"What is thought? Do you know? Or you?"
-- The writings of Transparent Lemma, AS 2112
2779.247 - 2779.254 AS|
Juice -> Tyrell's Folly
In preparation for Jim's examination, Jayla quizzes Jim about how sure he is that he's really truthful. For example, what if he had to lie in order to save Janzur's life? Jim thinks that it's really unlikely that there would be a situation where those were the only two choices. Jayla thinks it's important that he be able to answer it; what if the Tinoori actually try and push him into that situation? Jim protests - Moment Before Dawn and Night Blooming Wisteria already asked him a hypothetical question about lying to the Tarn in order to save All People (Anya asked them), and he said he'd probably try and go along with them without lying and then try and destroy them from within later, or something like that, and they thought that was an okay answer. Well. If they thought that was okay, then it's probably okay.
For the second experiment for the amulet, aliens using psi are necessary. Ace, Eva, and Ruehan go look for a dolphin Seeker in the spaceport area. They explain that the experiment is to help them understand or affect Deciders; he's willing to help (though he has to roll his fortune dice in order to be powerful enough). He gives Ace a vision, though Ace isn't entirely sure what to make of it.
Jim manages to get an hour interview with a psych professor at a local college for his merit badge. Meanwhile, people who weren't there are briefed on the North pole trip. (See previous puttering log.)
"We changed the plan from 'get the hell out of Dodge' to 'get Martan the hell out of dodging'" - Ace, talking about the sea serpent that mostly ate MartanFinally, it's off to Tyrell's Folly / Cabry. Hippocrates sends off his traditional Skyguard ping, but receives no answer. Eva gets a report from some of her spies:
The war tends to go in cycles. It'll die down for a while into an uneasy truce, and then something will start it up again. It tends to start up when a human does something a Tinoori doesn't like (stray into a place that is considered held by the Tinoori, cuts down trees that were maybe on the Tinoori side of the line), and gets killed. Then there's retaliatory killings, and off it goes again. The current round of war is in an initial upswing.[ For reference: the humans call the human continent Conalia, the disputed continent Genereis, and the Tinoori continent Chanticly. The Tinoori call them forest-of-the-enemy, forest-of-the-hunt, and forest-of-the-home. ]
It's very much a war of territory; human-held territory tends to be more cleared than Tinoori-held territory, which is more heavily forested, to an extent that they actually plant trees when they conquer territory. Neither side tends to take prisoners at all, though when they aren't feeling especially bloody-minded, people get to flee. On the other hand, there are few outright civilians living close enough to the front lines that they would get quickly overrun.
There are never any formal treaties, because the Tinoori just won't negotiate with the humans. Cease-fires tend to be unofficial, and of the sort ``well, okay, we'll shoot a little less. Now they're shooting a little less. Now we shoot a little more less.'' and the human forces have found that that that works surprisingly well. Either the Tinoori ramp down too, or they don't, but if they don't, there's never any tricks where they lure the humans into a false sense of security and then pounce. If humans try and do that, that tends to get the Tinoori extra-riled and the war gets bloody for a while, so the humans generally don't.
In other news, the spies who are looking for Dr. Cain have begun to turn up reports that he was in a town called Kobital, near the front on the disputed continent (Genereis). He doesn't seem to be there any longer, and there are somewhat confusing reports of extra trouble (several somewhat mysterious murders) in Kobital now.
Jim asks Moment Before Dawn and Night Blooming Wisteria about the war - why is it a ground war? They speculate that it's because the Tinoori like hunting more than bombing, but have never been close to the situation as they are traveling Tinoori.
The two Tinoori say that, from their understanding of the examination, people will be permitted to go with Jim, but that they might find it boring, as the Philosophical Guidance Council will not want to speak to or hear from other humans who aren't Jim. So perhaps the party will want to split up?
Janzur says he's going with Jim. So does Ace. There is some concern that all of the fighters are going to the talking plot, and all of the talkers are going to the place with the multiple murders.
