Jamie Derrick sat in a metal chair that was bolted to the floor in a suffocatingly small room. The room had white walls and a single gray metal door (securely locked from the outside) to his left. There was a video panel in the wall in front of him with a camera array and a single speaker inset above the panel.
He stared at the metal eye, as he thought of the camera array. It bulged from the wall encased in what looked like a glass dome and emitted strange high-pitched noises as it stared at him.
“Ulysses James Derrick IV, Cerres Citizen Number 5800-3975-0815-2129. Is this information correct?” The voice had the metallic aftertaste of a machine.
Jamie looked to the video panel at the expressionless female face and then back to the camera. “Yep,” he said with a hint of annoyance.
The camera began to whine and emitted an extremely bright light that instantly vanished. A wave of nausea came over him and left just as quickly as it arrived. Jamie rubbed his eyes.
“Citizen, why did you arrive on the planet Vesper approximately 5 standard days ago?” The human image in the video panel looked neither board nor interested in the answer to the question. Jamie figured it was probably a protocol AI, tasked with the interrogation he was now undergoing.
He took a deep breath, ran his hands over his wrinkled slacks and looked back to the camera. “Business.”
“What was the nature of your business at the Flaming Star?”
“I was meeting with a client of mine,” Jamie spoke carefully. He knew better than to lie in these kinds of interrogations.
“Who were you meeting with citizen?”
“I am unable to answer that question,” he sat back slightly and held his hands out in a gesture of apology.
“I will remind you citizen, you are required by law to answer truthfully and directly to the best of your ability.” The AI interrogator stared despassionalty at him. Cold eyes. “Please try again citizen and do not be evasive, who were you scheduled to meet with at the Flaming Star Hotel?”
Jamie looked down at his well manicured hands. He placed them gently in his lap and looked up at the AI image. “I am unable to answer that question,” now he gave a slightly dismissive smile. “Client privilege,” he added.
The AI flinched, he was sure of it. Several seconds went by and the camera began whining again. Jamie pretended to take interest in a small spot on the leg of his pants.
“We do not have any records of you being engaged in Advocacy citizen.” A statement instead of a question this time, Jamie was getting somewhere now.
Jamie looked up with an innocent smile. “Zenith Delta, Borta Law Academy, license number G-B-0-X-7-7-5, sitting member of the regional court and practicing Advocate.” He fed the machine information and made no attempt to interpret it.
Again, another long pause. The camera array was ticking now. The AI just stared back at him.
“Why were you in possession of falsified identity documents stored on an encrypted device found on your person when you were detained by local law enforcement officials?”
Jamie frowned, feigned both anger and surprise, and reached absently to his empty breast pocket. “Vesper is a dangerous place, I rarely travel with out insurance.” Despite his apparent displeasure, Jamie felt he was clearly ahead. The encrypted data hidden in a mechanical pencil was a red herring, meant to be discovered up by flunkies, not professionals. He chuckled at the thought of the techs high-fiving each other and celebrating breaking the encryption on the useless documents.
“I will inform you advocate, possession of falsified identity documents is a criminal offense on Vesper.”
He squirmed, “first offense punishable by fine of up to 7000 creds,” he thought. “Can we get on with it,” he felt like saying. “I understand,” he replied.
“Would you care to enter a plea?”
“Not Guilty,” now smiling again.
“Consulting jury.” Seconds later, “You are found guilty of premeditated identity forgery, possession of fraudulent identity records and possession with intent to distribute.”
“Laying it on thick,” he thought.
“The judgement is 49,000 coalition credits. Will you be needing financial assistance or would you like to pay now in full?” The AI smiled.
Jamie felt like laughing, but with the greatest of exertion he maintained has composure. “May I submit an appeal?”
“On what basis?”
“Indigence,” Jamie held his open hands out to the camera.
The camera whined and a red light blinked on and off a few times. “Appeal denied. If you are unable to pay you will be detained until repayment arrangements can be made,” another smile.
“I’ll submit payment now then,” he rattled off his account information.
In a few moments, “payment confirmed. Would you like a physical receipt.”
“Absolutely,” Jamie said, now smiling back as though he had just been served a coffee rather than a raw deal.
The bolt to the door was retracted with a loud clunk. “Please follow the attendant to retrieve your belongings.” The screen went dark and Jamie stood, adjusted his dress shirt and coat, and exited the room through the small metal door.
“Mission accomplished,” he thought to himself as he strode down the corridor behind the officer of the court.
Chapter 05 →