but right now that seems inappropriate because what I also want is to let you know that at least as of right now, I’m pretty sure that you don’t need to consider me a possible obstructing factor if you still want to pursue Korbou for yourself. That’s why I don’t want to say anything else. I’m afraid I’ll make you angry at him for something that you wouldn’t normally be angry at him about, because you’d be getting angry on my behalf.
I suppose there’s a chance things will change after a cycle of sleep, but at the same time, no, I don’t think there is. So…good luck.
After taking care of our little pest problem we, the crew of the Iris, were going to make first contact with the population of this planet…That is until we got a call from the Us admiralty, telling us to go straight to dry dock. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 (or the Us equivalent to $200…) We were required to go without contact. Apparently the David Frost was sent to make contact with the population. Well the reason we were called back was that we stirred up a bunch of political bullshit. Great. That’s my department. Which probably explains why when I was called to Korbou’s office with my family, there was also a squad of marines, including Bo’ab (ugh.) Also explains why Korbou threw an arrest warrant for “genocide” and other bullshit with my name on it, signed by Princess Solace. I really couldn’t do anything smarter than capitulate in this situation. technically I approved the bombardment, so I’m at fault. No matter, I knew the paperwork was sound. It was clearly stated that no one was killed, they were relocated, and the remaining population gave order to be rid of the menace. This population, as far as I was aware, was allied with our ally, and an enemy of our ally’s ally is an enemy. Man, do I know how to bullshit? Anyway, I couldn’t take Lor’ea and Robin with me, so they had to stay behind in house arrest. Lor’ea looked like she was gonna kill someone, and Robin was close to tears. I assured them I’d be okay, and kissed them goodbye. Of course, Bo’ab was the head of my escort troop to my holding cell. What caught me off guard is that in my…well, our tongue, I guess, he offered to help me take down the guards. The idea was very tempting, but there was no plan beyond that, so I had to respectfully decline. Upon arrival to the HMSS John McCain I was thrown into a traditional force field holding cell. Next to me, since I was on the end cell, was a Sorn nicknamed “Silverfish.” We simultaneously asked each other what the other was in for. I answered first, saying that I was being held responsible for blowing up three-eighths of a planet. He said that he “stole a cruiser and blew up some of (my) people.” I simply said that I hope he gets what’s coming to him. Of course he will, that’s how the great destiny of the universe works. My first round of visitors included Korbou and our new Psychologist, Commander Dr. Bella, an Entaine. We chatted about the situation and how I loved my new neighbor. The Commander Doctor got me a nice, cushy cell then. Maybe she’s not bad for a shrink. They left once I got my new cell in the maternity ward of the infirmary of all places. At least I’m not in a force field next to Silverfish. Plus, I had a TV and video player, and a comfy bed. This made waiting for my day in court a little more bearable. my next guests were Yado and his boy toy. Of course Bo’ab had to make a comment, seeing where I was placed… “Already expecting a litter?” I replied, “No, not yet anyway.” Yado was checking on my medical needs and got my my “prescription.” My wonderful, alcoholic prescription. My, does that monkey know my needs. Bo’ab, while “comforting” me palmed me some herb. Maybe he’s not so bad… Well they sensed I was bored so we played a couple of board games (hence the monopoly quote before.) After they were sure I was okay, they left. I kicked back, had a couple drinks, and watched a movie while I waited for either more visitors to come or the alcohol to make me pass out. I had to get the movie going myself because the meathead couldn’t figure out a simple video viewing unit. UGH! My last visitors were a bunch of diplomats arguing over whether or not they agreed with letting me go…which means they were! AWESOME! So I saluted and ran to my family. When I got there, I hugged and kissed them both. It felt good to be home. I barely noticed Dr. Bella there, probably quizzing my spouses. I apologized for interrupting and she politely excused herself. She also expressed her excitement for family therapy. Just swell.
(Slipped innocuously into the weekly pile of standard engineering request forms)
CHANGE CONTROL REQUEST
Name of Requestor: Lady Peppermint
Date of Proposed Change Control: Stardate 2.29.4227
Reason for Change Control Request: Newly completed equipment requires testing prior to go-live.
Nature of Change Control (Describe your change in detail)
Disengage Suite 334A from Iris Main Power Grid. Run independent equipment tests. Reattach Suite 334A to Iris Main Power Grid after tests have been completed.
