"Insanity - a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world"-- R.D. Laing
Jimi Ray Malary gets rotated to the rear with the rest of the remains of the 122nd, where he gets to try to deal with the snafu about being incorrectly re-upped in place of Jimi Ray Weseli (soon to be the late Jimi Ray Weseli, if Mr. Malary finds him); not to mention the fact that his pay has been forwarded to 'his' family. Jimi Ray will be shuffled around for four days before he gets to see the right people, and gets the correct paperwork. Finally, he's told by an officer that "I have papers here ordering you to Regina 'on the fastest possible transport'", and he is given sealed orders to the captain of a Naval Courier leaving in twenty minutes. Fortunately Jimi Ray doesn't have stuff to pack, so off he goes with the secret, will self-destruct if opened by the wrong person' orders. The captain takes the orders, opens them, looks at Jimi Ray, looks at the orders, looks at Jimi Ray, looks at the orders, says "That will be all, Captain Malary." Okay... Off to Regina! None of the crew talks to Jimi Ray, they just look at him surreptitiously. "Travelling under sealed orders" tends to provoke this sort of reaction.
On the Lyrian ship en route back to Regina, Mikie informs the Prince that they can just bloody well pick another autarch, because he's not playing. There's a lot of "But -"s, but Mikie is not having any - he didn't ask for the position, it's not his 'cause' or his problem, he can dress himself, and he doesn't give a damn what the griffins want. The Prince and the other Lyrians decide that Mikie "just needs time to adjust", and will follow him around (at a distance) until he comes to his senses. Not. They have sent word on ahead that the "true" heir has appeared, so Simon the pretender will undoubtedly try to have Mikie killed, but what the hell Simon will just have to take a number.
259 - 1122.
Corina's handlers want her to do a public signing of the Government Restoration Act (special pens, the whole nine yards). The Act will return Regina to the pre-Neutral Zone government model. As usual, the actual citizens have little or nothing to do with who rules them or how, and most of the population doesn't really care any way. Unless Corina takes this "government by the people" stuff seriously. Or does she want Mr. Black to 'select' senators for her? No, she's quite sure that Black can influence any elected senators, if need be. There are sixty senators. Twenty are taken from the nobility, twenty are selected by electors ( each elector can nominate one person, and then twenty are chosen; it's a purchased position, usually by megacorps), and twenty by the senatorial lottery. Any citizen is eligible (whether they like it or not) - it's like jury duty, only it takes longer; you must be of legal age, not have been judged mentally incompetent, and not have been convicted of a felony. And you can't really turn it down.
Without ever getting an explanation, Jimi Ray finds himself back in the bosom of Regina, along with all the other local denizens. Including Mikie, who is trying to get rid of all the blasted servants. They have sworn an oath of fealty, so they're going to follow him. So, he goes to goes to Regina Security, where at least the humans can be prevented from entering the building.
Once the Lyrian ships docks on Regina, Mikie's intention is to ditch the Lyrians and go in to work, but there are a lot of Lyrians, and the griffins won't stay behind either, so everyone leaves in a big, overly ornate group. Shaw/White takes the opportunity to scurry off the ship (taking along the lumpy gold armor), and head out to buy a ticket for Mora. At the Port, a well-projected voice rings out: "Colonel Shawww!" It's Lily, of course. White tries to make his excuses, telling her that he's going to Capitol, via the Tramline, and doesn't know when he'll be back; naturally, he can't reveal the reasons for his trip. All secret-like. (Please, please, let me get away from this woman!)
Lily understands that the Colonel has business he needs to take care of, but she is certain they will meet again. Lily: "You and I were meant to be, Colonel Shaw. Carl." She grabs him, pulls him into a very well cushioned embrace, and gives him a well-practiced kiss that goes on for much longer than any normal person can hold their breath, then leaves. White gasps for breath for a few moment, then goes off to his ship, where he eventually washes off the lipstick. (That would explain all the winks and odd looks he was getting.)
Mikie has gone to Regina Security, followed by the rank and file of the Lyrian military, guards, servants, musicians, etc. Ye gods. On arrival at the big grey building, Mikie attempts to explain that they will all have to wait outside. Period. They are not happy, but no one is going to get through the front gate without an ID card or permission, so they're sort of stuck. Mikie does agree to take one griffin inside, just to prevent bloodshed. They go in past the fence, but the guard inside the front gate won't let Mikie's "pet" inside the building without the Director's permission. After a couple of seconds though, Mr. Black himself appears, smoking his Sobrani and looking rather bemused. Black <to Mikie>: "When I saw the amazing circus gathered around Regina Security, I thought to myself: I can only think of one person who could have generated something like this. And here you are. Why is there a parade outside of this building? " Mikie: "That's one of the things I need to speak with you about. Preferably in private. " Black: "I assume this is your responsibility. Take care of it, or I will have my men clear the area. " Gosh, but that's tempting!
