Sunday, March 19, 2017

Retribution: Better The Devil You Know by David Smith Part Nine

Retribution: Better The Devil You Know
Novel by David Smith

Available through Amazon and his official website.

“The strength of two connected neural pathways is thought to result in the storage of information, resulting in memory. This process of synaptic strengthening is known as long term potentiation.”


“Who can say where inside a man’s body his soul is kept? Who can pinpoint a part of his brain, or even a single synapse, and say this is or is not the essence of that person? Can one body be possessed by two souls, and if so is one equally as guilty of the crimes committed by the other?”

Part Nine

I curse my weakness and stupidity as I watch Abel and Jane talking beside the car. The smiles have gone and whatever they are now discussing must be a serious matter. Jane is animated again, like she’d been in the diner when Abel and his thugs acted out their pantomime, pretending to abduct her. I churn over the memory of what happened then and feel my anger rising. Jake was a gullible fool. He fell for their plan to abduct him hook, line and sinker. She was so clever, playing along with Abel as if she was being taken by force, the little frightened glances towards Jake, the barely perceptible shakes of her head. He believed it all and followed along like a dumb sheep right into Abel’s trap.
She must have been in on it all along. Everything that went before, every event since I ran after the phone call to Jessup’s bar was to maneuver Jake into that mobile portal unit to transport him to a secure place where he could be held prisoner before his trial. So what went wrong? Jane played her part brilliantly even inside the prison. Jake never suspected at any time she was playing for the other side.
But why?
I can figure out what went wrong at the base where we were being held. That was down to the violent and unpredictable behavior of Krillik.
Whoever masterminded the whole scheme hadn’t anticipated Krillik would want to take out his revenge on me as soon as I’d been captured. Torturing then killing me when I was in Grow’s custody, and before the trial, would have been disastrous for Grow. That single act of violence would have screwed everything up for Grow big style. If Krillik had killed me The Powers would undoubtedly rule in favour of Noone that Earth should be left in peace. Grow would lose everything as far as harvesting their investment from Earth was concerned.
So, we had to be allowed to escape. That was probably stage managed. Krillik wasn’t involved. He never knew anything about it. I could see it in his eyes when he burst into the portal room to see me on the transporter mat covered in fibrils, slipping out of his clutches. I could see the shock and anger on his face. A fraction of a second earlier and I would have felt the sting of the bullet from his Glock. It would probably have been the last thing I would ever feel.
I watch as a low loader trundles into the parking lot of the diner. I recognize what it is straight away. Jake and Jane helped design them back in the days when they were hunting Zygs. On the back of the low loader is what looks like a standard international shipping container, solid metal sides and frame, no windows, painted red. I know inside the container will be a prison cell, a cage, a Titanium cube built into the container’s walls, ceiling and floor. I expect this one will be modified especially to accommodate me. It’ll be thick lead lined with a special air conditioning system, one that will keep me alive if I’m a good boy and do as I’m told, but one that will draw a vacuum inside the container if I don’t behave myself. Even a Torp as strong as me has to breathe.
My legs are shackled with Graphene bands on a short, close linked Graphene chain so I can only shuffle along slowly. I have a goon either side of me gripping my arms to keep me steady, and one behind with the bolt of his Hi-V gun pressed against the back of my neck. I’m lead across the parking lot towards the back of the low loader. A couple more goons have lowered a ramp at the back of the low loader and opened the large double doors of the container. I can see inside as they guide me towards the ramp. I’m right on the money.
My new home.
They’ve made it nice and cozy for me. How thoughtful. There’s a single cot, standard army issue, a can in the far right hand corner with a sink and shower area beside it, no screens. Against the side wall to the left is a large TV screen mounted into the container wall and protected by a sheet of thick Perspex. Underneath this is a desk and chair, bare, no writing tools or paper. The ceiling inside the container is brightly lit by neon strip bulbs mounted into the ceiling and again protected by sheets of thick Perspex. This is so they can control my day and night. I know that once I’m inside this little prison box of theirs then the chances of my ever escaping are very low. I also know there will be a time, a moment, a small lapse in their security, a chance, and I will take that chance and wreak havoc amongst these people. My revenge will be merciless. I will rain down my punishment on them. I will cause untold suffering. They will learn.
The two goons either side of me walk by my side holding my arms as I shuffle up the ramp. When I’m at the top I carefully lift my right leg, then my left over the lip of the container door strip. They move me along till I’m beside the cot.
‘We’re going to lay you face down,’ says one of the goons. Nice of him to tell me. I know what’s coming next and I feel my anger rising. When they’ve lowered me face first onto the cot they step away, back towards the door of the container. I brace myself. The third cop, the one poking the prongs of the Hi-V into the back of my neck, steps forward. He aims and fires the weapon. I feel the pain as the bolt hits my shoulder and the prongs bury themselves into my flesh, but he doesn’t press the trigger to send the bolt of electricity into my body just yet. The two that had put me on the cot now return and take up positions either side of the cot. I look up at one of them and see through the grid of his face visor that he’s smiling. My day will come.
I silently swear an oath to myself. There are 196 countries on Earth right now. There will be a city in each one that in time will become a watchword for my power and my terrible vengeance. I swear that the populations of these 196 cities on this planet will suffer. I will bring these people to their knees. Once they are completely subjugated I will raise them up. If Grow wants to wage war on me, the armies of the Earth under my command will take the fight to them. I have not been ambitious enough. No planet of the worlds I know has developed weaponry as sophisticated and destructive as that found on Earth. Why shouldn’t I use this awesome destructive power to dominate not just Earth but the universe itself? But that will all come later. Right now I have the small matter of my survival then my escape to deal with.
It’s a fraction of a second after I see the smile on the goon’s face that the bolt of energy hits my body. My back arches and my muscles go into spasm as the jolt of electricity crashes into my nervous system. I’m immediately paralyzed and in excruciating pain. A wall of darkness descends over me as I lose consciousness.