Change Control Steps (Thoroughly describe the precise steps proposed for your change control)
1) Shut off all power to Suite 334A.
2) Open panel 334A-23B.
3) Remove power cable 334A-23B from coupling 334A-23B.
4) Attach power loopback dispersal unit (fig. 1,) feedback inhibitor (fig. 2,) and ground (fig. 3) to power cable 334A-2B.
5) Attach independent equipment (fig. 4) to power loopback dispersal unit (fig. 1.)
6) Use standard-issue Teradyne Circuit Tester to ensure that all equipment is properly attached, configured, and grounded.
7) Turn on power to Suite 334A in the following stepped modes: 5%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%.
8) Use standard-issue Teradyne Circuit Tester after each power step to ensure that all equipment is properly attached, configured, and grounded.
9) Activate independent equipment unit.
10) Use standard-issue Teradyne Circuit Tester to ensure that all equipment is properly attached, configured, and grounded.
11) Commence tests.
After tests have concluded:
12) Shut off all power to Suite 334A.
13) Remove independent equipment, loopback dispersal unit, feedback inhibitor, and ground.
14) Replace power cable 334A-23B into coupling 334A-23B to return Suite 334A to standard power configuration.
15) Use standard-issue Teradyne Circuit Tester to ensure that all equipment is properly attached, configured, and grounded.
16) Turn on power to Suite 334A as before.
17) Use standard-issue Teradyne Circuit Tester as before to ensure that all equipment is properly attached, configured, and grounded.
18) Close panel 334A-23B.
1) Remove all nonstandard equipment
2) Return suite 334A to standard power configuration
Test results for Teradyne circuit tester, power loopback dispersal unit, feedback inhibitor, and ground are included (attachment 2.)
Possible Adverse Effects:
To the Iris: none. The dispersal, inhibitor, and ground units mentioned above serve to isolate Suite 334A from the general Iris power grid. Walls, ceilings, and floors have already been upgraded to triple-A rating.
It is possible that during equipment tests, the standard systems which monitor suite 334A will register output frequencies that fall outside of the frequency range which would otherwise be considered typical. These possible frequency types and ranges can be found in attachment 3 and should be entered into the monitoring systems for suite 334A prior to the commencement of testing, in order to prevent unnecessary “false positive” alert readings.
It’s an awkward thing, living aboard the Iris.
The race that owns the Iris, the Us, are polite enough to me, considering that I basically retain the position of a permanent houseguest. A useful houseguest, mind you, but a houseguest nonetheless. I don’t think the Us necessarily want me to leave, but I am not convinced they necessarily want me here, either – another awkward thing. I miss being part of something. I suppose that is what it boils down to. It doesn’t seem like I am a part of anything any more. I’m desperately, intensely lonely.
Thankfully, Finder helps with that. He puts the sound of the sea into my ears, which is infinitely better than the damnable silence that has been with me for so long. His presence is soothing, and when I am with him, I find I am calm, or at least calmer.
But even with Finder’s help, lately I have been struggling with the simplest of things. I am depressed beyond words, and, worse, find myself caught in the grip of severe mood swings. I must be impossible to live with – poor Finder! To be truthful, I expect him at any moment to decide that I am too much trouble, throw up his hands, and leave. I remain grateful that he has not yet done so.
Ironically, the trigger to all of this seems to have been the completion of the minor repairs to the Pandora.
The Us have never fully understood the scope of work that the repairs to the Pandora actually involved. Because they have only occasionally visited the extradimensional space in which the Pandora is housed, they have seen only a few rooms, and don’t have any conception of the true size of the ship. I have been working twenty hours a day, every day, for more than a year now, just to get the basic systems back online. I wonder what Bulo would have said if he had to fix the entire Iris all by himself, using only hand tools, without the benefit of crew or drydock to help him?
For all of their politeness, the Us have consistantly refused me the equipment requests which I have repeatedly placed with them. There is no technical problem with the refusals; it’s not like I’m not perfectly capable of constructing quantum accelerators and so on. But every refusal costs me weeks of work. I have had to go to ridiculous lengths, including forging logs, machining my own parts, and secretly building my own unit by hand, to obtain so much as a replicator.
