(67) Who Cares?

The Misha Campaign (059-1122 to 060-1122)

071 / 802 local (059-1122 - 060-1122) : Digitis / Vilis / Spinward Marches

    After the discussions with Mike yesterday, its time to talk to Lap'da and see if he can contribute anything to their understanding.  There has been no apparent reaction to the previous night's events from anyone outside the crew of Nightshade.  Nevertheless, since Mich Saginaw is staying behind, Edward "Shark" Teeth and Teri Cralla stay in the guest rooms too.

    As soon as Misha Ravanos, Kalida Siena, Robert Morris, and Helia Sarina step out of the guest quarters into the forest, they see Lap'da is waiting for them.
    Misha greets the jann, "Hello, Lap'da.  Were you waiting for us?"
    Lap'da replies, "Hello.  No.  And yes.  I was... expecting you."
    Kalida asks, "What are you expecting us to ask you?"
    "Not that.  You have surprised me."
    Misha laughs, "What is the question you were expecting us to ask?"
    Lap'da pauses, then says, "I am not expecting you to ask a question."
    "What were you expecting us to do?"
    "To ask me questions.  To answer your questions."
    Robert asks, "Do you know Mike?"
    "We met a man whose name is Mike.  He said he had treaties with the Sheriff.  So, have you ever met him?  He's a portly fellow."
    "No, I have never met him."
    "He also said he controlled Jane, who was working on the lightning system."
    "So Mike is who came.  And you have been... careful."
    The group doesn't seem to think so.  Misha says, "Careful in what way?"
    "You are here."
    "We have been careful enough to continue to exist."
    Robert says, "In fact, at the beginning of the meeting he said he would kill us all if we left the planet, and by the end of the meeting he said he would no longer kill Mich."
    "Or the rest of us," adds Helia.
    Robert says, "So we made some progress at the meeting."
    "Good.  Meetings without progress are... not meetings.  And... what have you learned?"
    Helia says, "Since we last talked, or about Mike?"
    "Mike isn't what he wants us to think he is."
    "What does he want you to think he is?"
    "Somebody really, really dangerous who knows a lot."
    "How do you know he is not?"
    "I think he's really dangerous and knows a fair amount."
    "Ah.  Enough to be dangerous?"
    "Yes.  Not as dangerous as he wants us to think he is.  You know?"
    "Why would he want you to think he is dangerous?"
    "To scare us."
    Kalida adds, "So we'd give him whatever he wants."
    Helia explains, "He wanted Mich, or Mich dead, or at least not available for anybody else."
    "And now he does not want that?" asks Lap'da.
    "I think he thinks he can manipulate us by other means.  Do you know him?"
    "You don't know anything of his people, do you?"
    "I don't know.  Who are his people?"
    "He won't tell."
    Kalida says, "Whoever they are, Jane is with them."
    "So these are the same people who brought you here with the rumor of the beast that used psionics, but didn't."  Lap'da uses the galanglic word psionics.  "They have been interested in you a long time, it seems."
    The rumor of that creature was from one of Marquis Marcus Crestworthy's contacts, Cappy Starfugger, so it's one of the things that wasn't directly traceable to the Wonstar Development Corporation.  Misha asks, "What's the connection between that and Jane?"
    "Jane was only here then," says Lap'da.  "Jane came here to meet Mich."
    Kalida wonders whether Jane was with Mike's people the whole time, or has just recently been theirs.
    Robert says that when Jane was leaving, she sent a message saying in effect that Mich wasn't a threat and was soon to be dead anyway.  He adds, "Now we've been on many adventures, and trials and tribulations that we had thought Mike's people had caused, but Mike has denied he had any involvement."
    Lap'da says, "So did Mike send Jane here?"
    "As far as we can tell, yes."
    "So it was... Mike's thought to send you to the northern wall?"
    Misha and Robert discuss this briefly.  Robert convinces his Captain of the truth of Lap'da's assertion that Jane was with Mike all the time.
    Lap'da asks, "Why would Mike be helping the Sheriff?"
    Robert says, "May be part of the treaty that Mike's people have with the Sheriff, that they're getting something of value, and in return Mike is helping the Sheriff."
    Kalida says, "And yet the Sheriff is either pretending or actually attempting to be neutral: by setting up this meeting between us, and he says he's staying out of it."
    Lap'da says, "Then the Sheriff is walking a very fine line."