I have no concept of how long I’ve been unconscious. I awake to the bright light in the room stinging my eyes. I’m now laying face upwards on the cot staring straight at the ceiling. The lead lined helmet is gone, removed by the goons while I was unconscious. The ankle and wrist cuffs have also been removed. I’m free to roam around my new prison unimpeded. This is more than I expect; humane treatment of a prisoner, even one as dangerous as me. I see this as another flaw, another weakness in the nature of mankind that I can exploit.
I sit up on the cot and look around the small room. There is a hatch about two feet square near the floor on the wall with the TV screen. I assume this will be for getting objects in and out of the container, like food, drink and signed confession documents. I notice my watch has been removed, but otherwise I’m clothed as I was when I was captured.
The TV screen is switched on. I’m not surprised to discover it’s a closed circuit monitor, not a source of entertainment. The picture is of what looks like a small room, an office of some sort, bare white walls, a row of seats behind a long plain desk, nobody there. I stand up and stretch my limbs. They ache from the Hi-V hit. I walk around the room checking everything out, my mind searching for anything here I can turn to my advantage. I tap, then bang on the walls, solid as steel. I climb onto the chair by the desk and repeat what I’ve just done to the walls for the ceiling. It’s the same material, thick and solid. I lift the lid of the can. It’s spotlessly clean, the water in the well a dark purple, a chemical toilet. It’ll be plumbed into a sump somewhere, probably mounted beneath the low loader and not connected to external pipe work. So, I figure the container is still on the low loader. I figure they plan to keep me inside this and move me around from time to time, one secure army base to another probably.
I think I know. Krillik must be loose out there and still hunting for me to take his revenge. Whoever is behind my capture wants to keep me alive.
Again I think I know. I have to be kept alive until I can be made to face the charges brought against me in a court of law. But which court of law? That of Grow; The Powers; The United Nations here on Earth? No doubt I will find out soon enough.
I don’t hear any external noises but I feel movement. The container will be lead lined on all surfaces to prevent me planting visions in my captors’ minds, so the lining will make the container virtually sound proof. The movement is slow, a jerking then as if I’m slowly rolling, gathering speed. I figure the low loader is moving off somewhere, taking me to a place that will have even tighter security to keep me from harm and from doing harm.
‘Hey!’ I shout at the top of my voice, ‘How about something to drink in here!’
No answer but I know I’m being monitored. There will be microphones and other sensors mounted somewhere in the lining of the container. I should know. Jake insisted that the designers build these into the fabric of these cells. It’s so the SOS could keep a close eye on the creatures they had to keep safe while being moved, the Dreeks and Torps left behind a couple of years back. Creatures Earth’s scientists want to study like lab rats.
I settle back down on the cot. Nothing will happen while I’m being moved so I decide to give the impression to those watching me that I’m taking a nap. I close my eyes and relax, my mind going over every single event since the call to Jessup’s bar for Jake. If I’m going to escape I need to figure out who my captors are and what will happen to me next.


