Robin Gordon

Auksford crest: a great auk displaying a book with the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
Auksford 2013

© Copyright Robin Gordon, 2013

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Book V: The verdict and its aftermath
Chapter 15: The Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor

    The three judges filed in, the Lord High Admiral looking grim, the Papal Nuncio smiling beatifically, and the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor with his eyes no longer half-closed but gleaming with as if with interior luminosity.
    “Monsignor DaClue,” said the Admiral.
    The Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor took over.
    “Since, thanks to the brilliant presentation of a very convincing case by Monsignor Gulls, the objective of this tribunal of enquiry appears to have shifted from an investigation into alleged shortcomings in the governance of Sunday to become an examination into the abuse of inquisitorial powers by Dr Tadler, a matter which constitutionally can only be considered by a court under the presidency of the Commonwealth Inquisitor or myself, the Lord High Admiral has graciously consented to allow me to undertake the final scrutiny of the evidence placed before us, so that the eventual verdict shall be both watertight and constitutionally correct.
    “I shall therefore begin with the facts admitted by both sides.  Dr Tadler, you admit that, following a standard inquisition of your subject, Roquana Smuff, you remained linked to her when she gained employment at Savark Court.  You justified this in your own mind by persuading yourself that you wished to see how Roquana conducted herself when she came into contact with people of higher rank, whether she retained that sweetness of nature and honesty for which you have praised her, or whether she might possibly have fallen from those high standards of behaviour when confronted with the conspicuous consumption of the ruling classes.”
    “Yes, Your Eminence.”
    “However,” he continued, “you admit that your motives were at best mixed, for you wished also to see how the upper classes lived and behaved in private.  You had never carried out an investigation into any member of the Establishment, for, as we have heard from Monsignor Gulls, you have not advanced in your career to the level of Senior Inquisitor.  In short, you have remained a Doctor and failed to progress to the level of Monsignor.  You are not an Eminence?”
    “That is true, Your Eminence.”
    “You also admit – do you not? – that you communicated with your subject, Roquana Smuff, that you urged her to strike Lord Savark in the groin with her knee, that you advised her to stay in the stream to evade Lord Savark’s dogs, and that you continued to give her advice throughout her travels and also here in New Jackrusselham.”
    “Yes, Your Eminence.”
    “You even allege that you transferred your link from the mind of Roquana Smuff to that of Tommuz Crumptin, and while there, took control of his mind and compelled him to say to the Guild of Eunuchs that he did not want to be castrated.”
    “I did not take control of his mind,” I said.  “I urged him to resist.  It was the name of his beloved Roquana that decided him, otherwise the drug they had given him would have made him desire pain above everything else.  It is not possible for an Inquisitor to control his subject’s mind.  Not even you …”
    “We will leave me out of this if you please, Dr Tadler,” said Monsignor DaClue.  “It is you that we are investigating, and, in fact, the accusation that you controlled the mind of Tommuz Crumptin in the crypt beneath the Pantheon cannot be sustained, because Monsignor Gulls told us that the incident never happened.  Tommuz Crumptin, according to his account, was never captured by hoypyu and never handed over to the Guild of Eunuchs, and was therefore never in danger of losing his manhood.
    “That particular incident or non-incident is therefore irrelevant to the case brought against you by Monsignor Gulls, but it does demonstrate that you claim to be able to influence the minds of the subjects to whom you are linked, and may therefore have some bearing on the accusations that are levelled against you, namely that you continued to control Roquana Smuff and Thomas Crumptin and to manipulate them as puppets even after apparently severing direct contact, and that you had similarly manipulated Moiku Stoon, showing that your ambitious plans to seize control of the planet date from the very early days of your appointment here – a heavy indictment indeed, which I shall now analyse in detail.”
    Throughout this speech the Procurator was squirming with pleasure, smirking and making tiny noises of approval.
    “Let us take first of all,” said Monsignor DaClue, “the allegation, the truth of which you have already admitted, that you used Roquana Smuff to spy upon members of the ruling establishment, whose lives were, as Monsignor Gulls has pointed out, beyond your remit as you have not attained a sufficient level of seniority to be trusted with such access.
    “I should like to ask Monsignor Wullsin, as Grand Inquisitor of Sunday, whether it is normal practice here to restrict responsibility for inquisitions into members of the upper classes to particular, more senior Inquisitors.”
    The Big Cheese stood up.  “It is not and never has been,” he said.  “In fact it is specifically forbidden by the rules of the Inquisition.  Any citizen, with the sole exception of the monarch, may be assigned randomly to any Inquisitor.”
    “So Dr Tadler would normally have performed as many inquisitions into the lives of establishment figures as you have yourself?”