    "It certainly looks like it."
    "He is always interested in what is happening.  If he does not want to know, he has a very good reason."
    Robert says, "Mike has stated he wants to destroy or control anyone who understands the script language."
    "But the people here use a child's form.  Why doesn't he destroy them?"
    "That's a question we had."
    Kalida says, "Well, destroy or he had control of.  And the people who speak the child's form of the script language here don't go anywhere else.  That's all he really needs.  He knows exactly where they all are and that they don't really speak to anybody else."
    Lap'da asks, "Why would the Sheriff need a treaty?"
    "It depends what he's getting out of it."
    "What is he getting out of it?  What does he have to give?  Mike is not from this world."
    Helia says, "But he can come to this world and he can threaten other people."
    Robert says, "He has threatened us as soon as we leave the auspices of the Sheriff."
    Lap'da says, "What threat does he have against the Sheriff?"
    Kalida says, "Nothing that we know of."  She mentions the lightning suppresser system.
    "Why would he want to suppress lightning?"
    Kalida says that Mich has doubts that it is actually for suppressing lightning.
    Through the commdot, Mich joins in.  He says there is a very advanced array of zuchai crystals, that actually seems to exist in n-space rather than 3-space.  Jane and the Sheriff both said it was for the lightning suppression system.  There is of course the question of why they would need lightning suppression.
    Lap'da says, "There is no lightning."
    Misha asks, "There is no lightning on this planet?"
    "Oh, there is in the south."
    "Because of the forest."
    Kalida says, "So there's no need for any kind of lightning suppression system anyway.  So either the Sheriff is lying, or he's completely confused."
    Misha laughs, "There's a need for some sort of lightning suppression system, but it's not to suppress lightning."
    Robert says, "Unless they're trying to reseed the southern hemisphere with a forest."
    "That won't work," says Lap'da.
    Kalida says, "So the one question besides what it is, is whether it's something positive for the Sheriff or against him."
    Misha asks, "Do you think the Sheriff knows that lightning is unnatural here?"
    "Yes," says Lap'da.
    "And the Sheriff asked for a lightning suppression system?"
    "No," says Mich through the commdot, "When we offered if there was anything we could do to help, he said he had these zuchai crystal arrays, and they use them for lightning suppression.  He has more zuchai crystals than you'd ever need.  And they're all finest quality, excellent condition.  We gave them instruments to check the zuchai crystals, and plans to build more instruments, and plans for the tools to build those instruments.  In return for that, Jane helped with the antimatter generators."
    Kalida says, "So on the one hand the Sheriff says that lightning suppression isn't necessary, but then says that whole array is for lightning suppression."
    Robert says that the Sheriff showed it to Mich once, and it was too much for him to comprehend.
    Through the commdots, Mich explains that zuchai crystals are for storing a large amount of energy for a short period of time.  It could absorb a lightning bolt, but that's not suppressing the lightning -- and there's no lightning anyway.  He could use it to power something like a really huge meson gun, as part of the forest's defense system.
    Lap'da agrees that would be important, but what sort of system would defend the forest.
    Mich says that there are no overflights of the forest, and there's an implied threat not to do it, but nothing that said what would happen if they did do it.  You'd need sensors to locate an overflight, and something like an expander.  But if you know how to use an expander, you can probably get power out of nothing.  Why go to the trouble of building a big zuchai array if you can get power from nothing?
    Lap'da says, "Can the Sheriff get power from nothing?"
    Mich responds that Jane's people can.
    "Everything can get power from nothing," says Lap'da.  "It's just hard to not put it back."
    Mich says that if you don't put it back, you run out of power.
    Misha asks, "How does the ship put it back?"
    Mich admits quietly through the commdots that they don't know that.  He says it doesn't.  But he goes on, "If you get power from nothing and immediately put it back, you don't know you got power.  But if you get power from nothing and don't put it back, you can power the ship."
    Lap'da muses, "So Jane knows how to get power from nothing.  Does Mike know how to get power from nothing?"
    It's pretty clear he does.  Mich explains about Jane's modifications to the antimatter system.  When mixing matter and antimatter, to get a clean annihilation the two particles have to be identical in spin and other physical properties.  When one particle wasn't like that, you just got the particle you wanted from the unspace hole, and put unwanted ones into it.  Jane made that work -- and also made it so the two units would blow up.  He hasn't figured out how she did that.