Because they’ve taken my wristwatch I don’t know how long the low loader has been traveling but I sense it’s now stopped. I wait a while, half expecting to hear the banging of chains against the side of the container as it is hooked up to a crane before lifting it free from the low loader. Nothing though, so I figure I was right and they’ll keep my little prison cell on the back of the truck so I can be shifted around from time to time, when things get hot.
The TV suddenly bursts into life.
‘Are you comfortable?’ says a disembodied voice, not one I recognize.
‘Could do with a bottle of Jack Daniels,’ I say, in a hardly audible whisper. I want to test how sensitive their equipment is.
‘Sorry, no alcohol. Do you want anything else?’
Very sensitive.
‘Yes,’ I say, ‘I want to know what the fuck is going on.’
There is silence for a short while then an image flashes onto the screen. It’s a head shot of a face I recognize. It’s the head and shoulder I.D. photograph of the puppy Dreek. The information printed below the mug shot tells me a lot more about what happened earlier;
‘Field Agent Timothy Llewellyn, Counter-Intelligence Division, FBI National Security Branch.’
The bastard wasn’t a Dreek after all. They must have selected an FBI officer that had similar build and features to a Dreek and completed the job with prosthetic facial modification.
‘Did you really need to kill this man?’ says the big voice in the sky, ‘Surely you could have planted a vision in his head and just taken the keys to the van from him.’
‘Jake Redwood killed him, not me,’ I say.
‘You’re one and the same,’ says the big voice.
‘Shows how much you bastards know,’ I say.
‘You were happy to use your special gift at Westfield. Do you want to know how many deaths you were responsible for in Anglesey?’
‘Not me,’ I say, ‘Your guy, Field Agent Llewellyn. Ironic that it turns out he had a Welsh name, isn’t it?’
‘An estimated 68,600 dead within ten seconds of the blast. We’ll never really know the true number. The probability is the British will suffer that many dead again within ten years from the radioactive fall out. Why did you do it, Jek?’
The voice is dead pan, not angry, not really inquisitive, emotionless, like an announcer on the radio reading a script.
‘Like I said, I didn’t. Your fake Dreek did it.’
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘They weren’t all innocent. Some of them must have been guilty of something bad.’
No reply.
I’ve a feeling that whoever was speaking to me has gone. After what I guess must be ten minutes or so I figure nothing more is going to happen soon, so I lie back on the cot, shut my eyes and try to get some sleep. As soon as my eyes are close the alarm starts, a high pitched screech, intermittent in short, randomly spaced bursts, almost deafening. I clutch my hands to my ears to try to deaden the noise but they’ve been clever. The frequency is such that no matter how hard I press the heels of my hands against my ears the shrieking gets through. They want me tired.
I get up and walk around the room slowly, trying to figure out where the speakers are located, but the racket seems to be coming from everywhere. They’re using electrostatic devices mounted into the walls of the container. The whole place is one big speaker. I smile at the TV screen and lie back down on the cot. Let them have their fun now. I’ll have mine later.
The racket suddenly stops and the silence is deafening. After a minute or so the ringing in my head starts to abate and I feel normal again.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘Fuck you!’
The image of the FBI agent I killed is back on the screen, Field Agent Timothy Llewellyn, Counter-Intelligence Division, FBI National Security Branch.
‘Did you really think that leaving the body of what you thought was a Dreek at the scene of your heinous crime would fool us?’
‘Fuck you!’
The alarm starts again. I now know this will be a torture chamber as well as a prison cell. No beatings, no drugs, they won’t leave a mark on me or a trace of nasty chemicals inside me. It will be done through psychological torture, sleep deprivation and disorientation. I know why they want to get to me this way. I will be examined before I go on trial and whoever is doing this wants me clean so they come across to the court as whiter than white.
What do they want from me?
It’s time for me to engage in the process, get to the meat.
‘Hey you,’ I shout at the TV screen at the top of my voice, ‘I did it to kill Krillik. You know he’s back down on Earth, don’t you?’
The alarm stops.
There’s a long period of silence before I hear the big voice again.
‘Obviously we know Krillik is back on Earth.’
Then silence.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’ says the voice, suddenly, dispassionately.
‘Why not?’ I say quietly, ‘It’s just collateral damage, that’s all. It’s a small price for humanity to pay to rid the planet of the man sent here to carry out the genocide of all mankind.’
‘Your friend Krillik?’
‘Fuck you!’
The alarm starts and I go over to the cot and bury my head in the pillow. It’s going to be a long and painful process I have to endure before I can get these bastards to reveal what they want from me. The alarm stops again but I don’t move. Let them wait.


