At Harmony Lodge


The next three weeks went by both too quickly and too slowly for

Cortin's taste. It took the Imperials only a couple of days to find a

plague vaccine, but they were unable to find a cure; according to their

medical people, it caused permanent physical changes. That was fine

with Cortin. She'd put a lot of time and effort working for the social

changes the plague had made necessary; she had no particular desire to

/> have that work wasted, and she wanted even less for her Family and

herself to go back to their pre-plague selves.

To Cortin's amusement, when Conley was introduced to the rest of the

Family she developed an almost instant crush on Tony Degas, the most

classically handsome of the Family men. That, since Degas enjoyed the

attention, kept them both busy while Cortin was working, and often


There were only two untoward incidents during the three weeks before

Medart's arrival. The first was the arrival of a prisoner for

execution, which wasn't at all unusual in itself--but the interrogation

report she got with him didn't feel right, and the prisoner had been

muted, which, with the other, could mean someone didn't want her

questioning him. She didn't normally do that with execution

subjects--they'd been questioned and sentenced before coming to

her--but she decided to delay executing this one until Medart arrived.

Mike said the Empire had something called a mind-probe, and thought it

likely a battle cruiser would have one, unlike a scout; with that, she

should be able to question the prisoner and get responsive answers.

The other was an attack on half a dozen Imperials and two Strike Force

troopers on the way back from town, by twice that many Brothers of

Freedom. There were casualties on both sides, but to Cortin's

unconcealed delight, no fatalities on either. She left interrogation

of all but the leader to the Detention Center's staff of Inquisitors,

since they were unlikely to be either knowledgeable or particularly

difficult to break. Even the leader wasn't too promising, given the

Brotherhood's secretiveness, but Cortin took him anyway; these

Imperials were her responsibility, and she wanted to personally punish

the one in charge of harming them.

And she did get some useful information from him. The Brotherhood's

still-anonymous new leader was no fonder of the Empire than she was,

but instead of bowing to the inevitable and making the best of it, he

vowed to destroy all he could. Killing Imperials was to take priority

even over killing Strike Force members, including Cortin the Bitch

herself. When Cortin passed that information along and it reached the

public, the general attitude toward the Imperials became more

favorable; for most people, anything the Brotherhood wanted to destroy

must have its good points.

Return to main storyline: 29. Arrival