With Liberty And Great Justice...

(Written by Rob Kelk and Griever, so far; posted May 28-29, 2007, so far)

February 26, 2013
11:01 GMT

"Commander, a representative of the new tenant wants to speak with you directly... Commander?" Noah wasn't listening. He'd been lost in thought for a few hours.

After a moment, the visitor got tired of waiting. "Damn it, Noah, pay attention to your own crew!"

"Wha... Katz? When did you get here?"

"Two minutes ago. I thought I'd be able to say hello when I picked up the keys, but you're in no shape to be sociable. What's wrong?"

After a moment, Noah replied, "Nothing, really."

"All right, I won't pry. But I want a favor in return."

"If it doesn't interfere with Operation Great Justice, sure. Hell, even if it does - Yayoi and I still owe you for your help at the SOS-con last year."

"I'll let the specialist tell you what she needs, then. She's waiting just outside."

"All right..." Noah walked over and opened the door to main control, and discovered someone familiar waiting to see him.

"Hello, Mr. Scott."

"Leda! Er... Ms. Swansen, please, come in... no, it would be better if we spoke in the conference room. We haven't shielded all of the computers in here yet."

Katz cleared his throat. "Are you two going to need a chaperone?"

Noah and Leda both blushed. "Don't you have somewhere else to be?" asked the Senshi.

11:17 GMT

"... so, you're part of the Kobayashi Maru project."

Leda shook her head. "Not really; I'm just along because N is part of the crew. As her geneticist, I need to work with her if what the slavers did to her isn't to get passed along to her children. If she has any children."

"That was really low, even for a boskonian. I'm glad you're trying to give her a normal life, though."

"Normal? There's no way anyone trapped in that slave pen will ever be normal again, Noah."

"Yeah... bad choice of words on my part."

Leda looked up from her notes. "You usually watch what you say better that that. What's wrong?"

Noah sighed. "Oh, I don't know... Yes, I do know. I'm having second thoughts."

"About the Kobayashi Maru project, or leasing space to Above and Beyond or the SEBureau?"

"No, that's only part of it. I'm having second thoughts about all of Operation Great Justice."

"From what I hear, Ms. Suzumiya wouldn't like it if she heard you say that."

"So what? Everybody treats Haruhi as if she's some kind of incarnate god or something. I've worked with her, and I know she puts her spacesuit on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us mere mortals. And this is my station, not hers. What I say goes, here." Noah sighed deeply. "Why doesn't anyone remember that any more?"

Leda reached for Noah's hand, but stopped before she took it in her own; she wasn't wearing her insulated gloves. "Is she meddling in how you run the station?" When Noah nodded, Leda went on. "Then let her know that you don't appreciate that. I'm sure she'll be reasonable."

"You don't know her very well."

"Oh. But we both know that Operation Great Justice is doing a lot of good, Noah. Just last month, you all helped evacuate Crystal Osaka before it crashed. You saved my life, and the lives of a lot of other people."

Noah frowned. "Yes, but if we hadn't been hunting zwilnicks, that firefight in Crystal Osaka would never have happened. You'd still have a place to live."

"And hundreds of people, maybe thousands, would still be getting addicted to thionite. What's one small town compared to that?"

"Even though it was your home town that was destroyed."

"Even though it was my home town that was destroyed, yes."

"How can you be so... blasé about all the destruction?"

Leda's voice was steady. "Because we all know that it's serving a greater good."

11:20 GMT

"Sir? Is everything alright?"

Katz didn't really startle, but the voice did catch him by surprise. You know, there may be something to people not liking me popping out of the woodwork on them when they least expect it. N was apparently very good at that as well.

And she had a habit of formalizing otherwise simple things, which was likely some sort of defense mechanism, but that was rather beside the point in the here and now.

"Yeah, everything's okay. How does our space look, by the by?"

"It suits the needs we have of it. Construction of the main hull and the mockup is proceeding on schedule," she informed him.

He nodded. "I'll go give it a look-over, then. You're still on a free until the targeting gets put together, you know."

"I know."

Right, of course you do. Well, there really was no helping it if N wanted to go above and beyond the call of duty ... and boy, was that a strange turn of phrase to twist itself through my mind without even a hint of mocking.

In any case, as his walked towards the dry-dock, his mind wandered back ...

Never, ever leave when they think you're about to. You never know what you might overhear.

Yes, I think we've stated my paranoia somewhere before. It's not a problem, it's a survival trait.

And maybe I was overreacting badly, but Swansen's ending comment had been like a huge red warning light given the context.

Hell, even taken out of context.

Call me cynical, but even mentioning "the greater good" was enough to get me on edge. Always had been, always would be.

Katz stepped past a bulkhead, and into a spacious bay with a half-finished hull hanging in the middle of it, all the while wondering who and when to bribe to get his hands on the Good Doctor's psychological profile.