    "Was that just a natural side effect of what she tried to do?" asks Misha.
    Mich says that Mike said it was their work.  Sally, the girl who was working with Professor Farol, was quite interested in the unspace concept.
    Lap'da looks like he's been pondering something.  He says, "Has Mike said that the treaty was with the Sheriff?"
    Kalida shakes her head.  "He said the treaty was with Digitis, but not specifically with the Sheriff."
    Lap'da says slowly, "Did he say the treaty was with Digitis or about Digitis?"
    "He said they were not permitted to do anything with Digitis.  We asked by whom, and he said by a treaty.  He refused to show it to us, or to say who the treaty was with.  He muttered 'treaty' and changed the subject."
    Robert says, "The treaty could be with a whole other party."
    "He also said if he used the expander around here it would be a violation of the treaty.  That's it."
    Lap'da is silent for a while.  He then says, "Did the treaty have four parties?"
    Robert says, "We don't know anything more about the treaty other than that one exists.  It governs Mike's actions with peoples on Digitis."
    Lap'da is speaking very slowly now.  He says, "The Sheriff is walking a fine line.  He is... very perceptive.  I am sure he has not been told how fine the line really is."
    Misha asks, "Do you mean he knows, even though he hasn't been told?"
    "Perhaps he... He is good at guessing."
    "So what is the fine line that he is walking?  What are the two dangers that lie on either side of the line for the Sheriff?"
    "Perhaps it is Mike's treaty."
    Helia says, "With whom?"
    Robert says, "We know Mike's a party to the treaty, but we don't know anybody else who's a party to it.  We suspect that the Sheriff is a party to it."
    Lap'da says, "I suspect the Sheriff is too young.  One of the parties may be gone."
    "The original creators of the ships.  They could be one party."
    "That would be two parties."
    Misha asks, "The original ship was created by two people?"
    Kalida asks, "Why would you think there could be four parties to the treaty?"
    "There could be.  It depends on the treaty."
    Robert says, "But if the original creators of the ship aren't around anymore, then there's nothing to enforce the treaty."
    Kalida says, "The Sheriff is too young?"
    "I don't know," says Lap'da.
    "To be a signatory to the treaty," says Robert.
    Misha asks, "Which treaty?  Is there a treaty that you're referring to?"
    "Yes," says Lap'da.
    Robert says, "Do you know a treaty actually exists?"
    Misha asks, "And there are four parties to this treaty?"
    "There were four parties to this treaty.  There may be four parties to the treaty.  There may be three."
    "Do you know who those parties were?"
    "Yes.  No."
    This is getting confusing.  Kalida considers asking Robert to symbol it.
    Misha asks, "Do you know any of the parties of this treaty?"
    "Yes," replies Lap'da.  "Is it the same treaty?"
    "We don't know.  Are any of the parties to the treaty that you are referring to, that you raised in this conversation, are any of those the same as the parties to the treaty... we don't know how many parties to the treaty that Mike was referring to."  Misha tapers off into silence.  He tries again: "Mike referred to a treaty..."
    "There is a treaty..."
    "Please summarize this treaty!"
    "You... do not have the background."
    "How long will it take to gain this background?"
    "I don't know."
    Helia asks, "Who does?"
    "I do."
    "Who does and can explain it to us?"
    "I don't know."
    "You could try," says Kalida.  "You could try, and if we get confused, then so be it."
    Robert explains that if you don't have the background, the self-referential pointers are meaningless.
    "Could you tell us who was a party to that treaty?" asks Kalida.
    "You... do not have the background," insists Lap'da slowly.
    Helia asks, "How old is the treaty?  Is that the problem?"
    "It is a little older than the forests."
    "So Mike belongs to a group that has a treaty with the people here?"
    Misha and Kalida point out that they don't actually know that.  Misha says, "There is a treaty.  There are two treaties.  There is one Mike referred to, and there is one Lap'da referred to."
    Kalida adds, "They might be the same, they might not."
    Misha asks, "Does the treaty that you refer to concern..."
    Robert finishes for him, "...the use of," he continues in scryptese <<[reference]>> == "...ships like ours."
    "No," says Lap'da.
    Robert drops back to galanglic, "Now Mike has stated that ships-like-ours are to be held for their future use, and are not to be used under pain of death."
    Kalida laughs, "He said a lot of things."
    For once, Lap'da actually looks concerned.
