This chapter is eligible for winning bonuses in the Sentient Domain Game. An index of all relevant posts can be found here.
Islandiski had a pirate problem. Most of the planet’s trade went through Kopalvogurnýtt, meaning that all an enterprising pirate had to do was lurk near the space above that city, and a steady stream of merchants and traders would always be there, ready to fall victim. Many pirates did just that. Some of them were legendary. A few were local heroes.
And then there was Pavi Valshorn.
Pavi commanded at least three cross-system jumpers, which implied a crew of at least 400. The reports used the term “imply” because they were certain she didn’t have that many people. Somehow, and everybody from the mayor of Kopalvogurnýtt to the Executive branch of the ICA wanted to know how, Pavi had an alliance with an undomesticated AI who had never once integrated with the Aydan-machine. Nobody was sure how powerful the ICA’s AI was. They did know that even the ICA only got a fraction of its potential help, and they were careful to avoid offending it. Pavi’s AI had no limits. Pavi Valshorn, it was whispered, commanded the most effective, damaging fleet of pirates to prey on Islandiski, by herself.
Everybody wanted to catch Pavi Valshorn.
Autumn had come to Kopalvogurnýtt and brought with it an excuse for the biggest party the colony had thrown in the three generations since its founding. Through the dedicated efforts of their police force, in cooperation with officials from the ICA, Pavi Valshorn was in custody. Mayor Oggsson had declared a city-wide holiday and the Agrarian Society had sponsored a parade. This was the day they marched Pavi Valshorn into the city center in chains, before throwing her in prison to await trial in the spring. They hadn’t captured her ship, but that would come in time. Winters on Islandiski were persuasive. Pavi would give up her AI, or she might not see a trial.
Plaenetasgata, the main street running through Kopalvogurnýtt to the mayor’s mansion, was covered in banners and streamers, the sides lined with vending stalls selling everything from food to commemorative flags and t-shirts. Both secondary school marching bands played during the celebrations. Every able-bodied citizen of Kopalvogurnýtt was either participating in the parade or watching it, and anybody within 30 hours travel of Kopalvogurnýtt had flocked to the capital to see the festivities. Pavi had been a menace for five years, a pirate who wasn’t from Islandiski, didn’t spend her spoils on Islandiski, and couldn’t be bribed into acting in the interests of the Islandiskeri.
Floats followed the marching band. They were mostly paper-maché confections rapidly built atop the beds of old pickup trucks recently tuned up for harvest, but they were colorful and that was what mattered. A formation of the Kopalvogurnýtt police force marched behind the line of floats, pistols and nightsticks flashing in the morning sunlight atop their glossy, navy-blue uniforms.
Then, surrounded by a rigid cage of armed guards, there was Pavi, arms and ankles chained together. That evening people would talk about how bent and defeated she seemed, dragging her feet with her head bowed while the colony celebrated around her. In the following years they would talk about how she marched smartly along, a sinister grin curling on her lips. In reality, Pavi just walked, taking in the sights, noting the people. She’d never been to Kopalvogurnýtt before. It looked like a decent place.
“Pavi Valshorn,” Mayor Oggsson intoned from a podium in front of the Mayoral mansion. “You have been arrested for seventy counts of piracy, nine counts of kidnapping, fifty violations of ICA protocols, creating and harboring an unintegrated AI, thirty counts of conspiracy to commit piracy…” the charges went on for some time. Pavi glanced at the sky. It was too bright to see her flagship cruising overhead, but she knew it would be there. They hadn’t taken her chips yet, so the automated systems were still reporting to her. Mike wasn’t making contact, though. A wireless signal transmitted this far wouldn’t be secure, not from the ICA, and they’d agreed that it was more important to keep information about Mike to a minimum than it was for Pavi to have an active companion during the walk up Plaenetasgata.
When she got bored, Pavi tuned out the mayor and started watching a movie feed off her ship’s servers. It was one of the new ones off Delhi Xiang and full of Kempari spies blowing things up. Pavi loved movies about the Kempari. Continue reading “Sentient Domain: Chapter 2”