The Trial of Adam part 8

Adam came out of the lab building and was heading for the mess hall when he noticed Eve talking to an older man in a military uniform.  Actually, Eve was the only one talking.  The man was yelling his part of the conversation, and Adam could tell Eve was not happy to be on the receiving end.  Adam decided food could wait and headed over to see if he could help bail Eve out.

Eve was definitely at a physical disadvantage.  Not only was the man loud, he was tall, wide, and looked hard.  That impressed Adam.  Too often military lifers let themselves go.  Admittedly not as much as Adam had let himself before coming here, but still for a military man a potbelly would slowly crawl out of its muscular cocoon and those arm muscles would begin to droop a bit to for the wings.  This guy could still military press a platoon or two at once.  As Adam got closer it was easier to make out what the man was yelling.

“You need to just follow orders and not think!  No matter what your designation is, at the end this is a penal colony under my jurisdiction,” the man said trying to beat Eve back with the force of their delivery.

While Eve did cringe a bit, she did not give too much ground.  “Your jurisdiction is on that side of the wall,” she said pointing at the offending wall.  “Over here is FBC territory and I call the shots.”

That sounded like a perfect introduction for Adam.  As he covered the remaining ground quickly and stuck out his hand in the direction of the man and put on his billion credit smile.  “Adam Durst at your service, and you are?” Adam asked.  Eve rolled her eyes so far back Adam was worried she was about to pass out.  Mr. Military though never skipped a beat.  As a matter of fact he even kicked his voice up a notch, which Adam didn’t think was humanly possible.

“Did I talk to you?” Mr. Military asked.

“Well, not exactly, but I thought” Adam began, but the man cut him off.

“Then shut the hell up and let me finish!” the man practically screamed at Adam.  Mr. Military turned back to Eve.  “You may think you have authority over here, but I still call the shots.”

Eve stood up a little straighter.  “You can go visit your space on the other side of the wall, or you can go back through the portal, but I think this meeting is done.”

Mr. Military was obviously not done.  “Did I say this meeting was done?  You will sit your ass right here until I say this meeting is done.  You FBC idiots need to realize this isn’t Federation space.”

Eve was about to speak, when Mr. Military cut her off.  “Complain all you want, but this world is a penal colony in the end.  That makes you being here a favor, and I can work to remove that problem sooner rather than later if you keep pushing me.”

Eve seemed to take this last threat as an almost physical blow.  She started to slouch and divert her eyes.  The man could sense her about to cave in.  A smirk spread on his rugged face, and it was light of a sun coming over the horizon on some hellish asteroid spinning in the cold of space.

Adam didn’t like what he saw.  “Or she can push how much this planet is a resource.  As a matter of fact this place is one in a billion with respect to almost everything, including possible expansion in this galaxy.  You know what that means?  They’ll have to remove this piece of crap penal colony,” Adam said.

The man never too his eyes off of Eve.  “Keep this idiot under control,” he said.  “I won’t ask again.”

Adam shook his head in disbelief.  “Did you just call me an idiot?” he asked.

“Adam,” Eve said with an edge to her tone.

“I most certainly did,” the man said as he turned to Adam.    The sunlight in the man’s expression was gone and the darkest, coldest expression pummeled Adam.  Mr. Military continued.  “I almost had the men scatter your worthless atoms anyhow when you crossed over, but I was told I would pretty much lose the coordinates on the jump gate”.

Adam realized he was in big trouble now, but that never stopped him from going all the way.  “That would have been the stupidest thing you ever had done.  Good thing you have someone with some smarts around you, or else…”

Adam hadn’t even seen the man move, but Adam found himself on his behind in the grass, his jaw felt dislocated.  The man towered over him, blocking out the sun.  He looked like he was about to explode again when Eve placed a hand on the guy’s arm.  That seemed to calm him down some.  “If you ever disrespect me again I will kill you with my bare hands.  You have rights lower than a piece of shit here, do you understand me?” Mr. Military said.  He didn’t wait for an answer that wouldn’t have come anyway due to Adam’s dazed state.  The man just turned and walked back towards the portal.