"Janzur, would you feel better if I jumped ship?" -AceAce decides to go with the Kobital group after all, so it's Jim, Janzur, Moment Before Dawn, and Night Blooming Wisteria going to the examination on Chanticly; Ruehan, Jayla, Eva, Ace, Sophia, and the Hippocrates remote unit are going to Kobital on Genereis. First Frost of Autumn is not deemed acceptable to present to the Philosophical Guidance Council, so he's left on the Hippocrates for safe keeping.
"I would jump ship if you promised not to speak." -Janzur
Brief investigations at the main spaceport and capital of Genereis indicate that Tinoori hunting is fairly common out near the border and they could probably find some support among the local populace if they wanted to pose as adventurers of that sort. Eva meanwhile, is finding out about the murders out in Kobital. Apparently, they're pretty bad, involving lots of dismembered townsfolk.
Deciding to head out, the party rents a mini-van, as it's deemed the insurance rates are lower than the expected repair costs and this is supposed to be a war zone. The group passes through several checkpoints out to the town and confirms Eva's information that the contested continent is under martial law.
Eventually, they arrive in Kobital and find it a nice little two main street sort of town, with most of the residences and stores and businesses in town, and the farms that support the town to the west. About 10 miles to the east is "the front" or at least where the line on the map says the front is. People get the opinion that "the front" is an ill-defined concept out here.
People head first to the boarding house they think Dr. Cain stayed at and look for rooms. They appear to be in luck, as the boarding house manager has a couple for rent.
"One room for boys and another for girls and robots." - Mike, confused once more.People sort themselves out and then prepare to suck the town dry of all of the information it has.
So, it seems time to bring these things to Captain Mason. People go to visit him and Eva gets them all in with her ID. As they're going in, they encounter Jamis heading out. He's plenty mad and a quick scan of his mind reveals that he's tired of waiting for Mason to do something...
Inside, the party bombards the poor Captain by asking him a bunch of questions they already know the answers to, (like "there are people missing among his men", etc.) effectively bolstering their claim to be working with super-secret Blue Intelligence. Once he's good and cowed, they move to the questions they don't know about. They find out that the warehouse of Dr. Cain is indeed one of the military warehouses. It was under the charge of Lt. Ackerly. Yes, the same lieutenant that vanished.
Right! Time to go search the warehouse. Captain Mason give the party his aide and off they go. Ace scouts around the outside and finds no security beyond the locks. The aide has the keys to the locks, so in people go. Tracking reveals that someone at least has been here in the last two weeks, but that they were defeated by the door separating the halves of the warehouse. Approaching said door, Ace warns all to stay away as it is obviously trapped with a strong electric charge.
People ponder what to do for a while and then realize that they don't need to use the interior door to get to the other side of the warehouse, since they have the master keys. They go around the outside and head in from the back. On the back side, they find the office, and of course the other side of the trapped electric door. In the office they find Lieutenant Ackerly's logs. He apparently has four guys under him. He had them come to the warehouse a do a bunch of construction, and then had all useful materials moved to other warehouses so no one would disturb this one.
Construction? Wait a minute, maybe those aren't the same electrified door after all. Careful examination reveals a narrow (six foot wide) corridor running down the middle of the warehouse. There's no way in other than through the electrified doors. Well, perhaps the walls... After punching a small hole through the wall, Ace wriggles in and turns off the trap. The rest of the party heads in through the now open door and examines stuff.
Inside they find a bunch of Dr. Cain's supplies and an Infernal Device Powered by Electricity. Oh dear. Well, that's clearly a piece of mad science, so Sophia goes to work. Unfortunately, she's not too familiar with this sort of equipment. It's clearly some piece of mad psionic engineering. There's a chair with a blinky helmet (brainwashing device?) connected to the main control board connected to a pile of reactive neural networking. Hmmm... What could it be? All thoughts of simply sitting in the chair and seeing what happens are quashed, and people fret. It seems unlikely that Dr. Cain would build a mad science brainwashing device, as he's so eerily convincing already.
