"Man is the only kind of varmint that sets his own trap, baits it, and steps in it."
-- John Steinbeck
259 - 1122.
The debate at the Epicurean Society on weapons on Up Port is spirited. In true Regina style, 'spirited' means devolving into a brawl, frightening the chef, and resulting in the police firing tranq and sticky foam into the main hall and then cutting people out in wedges. This includes Corina, who as Duchess is cut out first.
Black, naturally, is on hand to view everything, and finds it rather amusing. The people who want all the firearms confiscated because all anyone really needs is a sword, the ones who believe that a man's body should be the only weapon he needs, and the other less rational stances. And they're still at it when they're in the foam.
260 - 1122.
Under calmer circumstances, Corina makes an announcement about an addition to the Government Restoration Act that will create a fourth section of the governing body - an elected branch. Any one who is a resident may file (there is a $1,000 credit filing fee), and any one who is currently serviing in the Imperial military or is of legal age to may vote. One man, one vote - which confuses some people, and you do not have to be a resident of Regina to vote. The Foundation for Social Justice will provide volunteers, so the government will not have to pay for personnel. This should really make things interesting, especially since Kitty thinks it would be a good idea for Behrel to run.
Nicolai goes Down Port to see Mr. Hobart at the museum. Apparently, the cool armor Nicolai had purchased at auction was made for the movie "Atomic Ronin". The tri-dee was made over a hundred years ago, and was "the Cleopatra of it's day, and was the most expensive movie ever made and did in fact break the studio. It was never released in it's original form, but several cuts have found their way into theatres. The original tapes are rumored to be out there some where, but no one knows where - possibly on Lanth, where the movie was filmed.
Nicolai shows Hobart a photo of his other armor. Hobart: "This is an ancient artifact. I'm sure the Museum could never afford it - we could never compete with what an independent buyer could offer." Nicolai: "Well, I could loan it to the Museum." Hobart would be thrilled to arrange for that, and this way the armor is secure without Nicolai having to pay for its storage.
Nicolai gets a copy of the information on the collection, and then goes to the Up Port auction house to get the collection appraised there, since he now has provenance. The auction house can't really make an estimate, as it would really depend on finding a collector. Nicolai gets a referral from the auction house as to a shipper to get the armor to Lanth, since it's where "Ronin Productions" was based, and he hires a researcher to find out all they can about the production company.
Behrel goes to dinner with Mr. Hobart, and gets more information about the Lyrians and the Federation of Arden. Among other things, the fact that the Federation allied itself with the Zhodanis. Hobart: "It was a very rich culture, spent a lot of money on themselves, and there are still a large number of ex-patriots that are clinging to the old ways, in spite of the cultural purging that took place after the revolution (burning of art, books, etc.). According to Lyrian tradition, to be an autarch you have to be a member of the Lyrian nobility, and you must be accepted by the 'griffins'." Behrel: "Would you like to meet some griffins?" Hobart: "Well, that would be unlikely, as they were rumored to be an ancient, sentient species that predated the Lyrian Empire. They died out shortly after the fall of the Empire. The rumor was an agent of the Imperial Security Service who introduced a tailored virus." As this conversation is going on, Behrel is walking Mr. Hobart up to the Lyrian floor, where Hobart thinks some one has done an excellent job with the recreation of the uniforms. Behrel takes him up to Colonel Esterhazy and introduces Mr. Hobart to him. Behrel: "We would like to view something that for us is out of history." Hobart: "I must say sir, that you've done your research. The costume is incredibly accurate." Behrel asks to see the griffins, which means seeing the Autarch. Esterhazy sends the message down the minion chain. Mikie tells them to send Behrel right in, but of course the servants have to make Behrel wait, as it wouldn't be seemly to just send him right in. Besides, there has to be an argument when Mikie refuses to wear any of the cool robes or crowns.
Behrel and Hobart are eventually shown in, and Hobart is, to put it mildly, surprised. Hobart: "May I, touch one, your highness?" Mikie <to the nearest griffin>: "He wants to pat you. If that's all right?" Griffin: "He seems harmless. As long as he doesn't backstroke me." Mikie <to Hobart>: "It's all right, just don't backstroke him." Hobart very carefully approaches the griffin and reverently touches him. Hobart: "I would never have imagined the feel - it's like suede!" The griffin seems to like being petted. Hobart: "My thanks, great Autarch." <wince> Fortunately, Behrel doesn't call Mikie 'autarch' to his face. Behrel and Hobart leave, to return to their dinner.
261 - 1122.
The next morning, the front page is full of coverage about the newly found Lyrian Autarch. All sorts of stuff about Mikie's past - "growing up poor on the streets, never realizing he was the heir to a huge fortune". Mikie will be spending a lot of time in the gym, beating on things. Gav'rouks calls up to offer to provide Mikie with a soundtrack. And every man and his dog calls up to beg for money, etc. - the one time having several layers of 'people' is actually helpful.
Behrel, who has decided to run for public office, gets his PR people to test the waters for him, so to speak. Flunky: "The liberals view you as a some kind of wild man who's liable to hack up anyone who disagrees with him, and the conservatives view you as a pornographer. On the other hand, you've got the prostitutes' vote." Behrel: "Then I have to get the youth vote. Go for the rock and roll crowd." Since Behrel has decided to run as himself, against advice, maybe some fundraising rock concerts and free movies might be in order.
A prelimary 16, 478 candidates have paid the $1,000 credits to file their candidacy. The media is rather confused, so they are tracking only the candidates who are already known names. Interestingly enough, many of the candidates are in the media themselves, like Bob the Weatherman. Behrel's platform includes eliminating the bureaucracy, and other specifics. Unlike people who are for "fairness" and other vague issues. Or the people who will "take the budget surplus and cut everyone a cheque".
Corina gets news that Ming-Na's ship never made it to Jewell en route to Deneb, and may have been the victim of pirates. In addition to having all the Ling Standard ships looking for the ship, Corina sends a personal note to the Arch Duke informing him of what has happened. And giving him the opportunity, should he want it, to let Corina know that she shouldn't look very hard.
And Corina also needs to deal with the business of issuing the letters of Marque. Not just anyone who shows up will get one, but some applications arrive already filled out, dropped off by a Naval officer - a captain who just "happened to be passing by", and drops off the sealed envelope without apparently knowing about it's contents. Corina sends out feelers to make sure this is "officially unofficial" before she authorizes the letters. If the Imperial Navy wants to have some deniable people out there, fine. A member of Naval Intelligence is not willing to say yea or nay to that, but he does "recognize the names, and I'm willing to vouch for them as being of uprigth moral character." Ah. That's all right then.
Corina will have members of her staff do the preliminary winnowing out of applicants, to make sure that the people who are applying to make sure they have the wherewithal to actually do what the letter of marque states (i.e., a spaceworthy ship, money for payroll, etc.). Adam Shelzie applies for a letter of Marque, although he does need to purchase a ship first. He has the money, and can guarantee his intention to purchase or have built a 400 ton vessel with long legs and armor (90% of the vessels out there have no armor, it being really expensive); possibly with Rick Walkers assistance. In spite of the past difficulties Shelzie has had with Corina, a letter of marque will be delivered to Adam. (It kind of negates the whole necessary anonymity thing if those awarded letters of marque were to have to queue up to get them; much better if they are discretely delivered.)