Eve bent down and gently touched the rising swelling in the shape of the man’s fist.  “You fool!  That’s General Haden Marks.  You are technically his.  He really could kill you, and there isn’t a thing I can do about it.”

Adam mumbled something along the line of thanks, or maybe I couldn’t let him treat you like that, or maybe the rain was purple with puppies last night.  It was hard to tell from the fog of a concussion and the rapidly swelling shut right side of his face.  Still Eve took it as a sign of some sort of encouragement.  At least that’s how Adam took it as he laid back down on the grass.

Eve spoke into her comm link.  “I need a medic in the common square by the gate.  We have an idiot down.”   Adam thought her words had such a nice ring to them.

The Trial of Adam part 3

Adam was pretty sore the next day.  He really needed to stop tripping into the bars and stopping the fall with his face.  It was a bad habit to get into.  At least he had made sure that bastard Wendell had a good chance of never procreating.  Wendell had been even more pissed when Henry told him no tattling.  Henry sure was old school.

The hearing went by in a blur.  Adam had signed numerous forms and been inoculated with fifty different antibodies for a planet they had no clue what would kill you.  Soon he was in another waiting room.  He had no clue what was coming next, but he realized that Alice had been right.  The judge had told Adam he would be planetside in less than ten hours.

Justice never moved quickly unless the Federation needed to make the problem disappear.  There had been another riot on one of the homeworlds one of the idiot colonists had come from.  The guy had been a minor noble in a merchant house.  Adam could barely remember the guy’s face.  He did remember the guy had broken into a sobbing fool and had to be restrained when Adam had called from the ship with his plans.  Adam was sure that guy was the first out the door when they had run out of food, and probably not because he wanted to take the chance.

A young man dressed in the formal blue uniform of the Federation Biogenesis Corps entered the room carrying all the world’s problems on his back.  Adam would have laughed if he hadn’t been so worried about what this meant.  Adam had worked with most of the upper management of the FBC, but he had never seen this guy before.  The man didn’t make eye contact and immediately sat down at the sole table in the room and opened his tablet computer.  The holographic display awoke and a blue orb popped into existence.

“Dr. Durst, my name is Liam Harvadash.  I am your off world coordinator.  All your research will go through me for validation and conformation before being added to the master databases,” Liam said.  “The planet here is designated Penal AS-379 and colloquially named Ruckblau.  You will stationed there with three other scientists and a group of roughly one hundred thirty two inmates.”

Adam couldn’t believe his ears.  “Wait, there must be some mistake.  Where is Dr. Guy?  Dr. Antonowitz?”

Liam finally met Adam’s gaze.  “They don’t deal with isolated penal colonies,” Liam said.  Adam’s eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped.  Liam continued.  “You will still get the best equipment I can locate.  This research means a lot to me.”

Adam laughed bitterly.  “Of course it does.  A peon like you would never get work with a scientist of my caliber.  This will make your career.”

“Dr. Durst, I am a scientist in my own right.  Everyone must start someplace,” Liam said.

Adam got up and stormed to the other side of the room.  He then turned back towards Liam and jabbed his finger at him.  “You have to start somewhere?” asked Adam.  “I catalogued my first life world when I was an undergraduate.  My advisor died on the trip, but I had already surpassed the woman.  How many times have you been off world, Liam?”

“Twice,” Liam said, almost drawing his shoulders into himself.

Adam quickly crossed back to the table, but he didn’t sit down.  Instead he bent over Liam, his shadow seemingly making Liam shrink back even more.  “Let me guess,” Adam said.  “once only to orbit as a grade school student and the second when you went to university.”

Liam developed a bit of a backbone and straightened back up a bit.  “We went to Fios in grade school,” he said.

Adam did a flourish with his arms and turned back around.  He began to pace back and forth feeling his new mental cage grow smaller with each step.  “Well you have so much experience.  You will be a director in no time.  Of course I turned that position down at least twelve times because it is a desk job and a xenobiologist should be in the field.”  Suddenly Adam stopped his pacing.  “And that is where I will be stuck from now to eternity.  Okay Liam, earn your keep.  What am I in for?”  With that Adam walked back to the desk, spun the chair backwards and he sat down, staring at the blue orb hanging in space in front of him.

