In which Val Con and Miri offer their solutions.
The distinction Val Con makes between those who count themselves to be Scouts and those who count themselves to be Liaden Scouts is one I was reaching for yesterday but didn’t manage to wrap words around. (And reminds me of Eylot, forcing its pilots to decide whether they were pilots who happened to be Eylotian or Eylotians who happened to be pilots.)
It also, come to think of it, suggests the possibility, if not the certainty, that at some point in the future the Scouts headquartered on Surebleak are going to accept non-Liadens into their ranks. Once you’ve reached the conclusion that being a Scout and being a Liaden are not necessarily linked, it’s an obvious consequence. (There have been hints in that direction already, too, with people mentioning that the Scouts have been providing educational opportunities on Surebleak, usually followed by commenting that Scout teachers always treat their students as prospective Scouts.)
We get a few answers about Bechimo in this chapter.
For one, we have, finally, a definite statement of Bechimo’s age: he was constructed around the time of Jethri Gobelyn, partly in response to the actions of Jethri and Jethri’s father. This is consistent with the hints that have been coming out in the last few Theo books, but leaves us still with the early statement of Bechimo being over 500 years old. At this point, I guess, the only thing to do is to shrug and move on.
For another, we get an explanation of why he thought the Admiral Bunter plan was a good one. It’s understandable, though not exactly to his credit, and I expect Theo will be having words with him about it later.
I feel like there might be a slight gap in the judgement Scout Commander yos’Phelium makes regarding independent intelligences; Jeeves was declared a real person after undergoing a comprehensive series of tests, so an intelligence wishing to be covered by that precedent perhaps ought to be tested in the same way. In the case of Bechimo, though, I suppose that’s not a concern for the immediate problem of getting yos’Thadi off his back; yos’Thadi wants a quick solution, so he’s not going to push to have tests done that will take time and might end up strengthening the case against him. (And even more time, one suspects, before the tests even begin, finding someone to administer the tests that both sides will accept as being the right kind of Scout.)
I get the feeling that yos’Thadi is going to try something rash, counting on a swift success to carry him past any problems from ignoring a legally-binding judgement. And I have a feeling that when he does he’s going to find Bechimo‘s crew ready for him.
An additional detail about the Yellow Salon: it’s where visitors are put who are not, as Miri chooses to put it, “housebroken”. Extra security measures, perhaps?
It’s interesting that Chernak apparently has some idea who the Uncle is — and also that Stost apparently doesn’t, when they’ve spent so much of their life doing things together and sharing their experience.
X, Y and M were covered in detail in the Migration duology, but I don’t think we’ve heard of the K Strain before.
It’s a small thing, I know, but it was brought to mind by the way that Jeeves keeps track of the taxi carrying yos’Thadi and vas’Anamac: how does the Uncle get to Jelaza Kazone, on this trip and his previous one? It seems unlikely that he’d own his own car locally. Perhaps he took a taxi, too, and Jeeves just didn’t have a reason to make explicit report of it.