Behrel sees the interesting group outside of Regina Security, and goes over to ask Esterhazy who the group is, and do they have an agent? Esterhazy: "We await the autarch, he has gone into that building. " Behrel: "Then you better get comfortable. Is this autarch guy some one I may have read about? Or met? " Esterhazy: "Doubtful sir, the Autarch travels in the most rarefied circles. " Oooh. Behrel <indicating the uniform>: "So, are you part of the band or something? Esterhazy: "This is the uniform of the Colonel of the Guarde de Corp. " Behrel: "Which 'corps'? " Esterhazy: "Not 'corps', but 'corp', as in bodyguard." Behrel: "Oh, the autarch's bodyguard." Esterhazy: "Ah, and they say they can't be trained on Regina. " Behrel hands him his movie producer card. Esterhazy: "Since you are seeking individuals in the entertainment profession, I can recommend a lovely young lady with whom I have recently travelled. Although you might need to hurry as I understand that her company is slated to give performances in the Mora system." Esterhazy gives Behrel information on Lily. Who apparently will be going to Mora. As is Mr. White. Oh.
Behrel: "Tell me, what kind of creatures are those?" Esterhazy: "Surely sir, it is obvious that those are griffins." Behrel: "You know, I know a guy who would find that really humorous, and he could use a good laugh right now. Although I don't know where he is at the moment." Esterhazy: "You seem to believe that there may be some problem with the Autarch leaving this location?" Behrel: "I'm sure there are people who enter and leave this place every day. Most of them work there." Esterhazy: "What is this place?" Behrel: "You are new here, aren't you? That is the headquarters of Regina Security, the primary law enforcement agency around here." Esterhazy: "Ah, then I'm sure all will be well." Behrel: "I've never known diplomats to go in there, at least not on purpose." Behrel takes in the ladies and waiting, and the overly costumed people, and goes to call his own costumer to ask about identifying the uniforms. He is directed to the curator of Arms and Armament in the Regina Museum of Military History, Mr. Hobart. Behrel calls him and describes the uniforms, answering all of Hobart's questions. Hobart is able to identify the Lyrian origins of the uniforms. Behrel recommends that Hobart check out what is happening on Up Port. Hobart knows quite a lot about the Lyrians, much to Behrel's entertainment. Hobart goes on about the marvelous treasures of the Lyrian Empire. Hobart: "The Peacock Throne was rumored to contain 17,000 jewels of over a carat." Behrel: "Thousands? Thousands... I love that word." Hobart: "It was so wealthy that the meanest person was taken care of for life. They brought in large numbers of foreign workers to do the actual work, and there was a social uprising. Most of the Lyrian family were hunted down and killed." Behrel: "So what's the place called now?" Hobart: "The Federation of Arden." Behrel: "And I'm guessing that they would be kind of unhappy to see this bunch here?" Hobart: "Oh yes, I've heard that they regularly send out assassins to search for any stray prince or what have you." Behrel <always interested in free entertainment>: "Cool! Well, you see what else you can find out, and I'll see you for dinner at Clairidge's, say tomorrow evening?" Hobart <obviously impressed>: "Tomorrow evening would be lovely."
Behrel picks out a good place to sit and watch, with something on a stick, and a cold beer. If he's lucky, maybe some assassin will show up at Regina Security. That should be fun.
Black: "Well, Mr. Griffin?" Mikie: "I'd like to talk to you, somewhere more private." Black: "We can go to my office." Mikie: "Um, he's going to have to come along. <indicating the griffin> He's a sophant, not an animal, and he's not going to take no for an answer." Black looks at the griffin speculatively. Black: "Yes, have him come along to my office as well."
On the way back to his apartment, Jimi Ray discovers that there is some sort of concert or something going on. And it sounds better than the last time they had something out of doors. Musician that he is, Jimi Ray will have to go check it out.
In Black's office. Black: "Now, Mr. Griffin. Have your creature sit down over there." Black fiddles with a small box, sort of 'aiming' it at the griffin. Black almost has a smile on his face. Black: "Yes, we have a problem." He looks out his one way window (on the outside, it's just a smooth section of wall), and gets a quizzical look on his face. Black motions Mikie over. There are people outside waving signs with a portrait of some one who looks like Mikie on them. (The work of an official portrait painter no doubt.)
