"So we've taken a few lumps here an' there..." Harrigan told his senior leadership "but thankfully not too often or too many at a time. Anyone got any ideas what's happening – and possibly even why?"
"We've got precious little proof of anything" Lazarus grumbled "But when I put it all together I think something's starting on the PK side of things, officially or otherwise".
"You think someone's doing something on the side?" Harrigan asked, surprised.
"Not if I understand you correctly, War Commander" Trannak replied "I think, from what Kingdom sources, private investigations, and previous experience tells me, that the Peacekeepers' Disruptor units are encouraging widespread unrest on as many worlds as they can reach – not so much to try and bring any over to their control, although I doubt they'd refuse any opportunity presented to them, but to test either the other major powers or us".
"Us as well?" Harrigan asked, even more surprised "I didn't think we'd made that many friends, to be honest!"
"I doubt they'll try and take us on in a set-piece battle" Trannak thought aloud "They know enough about this ship now to know that won't work without costing far more than they can afford to lose. What they don't know is how far we can be stretched before we start missing things or making mistakes – so they start, as you say, 'stirring the pot'..."
"...and see what floats to the top" Lazarus finished for him "Yeah, which honestly sounds worse than if they just wanted to fight. Someone's using their brain, someone's thinking long term – we need to find out who".
"Probably that one Crichton calls Commandant Cleavage" Lazarus suggested "There's been enough uprisings and insurgent movements in recent cycles – and in places easier to get to from Sebacean-held worlds, which makes the PK's the obvious cause of the problem if not necessarily the only or even the main one".
"I'd suspect Grayza as well" Harrigan said, getting nods from the Generals around him "but we need more to go on than this. Right now plausible deniability works more for her than us, and that's assuming she's at fault for most of it in the first place".
The bridge doors opened, after which they all heard someone climbing the ramp.
"Greetings and salutations to all" Feltano announced, bowing slightly to Harrigan before saluting "My mission proceeded at least mostly according to plan. Kalian resistance leadership is prepared to work with us, and though I did tell them they would only be charged at preferential rates there was enough discussion among them after I finished talking to suggest that their financial resources may be more stretched than they would like".
"We will be able to reach an agreable compromise, Feltano" Trannak told his son "It is worth losing a little money in order to gain their good will and their trust".
"It is, General papa" Feltano replied "They were pleased to hear that we are prepared to accept contracts from them, and they were surprised to see that I was a hybrid – many of them came close to ask me qurestions, papa, and to see what a hybrid of their people and yours is like for themselves. I think that only one deduced that I have the change as well".
"That'll do for now, then" Harrigan decided, closing the meeting "We got lots to work with. Since that last Emergency Action Message we heard from Scarran space, we're on General Alert 4 until we get proof their evac convoy's going somewhere other than towards us. Dis-missed, everyone".
Something's up Harrigan thought to himself uneasily PK's poking around, an increase in Hierarchy attacks on at least smaller Kingdom communities, and while the Establishment's not been moving around much out here they have been, if we believe the reports from those refugees that got out alive, cracking down HARD on internal dissent. I suppose that as long as we don't get asked to take care of everything we'll just have to do what we can and hope it all doesn't blow up in our faces...