(23a) Addendum to (23)

The Nightshade Campaign (274-1122)

Robert Conducts his Inspection

    Robert appears elsewhere.  He's in a room with about 20 black-robed people around.  The place this most resembles is the bridge of Nightshade, although it's substantially larger -- the same length, but square.  There are various holographic displays and many consoles.  About a dozen of the black-robed people are in sparkly pink.  Glyphs are on the displays, and there are conversations going on in script language.  Of course, without the background, the conversations are almost unintelligible; the subject seems very background specific.
    The man who brought him here walks over to a console and brings up a display, as large as the command display on Nightshade.  It shows a starmap of this area with several points labeled.
    Robert tries interpreting it in a background related to "the enemy", then they are potential sites of interest.  In turn he points out to the robed man what he calls an abandoned site, the dig on Victoria.  He notes that the point with the data record fragment is marked, along with three other similar ones: one each in Whitestar, Foreven, and the Spinward Marches.  He tries to memorize the systems; one will be easy (Foreven), while the others won't be at all easy, but he at least should be able to narrow them down.
    The man says that things appear to be stable right now.  The enemy's students are contained.  He indicates an area in Whitestar sector.  He says there have been no reports of the enemy anywhere, and asks what Robert has seen.
    Robert says that the Imperial personnel are digging ruins at Victoria and are trying to look into the technology there.  He adds that they will be investigating/infiltrating the team themselves next year, to slow their research and find how far their knowledge has expanded.
    The man asks if Robert knows when the next courier will be back.
    Robert replies that he does not.
    He asks how <those left behind who are still here who are supposed to be here, including as two distinct but jointly classed entities the Arden Society and the Janns, collectively they are the same but also distinct> are doing.
    Robert tells him that they're doing very well.  The Janns are fine, the liaison between the Janns and the Arden Society is walking a fine line between them but they are in contact and watching those proceedings.
    This seems to please the black-robed man.  He asks about <reference to some other One, the background isn't quite all there; someone who's related to the previous classification and has <reference> come out and appeared occasionally or <reference> is still in hiding>.
    Robert isn't sure what this reference might be.  Had it been humanoid, there would have been a reference concept to that, so it isn't human.  It's related in time terms to the Janns and Arden Society, with a past link convergence in time.  It's not an opposing party; it's neutral, not <reference to us> like the Janns, and not opposing like the enemy.  Possibly a second party to the original contract, that would be consistent with the convergence concepts.  He says simply that he has had no news of <reference>.
    The man says there have been no reports of any enemy beings or ships seen.  He adds that his people are here and prepared.
    Robert thanks and praises his people.
    The man adds that the last courier left a device for all that came along.  The jumpspace link has been overcome, he says, and he will deliver the box to integrate into the ship.  The nuances of meaning that he puts with box is almost "sacred object" from his point of view.
    This gives Robert the distinct impression that these people are essentially acolytes.  They don't really know how or why the technology works.  They have a religious meaning to it and this is what they're supposed to do.  Applying that as a background element, a lot of what they're saying and what is displayed starts to make sense.  Robert muses that the klatrin has enhanced their ability to communicate this way, but they're not long-lived like Lap'da's people.  There's a tradition here.  Obviously they're thinking like real people as they're using the real language natively -- there are no monkeys here.  They're staffing this as some sort of communications and relay center.  The caches were labeled simply as something like "information;" the one Nightshade removed is still indicated, so they don't know it's not there anymore.  Nor would they probably care -- they're here to gather information and report, not to care.  So now Robert knows some areas to avoid, and the rough locations of some possibly interesting things.
    In conclusion, the man indicates to the other black robed figures here that they are permitted to come along and meet Robert.  The acolytes come along one by one to pay their respects to him, and are clearly quite keen to meet this important person.  The man asks Robert if there's anything they require.
    Robert says that part of what they need to do is to look like they're Imperial to allay suspicions, so they'll lay over here for a couple of days and then continue on their way.
    The man asks him if he'd like to return to his ship now.  At Robert's affirmative, the two of them teleport out of the room and to the bridge of Nightshade.