After a while of brainstorming, people wonder if it could be related to the Tinoori somehow - or else why would he have done it here? "Ah ha!" says Sophia. That pile of neural netting is probably just the size and shape you'd want if you wanted to put a giant spider into the equivalent of a blinky helmet chair. The machine switches human and Tinoori minds! Whoa. That's not good. Given the number of missing soldiers, and later information that one of the missing ones was found dead out near the Tinoori lines, the party speculates that there are probably on the order of 3-5 Tinoori in human bodies and that many humans in Tinoori bodies. Oh dear.
Perhaps it's time to call Janzur over in Tinoori-land....
Shortly after lunch, Night Blooming Wisteria and Moment Before Dawn return, having arranged for a closed panel truck to transport humans in as the Guidance Council does not actually meet in the human tolerating local area (most Tinoori vehicles are like fast moving golf carts with poles to hold onto). Jim and Janzur get in the back, and about an hour later, arrive at the Philosophical Guidance Council building. They are met by four Tinoori: Ocean Sunset, Cogent Syllogism, Harmonious Choir, and Independent Confirmation. The Philosophical Guidance Council building is sort of like a cathedral built out of igloos, rounded but taller than the short igloo buildings of the spaceport city.
The group proceeds inside, into a conference room (there is a table, but no chairs). The examination commences.
Then Harmonious Choir interrogates Jim about the experiment. Jim says much the same things about what they did, that they had sharing of perceptions every evening, and Night Blooming Wisteria and Moment Before Dawn worked to refine his perception and understanding. Ocean Sunset enquires if Jim understands what would have happened if Jim introduced false perceptions to Night Blooming Wisteria. Well, he would have gone mad, and then he would have had to forget things and Moment Before Dawn could have restored his worldview. Is Jim aware that this doesn't usually work (and that if it did, it would be because Night Blooming Wisteria and Moment Before Dawn essentially share the same worldview)? Er, no, he wasn't. But he didn't think he would introduce errors into Night Blooming Wisteria's worldview. Why did Jim embark upon this experiment? To help the Tinoori and to help promote understanding.
Then, Jim is asked for his opinion on combat opera. He carefully repeats the things he's been told, assigned appropriately, but Cogent Syllogism thinks that's mostly a non-answer. So he constructs a hypothesis about what combat opera entails, assigning likelihoods of any given bit based on single or multiple lines of evidence. This is deemed a more acceptable answer. Does Jim think he would enjoy it? He thinks he would find it interesting, especially the first time.
At that point, Ocean Sunset informs Overwhelming Tactical Superiority that this is Philosophical Guidance Council business, the presence of the humans is in their jurisdiction, and he is to stand down. He does eventually cease struggling. Ocean Sunset asks if Jim wishes any retributive hunt; he declines. Overwhelming Tactical Superiority leaves, vowing that the Philosophical Guidance Council will regret this. [Also another strong statement of intent and capability - this is basically shorthand for "I will do everything possible to make sure that you regret this, and I consider myself capable of carrying it out."]
Ocean Sunset leads everyone (except Overwhelming Tactical Superiority) back to the conference room, and quizzes Jim about why that happened (Jim correctly speculates that Overwhelming Tactical Superiority was arranged by the Philosophical Guidance Council to be in the garden, but did not know that there would be humans present, in order that he could be used as a test.) What does Jim think the Tinoori learned from the encounter? That they won't hesitate to defend themselves, but that they're reluctant to actually kill. Cogent Syllogism also gives Jim credit for attempting to introduce unknown but true information to Overwhelming Tactical Superiority's worldview (even if Overwhelming Tactical Superiority does not accept worldview input from humans), and explains that in their experience, humans are most apt to behave non-sentiently when their lives are threatened, and thus that particular test.
