Among the Enemy
"We have to get the domestic situation under control, so we can open the portals to Regulous soon. You are horribly dependant on imported food. Stuttgart is, of course, helping, but we weren't ready to take the entire load!"
Vlad supposed that if he were a proper intel agent, he'd be delight to be dragged along . . . included in . . . this vert important meeting.
Started right off with a not very subtle threat of starvation if we don't . . . what? Is this still about the zivvy?
And are the portals down because they ordered it, or did we do something?
I'm betting on Axel, because there's a lot of rage being concealed. And not just Colonel Lehr's. I don't think anyone here has a clue what happened to the portals.
Chief of Police Nestor Naoumov was hiding anger behind a facade of mild interest.
Governor Berezin was doing all the talking on their side. Failing to subdue the anger in his voice. ". . . invited you in to help us secure the City from attacks from outside. Not to mess up our portals, which were working fine until last night. Not to investigate crimes, not to make illegal arrests, not to perform warantless searches of citizen's homes.
"And very definitely not kidnap and illegally chip Imperial Agents."
Colonel Lehr eyed him impatiently. "He was a traitor to your World. And a very powerful mentalist. He had to be eliminated, immediately."
"We do not eliminate people, Colonel." Berezin stiffened his shoulders. "As the representative of the Council of Siberia Max, at the order of the Council, I order you to leave this World."
That got a snort. "My troops outnumber yours, and more than equal your pathetic police force. I ordered you to come with these people to let them know that the City Police are now under my command, and those we keep will be intergrated into my police force."
He stepped up to the Chief of Police. "Do you understand that, Chief Naoumov?"
Lehr eyed him, then turned to Vlad. "So, you know the fugitive. Tell me about him."
"I met him three months ago, as a suspect in the alledged murder of his uncle, Lord Vladimir Vinogradov. He . . . was considered a useless Layabout. But he seemed very self-controlled, thinking ahead. Aware of all the legal and financial impacts of Lord Vladimir's death. Cold blooded and calculating.
"Researching him, I found that he had degrees in statistics, accounting, history, and Mentalist studies, with a Doctorate in Power Applications."
The Colonel straightened at that.
"So he was not just naturally highly talented, but also educated, and most likely very well trained."
"When, in the course of searching Vinogradov House, I found what looked like a dimensional beacon, Lord Axel made a single phone call, identified himself with a number and sent a recording of the beacon and the room it was in. A Fast Response Team arrived very quickly, and recognized him."
Vlad shrugged. "So I realized that the 'job' he'd casually dismissed, and allowed me to assume was financial in nature, was that of a Mentalist with the Teams. I was not in a position to know if he was the agent said to have accompanied Inquistor Gorbachev, however he was exhibiting all the symptoms of an unprotected portal crossing. I accompanied him and the servant who'd been showing me around, to the house he owned on Upper Cliff. I was boggled to find out it was next to my father's house, which we had always thought vacant and held as an investment. Inside I got the full lecture about it didn't happen until I had expresss permission for it have happened."
"After that, the Imperials took over the investigation . . . are you interested in the results?"
"Only in as much as Lord Axel being proven guilty."
"Actually Lord Vladimir's Executive Secretary killed him, as the only path he could find to stopping his master, when he discovered the beacon. Inquisitor Gorbachev removed the controls and whatever inhibitions Lord Vladimir implanted, and got the whole confession out of him."
"Where is he now?"
"I have not seen him since. I did, two days later, receive an official decree from the Imperial Inquisitor's Office that the killing was justified defense of the World."
A snort from the Colonel. "A nice cover for murder. So an Inquisitor is in on it!"
Vlad eyed him. "Do you still have communication to Home? You might want to get an Executioner out here to look into the matter."
The colonel blinked, thinking.
Go on. Do it! Dare you!
"I spoke hastily. I would never doubt an Inquisitor. Yesss . . . brave man, that Exec, a crucial moment when the invasion could be stopped while it was small. Now whether Lord Axel was in on the Treason is still not resolved."
He glanced at his computer. "Agent Schweiger is of the opinion that neither Lord Andre nor Lord Nikoli are powerful enough, ambitious enough, or intelligent enough to have been in on the Treason. What do you think?"
"I agree with that assessment, but will add that they are spoiled, arrogant, and dissolute, but only in small ways." Vlad shrugged.
The Governor nodded. "I knew them all, of course. Rather . . . typical third generation down from a great man, those two. Lord Axel was different. I knew he was one of Rasputin's Agents. I would never have thought . . ." He shook his head sadly, and turned to the Chief of Police, looked him straight in the eyes . . . and winked. "Integrate your people into a unified force, I'll make sure that you do all right out out of it."
The Chief scowled, nodded.
Vlad glowered, muttered "damn politicians." Shrugged. "How? There's not much room. We can put up barracks for more Cyborgs pretty quick, but not offices."
"We'll talk about it." The chief herded him out, glancing at the Governor. "And our budget."
"Now look, we've got money problems already . . ."
They argued all the way back to the squad cars.
Then the Chief eyed him. "What do you think, Gargaran, you're being pretty quiet."
"Well . . . I'll look over the Stutt Cyborgs. Separate them from their current controllers and then we'll see what we're dealing with. Long term? My money's on Igor."
The Chief glowered. The Governor sagged. Vlad got right in his face. "Don't write that man off. You know he's not cowering in a hole, so don't you give up either."
The Governor straightened, offended.
The Chief frowned. "Well . . . Gargaran, you are temporarily assigned to Cyborg duty . . . and try to make them into good cops, not occupying soldiers."
So he started with a gang of Cyborgs he knew were good people and good cops. "So, did you all get three days worth of the zivvy dissolver," he grinned at their expressions.
Forty-one shook his finger at him. "Are you supposed to tell anyone about that?"
Two-four swallowed. "You're kidding?"
"No. This is how the conquered worlds are successfully rebelling. Three days of the officers getting dosed with the Plague--which is a poison, not a disease--and three days of the troops getting the zivvy destroyer, and suddenly our army is the rebels' army."
He certainly had their attention. "If you didn't get three days worth . . . any of you? Good. Now you need to go tee total for three weeks to make sure it turns off before it affects your control of the arm. I don't know any more than that about how it affects Cyborgs.
"Servant chips? A week of the wine, three weeks off removes the wires without damaging the chip, so it read as functioning. Twenty day of the wine and even the chip is dissolved."
He bit his lip. "Have any of you been around the Stutt Cyborgs?"
They all nodded, and they all looked angry.
Three-twelve growled. "They're acting like conquering warriors. Not quite to the rape, loot, pillage, burn stage . . . But they look like they really want to get to it."
Vlad nodded. "I'm supposed to integrate them into the police force."
"Oh shit." Forty-one hunched his shoulders.
"So what I need you guys to do is meet them, talk to them when they're off duty and relaxed. Find out if the behavior is an overlay from their controllers, or if they really are bad. Try and find good ones, and get the wine into them. If they're being actively controlled on duty . . . we'll have to figure out how to deal with that. Because I don't think anyone has any of the Plague poison."
"Day yam." Forty-one nodded. "Right, we'll see if we can lure any of them over to the side of law and order."
"Or to the side of Siberia Max." Two-four nodded. "I think they're just in tents on the west side, kind of surrounding their portal, well, their arrival spot with the beacon. They've taken over management and security of our commercial portals. Don't know about the one Up Top."
"I'll look into getting some portable buildings for barracks, bring them over in small batches, so you can look them over. And friendly or not, try and get them to act like police, not as you say, conquerors."