The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.9

To the Interview Room

I duly followed her down a lengthy corridor, having abruptly closed my saliva rich mouth and wiped my own lower lip and chin with my own sleeve. We passed through an area with lots of workstations, occupied I noticed exclusively by males, before Candy reached a door which she opened with her thumb. As the door silently slid open, Candy stepped aside and said,

“Do go through into the interview room and take a seat Inspector.”

I walked through the door and into what was a quite small room, probably no more than 3 metres square. There were no windows, even artificial ones. There was a table, roughly in the middle of the room, and two chairs. I went around the table and sat on the chair that was furthest from the door, with my back almost against the back wall of the small room. Ms. Candy followed me in, closed the door behind her and sat down opposite me.

She opened a tactile notepad on her left forearm and produced a very pointy looking stylus, which she held in her right hand. I must say I hadn’t seen such antiquated technology since I attended some face to face classes at junior virtual school. It made me rather wonder what it must be like to still have to actually write. I also thought, given the width of her very feminine forearm, that she was either going to have to scroll a lot or write very short sentences.

smiled at her and said in an effort to be friendly,

“Well, this is quite a small room I must say. And no windows. I’m surprised that you don’t use VR to at least give the sensation of greater space. It’s a bit claustrophobic if you don’t mind me saying so. We are rather on top of each other, don’t you think?”

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 1.2

Working on the Cocatrice

I took the elevator to the 75th floor and exited into the very large open space that was the apartment block’s hovercar nest. Around the edges of the open space, which was about the size of at least 2 inter-planetary football pitches, were parked hovercars, in multiple layers. I accessed my bay’s mindlock via my Cortex thought processor and waited for the Cicatrice to arrive at my feet. As it did, from the floor beside me, a MechanIT console rose up out of the floor beside me and several shelves within it opened. These had on them a wide range of diagnostic kit and tools, that might be necessary to extract and examine the various components that made up a hovercar propulsion unit, or engine, as they are still sometimes called.

I knew that all I had to do was work out how to get the ion-battery out of the propulsion compartment. Once I had it in my hands I could take it to Inegin’s and they would be able to find me an authentic working replacement. The trouble was that nothing in a Cicatrice was standard, even between Cicatrice’s, so any replacement was a specialist job. I just had to get it out and take it to the hovercar specialist. However the ‘getting it out’ was not as easy as I had at first thought and this was going to be my third attempt.

I stuck my head and neck as far into the tiny space within the propulsion unit as far as I could and attempted once again to disconnect the ion terminals on the battery from the main drive unit. Everything was such a tight fit it was really difficult to get the Sono-Magnetic destabiliser into the position between the terminals and the main drive to disrupt the virtual connection. After much huffing and puffing, I finally managed to remove the ion battery, drawing on the research I had conducted in our apartment whilst drinking copious quantities of coffee. This basically entailed me shoving a sonic wrench down the side of the battery and levering as hard as I could whilst cursing profusely. Eventually, I felt something shift, accompanied by slightly worrying cracking sounds, and I was finally able to grab the battery with my right hand and pull it away from the propulsion unit.

Unfortunately, as I yanked so hard in frustration and as my arm had come backward away from the propulsion unit, I lost grip on the ion battery. It sailed over my shoulder and behind me. As I turned and watched it arc through the air I noticed someone else working on another hovercar. To my horror, I realised that my ion battery was heading straight for that craft. Before I could even shout ‘Look out’, it smashed into the side of the shiny looking and obviously new vehicle.

To be continued…….

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1

Cat’s theory of nothingness

It was the late Summer of 2225. We were experiencing what in olden days was known as an ‘Indian Summer’. Temperatures had regularly peaked at 47 degrees every day for well over a month and there had been little rain. Use of real water for showers had been banned and the use of sonic showers to keep clean had become the norm. Sonic showers did the job, you certainly were clean after one and it stopped you smelling. However, they did not refresh you as a real luke-warm water shower did on a hot, sticky morning or evening. Of course ever since India had been incorporated into Amazonia, the term Indian Summer had started to be used less. Long hot Summers now tended to be referred to as ‘Amazons’.

Cat and I were between missions. Things had been quiet for a while now, with very few major tax evasions or alien incursions into our lives. It was almost as if Tax HQ had abandoned us. Both of us had resorted to hobbies to keep ourselves occupied. For Cat, this meant preparing for the viva voce for his latest Doctoral thesis on ‘The Theory of Nothingness’. This research topic was something he had been working on for quite some time now and I have to say, he had persistently driven me nuts with his desire to explain his theory to me. He believed that what he had come up with built on the theories of Einstein, Hawking, Bukit, and Jayesh-Mkri to effectively provide an explanation for the creation of the Universe. I, personally, thought it was just so much bullshit and delighted in telling him so. After all, I had frequently said to be him,

“How can something new be created from nothing?”

His response was usually along the lines of,

“You’re a moron. I would not expect you to understand.”

He would then normally spend ages air writing lines of formula that he claimed proved that something could be created from nothing. To me, his formulaic hieroglyphics could have been an order for a takeaway for all I knew. I had recently  told him,

“Look ‘Professor Cat’, when there’s nothing, there’s nothing right? When there’s something there’s something. Not nothing. As something is something, it can’t be nothing, can it?. So it follows that you can’t make something out of nothing no matter what your hieroglyphic ramblings mean!”

At this Cat would usually emit the heaviest of sighs and, after turning his eyes up to the heavens, quietly say something like,

“What hope is there for humanity when genetics continually outputs humans as evolutionarily challenged as you. Can you not understand that your concept of nothing is simply too simple? What you perceive as nothing may well be something when placed against new and inspired variations of the basic laws of physics.”

“So basically,” I responded, “what your trying to tell me is that nothing is something. So if that’s so, smartass, your theory of nothing is nonsense.”

“Huh?” Cat responded, “Please explain.”

“Well it’s simple,” I said. “If nothing is already something then your theory on how to create something from nothing is totally flawed because if nothing is already something what’s the point?”

That kind of statement from me would simply leave Cat in a near catatonic state and he would stare at me, not so much incredulously, but more like he simply wished that someone would end my life for him.

Anyways our arguments about nothing never really led anywhere, and Cat just continued on his determined task of proving his theory through the production of myriad lines of calculations. These were spread across literally the equivalent of what would be about 3000 pages in an old printed book. He had been told that his viva voce would be likely to last several days. Indeed the length of his thesis was one of my bones of contention and I had said to him,

“Well, 3000 pages worth certainly proves the principle of creating something from absolutely nothing!”

At that, he would screw up his rubbery little face into the very best scowl he could manage, before projecting a very large ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ airsign in front of his nose and returning determinedly to tapping away at the table screen of his personal computing assistant.

To be continued……

The Sequestran Dilemma

I hope any readers who kept up with the Silurian Silkworm Affair enjoyed that  Inspector and Cat short story. If you want to look at it again or recommend it to anyone, the posts are all tagged ‘Silurian Silkworm Affair’ but it is also available free from the ‘Our Stories‘ page.

‘The Sequestran Dilemma’ is the new Inspector and Cat full-length adventure that will start to be serialised on this blog from next week. The Sequestrans are a mysterious alien race that invaded the moon in the mid-21st Century. They were defeated there by Earth’s forces, but the Inspector and Cat will now meet this race themselves for the first time as the Sequestrans begin to attack Earth directly.

If any of you who downloaded the novel ‘The Zygote Crystal’ for free a few weeks back from Amazon have read at least some of it, have time, and could write a short review on Amazon of what you thought of it, that would be most welcome.

Thank you.