The imprisoned Tinoori is Bloody First Strike, but pretty much nothing other than his name seems much like a Tinoori. He doesn't speak very good Tinooranthi (not even as good as Janzur), and wants to know why Jim speaks bug talk so well, and why he's here. Jim tries to explain about the Philosophical Guidance Council inviting him here, but the Tinoori is baffled. He proves to speak Intergal much more clearly, which leads Jim to ask if he was raised by humans? Yes, yes, he was raised by humans. Moment Before Dawn and Night Blooming Wisteria start backing out of the room.
Jim talks to Bloody First Strike a bit longer (the Tinoori tries to get him to let him out of the prison - he'll agree to most anything to get that, it sounds like), and when that's finished, the group proceeds back to the conference room again. Independent Confirmation questions him about Bloody First Strike; Jim, like the other Tinoori, think he seems somewhat un-Tinoori-like, even like a human (though the Tinoori are glad to have this confirmed by an actual human). About this time, Janzur is called via the radio by the rest of the party, who fill him in on Dr. Cain's mad plan to switch Tinoori into human bodies and vice versa. Hmm, says Janzur, they may have seen some evidence of that themselves.
Jim asks for a piece of paper saying this is true. This somewhat baffles the Tinoori - if the humans in question don't believe Jim, why will they believe the piece of paper? Will they be able to tell that the paper is written by them in particular? (That's impressive, from a perception standpoint...) Apparently it's been a long time since the Tinoori dealt with human government. In any case, they write up something saying that they're accepting Jim as sentient and declaring a cease-fire, and affirming that this is in their jurisdiction. Then they sign it. Should they make more copies? Would several be more convincing to normal humans than one? No, that probably won't help.
Jim asks the Question, about what humans did to cause the Tinoori to cut off contact. Independent Confirmation takes him aside from everyone else and tells him. Back during the civil war in the Hegemony, the Tinoori themselves had not taken either side, and there were humans on the planet who were on both sides, loyalist and rebel. There was a massive disinformation campaign, orchestrated by Tyrell, the planetary governor, which convinced the Tinoori through multiple seemingly independent sources that the loyalist side was about to conscript the Tinoori into the navy, whereupon the Tinoori fell upon the loyalists and killed them. Then it became clear that this was a false truth, but it was an integral part of the worldview of most of the Tinoori leadership. Some were able to be wiped clean and begin again, but most went mad and killed themselves or were killed. The Tinoori now can barely conceive of humans being willing to do this, against an enemy they meant to destroy, but that was not even the case - they were destroyed and broken out of convenience, by those who were not even their enemy. Humans have not appreciably changed, they think, in that time. They find it a plausible possibility that humans en masse could still try to do this sort of thing again.
Independent Confirmation says that steps were taken, that it would not be so easy to fool them again, but even so, it is not something that they would wish humans to know could be such a potent weapon against them. And, if it becomes at all widely known among humans, then the traveling Tinoori will learn it and stop traveling.
At this point, Moment Before Dawn, Night Blooming Wisteria, and Jim are briefed by Janzur on the plot that the rest of the party has discovered. After some confusion as to why it's being kept secret from the Philosophical Guidance Council, they tell the others as well. Based on this, the group proceeds down to talk to Bloody First Strike again - upon pressing, he admits that he's Lt. Ackerly, and was in fact swapped by Dr. Cain. Dr. Cain made a good case to him about using Tinoori as part of the ascension to greatness. In the end, though, he didn't want to leave the planet with Dr. Cain, he wanted to infiltrate the Tinoori instead. That doesn't seem to have worked so well.
He's remanded into the custody of the Jim/Janzur portion of the party, and that group heads to Genereis to meet up with the other half; Moment Before Dawn is prevailed upon to speak on the radio to one of the humans-as-Tinoori who the other half of the party has captured.
While prowling the streets, the party finds Jamis and two of his guys similarly prowling. Jamis has clearly taken things into his own hands and is out hunting for murderers. He's been briefed that the army guys who vanished need to be detained, but he doesn't seem so big on detaining...
However, Jamis and his guys can't really tell the party to get off the streets so the two groups drift apart warily, each planning to continue patrolling.