    Robert continues, "We also know that inhabitants of Goose also recognize ships-like-ours.  They had a delegation that met us that expected us to be the original creators of the ship, and were slightly disappointed when we weren't them."
    Lap'da says, "Maybe there are five, which are now four perhaps.  There were three, the three became four.  Perhaps the three became five.  Yes, the three would become five."
    "Now we know that the Imperial Wonstar Development Corporation and Mike have both expressed desire to control ships-like-ours, and not allow anyone else to use them.  Both are under pain of death."
    "Many people are greedy.  What do they want to do with it?"
    "Wonstar just seems to want to understand how it works, because they have no clue about how to interpret scryptese.  We do not know if Mike can converse in script language.  Now we expect that he arrived on the ship the Baba Yaga, and their registrations that they filed in port were written in jannish.  Hand written in jannish, which implies someone on board the Baba Yaga could at least write the child's version of script language."
    "Is Mike sure that the treaty allows him to be here?"
    Misha says, "He didn't say either way."
    Kalida says, "So you think perhaps he's not supposed to be here at all?"
    "I suspect he doesn't understand the treaty himself."
    "Hm.  He said, 'We're not permitted to do anything with Digitis."
    Lap'da asks, "Does he have... a ship?"
    "He says he does."
    Robert adds, "He says he does, with enhanced stealth mode, enhanced weaponry, enhanced detection systems."
    Kalida says, "He said they improved it."
    Lap'da says, "Then maybe he should not be here."  He pauses, then continues, "If Mike should not be here... then Jane should not be here..."
    "Yet the Sheriff has been letting them be here, if not actually inviting them."
    "It is a fine line."
    "I wonder how evasive the Sheriff would be."
    Robert says, "The Sheriff wants to not know the details of the negotiations."
    Helia says, "That's so he won't be a party to whatever happens."
    "That's another part of the fine line that he's walking."
    Kalida says, "He said that along as we're here, no violence will be done to either side by either side."
    Misha decides they need make the conversation clearer.  "This treaty you are talking about, can we give it a name for the purposes of this and future conversations?"
    "Certainly.  What name would you like to give it?"
    Robert suggests, "The Treaty of Versailles."
    Lap'da and Misha nod their agreement.  It's as good a name as any other.
    Misha asks, "What can you tell us about this Treaty of Versailles other than the number of parties in it?"
    Lap'da says, "We are here from it."
    "Which 'we'?"
    "The janns."
    "You are here because the treaty was created, or you are here to enforce the treaty?"
    Lap'da turns to Robert.  He says, <<[continuous-from-point: ref.treaty [necessity(middle voice): ref.janns ref.location]]>>.  The translators squawk their incomprehension.  Robert translates, "Yes."
    Nonplused, Misha asks, "By here, you mean on this planet, or exist, or something else?"
    "On this world.  This world is ours."
    "The janns are one of the parties to the treaty?"
    "Yes.  Or part of one."
    Kalida asks, "Part of Digitis as a whole, or part of something separate from Digitis?"
    Misha says to Kalida, "I think he meant part of one of the parties to the treaty."
    Lap'da explains, "We are one of four, or perhaps five.  We are part of three."
    Misha says, "The janns are part of three parties."
    "Yes.  But we are one of four.  Or five."
    Misha looks confused.  "What?" he says.
    Kalida explains, "You've got the janns, and two others, who are a party of the treaty.  The treaty itself has four.  Think sets and subsets.  Again: you've got janns, and two other groups.  Those three form one party to the treaty, which has three or four other parties.  Apparently the kegs and snacks have not yet arrived."
    Lap'da says helpfully, "They are here, on the bushes."
    Robert adds, "And the Goose people could be part of another one of the three or four.  Or are they one of the three?"
    Misha says, "Do you even know who the Goose people are?"
    "No," says Lap'da.  "There was three, which became four."
    Kalida asks, "When did it become four?"
    "After it was three."
    "You say the treaty came into effect before the forests were here."
    "Did the fourth party come in before the forests, or after?"
    "There were only ever the same parties."
    "So one of the parties split?"
    "Is the party who split, the same party that the janns belong to?"
    "OK.  Were there originally four pieces to the party that the janns are in, or...?"
    "Originally there was one.  It became two.  It may be three."
    "OK.  The janns and two other groups make a party to the treaty."
    "OK.  The janns and two other groups used to be part of one party of the treaty."