    “In principle, yes,” said the Big Cheese.
    “Might I ask,” said Monsignor DaClue, “how many such inquisitions you remember carrying out?”
    The Grand Inquisitor hesitated.  “I … erm … I don’t actually remember any in recent years,” he said.
    “In effect,” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor, “you and Dr Tadler have carried out pretty much the same number of such inquisitions – that is to say: none.  Do you know how often you yourself have been the subject of an Inquisition.”
    “That is not possible for me to know,” replied Monsignor Wullsin, “but on average people here are examined every two to two and a half years.”
    “You have been Grand Inquisitor for thirteen years,” said Monsignor DaClue, “and the last inquisition into your life was approximately fourteen years ago.  Do you have any explanation?”
    “No,” said the Big Cheese.
    “The Archbishop of New Jackrusselham has been in post for eleven years, and he last underwent an inquisition about twelve and a half years ago.”
    The Grand Inquisitor looked devastated.
    “I shall not go into any further details,” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor.  “A summary of the position will suffice, and it is this: no member of the Senate, no Government minister, no member of the Holy Synod, no member of the Monopolies Control Commission has ever undergone inquisition.  Most have been examined before their appointments to these high positions, but thereafter they appear to have been exempt.  Lord Savark has never been examined, nor has Monsignor Gulls.  I must ask you, Monsignor Wullsin, whether this is as a result of policy determined by you?”
    “I had no idea …” faltered the Big Cheese.
    “What you are about to say, I would expect, is that the allocation of subjects for inquisition is carried out through an automatic randomisation process within the Inquisition computer.”
    “Yes, of course.”
    “… and the computer was set up by …?”
    “Sunday Informatics …”
    “… which is owned by …?”
    “Savark Communications,” said the Big Cheese.
    The Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor smiled.
    “Monsignor Gulls,” he murmured, “perhaps you would like to comment?”
    “Mnnnnngh!” honked Gulls, “I … I must assure Your Eminence that I myself had no idea that the computer was or even could be set up in this way.  I … nnngh! … I really do have to admire the ingenuity of Sulamun Tadler, who has obviously obtained access to the minds of our computer engineers and manipulated them into redesigning the randomisation program in order to prevent other Inquisitors from pre-empting his plan to seize control of our world … not that I suppose any other of our noble band of Inquisitors would harbour such ambitions … shee-hee-hee-hee!
    “Fascinating,” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor.  “You really must be something of an evil genius, Dr Tadler, if you were able to achieve such effects – especially as you were probably still a student at the Inquisitorial College on Yowkoy One at the time.
    “Your theory does not hold water, Monsignor Gulls.  An analysis of the Sunday Inquisitorial computer, carried out on my orders yesterday by the team from CCHQ, reveals that the computer was set up this way as soon as it was installed, thirty-five years ago, and each upgrade of equipment and software, carried out by engineers from Sunday Informatics, has perpetuated this anomaly.  Responsibility cannot therefore lie with Dr Tadler but rests securely with Sunday Informatics, a division of Savark Communications, a monopoly entirely owned by Lord Savark.”
    Gulls looked extremely sick.  The Papal Nuncio seemed puzzled, and the Lord High Admiral appeared to be suppressing a grin.  The Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor’s eyes gleamed as he leaned forward.
    “Now we come to Dr Tadler’s ability to control the minds of his subjects, and, what is even more impressive, his ability to retain that control even after severing his direct link with them, the examples being Roquana Smuff, Tommuz Crumptin and Moiku Stoon, also known as Vayhal the Translator.
    “Monsignor Gulls, you allege that Inquisitor Tadler has exercised this degree of control over his subjects, do you not?  Yet you have also told us that Dr Tadler is a low-ranking Inquisitor whose abilities have never brought him promotion to the level of Eminence or even Monsignor.
    “Monsignor Wullsin, could I ask you how you rate Dr Tadler as an Inquisitor.”
    “He is very competent and trustworthy,” said the Big Cheese, “though I fear that he and his close colleague Dr Drow are sometimes inclined to take an overly humorous view of life.”
    “You mean,” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor, “that they are inclined to refer to you as the Big Cheese, to which you take slight exception, forgetting that when you and I were young Inquisitors, we, like everyone else, called our superiors by similar names.  What I am asking you, however, is whether Sulamun Tadler is so outstanding a practitioner of the inquisitorial arts that he could take control of his subject’s minds.”
    “There is no Inquisitor alive, nor has there ever been, who could do that,” said the Big Cheese.  “The standard textbooks all say that it is impossible.”
    “What is your opinion, Monsignor Gulls?” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor.
    “The standard textbooks are obviously out of date and were probably written by men of lesser talents than Sulamun Tadler,” said the Procurator in his silkiest tones.  “After all, we all know the old adage that those, who can, do, and those, who cannot, teachshee-hee-hee-hee … shee-hee-hee.  Nnngh, we certainly can’t rely on out-of-date books written by comparative nonentities.”