Now I find, to my own surprise, that I deeply resent their reluctance to share their shiny new technologies. Even though I realize that there is no reason they should care about anything I am doing, and even though I frankly wouldn’t release anything to myself in my current frame of mind, I still find myself resentful. In my better moments I accept that there is no reason that they should wish to help me; in my worse ones, I am angry that they don’t think any better of me than that.
However, I digress. After months of effort, most of the repairs are now completed. For the most part, I didn’t mind the work, but it has been only recently that I have come to understand why. As long as I was repairing the Pandora, I was doing something. I never noticed how hard I was working, because there was always something to do.
Now much of that preliminary work is sorted, and what else is there to do? Nothing.
I am the last of my race. I have outlived my own history. I find myself thinking, ‘Now what?’ And I don’t have an answer. This is nearly as disconcerting to me as the endless silence which Finder kindly banished.
At a time in my life when I feel the need for months (or perhaps years) of quiet contemplation in some forgotten monestary somewhere around Outer Mongolia, I find myself on a large stage playing a game for the highest stakes imaginable. Ultimately, the Ring is here because I moved it here. It was the Nurgys that put the ball into motion with the Ring; but I was the one who got to the controls to steer the entire contraption; I was the one who made sure we didn’t leave populated planets stranded in deep space; I was the one who placed everything in their various orbits when we arrived; and, ultimately, I was the one who simply couldn’t handle the extra layer of calculations needed to pull the shadow-casting floating plates out of harm’s way. Not without the Panopticon.
The result? Ask the Icalru, blasted into oblivion, with a minimum casualty rate of 95%.
I do understand what would have happened if I hadn’t taken the actions that I did. I recognize that we would have lost the system and everything in it. Yet I find myself deeply burdened by the knowledge of those that I could not save, who died not as a result of the Nurgy’s actions, but of my own.
And now? We’ve bombarded three-eighths of a planet, solely upon my recommendation. The extradimensional daemons that had invaded there had to go; there was no doubt they would have taken down the Iris, and the probability that they would have eventually discovered and invaded the neighboring worlds was extremely high. The natives begged us to do it – and yet, I expect that this is cold comfort for those portions of the population that are being bombarded with high-level radiation even as I write this. The fact that the recommendation was necessary does not make me less heartsick. The Rahnian Sphere sent the Robert Frost instead of the Iris for the clean up work, and I haven’t yet seen their preliminary reports. I am on pins and needles waiting for it, and when it arrives, I don’t even know if I will be allowed to view it. Like everything else aboard the Iris, I generally get my information second-hand.
The contrast makes the loss of the Panopticon even more stunning. It was a library of sorts, an enormous repository of knowledge, stored and maintained by those who took part in it – which is to say, the rest of my people. Each of us had voluntarily set aside a portion of their psyche to dedicate to its maintenance. Now the only remnant which remains is that fragment which is stored in my own head.
At the time of its loss, I was deeply cocooned in a world of virtual reality. I only discovered what had happened when Solace successfully managed to remove me from my virtual prison.
The backlash I took at that time was not a thing to be forgotten, and the resulting psychic damage remains ongoing. I believe that the inexplicable mood swings may be linked to the related burnout creepage. If that is the case, the creepage is progressing faster than I originally anticipated, and this has me concerned. I haven’t been to see Yado about it. What could he do? The necessary treatment involves not only psychic but temporal correction – even Queen Sherilyn, the extraordinarily psychic leader of the Star Sister city, privately commented on the damage, but wasn’t able to repair it.
Ironically, I have the fix. This type of problem is the precise sort of thing that the Zero room was intended to correct. Of course, as the Pandora still has no power, it’s not operational at the moment. However, unlike most of the Pandora’s systems, the power requirements for the Zero room are extremely low. If I could bring the Pandora up to perhaps 3% power, I could get it back online, and spending time there would do me worlds of good.
The power requirements are so low, in fact, that I believe that I can provide the necessary energy from alternate sources. As my requests for a pre-made quantum accelerator have repeatedly been denied, I’ve been cobbling one together out of some of the old spare parts I’ve had lying around in storage. It should be ready to test soon.
In the meantime, we have a Yma distress beacon to deal with. To say the planetary bombardment didn’t go over well politically would be putting it mildly. Kat is back onboard after her abrupt arrest and release. However, I suspect that there are those who are not pleased with the idea that the person who recommended the bombardment (me) and the ones who executed it (the Iris and crew) have gotten away with it scott-free. The whole thing sounds like a trap to me.
