Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wraith Ships: Under Time Pressure, the Skilled Interogator Cracks His Client Before Lunchtime

Wraith Ships: Under Time Pressure, the Skilled Interogator Cracks His Client Before Lunchtime

If you have a client who bites, when you know you've got trouble on your hands. The client was Edgar Brunella Penvash, a logistics support guy who had stolen millions in some extremely cunning manner which a line-item AI analysis had failed to decrypt.
Unfortunately, after being arrested he had fallen into the grubby paws of DEO, the Department of External Oversight. Those goons look like extras in a low-budget horror movie, and their expertise is right down there with their looks.
The DEO is a byword for aggression, brutality and incompetence, and the only outfit that is worse than them is the JayCees, the Jehovah's Crusaders.
During my training, I saw a tape of a JC interrogation session. It was in a lesson which was on the timetable with the rubric "HOW NOT TO DO IT."
Before we started, the base commander himself showed up and briefed us. We were going to see a recording, the possession or viewing of which was a serious crimial offence. We could opt out and cut the class, but, if we, of our own free will, chose to stay, then we would be bound by the Code of Secrecy, under the terms of the blood oath to the Dark Mutilator which we had taken during our induction ceremony.
Naturally, we all chose to stay.
The JC interrogation goes like this:
1. They greet the client in the name of Jesus Christ.
2. One of them kicks him in the balls.
3. They beat the shit out of him, going at him with bare knuckles, seven against one, then throw him in a bath of cow shit.
4. A team of robots arives and subjects him to anal rape.
5. A cyborg version of the Virgin Mary then shows up, mocks his sexual prowess then pisses all over him.
6. The JCs then invoke the sacred name of Joseph of Arithemea, who (but surely you know this) is the dude who won the adoration of the angels and the favor of the All Highest by making his pre-purchased tomb available so the body of the crucified Christ could be laid to rest in it.
And, having invoked the name of JA, they cut open the client's testicles with a rusty razor blade then pour sulfuric acid into the wound.
That is how they start, but it gets worse. Much worse.
Unfortunately, the client was a devout member of the Catholic Cult, and he complained to his Church. The complaint got kicked all the way up to Benedict 498 in Rome, and that guy, well, he didn't end up getting called Pope Iron Balls for nothing. He went ballistic.
It is true that, these days, the Church of Rome is no more than a shadow of its former self. It has never recovered from the invasion of the Andromeda Galaxy, during which the victorious arachnids crucified every single Christian they could get their hands on.
These days, the Church has a mere twenty-seven billion adherents, most of them members of the Etruscan Disapora, living under the aegis of the Sacradlom.
However, the Church still has clout, and Pope Iron Balls used it to bring something pretty close to the wrath of God down upon the Jaycees.
As I say, the guys from DOE are almost as bad as the JCs, so I was sure they would have screwed up the preliminary interrogation. They had taken the precaution of stashing the record in an Archivist-only repository, but, fortunately, I had the required security level to get into it.
My Golden Day was my twenty-third birthday, the day on which three of my dreams came true. First, I managed to con the virginal Pamela Moana into drinking a soda spiked with a hefty dose of the rape drug known as Compliance. With the help of a matching dose of Ironman, I then fucked her seven times, and later posted carefully-edited free video of the event online.
The second joyful thing was that Hucks Buxom, the schoolboy bully who had made my teenage years nightmarish, accepted my invitation to sit down and have a quiet drink.
I took a massive dose of Wagon Rider, the enzyme which neutralizes any alcohol in your system. Thus supplemented, I led him into the realms of drinking games. I got him bugger drunk then buggered him, then I sold him to the gang of stinky old homeless guys who used to hang out in Reincarnation Park so they could do the same.
They paid a grand total of five dollars to buy him, and they had so much vigor at their disposal that, in the aftermath of his rape, the bloodstains were still visible on the concrete sidewalk five days afterwards.
The third golden event of my golden day was when I arrived home to find that none other than the Sector Commander had come in person to my home to tell me that my security rating had been raised to that of Archivist, which is as high as it gets.
That rating makes me omniscient so I was able to take a squiz at what DOE had been doing. And, yes, in taking their first shot at the client they had screwed up big time.
They had messed up by using third degree techniques on Brunella. Not very bright because (a) he was a recipient of the Iron Cross, most ancient and most honorable of our medals. This award is taken very seriously. They don't give it out like candy. You can only win it by displaying conspicuous valor on the field of battle, and anyone who had won it is, obviously, a tough guy's tough guy.
On top of that, before getting kicked upstairs into the administrative echelons, Brunella had been career military with PR, the Planetary Rangers. These are, as everyone knows (or should know) very much the Ultimate Warriors, survivalists with killing machine capabilities, specializing in deep reconnaisance missions on unfriendly planets.
While roughing up Brunella, the DEO guys had breached regulations by indulging in alcohol. Finally, one of them made the mistake of giving Brunella a "here, pal" turn at the whiskey bottle.
Brunella had reciprocated by smashing the bottle into the guy's face, and shortly had both guys naked and handcuffed.
According to the records from the closed circuit TV cameras, he then amused himself with a Taser that had earlier been used on him.
Then started biting.
Boy, could he ever bite!