    “Of course we can’t,” said the Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor.  “Out-of-date research by incompetent bureaucrats and pedagogues would be entirely inappropriate.  Could you perhaps remind us, Monsignor Wullsin, who these nonentities were.”
    “The standard treatment of the subject is DaClue and Wullsin,” said the Big Cheese, 
based on research carried out by DaClue and Portrudge.”
    “And who exactly are they?”
    “Wullsin is Grand Inquisitor of Sunday, that is me, DaClue is you, Deputy Commonwealth Inquisitor, while Portrudge, now retired, was Commonwealth Inquisitor.”
    Gulls was by now fuming and squirming with embarrassment.  The Papal Nuncio was leaning back in his chair looking once again relaxed and benevolent, while the Admiral looked as satisfied as it is possible for an admiral to look.
    “We are agreed then that mind control is not possible during an inquisition.  How much less possible must it be after the inquisition is ended, yet it is alleged that Inquisitor Tadler maintained control of Moiku Stoon’s mind for seventeen years.  CCHQ have searched the records and found that Moiku Stoon was examined by the Inquisition approximately eighteen years ago.  This, presumably, Monsignor Gulls, is when Dr Tadler gained control of his mind.”
    “Except that not only is mind control impossible, but Dr Stoon was not examined by Dr Tadler but by Monsignor Wullsin, the same Monsignor Wullsin who subsequently became Grand Inquisitor.”
    “Then Monsignor Wullsin must have been working for Tadler.  He must be part of the Tadler conspiracy, that is why he has given you all this false evidence.  That is why he has told you that mind control is impossible …”
    “You are a liar, Gulls!”
    “Eunnnngh!  Grave and serious insult!  I … I …”
    “Your whole case is built on a tissue of lies, a web of deceit, an edifice of hypocrisy.”
    “No, no Your Eminence, I am the one who has been deceived.  If what you say is true, and of course since you are so eminent an Eminence it must be, then I have been deceived by the people who control this planet – by the Holy Synod, by the President.  I’m sure we can come to some arrangement, hee-hee-hee …”
    “The Lord High Admiral will inform you of the arrangements when we have come to the end of this enquiry,” said Monsignor DaClue, “and I suspect they will not be to your liking.
    “The President told Dr Tadler and his companions that you are in effect the Government of Sunday.  It is you who tell the President, the Senate and the Holy Synod what they are to decide, what they are to say, what they are to think.  It was you who acted as go-between, telling each of these institutions that the others were very anxious that your policies should be agreed.  It was, in short, you who have manipulated the constitution to ensure that your will and that of your master always prevails.
    “Further, at my request CCHQ has subjected the early records of the settlement and development of this planet to a thorough scrutiny, which reveals that the Sunday Development Corporation was aware from the start of the existence of an intelligent race of people, not in the slightest concerned about that race’s origins or history, but determined to keep its existence secret from the Commonwealth, and, eventually, to exterminate it.  It is clear from our researches that Moiku Stoon had discovered this, and it is also clear that he did not make any alterations at all to the database, but, instead, sought to bring this knowledge to the attention of the Senate only to be pursued by Government Guards and forced to flee into the wild lands.
    “Your Royal Highness, I have now completed my investigation into the alleged misdeeds of Inquisitor Sulamun Tadler,and I find him not guilty of any of the charges brought against him.  I find instead that there has been grave misgovernment orchestrated by Lord Savark, Monsignor Gulls and the members of the Monopolies Control Commission, further investigation of which I now hand back to you.”
    “Thank you Monsignor Da Clue,” said the Lord High Admiral.  “Have you anything to add, Monsignor Blinkunsouppe?”
    The Papal Nuncio indicated that he was satisfied with his colleague’s conclusions and smiled benignly.
    “I believe,” said the Admiral, “that Lord Savark, who failed to attend this tribunal, is currently aboard his space yacht, orbiting Monday, behind the dark side of which he doubtless intends to dematerialise into hyperspace and make his escape.  He will, of course, find that his warp-drive has been disabled, so there will be no problem about picking him up.
    “I shall sign arrest warrants for Savark, Gulls, Fittlutt and others.  Their trials will be quite short as the evidence has already been presented here.  The Government will be reconstituted according to Commonwealth principles, and I hope that Lady Ontoonia Furtescyow-Broyne will agree to take up the post of Governor General.”
    “Oh, gosh!” the lady murmured.

    It was only after the tribunal had been brought to an end and the justices filed out, that we realised that Gulls was nowhere to be seen.  He had, it seemed, wriggled away like the sneaking, secretive snake that he was, and, we later found, persuaded an officer to hand over to him one of the latest small fighter-ships – a Spitfire no less – by saying he had been sent by the Admiral to bring Lord Savark before the tribunal.
With a craft like that at his disposal he could be anywhere in the universe.

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Roquana:  Index.  --  Chapter 14.  --  Chapter 16.

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