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……

The Sequestran Dilemma – Chapter 1.3

Oh, this could be embarrassing……

I turned around, with an expression that mixed embarrassment with fear I’d say. Somewhat reluctantly I strode across to the other hovercar to retrieve my flying ion- battery. By now the person who had been working on that vehicle had stood up and moved around to the side of the hovercar, presumably to inspect the damage. I looked and saw a dent in the bright red bodywork. This could be difficult I thought. Could he prove the dent had been caused by my battery I wondered? I’d better start off by being polite I thought. Especially as he was quite large in the vertical plane.

“Hi,” I said, “sorry about that. The ruddy thing slipped out of my hand. No harm done I hope?”

“No,” the man responded. “No harm at all. All good.”

I must confess to being slightly surprised by his response, but internally breathed a sigh of relief, as it looked like I was going to get away with accidentally reshaping the bodywork on his vehicle.

I quickly picked up my escaped ion battery and turned and marched back to my hovercar, inspecting the battery as I went. It certainly was an odd shaped battery and couldn’t possibly be replaced with a standard ‘off the shelf’ one. I decided to take a look at refitting the faulty battery into the Cicatrice, just to practice e in preparation for when I could get a replacement from Inegin’s. I figured this would reduce the risk of damaging any new one when I came to fit that.

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 1.1

My hobbies were quite different from Cat’s…..

In contrast to Cat, my hobbies were somewhat less intense and, I would argue, much more normal. For the first three days of leave, I had been practicing coffee drinking, repetitive snacking and an awful lot of sitting and watching of aircast soaps. However, by the time I’d watched the last episode of the 17th series of ‘My Like Trapped in an Alien Body on Cosmos Avenue’ even I needed to exercise my brain. Or ‘synapse’ as Cat would say. I think his use of the singular ‘synapse’ was meant to be insulting. 

So, having almost burnt out the CoffeeDroid and frankly, feeling very awake from the caffeine shock, I decided to move and tend to one of my more active hobbies.

For many years now I had collected vintage hovercars. I had 5 in my collection. Two Jacaranda Sprints, one RoadOn Fireboat, one Kings Float, and a Cocatrice Firebird. The first 4 had all been lovingly restored and were in airpark storage. However, the Cocatrice, the latest and most prized hovercar in the collection, was in the 75th-floor hovercar nest, where I periodically worked on it in between missions.

Though my progress on restoration had been slow, I had now almost completed all work needed and just had to replace the main start-up ion battery. I really was quite excited and had told Cat this so many times.

His stock response tended to be ‘Go away’……..

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.

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – The Final Act

Into the Light

As we emerged from underground we were surrounded by what was a mix of Silurians and security guards from Earth. The Silurians were chit-chatting away in their grunt and squeak like way but they seemed to be working with rather than fighting the Earth security personnel, which seemed positive. Cat spoke as we stood in the clearing again and a VanityDroid started to gently clean me up.

“Once I saw the idiot being dragged off I realised that it was likely that the worm he was riding would be heading off to the nest. As I always have a tracker on the buffoon, I knew we could follow, so I alerted Earth security. I also told them the rough coordinates of the nest and sent out a homing signal so they could be here when we emerged. With the evidence of the nest, the actions of the Ambassador and the files that show the genotype of the genetically engineered Silurian silkworms that were to be sent to Earth, we have all that the Silurian authorities need to act.”

At that I noticed the Silurian Ambassador being escorted away by four other Silurian officials.

I still had no idea what Cat was on about so I picked him up by the scruff and marched a few metres away from the rest and said to him “Before I re-boot you all around this forest will you tell me what is going on precisely.” He glared at me, clearly annoyed at the indignity of being scruffed and said “I told you just a short while ago if you bothered to read the Inspectorate’s airmemo’s properly you would know. The Silurian Ambassador is in league with the Mud Lizards on Amora. He hatched, together with the Mud Lizards, a plan to flood the Silurian rug market over time with silkworms that at the flick of a genetic switch would grow into monsters on Earth and terrorise the planet. In exchange, the Mud Lizards would ensure he would become King of Siluria. Earth intelligence picked up information about this plot early last year. Our job was, on the pretext of discussing a new tax framework, to find clear evidence to convince the friendly Silurian King of his most trusted aide’s treachery. The Ambassador trying to cook you plus you accidentally finding the worm’s nest is all the evidence we needed. The Silurian King will now make sure that the Silurian Ambassador is punished and that his work with Mud Lizard genetic engineers is destroyed.” I stared at him in disbelief and just said,

“But I came here to talk about taxes not to become intimate with giant worms!!.”

