Negation, she thought.
A decision can be easy or it could be difficult.
The thunderstorm that crashed upon the capital city was a thing of beauty. The flash of lightning illuminated the streets and the buildings beyond the window with an electric blue glow. With the light reflected from her face back upon the inside surface she could see the winkles beneath her eyes and the streaks of gray in her dark hair.
She gave thought to the window before her.
It was both invisible and itself a thing of beauty. It separated and protected her from the outside environment and allowed her to see it in all its glory. She could watch the passage of the storm from the safety of her office because of the applied thought of a man.
Those who destroyed the works of men could not conceive of a pane of glass. Nor could they be taught how to make one and integrate it into a structure. The thoughts of rational men were nothing to them. And the works of men that resulted from the trains of rational thought were seen only as abominations that were to be smashed into dust.
They did not see the truth and they did not want to see the truth.
Reality is real.
Her parents had taught her this before she learned to read.
Understand this and you can understand everything.
But there were those alive who did not want to know. They actively sought ignorance, and they sought only to negate knowledge and the products of applied knowledge.
And now another of those men had stepped onto her world with the intent of negation, of murdering the people and smashing their works to nothing. There was nothing that he would be gained from such acts. It would be the sacrifice of actual things to nothing.
Under the existing laws of her nation the subject of her present thought could simply be arrested and processed. With his death being the ultimate result.
But that would not solve the larger problem. The subject of the investigation was employed by a group of men back on Earth. The employers will simply hire another man to attack the worlds under her care. And the next time she may not be able to stop them.
The woman had witnessed too much of the horror of negation over the course of her life. She had seen her parents taken from her simply because they were the only sane people on an insane world. See had seen her husband murdered simply because he was her husband.
Would it ever end? How does one deal with such people?
The phone on her desk rang. She turned and quickly lifted the receiver to speak.
A man’s voice at the far end replied.
“We’re ready to proceed, ma’am.”
A trade off then. Let the immediate subject live and use him to discover his employers.
And then eliminate them.
Across the city the subject of the conversation in question was sleeping naked in a hotel bed. But not for long. This would be a hostile encounter. He had not expected the police on any world, whom he normally thought of as no better than clowns, to break into his hotel room in full tactical mode. They should not have known of his origin or mission.
The arrest had been absolutely hostile. At no point was he allowed to speak, nor was he spoken to. He was gagged immediately by the black suited police strike team. He was not given any cover for the weather. He was dragged through the cold winter rain to the police assault team transport vehicle in the condition he normally slept in. On this night in the city of Landfall on the planet Freya he was completely naked.
Upon arrival at their headquarters he was deposited in a holding cell.
Except for the light panels, the steel door, and buttons that controlled the sink and toilet, all the features of the entire holding cell were made of concrete.
This was not a standard jail cell for a common criminal. The cops here on Freya had taken his presence on their planet seriously.
Why? He thought.
He was certain he would soon know why.
The door of the holding cell opened outwards. A long stun stick was immediately thrust into the cell and upon his chest.
He was shocked into a state of complete inaction.
As he lay stunned on the floor the black suited cops entered the cell in mass. They cuffed him behind the back and inserted a rod between his arms and his back. The cops then lifted him by the rod and dragged him down a bleak and completely undecorated bureaucratic corridor. The cops who carried him were escorted by four more officers paired fore and aft.
Not one of them said a word to him.
He was dragged down the corridor and around a corner to the right. At the end of the second corridor he was carried into an interrogation room. There was a stainless steel table and two chairs. He was secured to one of the chairs by the ankles and wrists.
It was five minutes by his estimate before the door to the room opened again.
A woman stepped into the room and sat down at the table opposite of him.
The subject of the arrest took the time to visually examine the woman. She appeared to be a bit over fifty standard years of age with light stands of gray hair appearing in the neatly cut body of short black hair. The woman also had blue eyes. She was dressed as a civilian with a white office blouse and blue slacks. The woman wore a photo identification badge and carried an immaculate military service grade semiautomatic pistol in the custom black leather holster under her left shoulder.
I’m supposed to be frightened by this old broad? He thought. That was foolish of her, very foolish.
The man then took a close look at the I.D. badge. It was issued by the Central Security Agency of the Ursa Major Confederation. Below the photograph on the badge was the logo of the agency. This was in the form of a flag with a white “X” over a black field. He did not know that the symbol was technically called the Cross of Saint Andrew. He saw it as being identical to cross on the battle flag of the Confederate States of America. He saw it as their admission of being evil.
The name on her photo badge was Judith Stern and showed her rank as Director of the agency.
NO! He thought.
