“Oh . . . that would be. . . interesting.”
Nicholas snickered. “It would be good for you, to branch out.”
“Oh . . .”
An hour later he received an invitation from Urfa to join him in a meeting.
At Government House. Itsy turned up driving an official car—at least it wasn’t a limo—and turned it over to another guard at the back entrance to Government House.
“I’m supposed to make sure you find the right room. Betting in the barracks is that you’d wander around lost and the first person you asked for directions would be the guard at the door to Urfa’s conference room.”
Lucky Dave sighed. “You guys do realize that luck comes in a bad variety, right? So tell them I walked confidently into the ladies lav. Okay?”
“Oh Kay. You know that one word is enough to identify you as a thousand years old.”
As they walked up on a guard, he opened the door he was guarding, for them. Inside a drop-dead gorgeous woman behind a desk. She flashed a smile and pointed at the side door.
“Just walk in, Captain, and have a seat.”
Itsy dropped into a chair across the desk from her. “Any interesting gossip, Puur?”
Lucky Dave eyed the door. Straightened his shoulders and opened the door. Stepped into a completely ordinary conference room. No. It was absolutely bare. Along table with a dozen chairs. A desk a bit apart, crossways at the end to his left. The desk was bare, the walls were bare, the only things on the table were small comps the people there had obviously brought with them. No windows.
Rael was there, chatting with two strangers in business suits. One short and blond, the other large and brunette. Idlo, one of the Directorate Agents he’d met. Several other men, and older woman looking him over with a sharp gaze.
Rael caught his eye and pointed at a chair.
“I think everyone is here, now. So perhaps some introductions for the two new people. Over there we have Captain Dave ibn Daiki ibn William, whom we, along with half the other organizations on the world are trying to recruit. And sitting next to him, Jiol Withoine, former Presidential Guard and now with Disco.”
“Dave, Jiol, to my right, Ahxe Withione Blackpoint who will officially be the Subdirector of Criminal Investigation over at the Internal Relations Department as of sometime tomorrow. His boss for the next few hours, Director Izzo Withione Alcairo. To my left Ydro Servaone, Inre Neartuone, and Idlo Withione are specialists in Political Intel.”
In as much as Idlo had taken the chair at the foot of the table, and his nose was starting to elevate, he apparently didn’t like being grouped with the other two.
Mere Servaones and Neartuones. In the Presidential Director’s ingroup! The horror! Dave shrugged off the thought that if not for Ra’d quick intervention, he’d have been even lower. A Halfer.
These people are insane to judge people’s worth with a genetic test.
The door opened again. Urfa and his pretty secretary.
Everyone turned off their electronics.
“So, Ox, everything smooth?”
The big guy—Ahxe—nodded. “Not without a few noses out of joint, but when I told them They could now that their complaints straight to Izzo . . . they decided they could live with the situation.”
Urfa grinned, and glanced down the table at Dave. “We colonized four worlds with a native population, and had separate police and courts for the natives. Which was silly from the start, with Homestead, but now they’ve all been combined. One police force, one court system for each world.”
Dave made a mental note to ask about how a single police force could cover a world.
“So, welcome to Paris, and Internal Relation, Subdirector.” Urfa looked down the table. “Jiol? Did you find out what the problem was?”
The old woman snorted. “An un-contacted Earth, Tunguska Branch, circa 2172. The found a gate—probably the Combat gang—and decided to start by capturing this city their scout found. Embassy of course. Fortunately their scout had the sense to go straight to Xen, and he sent their invasion packing. He said he left them a small branch of the Maze to keep them busy and he’d contact them in a year or so and see if they’d decided to be sensible.”
Dave eyed her. “You make it sound like he did it alone. Or was it a small expeditionary force?”
“Six tanks, and two companies of infantry. And yes, he did it alone. We all go to bed every night praising Allah for making Xen a genuinely nice guy.” The old woman chuckled. “You’ll see, if you ever spend much time around him.”
A giggle from Rael.
Urfa nodded. “Captain Dave? We had several reports on the Prophet’s visit to Makkak. I’m curious though, about you opinion of the whole situation.”
