Come The Revolution – Snippet 21

Chapter Thirteen

It probably frightened Lefty and Pablo to wake up gagged and strapped securely into chairs, and with a tiny comm jammer taped to the back of their necks, but I can’t say I had much sympathy for their predicament.

I’d showered and changed while the atmosphere filtration system scrubbed the gas out of the air in the living room. Our security system had an option for lethal gas but it was a lot more trouble to work with. After all, you can’t just pump lethal gas through an exhaust duct into the outside air when you’re done with it. How environmentally sensitive would that be? So I used a non-lethal gas which promised to knock them out for two hours and leave them weak but clear-headed for at least as long afterwards. I’d never used it before but it performed exactly as advertised.

While I waited for them to come to, I got my re-transmitters up and running and then commed The’On. I was a little surprised he answered right away.

“Hey, pal, how’s the head?” I asked.

Sasha! It is so good to hear from you. Where are you? Are you safe?

“Yeah, I’m fine. No telling how secure this link is so I won’t tell you where I am.”

Of course. I was not thinking. We were all very worried. And thank you for saving my life yesterday — twice. The vid of you telling the large angry fisherman you would not let me drown, that I was your friend, has made you something of an instant celebrity here in Kootrin. Have you heard from the others?

“I know Gaisaana-la and ah-Quan are alive, or at least they were yesterday. I’m going to try to contact them next. I haven’t heard from Borro.”

Borro is alive. I received a comm from him earlier. He is still in the city but trying to reach us.

“Well that’s some good news. Listen, the situation’s pretty bad here in Sakkatto and my gut tells me it’s going to get worse. Everyone is losing control. I know you’re banged up, but you’re the only conduit I can think of to the Cottohazz Executive Council. You need to talk your bosses into some emergency abatement, and quickly.”

In Bakaa? A frontier world like K’tok is one thing, Sasha, but Bakaa is the single most powerful political entity in the Varoki circle. The Cottohazz Wat is itself in uBakai territory, as are the executive offices.

“More reason to get on top of this,” I said. “Face it, Pal, when it comes to crises, your Executive Council has a long history of closing the airlock after all the atmosphere’s gone. This one’s real trouble. I’m not screwing around. You need to break tradition and get out ahead of it, quick.”

There was a silence on the line for a couple seconds before he answered.

You may be right. I will speak to my superiors. Politically it will be very complicated.

“Sure it is, but you’re my go-to guy for complicated politics. Speaking of which, I ran into an old friend of yours yesterday, guy by the name of e-Loyolaan.”

The head of CSJ? Sasha, I assure you Yignatu e-Loyolaan is no friend of mine.

“Yeah, he mentioned that, but I get the feeling he thinks of you as a worthy adversary, something like that. It felt like he was sounding me out, maybe trying to open a direct line to you. Any chance you two can find some common ground in sorting this whole mess out?”

I shudder at the thought, but for your sake I will explore the possibility.

“Last thing, have you seen any vid of Gaant’s speech, the one he gave right before the shit hit the fan?”

I have not had much time to watch, but I believe I saw a segment of it. Why? Do you believe it has been altered? I am afraid my own memory of it is incomplete.

“Not altered. The thing is, I don’t see how a recording can even exist, since the jammers didn’t go down until after he was done talking. I mean, that was the whole point of the jammers, right?”

After? Really? If you are correct then the only explanation is a bio-recorder, a mostly non-metallic implanted e-synaptic memory system. They are rare but sometimes worn by vid feeders to protect their proprietary content until they can edit and post it with their embedded commentary. Some intelligence operatives are fitted with them as well.

“Bio-recorder, huh? Okay, good to know.

“So I’m going to switch to one of my travel cover IDs and try to make it across the border. With any luck I’ll see you before too long. Tell Marr and Tweezaa for me, will you? I can’t chance too many comms without blowing the encryption ciphers, and I don’t know how long I’m going to have to stay down in the weeds. Besides, I think I’m still on Marr’s shit list.”

I will give them your love. Take care of yourself, my friend. I hope to see you soon.

I broke the connection and leaned back in my chair, letting the news video play across the smart wall opposite me. The Munies were stretched very thin, were spending a lot of time and energy racing from one flash point to another, and their faces in the vids showed the effects of fatigue and stress. Some of them had been at this for thirty hours without a break except for food and stimulants. The strain was showing in their actions, which were becoming more “proactive,” a polite word for preemptively violent, often lethally so.

Behind me I heard a chair creak. I turned and saw both my guests were conscious. As I had tape across their mouths, the only sound they made was the rustle of cloth on cushion as they struggled against the broad tape which confined them to their chairs.

I rose and walked toward them.

“Time to talk, boys.”

Pablo struggled even harder, rocking the chair from side to side until it fell over, and then he desperately flopped back and forth. Lefty’s eyes just got large and he cowered back in his chair, or as much as the tapes let him.

I had already prepped two auto-injectors and now I took them from the pocket of my slacks. I shot Lefty in the neck with one and then leaned down and did the same for Pablo. I tipped him and his chair upright next to Lefty, which wasn’t easy with only one good arm, but I managed. After allowing five minutes for the drug to work, I pulled the tape off their mouths.

I always had pretty good results with the interrogation drug I used, nortostecine. It didn’t force people to talk and it didn’t make them terrified. Instead, it overrode all their fear and inhibitions. It made them relaxed and chatty, and it erased any concern about consequences. No matter what they said, they could not imagine anything bad would happen, which removed their motivation to lie. Its only downside was it made the subject’s attention wander.

I liked nortostecine because it was a lot less traumatic than most interrogation drugs. Bizarre as it probably sounds given my history, I had developed an aversion to traumatizing people. It started before I died and had gained increased traction in the two years since my resurrection. That’s the real reason I left most of the field work to the kids, and for over six months had managed to come up with one excuse after another for not carrying a sidearm. There they sat over in my gun safe.

“Nicolai Stal going to take your ass!” Lefty blurted out as soon as the tape was off.

“Is he? But you don’t really work for him, do you?”

“No. . . but would, as soon as turn you over. Now you ruin everything.”

“Yeah, sorry. So why did he want me? Or was this all your idea to begin with?”

“Nicolai Stal kill you,” Pablo said, his first contribution to the conversation.

“We’re already past that Pablo. Now, what were you saying, Lefty?”

“Lefty? Name is not Lefty, is Bela Ripnick. Why for you have electric locks and gas in apartment?”

“Bela, don’t you think the head of security for the highest-profile non-governmental target in the entire Cottohazz might have extra security in the apartment he shares with that target?”

“Well, yes, makes sense. . . . What you ask me before?”

I pulled over a chair and sat down. This could take some time.