Arkhaven logo

The Devil's Advocate panel 1


The Devil's Advocate

She changed the subject. “Speaking of keeping me on the scene, are you making any headway in your little investigation?”

“Frankly, I'm puzzled,” admitted Benbow. “The gas was cyanic, as you suspected. I've confirmed that, and I've also confirmed that we don't use it aboard ship, don't store it, and it can't be produced from anything we do store. Nor do we store the type of canister that was used in the attack. Everything was spirited aboard.”

“Doesn't surprise me,” she commented.

“No?” the doctor asked sharply. “That raises some questions. If the gas bomb were brought aboard, as apparently it was, then it presupposes a knowledge of what was to happen, how it was to be used. That's worrisome, Miss York, especially if the incident were related to whatever your mission happens to be.”

“Which it is,” she replied calmly.

The doctor studied her. “How could anyone, even the captain, have known that Draco would be sent out here? No one could have known that!”

“Well, I seem to have figured it out in time to catch a ride. Remember, Draco was by far the closest available ship of its class to this subsector, or it was until the Admiralty brought the Cetus out of the shipyard.”

“But why this subsector? Have we not yet reached the time you spoke of before, when our reason for being here would become apparent?”

“Not yet.” She exhaled heavily. “And if I transfer to the Cetus, it will never arrive.”

“And leave my curiousity unassuaged? You wound me, Miss York, you really do!” The doctor grinned and indicated her mug. “More coffee? I have to say, of all the various theories presently circulating through the crew, I favor the abandoned alien ship theory.”

“An alien ship?” she handed him the mug. “Interesting. And what is the reasoning behind that notion?”

“You've practically confirmed it, actually. An object deep in uninhabited space. A mysterious signal. The Admiralty and AID want it. House Dai Zhan wants it. The Singularitans want it, although I can't see how they have a hope in Hell of obtaining it, being blockaded as they are. Who knows what technological miracles await the first to arrive and claim it?”

“That makes sense,” she admitted.

“The only thing that doesn't make sense is the attempt on your life. Why the bomb?”

“I was the unpredictable element. There's always an unpredictable aspect to these situations, you know.” She paused, recalling how searing pain had poured down her throat and into her lungs, and shuddered at the memory. “My arrival panicked someone. He lost his head and decided to get rid of me. By doing so, he tipped his hand. And now I'm beginning to get the picture. A rather fantastic one, to be sure.”

“Alien fantastic?” Benbow said suggestively. “You know, I was thinking that you might not actually be a Directorate agent. You might be a xenologically-trained diplomat operating under the guise of an intelligence operative.”

“You have a vivid imagination, Doctor.”

“Comes with the profession. It just occurred to me that an intelligence operative wouldn't be expected to be caught with her pants down.”

“Literally,” she admitted. “Look, we're not superhuman, you know.”

“But are you what you say you are? That's really the question, isn't it?”

“Do any of us really know who we are?” She rose and accepted the mug from him. “I'm afraid I shall have to leave such questions to you and your fellow neuropsychologists, Dr. Benbow. Thank you for the coffee. May I take this with me?”

“By all means, Miss York.” The doctor made an ironic little bow as she smiled at him and departed.

Leaving the medical suite, York felt curiously invigorated. If Benbow enjoyed playing the devil's advocate, she found the exercise to be stimulating too. His notions concerning the possibility of an alien ship were amusing, but they weren't actually all that far off. What was the difference, in the end, between the desire of Terra's rivals to acquire the sunbusting technology and unknown alien technologies. In any case, their goal was to end the Ascendancy.

She wondered if Benbow would be disappointed if and when he learned the true situation. Well, they'd know soon enough. If only she could be certain of getting on-board the Cetus! She knew Director Karsh would be doing his best to get her to the stricken cruiser, but the introduction of this unexpected uncertainty so close to the crucial nexus made her nervous.

The strain was making her impatient. The waiting had been endless, unproductive tedium disrupted only by the clumsy attempt on her life, but now they were deep inside the Gelhart system, speeding toward the planet that the Rigel likely orbited. She could feel the climax gradually building, that moment when competing plots and plans and actions would come to boil, when the devious machinations of Prince Li-Hu and Dr. G and Director Karsh would be put to final test.