As one of his stunts, he went for the testicles of the larger of the two interrogators, and bit each of those prairie oysters clean in half, leaving raw ragged agony exposed to the daylight air.
A salt container being in the pantry, he had then gone and rubbed salt on the wounds.
I was under orders to break the guy by lunchtime, using (get this!) "your renowned magical powers."
So we've left the world of scientific rationality behind and now we're into the witchdoctor zone. Great!
However, the orders could not be ignored. They arrived by courier, not in electronic form but in expensive calligraphy on parchment, the message embossed with the Grand Seal of General Peshev, who signed himself as Sector Commander.
So I was in the gun.
Remember that I was planning to surcease my much-hated (hated by me) wraith ship captain. And, when you kill someone, you always leave loopholes which allow an enemy to skewer you, even if you think you've done everything absolutely by the book.
Anyway, on my orders, Brunella had been deprived of food, sleep and water, so he showed up red-eyed, unshaven, sweaty and a bit stinky (definitely didn't win the battle against BO today), and was, presumably, both significantly dehydrated and ferociously hungry.
I proceeded to set a series of elegant dishes on the laquered bamboo table which sat between us. A very elegant table, on which I had placed my mother's best cloisonne vase, complete with cut flowers filched from her private garden.
I set out chocolates, a small bottle (a miniature) of the fabled Event Horizon rum that you can no longer buy on the open market, and a miniature of the similarly fabled whiskey known as Tennessee Golden.
Also water.
I had ice in a bucket and a study ash tray into which I put blocks of ice so I could smash them musically with a small prospecting hammer.
While I built the feast in Brunella's imagination, I indulged myself by sampling anything that took my fancy. I had fasted in advance of the event, so my manifest enjoyment was true and authentic. No acting, ham or otherwise, required.
Then I sat back and waited until a fresh ice cube placed atop the tuna salad melted into the nothingness of water.
This self-enforced restraint was pushing me to the limits of my endurance, which gave me an index of what my strung-out client must be going through.
He, with impeccable discipline, resisted the temptation to sample. He must have figured out that it was all a con, a Tantalus trick, an offer that would vanish if he reached for it.
Finally, I spoke, opening with a word from Unmodified Courtley, which I had studied when I did my PhD in Diplomatic Negotiations.
"Monsieur," I said, very smoothly.
A petit betrayal, no more than a slight adjustment of the head, signalled that the word had registered. I had placed my arrow exactly at the intended target.
"Monsieur," I continued. "You embarrass me. It is not possible for a gentleman to begin to eat until his honored guest has first partaken of the feast. Please launch yourself, I beg you. I beg this in the name of the Sacred Celestial."
That last request I delivered in Yardish, the Sacred Language of Syria, his home planet, where, as I knew from his file, his family routinely prayed to the Sacred Celestial before each and every meal.
I had set it up perfectly, using an improvised explosive device cunningly concocted out of courtly old-wold politesse, religious programming, nostalgia cues and animal temptation in the form of both life-giving water and connoisseur-optimized feast food.
The blow which I had so cunningly delivered had a spectacular effect. Without any preamble, without so much as a deep breath or a priminary hiccup, Brunella burst into shattering tears, and sobbed his heart out for a solid hour, until, finally, I pulled out a syringe and gave him a shot of Workhoist, so I could get the interrogation session back on track.
Having been broken, he then spilled the whole deal. I was taping the session, which was just as well, because my accounting skills are rudimentary, and I couldn't understand the explanation.
But it was like this. Something like this, at any rate. (I think.)
As our guy on the spot, Brunella had big money economic development incentives in his gift. These were in the form of tax breaks.
The way it's set up is pretty cool. The guy has an astrology blog which he signs with the code name "zelklodzi9", which you can find by using your favorite search engine. You will see a standard mumbo jumbo line about stars and cusps and crap about Scorpio mating with Leo and all the rest of that jazz. But somewhere in the latest entry you will see a message in clear, for example, "and, along with this meteorite display, we have the spring rains. And, of course, the annual Robert Muldoon Memorial Orchid Meet, this year in Close 43 of Haversack Metro."
You go to see the orchids and you see the dude, who you will recognize because both his missing arm and his missing leg are robotic skeletals, not cosmetic prosthetics. You approach him and lay out your unencrypted ID for his inspection.
Then he takes you to a quiet bar and you do the deal.
Now, by some kind of financial jiggery-pokery which Brunella explained but which I could not understand, you could take your tax break (the one that Brunella authorized) and bring it to one of Brunella's buddies, a one-armed one-legged old war veteran more than three degrees of separation away, and this old guy would convert your tax break to cash, taking a tithe for himself, a similar tithe for Brunella, and, in additition to that, some overhead money to pay for his lifestyle, which was one of beer fountains and non-stop fourteen-year-old virgins. (Well, what do you expect? If an alcoholic old combat veteran with a Deep Nine psychological disability rating finds a money river flowing right past his front door, the last thing you can expect to see is a class act.)
A good day's work, hen. Another feather in my cap. But my real business was with Captain Slocum, the wraith ship commander, the guy I so urgently wanted to surcease.
"Tomorrow, Slokezy," I said to my shaving mirror. "Tomorrow, that's when you'll get yours."


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