I guess the process of asking me a question then pressing the alarm button if they didn’t like the answer has been going on for about twenty four hours. I’m exhausted and they are relentless, the same monotonous voice, the same four questions;
‘Why did you do it, Jek?’
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘Did you really think that leaving the body of what you thought was a Dreek at the scene of your heinous crime would fool us?’
‘Your friend Krillik?’
Then the pattern suddenly changes. The TV screen comes to life again. This time there’s TV footage from news crews, no sound track, presumably taken from the first reporters allowed into the area around Anglesey, streets, towns, hospitals, pictures of the dead and dying, men, women and children, body parts, graphic and horrifying images. Underneath the pictures is a ticker-tape updating the news as it changes.
‘. . . US Intelligence Agencies have analysed the security footage taken from inside the nuclear missile facility. The original statement that a security guard launched the missile, then killed everyone in the facility before committing suicide has been updated.’
‘. . . It is now believed that an as yet unidentified person gained access to the facility and committed this abominable criminal act.’
‘. . . The body of a man suspected as being the man that launched the nuclear attack on Britain has been discovered amongst those injured at Westfield shopping mall. The body has been identified as that of Field Agent Timothy Llewellyn, a Counter-Intelligence Officer working for the FBI.’
‘. . . A post mortem on the body of Timothy Llewellyn, the FBI agent thought to be the person responsible for launching the nuclear attack on Britain, has revealed he died from a broken neck and that his death occurred several hours before the attack was launched. This person has now been discounted from the investigation.’
‘. . . Detective Jake Redwood, the recent subject of a huge nationwide manhunt, recently described by the authorities as the most dangerous man in the USA, has now been implicated in the launching of the nuclear attack on Britain. . .’
I watch and wait. Eventually, when they think I’ve seen sufficient scenes of death and carnage the big voice starts again.
‘Why did you do it, Jek?’
‘I told you, dumb ass,’ I snap at whoever this bastard is. I’m getting tired, very tired, ‘To kill Krillik! Come on! I’m admitting I fired the missile, okay? All those deaths are a price worth paying if the end result is the death of Krillik.’
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
‘Fuck you.’
The news coverage images fade and are replaced by a different type of image stream. I recognize it straight away. It’s views from many different people’s eyes, what they see or more accurately saw. It’s recordings from seed readers, again with no sound track. The subject matter, however, is more or less the same, a stream of images of death. I’m looking through someone else’s eyes at bodies laying on the floor, lined up waiting to be put into body bags. I see people moving the bodies. They’re dressed in biohazard protective clothing from head to toe. I can’t see their faces for the masks and breathing apparatus they are wearing.
I’m looking at corridors, passageways, broad malls, offices, restaurants, escalators. It’s the inside of a massive building, huge glass walls and windows, broad avenues and walkways. There are bodies lying around everywhere, some alive but stricken, flailing arm and leg movements, their faces black and blistered, a mass of huge erupted black boils. Those still alive are vomiting and choking, weak and exhausted, as good as gone.
The dead and dying are humanlike but I know they are not humans. I recognize the building. I’ve been inside it many times. I’ve worked inside this building. I even have my own office inside this place. It’s the huge office and commercial complex that houses the Grow headquarters.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’


