The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.13

Cat steals my thunder as usual…..

That made me sit up very straight. Mr. Cat indeed. That blasted tin can robot. I couldn’t even get arrested without him piping up in the interrogation. I couldn’t believe it. So not only had he been giving speeches on his pet and pointless research topic, but he’d seen fit to wax lyrical whilst doing so about my missions. And, from the sound of it, he was taking an incredible amount of credit for my achievements. Wait till I got him home and in the sonic washer-dryer. He’d learn the meaning of the word clean after a few runs through the cycle reserved for stainless Rubanite utensils!!

I leaned forward in my chair some more, with my best cheesy smile playing out across my face, intending to probe Helen and find out more about Mr. Cat’s recent speaking engagement. Repeating slowly the full unexpurgated facts of his tales, whilst watching him tumbling around through the sonic washer’s door appealed to me. However, just as I reached that point of familiarity where I felt that touching Helen’s forearm, in a kind of ‘brotherly’ manner was a good next step, the second ‘thing’ happened. And this second ‘thing’ was a lot worse, ultimately, than the dismay I felt at having Mr. Cat’s contributions to my successes thrown at me.

At the very moment that my hand touched Helen’s body, the lights in the room went out. As they went out she screamed very loudly and I sensed her start to fall sideways from her seated position. I grabbed at the top of her shirt but could do nothing, as I felt her body slump away from her chair and the thin cloth of her shirt tear in my hand under the weight of her. As she fell away and hit the floor, with a bit of a thump, I stood up in a panic and tried to move around the table in the blackness to reach her. All I managed to do though was catch my foot on one of the table legs and stumble down to the floor as well. My landing was, however, softer than my brain initially expected, landing, as I did, sprawled over Helen’s soft and warm body.

To be continued…….

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.12

That Blasted Cat!!

WPASO Candy added, with a giggle, that the investigating officer who had written the report was quite new and junior. This really didn’t help to alter my sense of incredulity at the apparent manner in which law enforcement could be swayed by perceptions of social status and position. Not that I necessarily thought this was a  bad thing right at this moment. Accordingly, I persuaded myself to continue to be polite and smiley as, after all, I seemed to be benefiting from their prejudices.

Showing me part of the written report seemed to break the ice a bit with Ms. Candy who seemed to be increasingly in awe of what she’d heard about me.

“So,” she said, “it must be so exciting and dangerous to travel the Universe tracking down tax fraud and dealing with Mud Lizards.”

“Well you know, it has its moments,” I responded.

“But you must be quite scared at times. I mean everyone knows what the Mud Lizards’ can be like and you’ve defeated their dastardly plots more than once. All I ever get to do is issue tickets for hovering offences. I never get anything exciting. Or dangerous. I don’t even normally get to interview any suspects. That’s why I was so thrilled to get the opportunity to talk to you about this crime. Even though I knew you must be innocent. Please tell me, how do you manage to cope with the kind of dangers you’ve faced on your intergalactic missions?”

I was positively starting to enjoy my interview with the ‘vision of be loveliness’ that was WPASO Candy. I relaxed in quite a rush, leaned back in my chair and said,

“Well my dear, after the first few times, you know, you just get used to it. You think  of your planet first and your personal safety a very distant second.”

I found myself leaning forward as I continued to verbally preen and strut my intergalactic tax inspector stuff. Things were going really well and then two things happened to rather spoil the moment.

First off, Ms. Candy or rather Helen, as I had just started to call her after she had told me more about herself, including her name, said,

“But it must be so much easier and helpful to you on these missions to have Mr. Cat leading the way. I mean, everyone at the station knows his immense contribution to what you do as a team since his speech here on ‘Nothingness’ earlier this year.”

To be continued……

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.10

My Interview with WPASO Candy Begins

Before my mind had the chance to fully interpret my last statement, Ms. Candy responded with,

“Inspector Prouff, I must warn you that anything you say or think may be recorded and later and used to support any case brought against you.”

“What?!!” I said incredulously.

At that WPASO Candy scribbled on her forearm with the sharp stylus she had. I looked at straight into her eyes and said,

“You’re joking, right?”

