Six of Us
In which Rys makes a gamble.
I suppose it was too much to hope that the official procedure for disbanding the Department merely meant calling the whole thing off and letting everyone go home.
This also suggests that I read the end of the prologue backwards: it wasn’t the Commander conditioning that headed off the thought about disbanding the Department; it was the Commander who wanted the Department disbanded, and one of Caz Dor’s colleagues who diverted the thought to buy time until the Department could be taken apart non-lethally.
I’m not sure I follow the Commander’s explanation of how disbanding the Department is an advantage to the Department, unless “disbanding” is a euphemism for “blowing up with great big explosives while the enemy is close by”. Though the bit about allowing their power to meld with the intent of the universe reminds me of the stuff that’s been said in the other plot strand about how the old universe was suffused with the intent of the Enemy; perhaps in the old universe, where the Commander would have been commanding just one force in service of that pervading intent, there was some way that disbanding the force served to strengthen the cause they ultimately served. If so, it’s unlikely to work here now that the Department is the last remnant and the old universe has been sealed off, but perhaps Claidyne’s copy of the Commander doesn’t know about that yet.
…I wonder if the official Commander’s increasing instability has something to do with she is feeling the effects of being sealed off from the old universe.