As I felt my temper rising I caught sight of the Silurian King, with his crown wobbling on the top of his head. I therefore quickly recovered my composure and marched back towards where the King, Joosthava and Krokus were standing and, with Cat hovering at my side, I said,

“Well done everyone for your help in making my plan to apprehend the Silurian Ambassador a success. I could not have saved our two planets without you. Earth and Siluria can now continue together in peace and prosperity.”

Joosthava applauded enthusiastically at my words and cried “Bravo” whilst Cat’s eyes rolled backward as he shook his head and said,

“You crass, moronic twerp.”

I ignored him and took the plaudits. The King looked very pleased, ambled right beside me, squatted and pee’d on my feet and up my legs. Cat roared with what can only be described as maniacal, hissy laughter and managed to say,

“Looks like the King is marking his new territory.”

Joosthava said, “Oh no, dear Inspector, you really are very unlucky at times.”

I looked at her with a kind of ‘smile grimace’ and watched her slowly start to grow taller in front of me, as I started to slowly sink into what was now the King’s toilet.

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act VIII

Rescue Part II

I had fully expected the warmth of the pee in my pants to be a mere passing sensation given that I was just about to travel down the gullet of a mega worm but strangely, the glow of my initial excretion had time to start to feel cold to my brain. In addition, I also now felt very wet all over, from head to toe, not just below the waist. I sank to my knees, opened my eyes and saw bits of worm all over the place. I realised that just at the moment I was to be engorged by the worm, Joosthava, and Krokus Joe had burst in through the short vertical tunnel caused by my passage on the back of the first worm. Krokus had blasted the mega worm about to ingest me with his extermatron.

Worm bits were everywhere and I was covered head to toe in warm worm goo. I managed to stand up, and thick gelatinous bits of worm dragged themselves from the top of my head and stretched down past my chest, some just breaking off and ‘glooping’ to the ground whilst others slid slowly off my face and down my chest, clinging on as though they needed me. Then, Joosthava was in front of me. I was unable to speak really. I had seen my life race before me several times in the last hour, as first, the Ambassador tried to cook me, then I fell into a Silurian toilet before being taken on a very fast ride by a very large worm and being entombed underground.

Although one could argue that it ended well because the mega worm did not manage to devour me, there I was standing in front of Joosthava X Minot, the famous time miner and mutant, dripping in goodness knows what worm fluids and viscera. To say I felt somewhat hard done by as an Intergalactic tax inspector at that moment would be an understatement. Before I could start to cry, however, I remembered that I was supposed to be in charge. After all, I was the Inspector, Cat was my robot, my assistant, as were both Joosthava and Krokus.

I stood tall, despite the remarkable weight of the remaining worm goo clinging to me, and opened my mouth to speak. Sadly, right at that very moment, a largish patch of goo slid down my head in the vicinity of my mouth so all I managed to do initially was suck that into my mouth as I opened it. I coughed, spluttered and spat out as much of it as I could get out, noting that actually, it didn’t taste that bad, before standing tall once again and managing to say

“Well done Joostava and Joe. Well done. Where’s the rubberised tin can?”

Cat hovered into view looked at me and said,

“Oh dear. You are a bit of a mess. We’d better get a VanityDroid on you as soon as we can get out of here.”

I gave him my iciest stare but before I could quietly explain my desire to have him slowly disassembled, Joosthava weighed in with,

“Great work Inspector once again. You’ve found the evidence we need.”

I looked at her and said “Yes” not having the faintest idea what evidence had been found or what it was for.

Meanwhile, we backed our way out of the large cave we were in as Krokus Joe had found a tunnel leading to the surface and leaving seemed a good idea, as multiple shadowy worm figures had started to emerge from the darkness that was only about 5 metres away all around us.

To be continued in the final act next week…….

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act VII

Underground

I realised I could not free myself from the worm’s body, so drew the deepest breath I could just before I disappeared underground. Fortunately, only moments after entering the ground we broke through into an enormous cavern. The worm thudded to the ground and as it did I managed finally to extricate myself from its body and eye stalks. It shot off along the ground away from me thankfully.

As it wriggled and wormed its way along, with myriad legs at the base of its fat round body and its eye stalk thingies sticking up at the top, I gave a long involuntary shudder and stepped back as it raced away from me. Almost instantly I bumped into something quite hard. I then stepped forward very voluntarily and turned around. In front of me were an even more impressive collection of worm legs, waving at my face. They belonged to the bottom of an even fatter worm than the one I’d ridden on. I looked upwards following one pair of legs after another until my eyes were as vertical as they could possibly be without breaking my neck. Now I could see several pairs of eye stalky things,  surrounding a wide open and quite voluminous mouth, staring at me. There were no teeth, which was something of a comfort, though their absence did make me think that being sucked to death would probably be slower and ultimately more painful than being shredded by a sharp set of gnashers.

As the open mouth of the worm plummeted towards me I closed my eyes, thought how I’d always really wanted to be a librarian, and wet myself.

To be continued……