She scribbled again and after I said ‘Oh come on’ and then ‘Can we start again?’, both of which were instantly followed by more scribbling, I decided to shut up.

WPASO Candy fixed me now with what was probably the ‘stare’ described in detail in the ‘how to intimidate a suspect’ manual she had doubtless been issued with at PASO training school. She then proceeded to ask the same questions she had asked me earlier that day on the aircast, religiously scribbling be down my answers with her stylus on her forearm. After she got to the bit about whether or not I received an ion battery from a man in the hovercar park and I’d responded ‘yes’ as I had done earlier she added,

“Did you not think it strange that a man should just walk up to you and give you an ion battery?”

I thought for a moment and then answered,

“Not really, at the time. But, I must admit now on reflection, no one has ever given me an ion battery before, so I guess it is a bit strange.”

“So,” said Ms. Candy, now in full WPASO mode,

“You thought it was odd but you still took it. And not only that, but you took it from a man who is a criminal,” she ended incredulously.

“Yes, true. But how was I supposed to know he was a criminal? He wasn’t wearing a sign!” I responded indignantly. “I can assure you there was no criminal intent on my part.”

To be continued……

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.7

Off to see WPASO Candy

Before I could say anything even vaguely grumpy, the Droid arrived to escort me to the station. It had opened the bay door which was located on the window side of my living room and docked to face me. For a brief moment as the bay had opened, and before the appreciably sized Droid had properly docked, I had struggled not to be blown backward by the blast of external air. As my apartment was on the 723rd floor there was understandably a significant breeze when any of the sealed windows opened.

Reluctantly, I shuffled over to the docked Droid and stepped into its passenger pod. Just as I was bending to seat myself in the passenger seat, a gravelly mechanical voice said,

“Please remain standing until scan complete.”

I stood, my arms crossed, as multiple yellow and blue lines of light passed rapidly up and down my body.

“Identity confirmed,” said the gravelly voice before adding, “stolen ion battery not present. Please step out and retrieve. Please step out and retrieve.”

“Oh for goodness sake,” I exclaimed before stomping off, grabbing the battery and going back into the CustodyDroid. The Droid disengaged from my apartment and headed off at somewhat breakneck speed, flashing blue lights working overtime, to the Skystation where presumably, WPASO Candy was stationed and waiting for me.

To be continued……..

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.6

Tiresome Police Procedure

Whilst I was thinking, and before I could actually respond to the question of whether ‘I was me’, she spoke again,

“My name is WPASO Candy and I am aircasting from Skystation 9572/Delta.”

Oh good grief, she was a policewoman. Woman Peace and Security Officer (WPASO) to be precise. Now I knew for sure she would at best be rather odd, if not a complete automatonic buffoon. They were trained for years to be so and were very good at it. I decided at this point it was best to play ball so said,

“Yes, I can confirm that I am Tom Prouff.”

“Would that be Thomas Nigel G’Laxy Prouff?” WPASO Candy responded.

“Yes…..” I said in a long drawn out manner.

“Good,” said Candy before continuing, “Mr. Prouff, were you working on a Cicatrice hovercar  in the hovercar bay on the 75th floor at Starling Heights earlier this morning?”

“Look, what is all this about,” I said in a rather exasperated tone.

“Please answer the question Mr. Prouff,” said Candy quite sharply. “Were you working on a Cicatrice in the hovercar bay on the 75th floor at Starling Heights earlier this morning, yes or no?”

I sighed heavily as I said “Yes,” wondering if the man in the car park had made a complaint about my battery denting his hovercar.

“Thank you,” said Candy before going on, “Whilst working on your hovercar were you approached by a tall dark man offering you an ion battery?”

“I was approached by a man but I’ve no idea really whether he was tall or dark,” I responded.

“You must have some idea what he looked like,” said Candy in a slightly surprised tone.

“No,” I said testily, “I have no idea what he was like. I hardly looked at him.”

“But this man did give you an ion battery?”, continued Candy.

“Ummm, yes, he did,” I answered.

“Well,” said Candy, somewhat triumphantly, “that ion battery was stolen. It came out of a stolen hovercar, the hovercar this man was working on.”