17:01 GMT

"... and I've talked to the people from Above and Beyond about their request for laboratory space. It's going to be awkward, but I think we can squeeze them in somewhere in the secure section."

"Thank you, Yoriko. Is there anything else?"

"That's it for the daily operational report, Noah. But everybody I've talked to today said you were distracted. What's wrong?"

Noah sighed. "Lately, I've been wondering whether we've been doing the right thing with Operation Great Justice."

"What, in supporting it? We signed off on the SOS-con articles, so we don't have very much choice. We have to support Operation Great Justice."

"No, I'm wondering whether we were right to start OGJ in the first place."

"Uh-huh. I was wondering when you were going to realize that."

Noah looked at Yoriko in amazement. "Are you saying you think Great Justice is a mistake?"


"How long have you felt that way?"

"Ever since I voted against it at SOS-con." Yoriko sat down, and gestured to Noah to sit beside her. "When you programmed me, you gave me a police officer's instincts and a wide-ranging curiosity. That combination's lead me to study the history of police activity."

"All right, but what does that have to do with OGJ?"

"Bear with me, darling. Back in the 1980s, the US government started a 'War on Drugs' - they tried to get rid of the drug problem once and for all. But whenever they broke up a drug ring, another one popped up to take its place. They couldn't succeed, because they went about it the wrong way."

"That's old news to me, Yoriko. I lived through that time."

"Yes, I know. So you should realize what's happening now. When we started Operation Great Justice, we effectively declared a 'War on Crime.' Sure, it didn't start that way; there were a couple of threats that had to be addressed, and we've taken care of those threats. But we're using that as an excuse to go after every criminal we can find."

"We have to do something about the reavers, though."

"You taught me this one, Noah: 'we have to do something; this is something; therefore we have to do this' is not valid logic. Killing off reavers wherever and whenever they appear isn't going to eliminate piracy, any more than it did on the Spanish Main. As long as there's profit in it, there's always going to be another reaver. Or another slaver, or another zwilnick."

"And Great Justice will go chugging along as long as reavers keep showing up. But what can we do?"

Yoriko frowned. "As long as nobody's willing to tell Haruhi that she's wrong, there isn't a lot we can do. But what we should do is make piracy unprofitable as a matter of course."

The doorbell chimed, then the door opened and Yayoi poked her head in. "Dinner's ready!"

"We'll be right there," replied Noah as he and Yoriko stood up.

Yoriko grabbed his arm. "Promise me you'll at least mention the matter to Haruhi at the meeting Thursday morning."

"All right. It's worth a try, I suppose."

February 28, 2013
10:17 GMT
The Epsilon Blade

"Damn her... Try to raise an objection to her ideas, and she treats you as if you aren't there!"

Yayoi looked at Noah. "But she remembered you were in the room when she wanted someone to run a package to the Island. There's plenty to keep us busy back on Stellvia; why didn't you say no?"

"Because I had to get away from everyone before I started shouting at them. No, that's not right. I had to get away from Haruhi before I started yelling at her."

"And that would have been bad for morale."

"Morale has nothing to do with it - it would have frozen us out of any further decision-making. If we're going to have any chance to put Yoriko's idea into action, we have to be able to propose the plan, at the least. Yoriko did tell you about our discussion, didn't she?

"While you were busy with the TSAB yesterday, yes." Yayoi put the ship on autopilot and turned to Noah. "And I don't think Yoriko went far enough on Tuesday. I don't have very much experience with war; if it wasn't for Great Justice, I'd just have what's in the story you based me on, and that wasn't very much. But it was ultimately pointless. Why are we fighting a war to preserve peace, Noah?"

"That's a very Japanese question, Yayoi."

She just stared at him for a moment.

"Yes, you do have a very Japanese personality. Right. Of course. Sorry about that. As to why we're fighting for peace, sometimes we have to use overwhelming violence to get people to stop using violence."

"In other words, might makes right. Isn't that how the boskonians live? If we use their methods, how are we any better than them?"

Noah thought for a moment. "Damned if I know, Yayoi..."

March 2, 2013
18:23 GMT
The Kobayashi Maru

"I wanted to get your take on this, is all," Noah said thought the screen of the commo, which in this case consisted of an old PDA, a cooling fan, and scotch tape. "On what the point is."

Katz considered it for not long at all.

"Well, with OGJ it is a war you've been fighting, so I don't really know how to help you there. Not exactly my area of expertise."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Noah asked after a moment. "You got in on the groud floor, same as I did, if I recall correctly."

"Did I? Mm ... I suppose that'd have been what it looked like at the time," Katz shrugged. "But, consider ... in war you always fight against a larger force, not individuals. Against a concept, a phenomenon. In this case, call them boskonians, reavers, whatever. At some point, it's always impersonal, and I don't do impersonal. I don't do war."

"Then what do you do?"


To be continued...