Behrel has noticed the same signs, and he approaches Esterhazy about knowing some one who looks just like the man on the signs. Esterhazy: "Doubtless an impostor - a pox upon him and his house." He spits to one side. Behrel starts to muse. Hmmm. Michael. Griffins. Michael Griffin. Behrel <to one of the females>: "About so tall, does strange things with his mind, wears a ring like this?" <gives the description of Mikie's wedding band> The female has only been privileged to have seen the Autarch at a distance. Behrel notices several large, dangerous-looking men, who come out of Regina Security and start to mingle with the crowd. Behrel goes back to his viewing seat with his food and beer.
Back in the office, the griffin is getting panicky. "What's wrong? There's something evil in here. I have to get out. What do I have to do to get out of here?" Mikie: "Uh, Mr. Black? Could you please not make the griffin nervous? We're in a small enclosed space with it. Him." Black: "Why should I have any concern for an animal?" Mikie: "Because they're not animals?" Black: "Oh? Do go on." Mikie: "They're sentient." Black: "Well, that's definitely something to file away for the future. Now, what are we going to do about this circus?" Mikie gives Black the condensed version of the Lyrian mess. Black: "This is certainly an opportunity, isn't it?" Mikie: "For what?" Black: "Think about it. Thousands of fanatical followers willing to die for the cause. I'm sure that given the level of oppression in the current Federation, we should be able to locate quite a few willing agents. And then there's the Lyrian treasury. That's supposed to be literally acres of valuables." Mikie: "Oh. We blew that up." <brief pause as Black raises an eyebrow> "With a nuke." Black: "Really? All of it?" Mikie: "Well, I think so. It was in an asteroid." Black: "It would have to be an extremely large asteroid from what I've read about the amount of valuables in the treasury. It's also rumored that among the treasury is... Wait, I have it here." He takes down one of the printed art books he has, on the Lyrian treasure. Black: "Did you see something like this in the treasury?" There's a huge, black cylindrical object with multicolored runes all over it; artifact alert! Mikie: "No
I didn't see anything that looked even vaguely Therian." And Mikie knows what to look for. Black: "I suspect what you found was some duke or the autarch's private little stash. <smiles> I can see a lot of up side to this." Mikie: "You don't have to deal with these people." Black: "That's right. You do. You've been in worse situations than this. Think of it as a vacation." Mikie: "All right. I'll play the game. For now." Black: "It's only temporary. God knows we can't let them run around loose on Up Port." Mikie: "Oh, and I forgot to mention there's also some guy they call 'Simon the pretender' running around here somewhere." Black: "Well, I'll have to look into making contact with this Simon. He could prove useful." Mikie: "Whatever. Different topic. Did you get my package?" (Wiggins) Black: "Yes. Your package is currently in C wing, cooling." Mikie: "Do you have any idea where Verlak is?" Black: "Not yet. But I'm sure he will reappear soon, you don't need to worry about that." Mikie: "And my father?" Black: "He's fine. He's currently back at his hospital." Mikie: "Is he all right?" Black: "Well, other than..." [Meaning the exposure to Blaelok's 'virus'.] Mikie: "Yeah. Other than that." Black: "Yes. He's providing us with some remarkable insight into the effects. He hasn't lost any of his mental faculties. He's just more concerned about the good of the group. Other than that, how are things going with you? All right?" Mikie: "I guess." Black: "Well, I'll leave you to take care of your little gathering. I'll be in touch. I have a few things for you to take a look at for me, in your spare time, just as a distraction. In any case. Your majesty..." He bows. Oh very ha. Mikie, and the griffin, leave.
Behrel is watching outside, wondering where he'd be if he were a sniper. Of course a sane sniper wouldn't be firing in the direction of Regina Security, but a fanatic might. Behrel offers Jimi Ray a beer, as he wanders by looking angrily at the articles about the Navy's loss of the Ajax. There is a statement issued by the Grand Admiral's office about Vera Cruz, and how this happened because the Navy was stretched really thin due to budget cuts and reduction in forces. Some of the articles go on about how the Vargrs, who never were able to take out any Imperial ships, manage to destroy a cruiser, an older cruiser, just as budget cuts were announced? How convenient. This would be a Free Thoughts article.