    "Maybe.  The janns and one, and that one is now maybe two."
    "OK.  Who would be the other one maybe?"
    "There is no one maybe.  It is or it is not."
    "If there is another one, who would it be?"
    "I don't know," says Lap'da brightly.  "At the Treaty of Versailles, three groups came and four left.  We are one of the four."
    "Were you also one of the three, before it became four?"
    "We were part of the three.  We were part of one."
    "Who then split off to become number four."
    "While the treaty was being worked out."
    "Because of the treaty, we became the fourth."
    "When the treaty came into being, and you became the fourth part, is that when you came to this place?"
    "Yes.  We became the fourth to be here."
    "Is the forest here because of the treaty?"
    "Yes."  Lap'da pauses for a long time, then says, "Our ancestors came here.  We were tired of fighting.  We stayed.  The other two fought on, and they may now be one, but the other one went on to keep fighting."
    Robert asks, "Were they fighting each other, or a common enemy?"
    Kalida asks, "Successively, or at the same time?"
    "Yes.  You have not seen the... other one?  The other two were local."
    Helia asks, "Local... planets?"
    "I have not seen any others that were local."
    Kalida says, "Well, we don't know, you haven't given me a reference for who the others are."
    Robert says, "They may be the people on Goose."
    Lap'da says, "They were not... people."
    Robert explains the deeper meaning of "people," as in "people like us."  That would mean they were not any of the branches of humaniti, like the Zhodani, but could have been hivers, vargr, aslan or other aliens.
    Lap'da continues, "If Mike is of the fourth, he must not interfere here.  None must interfere here.  It is neutral ground, a sanctuary."
    "Then why are they here?" asks Helia.  "If they are in violation of the treaty, shouldn't something be done?"
    "Are they interfering?"
    "They're interfering with our right to enjoy ourselves."
    "Are they interfering... here?  Or are they interfering with you?"
    Kalida says, "Is here the forest, or the planet?"
    "Here."  Lap'da says something in scryptese to Robert: the concept is a large, vague, encompassing, but very variable sense of "here" -- it could include the whole system and anything that might affect it, or just as far as they can see right now.
    Helia says, "He said he'd blow us up as soon as we get outside of orbiting."
    "So nothing would damage here.  It would fall up.  It should fall up, or it would not be permitted."
    "What if it did not?"
    Kalida asks, "What if the treaty was broken?"
    "The treaty would not be broken.  We do not break treaties.  Now those who are not people, we did not think they would break the treaty.  They did not.  But they may only be one."
    They quickly review what they recall of the story of the janns arriving on this world.  What they remember is consistent with what Lap'da has now told them.
    "So we have been here a very long time," says Lap'da.
    "Many lifetimes," says Helia.  "You came here 1200 years ago.  I do not think my people existed when you came here, and we've had many dozens of generations."  Those 1200 local years are about 300,000 years by the Imperial calendar.
    Misha says, "The treaty that Mike referred to, he hinted or indicated that that treaty prevented him from certain unspecified actions on this planet, or to that planet.  Does that fit within the Treaty of Versailles?  Could that treaty have that effect upon Mike?"
    "It could be, yes" says Lap'da.
    "So we could be talking about the same treaty.  Is it possible that Mike is a member of one of the parties to that treaty?"
    "Yes.  It is possible."
    "Is it likely?"
    "I don't know.  This world was to be left alone.  This was our home.  We are settled here."
    "What did the janns give in return for that?"
    "The janns gave nothing."
    "Who gave?"
    "All sides of the three gave something."
    "Did the party that the janns came out of give the janns?"
    "No.  We were not theirs to give."
    "The other parts of the party that the janns came out of... do they have a name?"
    "No.  Maybe."
    "Do they have a name that we can use?"
    "You can call them... crusaders."
    "And the crusaders continued the war with the other parties of the treaty."
    "No.  They continued the war onwards.  We were passing through."
    "Ah.  The crusaders and the janns, when they were part of one party, were passing through."
    "Yes.  The other two were at war."
    "Ah!  With each other."
    "Yes," confirms Lap'da.
    "Here," says Misha.
    "The larger jann/crusader party -- the crusaders -- encountered them."
    "And the janns were tired of crusading."
    "What did the crusaders give to these other two parties?"
    "It is what they did not give.  They gave their word."
    "What did those other two parties give?"
    "They gave this planet."
    "To keep," suggests Misha.