“Oh,” I said, “well how was I supposed to know that? And anyway, so what? It’s an ion battery not a sack of Bryllium or a dead body!! ”

“So what!! So what Mr. Prouff!! This means you are in receipt of stolen property. I am afraid you will need to bring the battery at once to Skystation 9572/Delta where I can interview you and properly establish your role in this whole affair.”

“Role in this affair!!?” I exclaimed queryingly, “I have no role in this affair. Someone gave me a battery that’s all.”

“Mr. Prouff,” said Candy, “in view of your attitude I am sending a CustodyDroid to your apartment now to escort you and the battery to the station.”

At this point, I was getting a little desperate and decided to try the ‘do you know who I am tack?’. To no avail, however, as Candy responded,

“I know perfectly well who you are Mr. Prouff and, as Earth’s leading intergalactic tax inspector, realise you are probably innocent. Nonetheless, this matter needs to be investigated. And this requires you and the battery to be at the station.”

To be continued……

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.5

It’s The Police

So, I directed the Cicatrice back to its storage bay, resolving to head off to Inegin’s with the old battery from the Cicatrice to source a replacement. In the meantime, the brand new ion battery the man in the hovercar park had given me could go on CadabraMart. I was sure to get a few credits for it which could go towards the cost of the new battery for the Cicatrice. Waste not want not, I thought.

I had been back in my apartment for 30 minutes when an aircast interrupted my mindless thoughts of hovercar batteries. I had had time to list the ion battery, that my friend be in the car park head given me, on CadabraMart. It was on at a starting price of 10 credits and there had already been one bid.

The aircast call was a personal private one, from an address I was not familiar with. I answered, mainly out of boredom and said,

“Hallo.”

And then I added my usual joke, “Who’s calling the ‘Buridium Blast’. Not many people remembered that air-gameshow but I used to watch it avidly when I was a child. And just saying ‘Buridium Blast’ sounded cool even if most people had never heard of it. Normally when I answered an aircast like that there was stunned silence, except when it was Cat of course. He would normally respond with “If you can’t say anything sensible please shut up and listen.”

This time it wasn’t Cat, yet there was still no stunned silence. A female voice responded instantly with,

“Am I speaking with Thomas Nigel G’Laxy Prouff?

No one had called me Thomas in the last 20 years so  my initial response was along the lines of,

“Eh. Who?”

The rather monotone female voice responded with,

“The biometric data I have collected over the call tells me who you are but for procedure, I’d  be grateful if you could confirm I am speaking to you.”

Goodness, I thought, shall I just say ‘Of course you’re talking to me’. But then it dawned on me this must be some sort of government official. Only a government official could ask a question in such a stupid way. I wondered if she was somebody from the tax office.

To be continued…….

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.4

Trouble or what?

So there I was, with my head and shoulders stuck inside the engine compartment where the ion battery normally sits, trying to work out what connection goes where, when there was a sharp tap on my shoulder. Oh-oh, I thought, I had wondered if his initial reaction had been too good to be true. This was where the trouble was going to start I was sure.

I raised my head and shoulders sharply, banging my head on the raised cover of the engine compartment I was working on, as the man from the other Hovercar said,

“Hey, nice vehicle. What’s the problem?”

Whilst wondering whether this was simply a polite preamble to wanting recompense for the dent in his hovercar, I responded,

“Ion battery is totally flat. Won’t hold any charge. So can’t start the engine. It’s a real pain.”

“I might be able to assist,” said the man.

Before I could say another word he went back to his hovercar and reached in through one of the doors before returning to me and saying with a smile on his face,

“Here have this one. Might help.”

Just as I was about to say actually it wouldn’t help because the battery in a Cicatrice was so special that any old battery simply wouldn’t do, he was gone. Well, to be precise a very sporty looking drop top hovercar pulled up beside us and the passenger door opened. As it did I caught a glimpse of a very blonde female figure with legs I’d need a rope ladder to climb. Then in the blink of an eye, the sporty hovercar was gone with him in it. Whilst my mind marveled at both the sleek sporty car he’d gone in, as well as the sleek, sporty driver, I stared at the totally useless, new battery that he’d given me. It was twice the width of the Cicatrice’s battery so would never fit into the battery compartment, never mind connect up to the ion battery ports.

To be continued……