The Devil's Advocate panel 3
A Mind Programmed series cover
The Devil's Advocate episode cover
37,059 views · 1,842 likes

A Mind Programmed

Created by
author avatar
Vox Day
The Greater Terran Ascendancy finds itself facing a historic crisis when the Shiva-class cruiser ATSV Rigel goes missing during a routine patrol through the Kantillon sector. Fortunately, the Ascendancy Intelligence Directorate's top operative, Daniela York, is on the scene.
An Almost Preternatural Calm episode cover
An Almost Preternatural CalmEpisode #50
Expendable Tools episode cover
Expendable ToolsEpisode #49
A Statistically Anticipated Probability episode cover
A Statistically Anticipated ProbabilityEpisode #48
Just Crystal episode cover
Just CrystalEpisode #47
Three Ways to Hide episode cover
Three Ways to HideEpisode #46
Against the Tide episode cover
Against the TideEpisode #45
A Planet-Sized Trap episode cover
A Planet-Sized TrapEpisode #44
Suspicion, Bordering on Paranoia episode cover
Suspicion, Bordering on ParanoiaEpisode #43
A Game of Wits episode cover
A Game of WitsEpisode #42
Galactic Stakes episode cover
Galactic StakesEpisode #41
The Devil's Advocate episode cover
The Devil's AdvocateEpisode #40
Escalated Contest episode cover
Escalated ContestEpisode #39
Utmost Confidence episode cover
Utmost ConfidenceEpisode #38
A Matter of Survival episode cover
A Matter of SurvivalEpisode #37
The Working Theory episode cover
The Working TheoryEpisode #36
Penetrating Orbit episode cover
Penetrating OrbitEpisode #35
A Lifeless Star episode cover
A Lifeless StarEpisode #34
The Great Stream of History episode cover
The Great Stream of HistoryEpisode #33
A Drastic Action episode cover
A Drastic ActionEpisode #32
Mirror Images episode cover
Mirror ImagesEpisode #31
A Very Resourceful Girl episode cover
A Very Resourceful GirlEpisode #30
Knowledge of the Unknown episode cover
Knowledge of the UnknownEpisode #29
The Obvious Conclusion episode cover
The Obvious ConclusionEpisode #28
A Sort of Madness episode cover
A Sort of MadnessEpisode #27
No Biological Elements episode cover
No Biological ElementsEpisode #26
Algorithms of Central Importance episode cover
Algorithms of Central ImportanceEpisode #25
Medical Emergency episode cover
Medical EmergencyEpisode #24
The Instinct to Pry episode cover
The Instinct to PryEpisode #23
House Dai Zhan episode cover
House Dai ZhanEpisode #22
A World in Miniature episode cover
A World in MiniatureEpisode #21
She Can Hold Her Own episode cover
She Can Hold Her OwnEpisode #20
The Next Step in Evolution episode cover
The Next Step in EvolutionEpisode #19
Every Facility and All Aid episode cover
Every Facility and All AidEpisode #18
The Technology of Space episode cover
The Technology of SpaceEpisode #17
Top Priority Alert episode cover
Top Priority AlertEpisode #16
Homo Posthomo episode cover
Homo PosthomoEpisode #15
The Spy-Master episode cover
The Spy-MasterEpisode #14
That Damned Violet Sun episode cover
That Damned Violet SunEpisode #13
Deformed By An Evil Star episode cover
Deformed By An Evil StarEpisode #12
Sabotage in Zero Seven Zero Two episode cover
Sabotage in Zero Seven Zero TwoEpisode #11
The Causative Factor episode cover
The Causative FactorEpisode #10
A Mirror of the Mind episode cover
A Mirror of the MindEpisode #9
The Primary Pieces episode cover
The Primary PiecesEpisode #8
A Message to Director Karsh episode cover
A Message to Director KarshEpisode #7
Highest Priority episode cover
Highest PriorityEpisode #6
First Contact episode cover
First ContactEpisode #5
Sacred Meditations episode cover
Sacred MeditationsEpisode #4
Somewhat of a Predicament episode cover
Somewhat of a PredicamentEpisode #3
Restricted Knowledge episode cover
Restricted KnowledgeEpisode #2
Last Minute Passage episode cover
Last Minute PassageEpisode #1
List icon
Comment icon
Prev icon
Next icon
Fullscreen icon