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 1.11

My Interview Continues

Typically, just at that very moment, my Cortex thought assistant decided to pop up a notification that the ion battery had now received several bids on Cadabra Universe. WPASO Candy, who was monitoring my Cortex implant scribbled even more furiously on her wrist. I explained,

“Look I didn’t know it was a stolen battery when I put it up for sale. I really just didn’t know what else to do with it. What would you have done?” I enquired with a rather sticky sweet smile.

My attempt to be friendly seemed to suddenly work as Ms. Candy responded with a slight smile around the corners of her mouth,

“It’s ok Inspector, we were always fairly sure that you were not intentionally involved in the crime,” said Candy.

I sighed,  and said half-jokingly, “Well I’m jolly glad to hear that. Wouldn’t want to be clapped in Kliks would I?”

She smiled a bit more widely this time and said, “We just had to bring you in for process reasons really, just to be absolutely sure you were who you said you were. Even if you did try to b sell the battery on, we were always pretty sure you were not involved.”

I could feel myself blushing at the thought that she knew I’d put the battery up for sale the minute I realised it was no use to me. How embarrassing.

She went on, “Look, I can show you what the investigating officer recorded earlier this morning.”

In front of my face, a small square display appeared as she touched her forearm with the stylus she had been using. Handwritten words appeared on the screen underneath the heading,

‘REPORT OF INCEDENT AT STARLING HITES MORNING OF FIFF AUGUST – REPORTING OFFICA TPASO RYAN’

WPASO Candy pointed at the words she was referring to.

‘……. the iron battry is from stolen veerkle 9/42966/AH. The recever of the battery is Inspecta Proof. He is a guvenment officeal so is probably innocent’.

As I read them I blinked rapidly wondering how best to keep anything I might say from sounding sarcastic. I marveled in my mind at the spelling prowess of our law enforcement officers and wondered at the rather dubious approaches they might have to decide whether someone was innocent or not.

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 Carrak

In the 23rd Century parents still have that same old problem of getting their children to eat vegetables. In fact, many parents have the same issue themselves and its all to easy, even in the modern world to just focus the palate on the things that taste best.

Years of research have shown that no matter how many nutrient substitute pills the conglomerates make, people still want, and prosper best, from eating ‘real’ food. OK, a lot of the produce we consume isn’t as natural as it once was. Anyone who has seen a genetically engineered carrot farm, which  has over 300 floors of so-called soil, would attest to that.

However, the fact is most health conscious folk, and the number of those has of course grown since the mass health-related deaths of the early 22nd Century, still want their veg.

Enter Cortex, the company that first gave us the scope to think our personal devices to do what we wanted. Derived from a long-standing collaboration with Yum-Tum Foods, Cortex has finally, with their MK-XXVI Essence chip made it possible for carrots to taste like steak.

In trials the consumption of carrots soared amongst 3-11 year olds and adults. The World Council look set to give approval for the roll-out of the so-called Carrack across markets. It will retail initially as a whopping 17 credits per portion. As a side effect the DisneyGates Corporation are reviving a popular children’s cartoon character called Bugs Bunny. In promotional aircast Bug’s is seen munching at a Carrak and saying the words, “Aww, What’s Up with this carrot Doc?”

Bees and Ants Collaborate to kick AIs Ass

For several years now wardens on Amora, the Mud Lizards’ prison planet, have struggled to contain escapes. The Mud Lizard capability to dig tunnels so quickly has made effective containment difficult. Despite the availability of sophisticated sniffer AI hounds, the average Mud Lizard manages somehow to shield their scent off from the hunting pack.

Now though, biology is finding a solution and fighting back against the less natural robotic solutions offered by computing. BioSolve, a company dedicated to natural options across a range of industries, have engineered the TrackerB. This hybrid bee/ant creature can sniff out Mud Lizard breath from over a mile away. Not only that, the genetically engineered bug has the superior tracking capability of an ant.

In initial trials, Mud Lizard escapees have been recaptured in less than half the time taken by robot AIs. Hailed as a resounding success by BioSolve some observers have suggested that genetic engineering is hardly more natural than the use of robots. BioSolve disagrees, pointing out that over half of Earth’s Grand Council are products of genetic engineering and no one would disagree that politicians are so natural……would they?

What did we do before Droids?

In the 23rd Century, every public place has a full range of artificial intelligences (AIs) or ‘Droids’ that collectively perform a wide range of essential service functions. In some cases (e.g. a public MediDroid) the AI acts as a first line, dealing with minor ailments and sending on or transporting anyone with a serious injury or illness, to the nearest major major medical facility.

The busiest type of Droid in a public space is the SaniDroid. This ‘Jack of All ‘Dirty’ Trades’ effectively deals with anything that might make the average human struggle to hold on to their lunch, (assuming they’ve just eaten lunch). So if anyone throws up in a public space or the lavatories malfunction, a SaniDroid will be there in an instant. Able to clean both the facility, and indeed any individuals who for whatever reason may be less pristine than when they left home, the SaniDroid is pretty indispensable in modern life.

Manufactured, as most Droids are, by the AI-rU consortium, it is estimated that SaniDroid sales and service contracts account for over 75% of this major utility company’s income. AI-rU claim that over 90% of whatever a SaniDroid absorbs is recycled and used in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer products, though their spokesperson was reluctant to reveal which products……..