    Lap'da explains, "To be neutral.  To be unharmed in their wars."
    "Do these other two parties have names?"
    Lap'da makes a noncommittal gesture.
    "What are they?"
    "I don't know."
    "You don't know a name that I would know, or you don't know a name at all?"
    "Is what the crusaders agreed not to do was harm, or attack, or otherwise..."
    "To pass on through."
    "To continue, to just leave."
    "Yes.  It was a mutual enemy at the time."
    "A fourth party?"
    "A mutual enemy of...?"
    "The crusaders and the other two parties."
    "There was a mutual enemy."
    "They had a small war.  We had a... bigger one.  Our enemies got... caught."
    "So there was a mutual enemy.  Can we give this mutual enemy a name?  What name would you suggest?"
    "We have no name.  We do not know who they are."
    "You know nothing about them, except they were a mutual enemy...?"
    "They were our enemy.  They did some things here.  We fought here."
    "They were what the crusaders were crusading against."
    "And did they have some involvement with the other two parties to the treaty?"
    "Yes."  Lap'da pauses, then says, "They destroyed their homeworld."
    "The other two parties had the same homeworld?"
    "Yes.  It is... not there any more."
    "So when the crusaders left here after the treaty, they continued this crusade against this mutual enemy."
    "Yes.  Except... it was our enemy first, and after.  But here we fought them as a mutual enemy.  For a short while.  Then the crusaders left.  And the other war continued."
    "The war between the other two parties to the treaty."
    Kalida puts this in perspective.  She says, "You know what was going on around here three hundred thousand years ago?  The Final War when the ancients were destroyed."
    Misha asks, "Who were the ancients?"
    Kalida brings up the library data on her hand computer, but it doesn't do Misha any good -- he can't read.  She starts, "Well, obviously they were a very long time ago.  They were highly advanced.  Very little has been found from them, just ruins here and there.  The ancients transported humans around and basically seeded us everywhere.  'People like us.'  Throughout what's now the Imperium, their warfare resulted in a lot of asteroid belts throughout known space."  She reminds them that the database they broke into mentioned finding black ships in asteroid belts.  She continues, "Apparently, they were widely spread -- humans go to war all the time, I don't see why they wouldn't."
    "OK," says Misha, "So I think it's reasonable to assume that the parties to this treaty were all ancients."
    "Humans were around at the time as well, so they might have been one of the parties, or... but probably yes."
    "The ancients... weren't human?  You said they 'seeded' humans, so that implies they weren't humans?"
    "They transported humans from Terra."
    "So the ancients, whoever they were, weren't from Terra -- wherever that is.  They went there, gathered up humans, and scattered them all over."
    "That's right."  Kalida pauses, then says, "Have you heard of the droyne?"
    Misha shakes his head, "No."
    Kalida reads from her puter, "They are a small race derived from winged herbivorous gatherers.  It's a caste society.  They generally stand about a meter tall, but large ones can be larger than humans.  They appear to be pastoral, with little drive for expansion, conquest, or conflict.  There have been some studies that indicate that the droyne are physically identical to the ancients, but nobody knows where the droyne homeworld is or was.  As for the actual relationship between them -- the have no idea."  She explains that those conclusions come from the few artifacts that remain after the Final War.  She adds, "So perhaps the people who weren't like us were probably one or more factions of the ancients, and probably looked like the droyne."
    "What do you know about the other two parties?" Misha asks Lap'da.
    "Not a lot," the jann replies, "They were fighting.  We did not know why."
    "Were they human?"
    "If there were members of the other two parties still alive today... what would cause them to continue to honor the treaty?"
    "Because... it is a treaty."
    "Just honor, in and of itself.  Do you understand what I mean?"
    "I... think... they did not want more... destruction from outside."
    Misha looks puzzled.
    Lap'da continues, "The enemy stopped at one world destroyed."
    "The mutual enemy?"
    "The mutual enemy.  And there was no treaty to break then.  Those who went on were not like the janns... we did not want to destroy any more."
    "The crusaders wanted to destroy more?"
    "They were fighting.  They would not... tolerate the treaty being broken."
    "Do the crusaders still exist?"
    "I don't know."
    Kalida asks, "Do you know what they were fighting about?"
    Misha explains Lap'da's answer: "There were two wars going on at the same time.  They collided."
    Kalida nods.  She says to Lap'da, "Why were both fights going on?"