Then again, extreme paranoia is one of the possible symptoms of untreated burnout creepage. Am I being paranoid? Logically, I would be the last to know something like that.
So, I suppose we will have to wait and see…
I am curious over this seemingly divinical performance claimed by our Harune guest, a creature wielding faith as a profession, calling upon the power of some divine force to aid him. He appears absolutely clueless about the power’s true nature. However, for it to work upon these demons specifically is even curiouser. Despite his recent heretical actions flying in the face of all that should have been divine, excommunicating offences to be sure, the power offered itself up like a sacrifice to young love, willing to be used in order to save the cleric, the Iris, and its crew. Is there a connection between those beings and the ambassador, or was this coincidence?
Recognizing the political games played by those in power, Kat holding up far better than I had anticipated, I am reminded of noble blunders, inexplicable as often as dazzling displays of buffoonery, played out among stately houses, often to placate the unduly outraged, looking for any excuse that might offer a nobler seat at the table of social roulette, and how Lady Hartwood confronts this with her controlled patients and sheer stamina found in none save the most successful royal families. Strangely enough, I am as proud of this Lady as I was when my aunt Morao brow beat the entire assembly of inquisitors assigned to discredit her by the ethics board of reviews, headed by the infamous Dr Kraou, jealous wife of my aunt’s ex-lover. By Morao’s force of will, a determined march, and considerable empathic rage, she sent the assembly falling backward off a 3rd story balcony and into the now famous Eayoson Wishing Fountain, and as her final gesture, Morao artfully flung photos of Dr Kraou, revealing candid and shameless acts of debauchery, for these things are done but never revealed or discussed openly, like naked cards of fate raining down upon her house for all to see, instantly dealing Dr Kraou a hand that clubbed her down to a social pariah, a status from which she would never fully recover.
Even though politics can be tiresome, often times boring, I enjoy watching these games of rhetorical wit and strategic snobbery, as they have a tendency to heat a room and chill bones all at the same time. I must confess my initial disappointment over Lady Peppermint’s disarmed demeanor, sheathed high society cutlass and seemingly retracted political claws, which, assuredly, must have been a ploy to mask her agenda, and the battle played out behind closed doors; me left unawares. I simply missed the subtle cues and innuendos so characteristic among bureaucratic masters: I suppose I should have expected this, spending as much time as I have away from such proceedings, craving partisan bloodsport when I should not. Fortunately, whatever may have happened in that room, Kat has been freed from confinement but under the auspicious recognizance of Korbou. I watch this with rising interest.
Now, we are off on a mission to rescue a downed ship, an ill-disguised ploy, smelling of political backwind, but for what purpose? Are the marionette strings of this show all being pulled by one ultimate puppet master? Regardless of her goal, this puppeteer is telling her intriguing tale with no one able to turn their heads to not see the gruesome parts. If only my father knew of these things when he wrote the controversial article that appeared in Us magazine titled “Sorry, You Don’t Exist”: he’d have so much more to say.
The Entaine on our ship are a determined bunch, and if I could bottle their tenacity, I’d surely make a fortune to rival the Sphere’s wealth. So, too, does the new Dr Bella strike with me such a pleasant cord as my mind spins with possibilities surrounding her continued investigations into the psyche of the command staff. Knowing most of the captains will have some tendency to be on their mental guard around her, the thought of them being under the mental microscope gives me some peace of mind, or, dare I say, gives me a lot of peace of mind. I must also admit that the idea of me, myself, being under the microscope is no less riveting, shaking me to the mental core, practically throwing me in to fits of delight. I know I should not be selfish in this and other crew require her help far more than I, but I wonder; What happens if she discovers something wholly bizarre, completely insane, or certifiably normal about me? I’m not worried about the results, but I am curious about what goes on inside my head from a perspective outside my own. The only part of Dr Bella’s work that I worry about is this: What will happen to our insecure security officer if he gets his head on straight? He’s dangerous enough with what sanity he does have. Who’s to know what tipping in one direction or the other might have on him, not to mention the crew.
Bo’ab, as a tantalizing addition to the Iris, has worked out quite nicely. On top of that, his desire to save a fellow crew member at any cost to himself marks yet another fine trait that I find irresistible. He has adopted the Iris, a Pride he calls his own, showing his determination to protect those he views as family, especially in his exemplary treatment of Kat. If Bo’ab were any more adorable he’d be on a shelf, surrounded by piles of stuffed animals, proudly ruling over his kingdom, freeing plush dragons and saving regal princes from frizzy evil queens, or some such fantasy trope. (Notice, I’ve started reading fantasy fiction.)
