With the last of it’s internal checkups finally completed – a few things had had to wait until a hot drop for final testing – Mirage turned it’s internal sensors to a full pre-combat evaluation of it’s pilots, in case medical attention was needed later. There was no sign of serious opposition, and there was still 200 miles to go to the drop zone – plenty of time.
It didn’t take it long to discern that Jaiden was about a month along in pregnancy.
That was just WRONG. You DIDN’T take pregnant women into combat. For that matter, wasn’t she too young to either be taken into combat OR to be pregnant? Comparing the detailed scan to the medical files – now that that subprogram had been activated – certainly matched an adolescent much better than a mature woman! The Mirage had sort of assumed that she – and the cadets – were older than they looked, or they wouldn’t be allowed into the military – but if they were disregarding the regulations about pregnant women in combat zones, what else was being disregarded? This was simply unacceptable!
The Mirage promptly registered a protest. The resulting eruption rapidly went downhill…
Jarvian diverted almost totally into a “why didn’t you tell me!” routine, relieved only slightly by “I don’t believe in fathering bastards!” and an immediate contradictory “but I’m not READY to get married!” and “How could this happen!” (On that, the files were fairly clear; they’d started sleeping together in Samurai Jack world). Jaiden explained that he’d wanted an heir, and so she was bearing a child for him – and that she had intended to tell him in a week or two – and if he hadn’t meant to impregnate her, why hadn’t he either been using contraception or asking her to do so? She knew what that would result in, didn’t he? Then she wound up shapeshifting to illustrate a point, which sent both Jarvian and the Mirage into even worse confusion. Neither of them had ever actually seen one of the Thralls do that before – although they had been TOLD that some of them were in bird-form once or twice, they’d never actually been around to see it happen). The fact that she knew it was a boy (if he wanted a girl they’d have to try again in a year or so) was also diverting, at least to Jarvian.
The Mirage kept talking about regulations, and her being underage, and overriding to take her back to a safe location now that it had pilot-override authority. The other Thralls/Cadets got in on it, pointing out that this wasn’t “combat”, or even really risky, it was more like kicking over sandcastles defended by hermit crabs – and since the piloting was neural-input did they have to stay in human form? Could they play with making trick shots with the weapons? If Jarvian was fussing over Jaiden being pregnant did he want to impregnate one or both of the other girls as well? That got back into bastards possibly usurping legitimate heirs, and social classes, and whether or not the Cadets – ages 12-14 – were adult.
They insisted that they were, on the grounds that – at least on Baelaria – 12 was adult and old enough to marry or enlist in the military – and some upper-class men took lower-class mistresses that were even younger. Jarvian joined the Mirage in insisting that they were NOT adults at that age, and if he’d known they were that young he’d NEVER have taken them into something risky. Jarvian preferred a MINIMUM of 17, maybe 16 if you forged some paperwork (that notion set off the Mirage again), to which the Cadets responded by pointing out that they were far less vulnerable than Jarvian OR the Mirage was (both of whom could really die) – whereupon they proposed getting out and dealing with some Battlemechs personally; if they levitated up to the cockpit, used a slap mine to pop the hatch, and pulled the pilot out and beat him or her up, it should be easy.
This got diverted to whether or not someone who owned five of the most powerful war machines in this end of the galaxy was “nobody special”, and as to whether his own powers and associates qualified him as “special” – which turned into a discussion of just what military organization, if any, they were actually a part of – and of what regulations (if any) they were functioning under, and whether or not some “Samurai” had kept mistresses – and if he didn’t want the kid, they could just encourage him to sign up with Kevin later, which would get him useful powers, a guarantee of survival, and the freedom of the Manifold, yet still keep him out of the way until long after all his speculative “legitimate heirs” to come were long dead of old age – and it all threatened to become a complete and tangled morass.
OK, it was too late for “threatened”. It had become a complete and tangled morass quite some time ago.
Jarvian decided that he was going to have a SERIOUS TALK with Kevin! The Cadets were astoundingly talented, but he would definitely prefer some OLDER candidates – or maybe even some normal human beings!
The Mirage concluded that Jaiden was going straight to an appropriate medical facility, whether she or Jarvain liked it or not. Pregnancy was ALWAYS a good reason for a through checkup, at least by a dedicated medical computer and preferably by a human specialist as well. Underage pregnancies were known to be ESPECIALLY risky in any case! The other children need psychiatric evaluation as well! They ALL seemed to consider themselves adults, despite being obviously juvenile – and, even worse, they all acted like Jarvian had some sort of right to put them at risk, to their obedience, and even to their bodies! Children that age should (ok, there wasn’t much in the files except… Ok…) be in school, not piloting war machines into battle! The use of child soldiers were against the law, several major treaties, and the universal conventions on civilized warfare!
The other AI’s, far more limited than the Mirage – if only due to the fact that, lacking souls, they couldn’t see beyond their programming – saw nothing much wrong. Jaiden should, indeed, be removed from combat – but if the Commander said that the Cadets were old enough, and so did the Cadets, presumably the situation had been vetted before they’d been given piloting authorizations. If the commander now felt that they were too young – well, that could be checked after the mission, but it was a well-documented effect. A certain percentage of commanders who were leading new recruits into action would become maudlin, or even irrational, about how young they were. It usually resulted in an on-leave binge if there were any casualties and a need for counseling after the war, but rarely had any real effect on command efficiency.
Taking out most of the major opposition, and capturing most of the mech pilots – although there would have to be some small-scale ground operations to take out dug-in pirates – wound up being distinctly anticlimatic. They were grossly outranged, outgunned, outarmored, and – from the point of view of the Mirage and the supporting “modern” vehicles on Jarvian’s side – were practically immobile. Basically a targeting test.
This entire exercise was not turning out at ALL like what Jarvian had had in mind.