"Meet Jane"

Meet Jane. Jane knows nothing of steely eyes or grinning teeth. Jane knows of her office, in a comfortable suite in an administrative park on the pastoral world of Trebicond. Jane knows nothing of Manticore as anything more than a region on a map a decade out of date; in fact, she knows very little of any world other than Trebicond, and has no particular desire to, because at two hundred she's very comfortable in her life with a nine-to-five routine, two cats, an on-again-off-again boyfriend who she inevitably breaks up with and then goes back to in a few months, and evenings with red wine and multilingual soap operas.

Jane is an enforcement asset deployment manager, which is not a military position, because the Solarian League has no military, simply administrative bureaus with enforcement arms. Because Jane's core job isn't one that's had any real work in at least half a millenium, the position has gradually accreted several other duties to fill the gap, and so the bulk of Jane's efforts to appear reasonably productive go towards internal performance reviews, revising old documentation, filling in for other managers, and so on. Nonetheless, because Jane likes to take at least a little pride in her job, she's actually read through most of the half-century-old manuals and training materials that have to do with actual enforcement asset deployment.

On Monday morning, the messaging system sends her a new alert. It takes her six hours to notice, and then another half hour to realize what it actually means. When she realizes she's actually going to deploy enforcement assets for the first time in her hundred and fifty years on the job, she's excited! By then it's time to clock out, though, so she goes home and feeds her cats and watches soap operas and vaguely dreams about manuals and training materials. She isn't military, after all. Jane doesn't think about war machines, about death and destruction, or about the hundreds of mostly automated bolthole worlds that churn out Battle Fleet ships from standardized century-old designs.

The next day, Jane reschedules three meetings and spends a half hour gossiping in the hallways about the news. She never mentions Manticore, because she's never heard of Manticore as anything more than a region on a map a decade out of date. Then she spends a few hours reviewing manuals. After a long lunch and a few drinks, she boots up software that hasn't been touched since she was a hundred and fifty-five and starts refamiliarizing herself with the old training. It takes her the rest of the work day to be reasonably sure she has a good idea what she's doing. At home, her ex-boyfriend is back from his latest trip, and they kiss and make up and he becomes her non-ex-boyfriend again and any thought of enforcement asset deployment leaves her head for the rest of the evening.

Over the rest of the week, Jane creates a deployment schedule, sends electronic paperwork to a dozen separate departments and dutifully files away the automated receipt responses, spreads unpleasant rumors about a coworker, draws in the current borders and wormhole nexi on the outdated maps and then recreates a deployment schedule, spends half a day at a seminar about process efficiency, celebrates a coworker's birthday, double-checks her second deployment schedule, re-reads and consults fourteen of the fifty-three manuals lining the bookshelves of her office, engages in a covert affair with the hunky fifty-year-old mailroom intern, and fills out all the secondary paperwork that gets sent to the eight-hundred-year-old vaults of Trebicond central filing.

On Friday morning, Jane clicks the confirmation button, and a fleet of five hundred automated superdreadnoughts is deployed to mercilessly destroy Manticoran industry and shipping. Jane spends the rest of the work day rereading the old manuals for nostalgia's sake and then going to a seminar about ergonomics in the workplace.

Jane consults her manuals. It takes a few hours, but she once she's distilled it down enough to understand as a pithy rule of thumb she feels quite enlightened. There are all sorts of sub-rules, as there usually are in these kinds of manuals, but the core of it is simple: if a deployment fails, double the deployment numbers and redeploy, then repeat as necessary.

Somewhere, a few shipping magnates are vaguely annoyed by the extra point-five percent export tax for the next year, automatically levied by automated customs processor programs. They have no idea where the money goes and already know that it will be near-impossible to find out. Still, it's just a part of doing business, and it's better than the insane instability of the Haven sector.

Somewhere, mostly automated bolthole worlds churn out tens of thousands of automated superdreadnoughts in response to Jane's deployment orders. The people who oversee the systems have no idea where the ships go, but are excited because the increased production and resulting increased staffing schedules have gotten them their first new office intern in five hundred years.

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