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Absence of Information

By Victoria Martin
Page 3 of 8

3.

Dear Jer,

Since the strategy committee is determined that nothing relating to KA should be stored or relayed on equipment using tarriel cells, I've had to set this down by hand, so apologies if it reads rather stiltedly. I ha rdly need add that you should destroy it immediately after reading -  I've no particular wish to be identified as a leak to any of the Commissioners involved.

Things have gone pretty much as we predicted. At its first meeting the committee assessed a number of possible interrogation strategies and drew up a priority ranking (as follows) of the information it believes can be extracted: (1) teleport capability; (2) location of Ensor's ORAC computer; (3) mechanics of Plaxton's star drive; (4) data pertaining to resistance groups. Of these, (1) has been given top priority, not only because of its tremendous military potential but also because it's the only item we can be certain KA has full knowledge of. Not only did he spend three years on the Liberator, he was able to reconstruct the teleport system after Liberator's destruction, so he must know how the bloody thing works. The same is probably true of the star drive, although he didn't have as long to reverse engineer it, and of course it's nowhere near as useful, much as these Space Command types like the thought of zipping about faster than everyone else. Of the others, (4) frankly doesn't interest me and (2) seems to involve rather too many variables, since even if it was KA who hid the thing, anyone might have found it by now.

I argued, of course, for a full-on psycho-chemical approach right from the start, since it was employed to considerable effect on Terminal. Unfortunately there were dissenting voices - despite the refinements we have subsequently achieved to the process, it was felt that the Terminal experience might actually forewarn KA, enabling him to guard against the effects. The fact of the matter is, though, that the committee is simply greedy, and eager for quick results - and one must admit that the career prospects for all of us look dazzling, if a functioning teleport can be speedily achieved - so they opted for a low-budget, bog-standard spell at Central Security. Well, of course those bods at CS haven't a clue how to go about things in a case like this. Not that I'm rubbishing CS, by any means - they came up trumps with the accommodation, and if you need a one-word answer to a simple question, they'll do you proud. But the situation here was rather more complex, in fact we had to get in a chap who'd worked on the aquitar project to ask the actual questions, as the CS fellows couldn't even pronounce half of them (must have been quite a blow to their professional pride). Anyway, they got him to co-operate all right, but as you know, KA is pretty resistant to normal measures and by the time he'd knuckled under he was in such a state he couldn't even concentrate on the questions, let alone remember strings of fancy equations. They had to pull the aquitar chap off in the end as well, because he kept calling in sick. Personally I think it was a mistake to involve him so directly in the interrogation procedure, most of these scientific types haven't got a clue about how the world really works and on the whole it's best not to disillusion them. But George had a point when he said someone needed to be there who actually understood the questions. Anyway, the whole approach was cancelled when it became obvious that we were going to kill the goose before it could lay any golden eggs, and Simpson has been charged with pulling in some loved ones, so CS can duff them up instead. Of course that's usually very effective, but I can't see it working with KA. You don't last that long in the resistance if you're the self-sacrificial type.

See you at Sleer's do next week. Will Erma be there? Give her my love if not.

TK

PS I suppose I should give CS credit where it's due - they did get ORAC"s whereabouts out of KA, or think they have. George is assembling a top secret team to go and dig the thing out of its hidey-hole on GP,  but I shan't hold my breath.

Dear Jer,

Not much to report, I'm afraid. Simpson's failed to turn up any relatives or close friends at all, made a complete pig's ear of it, in fact - I know KA is a bit of a cold fish, but I can't believe he doesn't have even a grandmother lurking around somewhere. I suspect someone - and it's not hard to guess who - has been tampering with the computer records, so I suppose this not using tarriel cells idea has something to it after all. Especially since the ORAC machine still hasn't turned up. George's team swear they've been over the ground with a fine toothcomb and haven't seen hide or hair of it, so either KA was lying, or someone's got there before us. Simpson suggested that KA"s crewmates might serve in the absence of family or friends, but all the evidence points to them having died at GP, and we were hardly going to commit resources to chasing halfway across the galaxy in search of someone who's probably dead. George pointed out that, given that KA had been happy to shoot his former leader, it seemed unlikely that personal loyalty was one of his key attributes anyway - sometimes George actually manages to talk sense. Anyway, another meeting next week to decide on the new strategy - of course, we won't be able to start until the effects of this one have worn off, but I'll keep you posted in case the wind finally starts blowing in our direction.

TK

PS. Who was that charming companion of yours? She raised a few eyebrows, I can tell you. And what a wonderful dress - Sleer's nose looked distinctly out of joint!

Dear Jer,

Truth drugs! I suppose it was inevitable,  but really, I'm starting to ask why I'm on the bloody committee in the first place if they're going to ignore everything I say. Will let you know when we move on to the next strategy - it can't be too long. I take it you'll be in action behind the scenes at the Space Command conference next week? Should see you then, if so.

TK

Dear Jer,

As predicted, a total bloody waste of everyone's time. I'd laugh if it weren't such a waste of our time as well. When I think how far we could have got with the project by now, if only they'd committed themselves to us straight away! But no, we have to go through this drawn-out process of trying every bloody alternative first. Can I give you a lecture on the drawbacks of so-called "truth drugs"? At least you might listen, unlike the committee. In spite of the popular belief - a belief vigorously encouraged by CS, I might add - that you only have to stick a needle of beconol into someone's arm and they'll warble out anything you ask, there is rather more to the process than administering a quick injection and asking "So how does a teleport system work, then?" Which my dear colleagues eventually figured out, but not before they'd spent a few frustrating weeks banging their heads against a brick wall, whilst I stood in the background and tried not to smirk. The thing about truth drugs is that they make it effectively impossible for a subject to hold back on something specific they're being asked about  - it's like being told not to think about pink elephants, the harder you try, the harder it gets. Sooner or later, they can't stand the pressure any longer and have to blurt it out. But ask someone not to think about the first one hundred digits of pi, and they don't have one particular thought to concentrate on. Their minds zip up and down the string, first one number, then another, and they never build up enough pressure behind one particular thought for the dam to burst. Ask someone a general question about how a teleport sytem works and they don't even know where to begin.  Which means you have to ask specific questions, and therein lies the rub. I don't know anything about how teleportation works, but I do know damn well that you can't get to there by asking questions from here. The whole point about the damned system, the reason why KA is so hugely valuable to us, is that it's alien technology, we don't even know the first principles upon which it's based. By the time the rest of the committee had figured out the implications, after months of refining the questions, making them more and more precise, so he'd have to answer them, and then realising the questions weren't leading anywhere, I'd stopped smirking and started fuming at the delay. Still, it can't be long now before we get our chance, I'd say they've just about exhausted all the other possibilities. I've taken the liberty of getting Lorre to run up a few scenarios and start interviewing for actors - when we finally get the go-ahead, I want to be able to run with it from a standing start. We should be able to use the same bunch of boffins to brief them, which will save a bit of time. 

Still, at least we found out KA was telling the truth about ORAC - "Were you telling the truth about ORAC?" being exactly the sort of question truth drugs do work on.

TK

PS Can you dig out the file about KA"s escape from the London? There might be something useful in there if we're going to construct scenarios on board the Liberator.


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Victoria Martin

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