So, of course when we’re not told to go to a planet and hear signals from the planet that are along the lines of “Woe be to he who comes to the land of the daemons!” we go towards it. Douna had us in shallow orbit when a security alert goes off and over the speakers we hear “Breech on deck 7…Breech on deck 8…” What else could I do, but go towards it? I mean, I am one of the best fighters on the ship. I turned a corner and there it was, a hulking beast with curled horns and huge claws. It emitted some kind of heat until the fire suppression was activated. I was thinking of calling backup with the size of this thing…until it said, “Yes she, who killed her own brother, she will pay!” AW FUCK NO. It went there. I just pounced on it and just started hacking at it with my lightsaber. I wasn’t doing much, so I took Korbou’s advice and tried to shoot it with the quark disintegrator I took just in case. Did squat. I kept swinging and dodging until it was choking me to death. I tried to claw it’s hand with my free paw, but it was like scratching a brick wall. So then I tried to cut its hand off…the lightsaber BENT AROUND his huge fucking trunk of an arm that was holding me up. As I started to feel myself slipping I was beamed to the infirmary. Thank the forces of destiny. After a few nurses patched me up, (ha, “patched me up”) I noticed that Yado and Bo’ab were having trouble fighting something in the corridor outside. I went to go help them and it was another one of these fire daemon things. While I was hacking away on it, Bo’ab the great couldn’t even hit it with his claws, much less his new light-spear. Let’s see how he likes being taunted. I said, “Did you doze off during training? You can’t even touch it with your claws! How pathetic!” It got him mad and he tried to roar at either it or me, I couldn’t really tell…if you could call that a roar. “I’ve heard cubs roar louder than that!” The idea was to get his angry enough to attack better…or at least that was my excuse. It was then I realized that these things were tough, and I had left Lor’ea alone. She was a great fighter, but I doubt that even she could hold up to one alone. I called everyone on their communicators to see if she was okay. No reply from Lor’ea…Shit! And before I could finish asking if anyone knew if she was okay, Korbou informed me that she was dead. I was angry at the idea of her dieing and my letting it happen. I should be protecting her…I know we have copies, but if we didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done. It was about then we heard “Multiple breeches on decks…” I looked at the big, ugly fucker in front of me and leapt on him with the anger of a woman who lost her love. It hit hard, and so did Yado and I combined, but I was hurt badly. I got away to go back towards the infirmary, but something burning inside me told me o finish it. I attacked one last time, one last hit…and it FELL DOWN. I RULE. It was then I went back to the infirmary and just before I was sedated Korbou requested to see me. I said okay, and I was out. I awoke to my beautiful angel, Lor’ea looking down at me. I held her tight, asking her if she was okay. She only thought she was knocked out and healed. Thank the forces. We are not going to try to explain it any further. The only problem is that I know that this isn’t the body I made love to, or the one I held hands with and the lips I kissed the night we met… After a while saying that i was sorry and I should have been there to protect her, things were alright. I went to see Korbou and apparently I needed to sign something saying that blowing up three-eighths of the planet was alright. I trust Korbou’s tactical judgement, so I just skinned and signed. I’ll get a brief of the situation later. As I was leaving Korbou called out, “And I didn’t see Robin forge those other papers…” I’m liking him more and more lately. So then I went back to my quarters to make sure Robin was okay. I wasn’t worried since he has his telekenetic powers, but just to be sure. I walked in to see Lady Peppermint checking up on him and Robin saying, “I’m sorry Mistress Peppermint, but that is not something appropriate to speak of with someone outside of my family.” as he hurried off to his room. I went straight to Robin, knowing something had to be wrong. Lor’ea joined us shortly, and with a little prodding Robin finally broke down, literally, and told us how it was hard enough to get over losing one wife before, and that he couldn’t stand to go through that again with us. I assured I wouldn’t let that happen. I promised to protect them both for the rest of my life; that’s why I married them. I mean, on my planet, that’s what people who get married promise to do. After a lot of crying and comforting things were better…but to “get it out of his system” Robin had to clean everything four more times. At least the quarters are clean…Damn, I need a drink.