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Chapter 20 Small beginnings

Ben poked around at the last bits of what looked like extruded sprouts and beans with a dressing pretending to be a salad on his plate. “Why does good for you always mean it's not as tasty as food not so good for you?” “You could spend some time on that yet to be used treadmill as an alternative approach to staying healthy.” Ben sighed and ate the last few bites. “Ungar has arrived at the cathedral, I'll have the bots clean up, let's go watch and see what happens,” said Celeste.

Ungar braced himself, took a deep breath, and walked into the conference room. He gently set the five stun guns on the table, sat down and pensively waited. Both Marshal Banner and Davin each picked up one and examined them. “How many of these things do they have,” asked the Marshal. “I don't know, maybe a lot of them, or not. It's a big ship. They accepted the trade of one case of brandy per gun. I don't think they would do this again, but they made an offer. They have a much larger stun gun that will immobilize an entire crowd if you would be interested.” Both Banner and Davin grinned then David looked suspicious. “What do they want for it.?” “Rhabdophane is what they want, one hundred units to be exact.” “What the hell is that,” snapped Davin. Ungar suppressed a sigh, “It was used in the old days when we still made the water treatment systems. We likely still have some up at the mines in storage. It's quite rare as minerals go. We have no need for it and apparently, they do.” Davin peered at Marshal Banner, “Have a squad go to the mines and find that stuff. Get it here in two days.” Banner said, “I'll make that happen,” as he picked up the five stun guns and started to leave. “Marshal, leave one of those for me, I may some use for it.” “As you wish Senior Elder,” said Banner with a knowing grin.

Ben grimaced, “I think I know what he is going to do with it. This is one vile specimen of humanity.” “I've seen worse Ben, but Davin ranks high on my despot list. Do you have any other ideas on how to make the elders uncomfortable?” Ben's eyes lit up. “Do Eaulanders have a banking system?” “Yes, their computers are primitive, but I can access them.” Ben arched an eyebrow, “Can you move money from one account to another?”

Celeste sat still for a moment, “Yes.” “How do the security forces get paid?” “There is an account for that. They don't get paid much. It's more like a weekly stipend.” “What do think would happen if some money from the security forces payroll account was moved into Marshal Banner's account? Just enough of it that a few of their vouchers don't clear? At the same time what if some money from Elder Davin's account was also moved into the Marshal's account?” Ben asked.

“Why Ben. It would look like the Marshal was embezzling money. Because some security force checks couldn't be cashed, the bank would have to investigate. Now that's a distraction. Consider it done. The timing of these events has to be right. The fungus should take three or four days in the tanks to gum up the fuel. The bug will take about two days in the digestive system to kick things off for the following few days, and it will spread like wildfire. I'm also worried about making sure Ungar doesn't get any blame for these events. It's likely some suspicion may fall upon him since he is the only one that has visited our ship. I think we should start first by moving some money around in their accounts, and see what happens.”

“So a broad outline is to mess with the Elder's and make them ill for a few days. Then what?” asked Ben. “We will stage a coup using the women and then play it by ear after that.” “How do we keep the women from getting sick?” “By creating a secret society built around cells.” Ben looked puzzled. “It's an old spy system. We will start with one woman and a thousand pills just like the one we gave Ungar. This woman will recruit nine more trusted women. Each will get a hundred pills. They will be the core of the group. Each of them will recruit nine more and give them each 10 pills. They, in turn, will each recruit nine more women.”

“Have you done this before Celeste?” “No, but I think it will work. The women have the most to gain. They are abused and treated like slaves. Most would jump at the chance to have a better life. The trick is to time things, so the coup is ready to go when the elders and the security forces are all sick.” “So what can I do to help.” “Let's go back to the hold and find a waterproof box I have a thousand pills in a hopper that need to be put into ten bottles of a hundred, and we need nine more tablets. Later tonight I will send a bot out with the box and put it in the woods at the spot Lora and her friends were hiding. Then we just have to wait until she contacts us if that happens.”

Late in the day, Ungar called for his carriage at the cathedral. “Take me to my daughter's quarters,” he said to his driver.