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……

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…….