After another hour or two, Sophia picks up movement on the nearby roofs and sends Ace off to get jumped by the two bogies. He complies and ends up climbing up to the roof on which one is. Things look momentarily grim as the second target runs across his rooftop and tries to leap to Ace's, but in a stunning display of non-coordination, crashes to the ground at the rest of the party's feet. Eva and Jayla do a good job of talking the lower one down, while Ace has a brief tussle, but is covered by the upper one.
Just as people are about to get the situation completely under control, scouts notice that Jamis and his mob are returning. Oh dear. Ruehan makes a mass illusion of Ace sauntering out into the street as a distraction while all the other parties sneak away - the Hippocrates party with their one Tinoori-in-human "guest", and the other Tinoori-in-human with Ace as his "hostage".
"Ace seems to have a history of making friends with his captors, so I think it'll work well." -JaylaFirst, the main group has their Tinoori-in-human talk to Moment Before Dawn over the radio, as he's not really believing the stuff they say. "No, really, the Philosophical Guidance Council says one of the humans is sentient!" This stunning revelation leads to a negotiation session in which everyone is filled in on what the others know.
Meanwhile, Ace's "captor" is trying to get Ace to use his radio and talk to his friends to negotiate for the release of his companion. After a while, all the Tinoori and Tinoori-in-humans are given radios and share their incredible experiences.
The story that comes out is basically, Dr. Cain had Jamis and his hunters capture four Tinoori without killing them. He then used those Tinoori and his loyal soldiers in testing his machine. The first try failed and both subjects died. The second try resulted in switching the minds of Lt. Ackerly, and Bloody First Strike. The next two tries were successes as well. Of the three humans-in-Tinoori, Ackerly wanted to stay and infiltrate Tinoori society for the war effort, but the other two left with Doctor Cain two weeks ago. Of the three Tinoori-in-humans, one ran back to Tinoori territory, and was killed, while the other two took up human hunting and vengeance here in town. Eva convinces them that the humans can help undo the body swapping.
Janzur and Jim get the PGC to give them "Lt. Ackerly" and they bring him secretly into Kobital with Captain Mason arranging lots of security for things he was not meant to know about. Lt. Ackerly and Bloody First Strike are successfully returned to their bodies by Sophia. Eva informs Ackerly and Mason that this entire affair is highly classified and they are not to speak about it. Oh, and there's a secret armistice that will be going on line soon. Talk of a secret armistice pushes Mason and Ackerly over the final edge and they realize that Eva is a mysterious and powerful figure in the Blue intelligence scene.
Bloody First Strike and the other Tinoori-still-in-human are returned to the Tinoori where they are debriefed by both the Philosophical Guidance Council and the Tactical Guidance Council. Eva has the armistice reworded just a bit to make it more palatable to the commanding general of the humans, without changing any actual content, and Moment Before Dawn and Night Blooming Wisteria are empowered to speak for both councils on this matter. The party heads off to present their fait accompli to the humans.
Eva presents her real IDs and the cease fire documents to the commanding general of the human forces. General Vandermeer is a bit non-plussed that Blue Intelligence has had people working here for who knows how long without informing him. Jim helpfully corrects him that they've only been working on this stuff for about a day and a half.
"Why is there a 14 year old in this meeting? Wait a minute, that's the Jim Powell? If this is all a Sparky Cola publicity stunt, you people will be in jail for the rest of your lives." -General VandermeerThe General isn't happy about any of this, and wants confirmation from Blue ASAP, but Eva convinces him that it's all important enough to at least start moving along with, and the general declares the cease fire. For now, it appears that the war is over.
Finally, in wrapping up, Jim tells the rest of the crew (except the Tinoori) what Tyrell's Folly was. There's some discussion about whether the Hegemon should know about this, but it's decided to not inform Doraine just yet. Eva and Janzur make plans to go to New Light and explain this whole cease fire mess to the proper authorities. Time for more scolding it appears...