After about an hour of streaming the images of those killed or injured by the Revelation spores inside the Grow building the screen fades to a neutral grey but only for a few minutes. When they resume I’m again looking at seed reader images, and again no sound track. I recognize what the images are. These are the recordings made by Krillik during our encounter two years ago. We talk. We fight. I see the point at which I manage to snatch his personal portal from his pocket and stab it into his head. The image becomes blurred because the portal’s fibrils are lashing around Krillik’s body but my fist can be clearly seen crashing into Krillik’s breast pocket. Krillik must have looked down at his chest. The image clearly shows a small patch of green / black liquid forming a ring in the fabric of Krillik’s jacket before the image stops abruptly. When the stream finishes it immediately repeats itself. I’m treated to a repeat performance, then another, and another.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
I have no idea how many times this sequence is shown but it seems like hours. If I look away from the screen, or stand and turn my back, or even close my eyes for more than a blink the alarm starts immediately and continues until I’m once again watching the screen.
Eventually this image stream stops and the TV fades to a grey. But again it’s only for a couple of minutes of merciful relief for me. The TV flashes back into life and again it’s images of the dead and dying. A shudder runs through my body. I recognize these images and I know I’m in much deeper trouble than I thought I was. The deaths of the people in Anglesey could be justified as an act necessary in the protection of the human race on Earth, terrible though it may be. The deaths at the Grow complex could be justified, again as an act to protect the human race from Grow. But the images I’m looking at now I cannot justify.
I’m looking at an elderly male in the middle of the screen, not human. I know exactly who he is. Again there is no sound track but I can repeat word for word what he is saying. It’s a plea for help desperately needed. It’s a plea to any and every planet that is capable of receiving the message. It’s a plea to help save his species from death by Oxygen gas poisoning. The man is the leader of the Phalks, the people of Arginet. He made this desperate plea for help when the levels of toxic gas, Oxygen being poisonous to the Phalks, had reached a level where their bodies couldn’t tolerate it any more. A trigger point had been reached and people were dying in their millions.
No help came. The Phalks, were a genetically modified species, seeded by Grow and therefore Grow’s property. Grow sought legal authority from The Powers to block all assistance to Arginet. As the race belonged to Grow, it would decide what action to take to save the species. Grow sent portals down to the planet, nowhere near enough, but it was just enough to give The Powers the impression Grow was doing whatever it could to save the species. Many millions of Phalks died.
The images on the screen show the extent of the death and destruction. I see humanlike men, women, children, hundreds and hundred, dead and dying, a never ending stream of suffering, all with the backdrop of the most beautiful planet in the universe. The image stream continues for hours and hours. I’m exhausted.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’
Whoever this is must already know my part in this tragedy. I’m the one that seeded the oceans on Arginet with the genetically modified Storret micro-organism, causing the atmosphere to change. The Phalks needed a high percentage of Carbon Dioxide to breathe. Storret metabolized the Carbon Dioxide giving out Oxygen in copious amounts in the process. The atmosphere, the air on Arginet became deadly to the Phalks but perfect for other humanlike species, perfect for reaping massive profits from the exploitation of this beautiful planet by Grow.