Liam looked ta Adam, dumbstruck.  Adam motioned with his hands to have Liam continue.  “Come on Liam.  I’m done pouting for now.  If you wait too long I will move on to pissed, and you never want to see that.  You are in the calm before the storm.  Please don’t waste your opportunity.”

Liam woke from his stupor and dropped his gaze from Adam and back to the blue dot hanging between the two of them.  With a gesture of Liam’s hand the blue dot expanded and green brown continents came into view.  Liam began to narrate as the virtual planet began to rotate.  “Ruckblau has a gravity that is one point two times normal with a solar year of eleven point three three standard years.”

Adam interrupted.  “Wait, it takes a little over eleven standard years to make one solar rotation?  And yet it supports our type of life?”

Liam looked up from the hologram.  “It is a bit colder than what we would find comfortable, except in its more tolerable regions, especially near the equator.  Do not worry though, it is habitable for most of its regions.”

“When was it discovered?  I hadn’t heard of a planet like this.  And why a penal colony?  This sounds like a likely colonization site,” Adam said.

Liam zoomed out showing the planetary system with its white star anchoring the planets in its gravity well.  Laim then zoomed out even more.  The sun hung in the outer spiral arm of a nondescript galaxy.  “It was detected just a few weeks ago.  As you can see it is in the middle of nowhere, at least for now.  We managed to dial in its coordinates and set up a transport gate that seems to be stable for now.  If that gate collapses, well you know how hard it would be to get people offworld Dr. Durst,” Liam said.

Adam waved off the partial slight.  “Still, this might unlock a whole new part of the universe to explore,” Adam said.  Adam took control of the image and zoomed back in, bringing the planet back into focus.  He zoomed in to see the landmasses and selected an area off a large see where a major river dumped its water into a larger body of water.  “Oh and call me Adam.  I hate my last name.  I almost changed it to White a long time ago.”

“Why didn’t you?” asked Liam.

“Too long a story.  We can discuss it once I’m planetside,” said Adam.  “So when do I go through the gate?”

“We go through in two more hours,” said Liam.  This caused Adam to raise an eyebrow.  “Like you sarcastically pointed out, I need more experience.  And besides, I’m intrigued as well.”

Adam put his hand through the display.  “The let’s shake to commemorate a wonderful adventure,” Adam said.

Liam took Adam’s hand and shook.  “You have an amazing way of redefining exile,” Liam said.

“I know how to be delusional,” Adam said.  “It’s the only way I could live with myself.”

The Trial of Adam part 2

Alice Abernathy had graduated top of her class from law school, and that was the low point of her career.  That was why Adam had hired her.  That and they had dated a while back,  She had dumped him for a multitrillionaire playboy who thought he could get a prenup worth a damn past her.  She now was so rich she owned a few small planetoids.  Still, when Adam had called she had come running.  The publicity from defending a murderer who happened to be the federation’s foremost xenobiologist and an A list celebrity of his own right was too good to pass up.  She was even doing it pro bono.  Well, kind of.  She had first publishing rights, but Adam didn’t care about it.  He still held holograph rights.

Alice was still beautiful enough to take his breath away, but right now Adam needed that awesome brain than that rock hard body located under that dark blue suit.   “So what is the betting line?” asked Adam.

“You are dead by morning is two to one,” Alice said, no hint of a smile in her eyes at all.

“Now that would be swift miscarry of justice,” Adam said.  “We still have to go through all the appeals.”

Alice pointed at the table.  “You might not want to do that,” she said.  “They are offering you a deal.”

“Okay, Adam said.  “Lay it on me.”

“Exile to the newest penal world.  There you will work on identification and classification.  You will have some autonomy, but you would still be a prisoner,” Alice said.

Adam picked up one of the sheets of paper.  It was written in the arcane legalese that only those who had pledged their being to the system were allowed to learn.  He didn’t like that thought since that would mean the system got one step further than he did with Alice, and his ego wouldn’t accept that.  “So that should take like ten years, fifteen tops.” Adam said.  “What happens after that?”