Jimi Ray, unhappy over being falsely reactivated and sent into that disaster tells Behrel he's looking for Jimi Ray Weseli. Behrel: "I don't know a Jimi Ray Weseli, but if you can find one Weasel, he'll roll over on the others." Jimi Ray: "Let's go find one." Behrel: "Can't. I'm waiting for an assassin. There should be one along any second now." Mikie emerges from RS, to applause. The applause comes to a sudden halt when Mikie motions for it to stop. They clear a way for Mikie, and when Behrel (who's filming) sees it is Mikie, he's overcome by laughter. This is just too funny.
Mikie is shown to a limo, after silencing the flipping marching band. The limo takes him and some of his bodyguards to the recently reopened Ambassadore Hotel, where the Lyrians have booked a floor. Mikie: "And this is being paid for how?" Esterhazy: "Out of the household funds." Mikie: "There's a household fund?" Esterhazy: "Of course."
Behrel follows along, sees the party go into the Hotel, changes his mind about dinner, and makes a reservation for dinner at the Ambassadore, hoping for an assassination attempt. He'll call Hobart and make the change later.
Mikie asks to see the Prince, who of course, lives to serve his Autarch. Mikie: "I told you to cut that out. Okay. I'm willing to go along with this. For now. With some changes." Mostly this includes not having a servant hovering around insisting on dressing him, and the like.
Behrel decides to see what he can do for Mikie, and goes to collect some business cards from some of the guys hanging out in the Oaks, who have experience as real bodyguards; Behrel is not terribly impressed with the Lyrians. Then he goes back to the Ambassadore to see if he can see Mikie, or failing that, that annoying colonel. His card is taken on a silver salver, and Mikie is asked if he wants to see this person, or if he wants him put into the appointment book. Of course Mikie will see him Behrel's one of the normal people (well, from Mikie's point of view. A servant emerges - "The Autarch will attend upon you at his convenience." Behrel and Jimi Ray will eventually get to go see the Autarch. One mustn't let people think they can just drop in unannounced.
Nicolai has returned to Regina. Black never said he couldn't come back, just that he couldn't live there, and Nicolai has some property on Regina proper to sell, so it's a business trip. He runs through Customs, his ID is scanned, and he's given a visa for two weeks. Nicolai heads for the shuttle bays, and begins to feel that some one is deliberately not watching him. He heads Down Port, first to the Regina Museum of Military History. He has pictures of the armor he bought at auction a while back, and armor would fall under Mr. Hobart's specialty, but he will not be back in until tomorrow at noon. Nicolai leaves his calling card, goes back Up Port, and gets a room at the Green Tree Inn.
In other interesting news, there is going to be an auction of some items left over from the former Solomani consulate. Art, furniture, and a lovely baby grand piano (brought all the way from the Rim).
After getting a room, Nicolai goes to the Bread and Bean. Two large men in suits sit down on either side of him. Nicolai: "Can I help you? I'm assuming Mr. Black sent you." Man: "We just wanted to make sure you aren't here to cause any trouble." Nicolai: "I don't have to cause trouble, it just finds me." Man: Yeah, well we have a special facility for off-planet troublemakers." Nicolai: "I'm sure you do." Man: "Enjoy your stay." Nicolai: "I will enjoy it much more when I've left." The two men get up and leave.
Behrel and Jimi Ray are finally shown in to see the Autarch. Behrel: "So, Mikie
If I may still call you that?" Mikie: "Don't start. Please. It's a long story." Behrel <looking at the griffins>: "Those are so cool. If you need to get rid of any cubs... Are they loyal? I need something to take care of the boys." The nearest griffin informs Mikie that "This one doesn't even deserve to be alive, let alone in your radiant presence. Let me kill him. All it would take it a flick of a claw." Mikie: "No. You may not kill him. Right out." And Mikie doesn't even know if the griffins have cubs. Or whatever. Behrel gives Mikie the business cards he collected from the Oaks. Behrel: "I don't know any of them personally, but they're professionals. And if my history friend is right, you're going to have Arden assassins after your ass, and I don't think this lot is going to be much protection." Mikie: "Thanks. I appreciate it, but" At that moment, two of the Lyrian guards fall through the opening doors, looking very much worse for wear. A tall female follows them in - Brigitte. Mikie <to the griffins>: "Do not hurt her! Under any circumstances!" Brigitte is not impressed by Behrel's now drawn sword, just looks at him like he's already dead. Mikie: "Behrel, it's okay. It's Brigitte." Behrel sheathes the sword, and suggests Mikie call some of the people on the cards soon. Behrel is still glaring at Brigitte, who returns the look and says: "So you're Behrel. I understand that people have been known to drop stone dead in your presence." Behrel: "Once or twice." Brigitte: "God knows you could be carrying some sort of venereal disease that could effect anyone within sight of you." Behrel: "You'd have to get a lot closer to find out." Brigitte: "I prefer my men a bit more evolved." Behrel: "I prefer women." Ouch. Behrel and Jimi Ray leave, before this gets really ugly.
