As I wobble toward a close, I'm going to reemphasize that the Cyborg problem is still alive and well. This is an addition to the first chapter.
And in the morning accepted a job as a Senior Analyst in the Presidential Directorate.
Not much changed, apart from being shoehorned into a nice large office for one--that he had to share with two others. But there was a window, natural light. Totally worth it.
And his reports went to Ox, not Ajki. And were as likely to involve external matters as internal or political.
The Drei Mächte Bündnis analysis was one of his on-going responsibilities. A brief to the Boss, with details handy if he wanted them. The failure to discover twenty-nine years (so far as they knew) of powered gate connections from an aggressive foreign polity was high on the list of thing that needed to be addressed.
They had partial answers.
The Drei had set up their gate beacon near a transformer cluster. In an all metal warehouse, that they had augmented with a fine metal mesh, and grounded. And their computers had the orbital data on the satellites that were looking for magnetic anomalies, and a program to calculate gaps in their coverage.
How their first infiltrators had gotten in undetected was unknown. Possibly they'd just been lucky. Or maybe they had sent in a single agent, whose entry had been written off as an error when nothing further was detected.
We know now that Jae Jong Chow was a no-show Cyborg infiltrator well over fourteen centuries ago. And they attacked Earth when they detected Mother Oner beacon.
So thinking the oldest infiltration we've detected is the oldest there was is . . . wishful thinking. We've only had satellite detectors up for . . . a hundred and fifty years? And the first ones had lousy coverage, huge gaps. We kept replacing them, adding more . . . Twenty-nine years ago we had good coverage, with very few brief gaps.
Dammit. We haven't a clue how long they've been here. And how do I find out . . . Talk to one of the ones we caught? But would they talk to me? Well, I know one that might.
"So . . . how are you doing, Zeeq?" Ice kept his body language and voice soft and unthreatening.
Zeeq had been a cheerful and efficient secretary, good looking, good figure. Now though, on the detainee side of the plex, she was thinner, scruffier. Her neat professional haircut had grown out and was clearly missing better quality shampoo and conditioner. No make up.
But it was the hateful glare that really topped of the unattractiveness of the prisioner.
"Zeeq, I understand that you're loyal to your World . . ."
"Empire!" Her lips drew back in a nasty smile. "We're ten times your size. You will submit to the Drei Mächte Bündnis, one way or another."
"Zeeq . . . your people won't win this war. Mine may not either. But mutual annihilation is not a good idea for either of us. Now . . . casualties were light, so in the interest of avoiding more, we will forego revenge . . . if the Drei Mächte Bündnis will leave us alone. The Home World, the Colonies, the Evac Worlds, all of our Worlds."
"I don't know if Disco would be satisfied with your not attacking allied worlds, but . . ."
A second glob joined the spittle dripping down the plex.
"They'll be satisfied once we get the brain chips in." Her smile was nasty. "Pity they want you dead. I'd just love to make you into my personal slave. We'd have so much fun!"
Way too many teeth in that smile.
"The personal slave get a special brain chip. So I know you'd just love me and get pleasure out of everything I'd do to you." She giggled in a way that sent chills up and down his spine.
Ice forced himself to just raise his brows, as if mildly offended by a social no-no.
"I think you Bunnies really ought to try talking first."
She just spat again.
Ice shrugged. "Nice to see you again, Zeeq. We must do this again, sometime."
He stood up and walked out. The door, operated remotely by the guards watching and recording every exchange for the analysts, closed behind him and he let himself shiver.
"Well . . . that wasn't very useful."