I know the low loader has moved several times in long runs that must have been for hours, then stopped for a similar a amount of time, then moved again. I have no idea of time. The bright lights have remained on constantly since I was incarcerated in this mobile cell. I would guess I’ve been watching these news streams over and over now for at least three days with no sleep, no food or water, not even a few moments to turn my head away.
A new video sequence starts. Despite being absolutely exhausted my adrenaline starts to pump when I see what they’re feeding me through the TV. It’s a sequence of video I didn’t know existed but I know exactly where and when it was recorded. I can’t remember by whom, the person was so insignificant in the scheme of things. The video begins with doors opening. Someone has recorded this video through a seed reader so I’m seeing what they saw when the recording was made. There are wide corridors, carpeted, expensive. There is a set of double doors. The person filming walks up to them and pushes through. He or she is inside a lounge, very select furnishings. I recognize exactly what it is. It’s a V.I.P. holding pen pre-departure for a shuttle portal. I also know where it is, inside the Grow headquarters building. They are big and important enough to have their own set of terminals. Whoever it is walks into the lounge. Sitting on deep couches are two people sipping drinks. One is Krillik, the other is me. The person, a man I assume, walks over to where we are. I can hear the rustle of his clothes so I know this clip is running with sound. The person speaks to us.
‘Which one of you is Krillik?’
Krillik turns towards the man and says, ‘I am.’
I see for the first time the person who spoke to Krillik has something in his hand, and again, I know exactly what it is. It’s a small flask with a security lock on the neck. It’s a bio-hazard materials transportation cylinder.
‘Modified Storret culture,’ says the man, ‘I need you to confirm the destination and purpose of its use before I can release it to you.’
‘Give it to me,’ says Krillik.
‘I need you to confirm the destination and purpose of its use before legally I can hand it over,’ repeats the man.
Krillik smiles and says again in a sarcastically polite voice, ‘Please give the flask to me.’
‘Legally I’m not allowed to release this culture until you’re prepared to put on record its destination and the use it will be put to. On some planets this culture is lethal.’
Krillik relaxes in his seat and looks at the man and says, ‘Do you know who you are talking to?’
‘Yes sir,’ says the man.
‘So you’ll know that if you don’t hand that flask to my friend here right now I’ll have you cut open from your crotch to your navel, have your guts lifted out and fed to Heterian Blue Crabs while you’re still alive. Do you understand me?’
‘Yes sir,’ says the man, ‘But I don’t know what to do. It’s a criminal act to let this culture leave the planet if the destination is somewhere like Pentauros, Arginet or Strove. The penalty is a life sentence in a rheopectic suit on board a deep space penal ship.’
‘You’d prefer that to a death sentence?’ I say to the man, standing up. I step across to the man and snatch the flask from his hand. Then I say, ‘So you know, the destination is Arginet. To be more precise the destination is the oceans of Arginet.’
‘Sir,’ says the man, and I can hear the terror in his voice, ‘This culture can replicate itself exponentially. If any part of the contents of that flask finds its way to any of the oceans of Arginet, the surface of that ocean would be choked with Storret slime within a month. The atmosphere would be destroyed for the Phalks. They would have to abandon their planet.’
‘Thanks for making that clear,’ I say to the man, smiling at Krillik, ‘Now you know what I intend to do with this culture what do you intend to do about it?’
The video fades at this point, but I know what happened next. I remember it wasn’t a man, it was a woman, quite elderly, all morals and gutsy. I know she never made it to her home that night. Krillik took care of her while I took the shuttle to Arginet. All I can think is that her relatives, or the people that took care of her body after Krillik fulfilled his promise, found the seed reader. Whoever found this video must have handed it over to the authorities, but which one? Grow?
The connection between Grow and Krillik is too strong. Blowing the whistle on Krillik would be the same as blowing the whistle on Grow itself.
The Powers?
Possibly, but unlikely. But surely there would have been punitive action from The Powers, the least of which would have been the canceling of all Grow’s planet development projects. That would have created turmoil. The tragedy on Arginet predates what happened on Earth by five years. The Earth project would have been stopped, and I would have known.
So, who was this video given to? I know who recorded the video but I don’t know who the whistleblower is and who was told.
The video clip runs in a loop for hours. At the end of each sequence the big voice asks the same question.
‘Why did you kill all those innocent people?’