Lucky Dave bit his lip. “Well, I skipped the whole deification of the stuck grand compass, so while, from my reading, I realize that the compass was needed at the time, the subsequent . . . care and feeding of it and the barbarian practices they added utterly repels me. So I’m delighted to see it broken, apparently long term.
“I’m aware of two deaths, and numerous problems the departing priests are experiencing, yet it seems to be settling down to something that I would call a normal religion. One of faith in a God, rather than recognition of the power of the church.”
“I’ve heard that their main means of control is the assignment of a princess assassin to every influential figure. That . . . well, again, I know it’s roots, in arranged marriages to the daughters of the Prophets, to monitor and control allies. But is it actually necessary, anymore?”
Rael giggled. “Oh, Dave. You are going to be fun to have around. The current thing that everyone is wondering is who can order the assigned princesses take actions against their assigned bureaucrats?”
Urfa winced. “Not a power one wants just floating around.”
Dave nodded. “In Makkah, Emre and three other Priests, Jeb, Usse, and Ytry seemed to be coordinating everything when we left.”
Rael nodded. And met Urfa’s gaze. “I’m just back from there. They’ve pulled in a few more people for the top echelon, and are delegating specific chores to them. We’ll see what they can do about weather real soon now. There’s a typhoon in the south Pacific they’re trying to weaken and steer. The individual mosques and churches are being given much more autonomy, and the funds to deal with local issues. But the control through the Princesses is still being handled by the top four.”
Dave frowned. “Marrying off their daughters is how the Prophets stayed on top of an intensely tribal culture. Most of us children and grandchildren were raised in the Prophets values and culture, and I’ve seen very little of the tribal organizations, but a fair amount of class snobbery, since we . . . arrived. I’ll talk to the commander, and no doubt he’ll liaise with Emre and his people about whether a distributed system of status symbol assassins is still needed.”
The pretty Puur slapped her hand over her mouth snickering.
Rael yipped. “Status symbol assassins! Oh, One! That is exactly what they are. Sorry, Puur.”
Dave look back at the beauty, snickering, wiping her eyes, and blowing her nose.
Urfa shook his head, eyes twinkling. “Well, anything new politically I need to know about?”
Shaken heads. Idlo shrugged. “With Agni so definitely out of the running, the War Party has a dozen people testing the waters for a presidential run. Ambassador Ashe, Minister Asni, and Councilman Wzli are the most often mentioned. The other parties are buzzing like mad as well, but only the Isolationists have a single strong contender—Councilman Ovil.”
“How about the Strong Federalists?” Izzo leaned forward and looked down the table.
Ydro snorted. “They don’t think they have a chance of winning, so they’re trying to entice Subdirector !Tok into running.”
Dave blinked at the roof-of-the-mouth pop that preceded the name.
A snort from Izzo. “!Tok is much too canny to take a step like that. Quit his job for a guaranteed loss? Nope.”
Izzo’s pop ran smoothly into the Tok and made it all sound like a very foreign name.
Dave cocked his head. “That’s right they have to quit to run. I’d forgotten that. And it all officially starts the first day of Muharram, 1415. Fourteen months from now?”
Rael sighed. “Not looking forward to it.”
Urfa dismissed, them then, leaving before them.
Lucky Dave looked after him, then over at Rael. “Does he leave us alone to talk about things we didn’t want to bother with in a formal meeting?”
Rael laughed. “Probably. What’s up?”
“One police force for a whole bloody planet?”
Izzo grinned, and Ox shrugged. “I suppose it does sound odd. But every police department is a small part of the Internal Relations Directorate. But they are finely divided, right down to city police, and in rural areas, sheriff’s departments. The Native police, on the other hand operated under the authority of the appointed colonial governors. Combining them ensures equal treatment under law, and frankly, is probably the first step toward elected Governors.”
“Okay, so why is it bad to have the Governors in charge of the police?”
“It . . . gives them the ability to lord it over the Natives. There haven’t been too many cases of abuse, but they do happen. By separating the governor from the police’s line of authority, will, in theory, help.” Izzo shrugged. “We’ll find out if it works in a multi-world empire.”