No! No! No! No!
The woman sitting opposite of him at the table was the true daughter of darkness. She was the absolute incarnation of evil herself.
Judith Stern was personally responsible for the murder of millions of people on his home world. No one, not a priest, nor a child, was exempt from her absolute depravity.
And he has not in the custody of any police agency. The Freyan CSA was every mercenary soldier’s worst nightmare. No mercenary soldier operating separately from an organized unit was safe from death by their Pest Control teams. And ultimately backing the CSA field teams were the planetary landing forces of the Ursa Major Confederation Army and Marine Corps.
Worlds in close proximity to Freya were effectively off limits to mercenary operations. And in the custody of the Freyan CSA he was already dead.
She looked up at him and spoke. Her voice was of solid authority, it was firm and without apparent emotion.
“Welcome to The Aquarium.”
She then asked him a question.
“Who are you?”
He did not answer.
There was a slight twitch on her right eyebrow.
She calmly repeated the question.
“Who are you?”
There was no point in screaming. He tried to reply clearly in a level voice.
“Why don’t you tell me?”
Without a word she looked down and opened the folder on the table before her.
Printed documents? He thought. How primitive of them.
She removed a set of reading glasses from a pocket of her blouse and used them to read from the printed file.
“Your name is Michael Gratton. You were born in the City of New Boston on the planet Kennedy in the Alpha Centauri B system. You are the second son of the late Prime Minister Thomas Gratton. After the rescue and reprisal mission to that world your mother brought you as an infant to her family home in the city of Boston in the State of Massachusetts on Earth. You attended the Boston Latin School and the Federation Military Academy at West Point. As a junior officer you were wounded in action in a minor dust-up against a band of feral Muslims and subsequently received a knee joint replacement. You spent the remainder of your time in the army in staff positions and as an instructor at the academy. You were medically retired from the Federation Army with the rank of Major and emigrated to Xenophon in the Epsilon Indi system. You are now a minor stockholder in, and company grade officer of the Military Assistance Corporation based on Xenophon.”
Gratton stared at Director Stern silently. She had used the Freyan term for their crimes against his home world and the crimes they committed against his people. One of the many people of that world murdered by the Freyans was his own father.
Gratton continued to stare at her until he was able to speak without apparent emotion.
“You are wrong!” He replied. “My name is John Fletcher and I am a civilian.”
The planetary clown farce on Freya should not discovered this information on him along with the fact that he was traveling on a false set of identity documents. With the CSA he was clearly in the hands of a very competent intelligence agency of an absolutely evil nation.
Michael Gratton clearly saw that he was now in deep trouble.
Judith Stern stared straight at him without a visible flinch.
“Major Gratton, or whatever your current rank in the MAC-X Corporation is, you are traveling on a false set of documents, which is a felony. And you are also a known mercenary, which in the Ursa Major Confederation is a capital offense.”
Gratton looked up at her and replied calmly.
“My name is John Fletcher and I am a witness for our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Judith Stern did not budge or blink.
“No Major Gratton. You are a veteran officer of the Federation Army, which is a yellow flag for this agency. You are traveling on false identity documents, which is a red flag. And you are a member of a commercial organization whose sole purpose is to violate the rights of individuals and of sovereign nations, which is absolutely the black flag for us. Please explain to us why we should not air out your head?”
He raised his voice to reply.
“There is nothing you can threaten me with!”
Stern responded in a calm voice.
“Of course not, there never is.”
What The Fuck did that mean?
Stern saw that Gratton was mystified. It was at this time she made her statement.
“Major Gratton, you and your backers seek to negate us -- to remove us from existence. We need to discover who your backers are and kill them. In order to do this we are sending you back to Earth. You will be kept under surveillance and through this we will find the people who trying to destroy us and we will kill all of them.”
Gratton now stared at her. He then closed his eyes and shook his head.
So far I had not broken from my cover story, I can still use it. He thought. It will work.
“My name is John Fletcher.” He cried out. “I am a witness for Our Lord Jesus Christ on this Godless world. Your people have turned from Our Lord at your eternal peril. Don’t you understand that?”
Judith Stern stared straight through him as if she were a shipboard laser burning through a starship hull. She then replied to him.
“Major Gratton, Reality is Real.”
With that final reply she closed the folder on the table and stood up. She spoke up to the staff members listening remotely.
An officer opened the door for her from outside. As she departed more officers suddenly entered the interrogation room and hit him with the stun staff again. With full effect to full unconsciousness.
When Michael Gratton awoke he was back on Earth. The first thing he would hear was the voice of a different woman back on the planet Earth.
So what are your questions?