“After that?  There is no after that,” Alice said.  “You settle in till that long dark goodnight.”

Alice would have been a poet if she didn’t love putting people in their place.  “That’s bullshit,” Adam said.  “A life sentence?”

Alice actually stomped her foot.  He had gotten under her skin.  She still had a flame for him.  “Bullshit?” she asked.  “You murdered fifty people on that colony.”

“Allegedly,” said Adam.

“No, not allegedly anymore.  You were found guilty by a sitting jury.  You are a murderer,” Alice said.

“They committed suicide,” countered Adam.  “If they had listened to me they would all be alive and I would have won yet another Confederation Star of Science.”

“You told them to starve slowly while you took the only emergency spacecraft out of the system,” Alice said.

“And they stupidly decided to go hunting on a world I had already declared uncolonizable.  The creatures were so poisonous and borderline sentient that unless you flattened most of the forests from orbit the settlers would be overrun.  Staying in the settlement pod was their only chance.  Yes, it would have been uncomfortable, but most people can stand a two month fast and recover with little or no lasting effects,” Adam said.

Alice looked at him that told him he was crossing a line, but he had been silent about this for so long.  She never let him get on the stand to testify for himself.  He could have shown that idiotic jury and judge that he had done what was needed.  “The Federation needed to know before the next settlement ship put out.  The teleport gate had collapsed so there was no other way than to get far enough to engage a wormhole.”

Alice crossed her arms and looked him in the eye.  “You did it because you wanted to have the credit of your fiftieth world identified and classified.  You knew that Pederson was about to file and you wanted to beat him to the punch.”

“Is that what you’re writing in your version of the story?” asked Adam.

Alice didn’t even blink.  “The worst thing about it is you had room to take ten of them with you.  Ten less people to share what little food was left.”

“Ten more idiots to live with,” Adam said.  Alice looked down her nose at him in disgust.  ”You know exactly what I mean Alice.  Don’t lie to yourself, much less me.  You would have pushed the bastards out the airlock as soon as you were in vacuum.”

“But I wasn’t there to do it,” Alice said.  “I didn’t leave those people to die since help took over four months to get there.”

“It wasn’t my fault I had technical difficulties with the wormhole generator,” Adam said.  “I’m not a dumb engineer.  I’m a scientist.”

Alice poked her finger into his chest.  “It was your fault.  The jury has said so.  Now I was able to get this deal for you and I suggest you take it.”

Adam turned away from Alice and walked towards the door he had come in.  Once again he wanted to scream.  Didn’t they see what a mistake they were making.  He was worth not fifty of those settlers, but fifty thousand at least.  If he wasn’t there when they arrived they would have died in mere days.  He at least had given them a chance.  Still, here he was.  He needed more information.  “What are the alternatives?” Adam asked.

“You will be sentenced to death by scattering teleportation,” Alice said matter of factly.  “I have been told in no uncertain terms that this will be the end game for the state.  No other offers, no other possibilities.”

Adam didn’t turn around.  His thoughts scattering in the hurricane force winds whirling through his mind.  “After everything I have done for the Federation?” he asked.

“Because of those things, and the strings I pulled you are getting one last chance to work,” Alice said.  She walked up behind Adam, but didn’t not reach out to console him.  For some reason that suited him for the moment.

“Look, I can get you your own accommodations, separate from the general population.  You will still have a lab and a chance to do your magic one last time.  Who knows what might happen,” Alice said.

Adam didn’t move a muscle, the winds finally settling in his head.  He didn’t want to do anything to disturb their natural flow.  He looked for patterns, just like he did in the biomes he studied.

“Look, the populace wants you gone.  This deal was tough to get. I promise I’ll work on getting you back sometime,” Alice said.

Finally Adam saw the pattern and he shook his head in disbelief.  He turned and looked Alice in the eye.  “Tell them I’ll take it, but they are making a huge mistake,” Adam said.  Alice looked relieved.  “Oh, and just because I’m exiled doesn’t mean you get the holograph rights.”

Alice shook her head and moved to the door and pounded on it.  She called out, “Henry, the bastard’s all yours.”