Nicolai notices the excitement around the Ambassadore being broadcast over the tri-dee, so he asks Tony, the barista, about it. Tony: "Some sort of froofarah in front of Regina Security, some kind of king or something." Nicolai: "He get out alive?" Tony: "Yeah, I guess. Driving around the park, messing up the traffic for the rest of us working stiffs. It's early, I'm sure it'll get weirder. I don't know, you haven't missed much. It's been real quiet lately, kind of strange." Nicolai: "Maybe it's the calm before the storm."
A really big man, 7'2", comes over and sits down near Nicolai. He buys two double espressos, pours then into one cup and tosses it down. He doesn't have a spot of color on him - maybe he's a funeral director, or some one with an allergy to sun. He gets up to leave, then stops and turns his head around to look at Nicolai. Turns his head completely around to look at him with strange red eyes. Then he...it? leaves. What the hey?
Nicolai finishes his tea and goes for a walk. The fusion lamp in the dome over Aguilon Park on level 1 and 2 has been replaced, and it's even brighter than the old one, which had not been replaced for God knows how long. The temp on levels 1 and 2 is in the 70's (Fahrenheit), and people are nude sunbathing in the park, or walking around wearing shorts. Cops are writing tickets for unlicensed nudism. Nicolai stops to buy some shades, then takes a walk through the park. Female: "Hey there big boy. I don't think I've seen you around here before." Nicolai keeps walking. Female: "Damn faggots. Aren't there any real men around?" Male voice: "I'm a real man, baby." Female: "Get away from me you pervert!" Nicolai <out loud>: "I'm staying out of trouble." The odd little man with the metal colander on his head pops up at this point to warn Nicolai, going off about having proof about the government conspiracy, Freddy, Corina, the black box, recordings, etc. Nicolai allows the man to rant, until two men in white jumpsuits show up. Orderly: "All right, Mr. Smith. It's time to go back to your room now. You don't want to miss your jell-o." Mr. Smith: "I'm not going back there! I'm not crazy!" Orderly: "Of course not, but you've got some people worried about you. Your doctor and nurse don't want you to get hurt." Smith <pointing to Nicolai>: "He's got a gun!" [On Rhylanor this would be an issue. On Regina? Up Port? Not.] The men in white eventually get close enough to tranq the raving man. Nicolai: "Is he going to be all right?" Orderly: "Yes sir. I hope he didn't hurt you?" Nicolai: "No, I'm fine. Where are you taking him?" Orderly: "Gleery Farm. On Down Port. We do a lot of work with troubled patients. We find that they respond well to small tasks involving animals - feeding the fish, that sort of thing. Any how, sorry to have been a bother, Mr. Volkov." The orderlies take Smith and leave. My, Nicolai's rep certainly does proceed him. Or was this some sort of 'test'?
Treal, watching the tri-dee and drinking coffee, sees the coverage of the arrival of the "Lyrian Autarch". Right now all Treal wants to do is try to find a buyer for the gems he brought back. He doesn't have medical bills to pay thanks to the Lyrian doctor who spent the last week in jump going on and on about what a magnificent reconstructive surgeon he is (he was right, but it was getting a bit annoying). The press coverage has generated a lot of interest in genealogy, with ads for businesses promising to find out if "you too could be a noble". Along with a lot of new ads for people with shipboard skills. Hmmm. Treal might be interested in one of those shipboard jobs.
After some shopping around, Treal finds some one who will pay him $40,000 for the colored stones, but he decides to go back to the auction house where he found the sword with the map. One of the men at the auction house comes over to evaluate the items, tosses the colored gems to one side, and picks up a single gold coin, reverently. Treal: "It's Lyrian." Mr. Lawry: "Don't you think I know that? If it's genuine..." Treal: "Would it help if it's provenance was authenticated by the Lyrian Autarch?" Mr. Lawry: "I see, you are a medium, of course." Treal: "No, no. Don't you watch RNN? Do you know what a griffin is? Head over to the lobby at the Ambassadore if you think I'm joking."