The loop has been running constantly for what seems like 24 hours. I’m beyond exhausted. I’m starving hungry and so thirsty I could drink stagnant mosquito larvae infested swamp water. I’m starting to hallucinate from lack of sleep.
I’ve had enough.
‘Let’s talk,’ I say quietly, under my breath.
A moment later the newsreel stops and the screen goes blank. I slump forward on the desk opposite the screen and wait. I don’t have to wait long. The screen springs back into life. There’s Jane, no surprise. She’s sitting behind one of the desks in the original picture on the screen. She’s not alone. There are three chairs behind the desks that are facing the camera, facing me. She’s sitting at my far right. In the chair at my far left is the man I recognize from Jane’s little charade with the puppy Dreek at the diner, the Dreek who turned out to be working for the FBI, the Dreek who’s neck Jake snapped. It’s the nondescript old man I assumed to be Abel, Grow’s top legal representative on Earth.
In the middle, and presumably the most important person on this little panel, is another man I recognize. I don’t know what the hell he’s doing here or how the hell he got back to Earth. It’s my old pal Noone.
‘Good to see you again Noone,’ I say in a mock friendly voice, ‘Come to visit me in my new home?’
He ignores what I say. All three look serious faced as if my moment of levity was as welcome as a shit in a space suit.
‘For the record we need to introduce ourselves,’ he says, and turns his head towards Jane.
‘Jane Krieff, Special Envoy to the United Nations,’ she says, all professional and businesslike. Abel goes next.
‘Abel, Senior Litigator acting on Earth for the financial and moral interests and protection of Grow and its legal assets where so ever in the universe.’
Finally Noone tells us all who he is, even though we all already know.
‘Noone, acting on behalf of The Powers as adjudicator in matters requiring rulings by their courts on Earth and where so ever in the universe. Please state for the record who you are,’ he says to me.
I oblige, ‘Jek, free spirit.’
‘Jek, you are facing a catalogue of serious charges, each one carrying the death penalty. We have laid out in detail each of your crimes before a special assembly, a jury of one thousand independent laymen selected from across those planets inhabited with species formed from humanlike DNA. You no longer have counsel to represent you and put your side of the case. Your legal advisor, Tallip, is dead. You have admitted to being the person who fired the missile that destroyed Anglesey, therefore by default you admit to the murder of Tallip. By the laws of The Powers you therefore forfeit the right to any legal counsel and you will not be permitted to represent yourself, or speak in your own defense when this matter comes for final verdict before the jury. The jury’s verdict will be final and you will not have the right to appeal. We will implement the jury’s verdict, whatever it is, in a fair and humane way. Do you have anything to say?’
‘Yes,’ I say, ‘What exactly is the main substantive charge against me and who is bringing this case?’
I expect Noone to tell me he’s in league with the United Nations, working to pacify Grow ahead of his case to revoke Grow’s intellectual property rights over mankind. The verdict will be a foregone conclusion. I expect that I will be handed over alive to Grow to be tortured and killed by Krillik. Noone, Jane, the people of Earth, they don’t give a damn about what happens to me as long as Grow leaves the people on Earth alone.
But I’m wrong. I’m very wrong.

End of Part Nine

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