The Pearl - Chapter 17

mercenary ships on way to basra


"I only have one possession, Leith-mnan-gar. It is this."

Misha gives Leith the ring




"For some time now, I have been analysing the Lord-priest's explanation of the phenomenon he called the Pearl. I must admit that I am no closer to a meaningful understanding of it. I see from the reflections of your own thoughts that you have no more understanding than I, and yet your behaviour leads me to believe that you do not doubt the existence of it."

"Jaycee, maybe it just comes down to faith."

"I am acquainted with the concept of faith, Leith. It is not as irrational as most humans would suggest. Often an act of faith is based upon preceding knowledge and behaviours that, taken in isolation, do not seem to have any relationship. Yet if you are able to rapidly perform iterative cumulative analysis on all this data, patterns of probability begin to emerge. This is why battle computers are built. In many regards, the advice from a battle computer to a ship's commander could be said to be an expression of faith the AI has in the cumulative data."

"I'd never heard it put quite that way before. I don't think Arail would be happy with the notion of her JCN taking a flying guess when there's a squadron of OREF ships coming at her."

"It is far from that, Leith, as you know. However, there is an element of human behaviour that runs much deeper than this type of faith. There seems to be a reasoning that exists below even you subconscious, an ingrained knowledge of your destiny. It is this aspect of humanity that prevents a JCN ever being given strategic control over a ship, that fuels an abhorrence of Hellbringers, that makes you continue to fight when all is lost, that keeps you searching for your gods... It is in this part of you that you seem to accept Misha-Dan's explanation."

"Jaycee, It is not because of Misha-Dan - or any ingrained sense of human destiny - that I believe. It is because of Kweela."

"I know you have complex feelings for Kweela-San, Leith."

"It... it is more than that, Jaycee. How can I explain something to you that wriggles from my grasp every time I try to think about it. It is about ka. Kweela once told me that is not part of Ganz-tu for her to try to convince me about ka; that in time I would understand. She spoke truly. Kweela believes in the Pearl; she is my ka; therefore I believe. I can no longer not believe."

"Hmmm... I will need to consider this more.





g gets communique giving her authority.


What is the identity of that ship?"

"It's identity code is scrambled, High-Admiral," answered the Communications Officer. "However, it responded promply to our challenge and identified itself as Independent Military Vessel Lady Macbeth of mercenary group Siven."

"What's its business?"

"She declined to say, High-Admiral."

"Declined to say?" echoed Crando in disbelief. "I'll give them something to decline. Tell them to cut all power and stand by to be boarded. Make it clear I will not tell them twice. Signal Janus, Lothario, and Saint Alstrain to take up positions on her flanks and astern and bring all their primary weapons to bear." The Admiral turned to her flight commander. "Bring us around dead ahead of that son of a bitch. Stand by to launch a boarding party."

"Admiral, with respect, I

Crando turned to look at Gisele.

"Ambassador, is there any political reason for you to make that... request?"

"Not that I..."

"Then keep the hell out of military busness!" Crando interupted.





"Ambassador, you are on the bridge at my pleasure. If you insist on interfering I will reguest you remove your self."

"High-Admiral, perhaps you should take a look at this."

Gisele handed the Council communique to one of Crando's officers, who made his way across to the High-Admiral. Crando snatched the paper from the man's hand and scaned it briefly. She crumpled it in her hand and turned away to stare at the holographic display. After a few moments, once she had regained her composure, she turned back to Gisele.

"Your orders, Ambasador?" she said through clenched teeth.

"Have the phalanx hold this position, thank you High-Admiral," replied Gisele pleasently. "

Chapter 18 -->