Behrel goes home to four crying babies, and a very frustrated Kitty. Kitty: "Where the hell have you been?" Behrel: "I saw Mikie. He's rich." Kitty: "That's nice. The kids need changing, and I need a break." Behrel doesn't change diapers, but he has nannies for that. Kitty announces she's going out, and does. Behrel gets changed into nice clothing, before going out to the debate at the Epicurean Society, which should prove to be very interesting in deed.
Back in the park, Nicolai is once again a popular guy. Man: "Nicolai Volkov?" Nicolai: "And you are?" Man: "I was just curious as to whether or not you were available for a job?" Nicolai: "Of what sort?" Man: "I represent a person who is looking for some talented individuals who are good in stressful situations, and can break a few heads." His principal has a letter of Marque, and has some interesting intel on the location of some pirates. Nicolai: "Sounds interesting. How much?" Man: "Ship's share." Nicolai: "What percentage?" Man: "Well, we haven't even hired our full complement yet. That would be for the captain to decide, but say, five full shares?" Nicolai: "That's an acceptable starting point for negotiations." Man: "Good, good. Where can I get in touch with you?" Nicolai: "I have a room in the Green Tree Inn." Man: "Excellent. My associate will be pleased. 48 hours, meet at docking bay Grey 216. The captain will want to look you over." Nicolai decides to go to dinner at the Ambassadore, now that he's gotten a job offer.
Up on the Lyrian floor, the reluctant Autarch's valet comes in Valet: "I'm sorry to disturb you sire, but there's been a bit of unpleasantness. There was an argument between the hotel's chef and your chef over who was going to cook your meal...I'm afraid knives were drawn, and it became a bit, well, ugly. No one was seriously injured, but the hotel staff is rather upset." Mikie: "Great. Well, tell your staff to calm down." Valet: "Of course, your highness. Would you prefer before dinner or after dinner?" Mikie: "For what?" Valet: "To view the floggings." Mikie: "Floggings?!?" Valet: "Yes, sire. Would his highness perhaps care to wield the cat himself?" Mikie <very confused>: "Cat? What?" Valet: "The cat o' nine-tails, sire." Mikie: "No, absolutely not." Valet: "As you wish, sire. It is a great honor to be flogged by the Autarch. But I understand if you do not want to flog them. I will have Colonel Esterhazy take care of it." Mikie: "No, you are not following here. There will be no floggings. At all. By anyone. What is wrong with you people?" Valet: "No floggings, sire? As you wish, but they are good men, it would be a pity to have them killed for so minor an offense." Mikie: "I don't want them killed or flogged. Why should it be one or the other?" Valet: "It's not that they enjoy being flogged, your highness. Well, it's sort of like confession. A quick flogging and back to work expunged, no guilt." Mikie is developing a major headache. Valet: "The Autarch, of course, whatever he says is law, and if you want to do away with hundreds of years of tradition, that is of course your divine right." Mikie: "Fine then. No floggings. Or killings."
After dinner, Mikie manages to badger his followers (hah!) into letting him take just Brigitte, the griffins, and a few bodyguards for a walk in the park. Just. "But this is Regina! It's dangerous!!" Mikie: "I know. I'm from Regina. I was born and raised here." Not that the Lyrians are willing to accept this, but they do permit Mikie to have his walk, albeit reluctantly. Mikie and his little party end up in the Japanese Garden section of the park. There are no Sengi there currently, as they don't seem fond of the new, brightly lit aspects, but Mikie spends an hour or so getting the rock garden into the preliminary set up for a game of J'la.
Upon return to the Ambassadore, the valet has news. Valet: "Ah, your highness. I have some unpleasant news, I'm afraid. Young Jenkins?" Mikie: "I'm sorry. Who?" Valet: "The one you didn't want flogged. I'm afraid he's hanged himself. He left a note, something about not wanting to live with the shame, and having no way to expunge himself. He did ask after you, several times, but I told him that you had given orders to not be disturbed." Mikie is more than a bit upset over this. Yet another death he's 'responsible' for. He asks to speak with the Prince, who explains that the "floggings are actually more symbolic than physically painful". Mikie: "How was I supposed to know that? I don't know what your 'traditions' are!" Prince: "Surely you have known us long enough to not believe we would actually beat our own sons and daughters?" Mikie: "I didn't know... If you people want floggings, then fine. Bring back the floggings. Take them up as a sport for all I care." The Prince withdraws at this point, probably for the best.