    The jann says, "We don't know why they were fighting.  We were fighting because we were attacked, and we don't know why."
    Misha says, "You said earlier that it might have become five."
    Lap'da says with certainty, "It is five."
    "So where did the fifth group come from?"
    "To enforce the treaty."
    Helia says, "Who gave them permission to interfere?"
    "They have no permission to interfere here."
    "But they do."
    Misha says, "Who created them?  The other parties to the treaty?"
    "No.  Some crusaders must have stayed behind."
    "And became the fifth.  Got it.  What did the crusaders get out of it?"
    Robert says, "This planet.  To live on."
    "No, the janns got that."
    Lap'da says, "For us.  We were... them."
    Robert adds, "The guarantee that their species would continue to live, no matter what happened in the war."
    Misha asks, "Is that right?"
    "Slordidah," says Lap'da.
    Misha sighs, "I can see why the group that was the crusaders and the janns together would get this planet.  Once the two groups were separated, I don't understand why the remaining crusaders would stick around to continue to enforce the treaty."
    "They are still us.  We are still them."
    "That makes sense," says Helia.
    Misha says, "To me it only makes sense as a sense of duty -- I protect my children, even after they're adults.  That would explain why the other groups would continue to honor the treaty, because there are still crusaders around to enforce the treaty.  So that brings up the question, who cares?  Or, more importantly, why?  Why does anybody care?  300,000 years later.  I mean, I can understand why the janns care.  I can even understand sort of why the crusaders continue to care.  But the other two groups, if they still exist, they're not still warring -- or if they are, they're warring very quietly.  Unless they're warring out in the open, and their war is one we know about, and we just haven't connected the two."
    Kalida suggests, "Could be behind other wars."
    "Yes.  Those groups have evolved into new groups, or new groups with names we now know.  But they weren't human.  I don't suppose the humans could be carrying on wars that were started by ancients."
    Robert starts, "If Mike is a representative of the people who broke off from the crusaders..."
    Misha says, "No... well. he could be, but that was not what I was imagining before."
    "...if he is, then his treaty with Digitis is that this is his... the vestiges of the original race and he doesn't want to mess with it, so that's why he doesn't want to do anything with Digitis.  Now that would also mean that he has some of the original crusader technology, but apparently not all, because otherwise he'd build his own ships, and not worry about ships that are left for him in the future in case something bad happens.  That what he said they were there for -- if his ancient enemy, I guess, comes back, he'll want to use these ships that are left stashed.  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense because he's already said the ships that he's got are much more advanced than the ships that are stashed.  If that is true."
    Misha says, "He might have meant that both the ships that he's got and the ships that are stashed are higher technology, but he doesn't know how to use it.  So the improvements he's made are improvements designed to make up for his lack of knowledge."  He sighs, then turns to Lap'da.  "You mentioned that crusaders were left behind.  Crusaders... would they have stashed ships for future use, or does that not make sense?"
    "I don't know," replies Lap'da.
    Robert says, "We have found ships bigger than ours, and one almost identical to ours, and both of them were full of holes -- they looked like swiss cheese."
    Helia says, "Yeah, Lap'da -- they said they might let Mich live if we gave them the other ships.  Are they allowed to have them?"
    "I don't know," says Lap'da again.
    "That's not in the treaty?"
    Kalida points out, 'He doesn't really know who Mike and his people are, because we don't really know who they are."
    Misha muses that this information gathering thing is so much easier when you have an angle.  He sighs heavily.
    Lap'da seems to be wrapping up the conversation.  He says, "There are many around now who do not know of the treaty, so do not tell anyone."
    Misha says, "Who would we tell?  And why would they care?  Why does it matter?"
    "It might matter to us."
    "The janns."
    "Could you contact these crusaders?"
    "No.  We do not know where they are."
    "I mean the crusaders who were left behind."
    "We do not know where they are.  But I think I have things I must do.  We may talk again later."
    "Did this conversation create the need to do these things?"
    Lap'da shrugs and says, "Corahl?"
    Misha laughs, "Well, a good day to you too."
    The jann says to Robert in scryptese that Misha asked a nonsense question, nothing was created that wasn't there already.  Lap'da turns to go.
    After a moment, all of them pick themselves up off the ground feeling quite dizzy.  Only a moment has passed, but Lap'da is nowhere to be seen.  They walk back to their guest quarters in silence.