Chapter 5 - Interrogation

Senator Magdala touched the com link on her neck and said “Yes Habedina, what is it?”

The receptionist in the entrance hall in the East Quadrant tower replied “General Herod is here Senator, together with a detachment and they have Nemesis in their custody”.

“Very well, tell them I’ll meet them in room 12501 shortly”.

“Of course Senator. Thank you”.

Magdala left her office, walked down the corridor and eventually arrived in front of a bank of 20 elevator doors. She was on the 400th floor on the east bank of the 4 mile high tower and she needed to get to the north bank on the 125th and this one carriage would take her there in the quickest and most direct way possible.

All the elevator carriages were mounted on the outside of the building and could traverse around its cylindrical shape in all directions as well as move up and down.

She arrived at the 125th floor and made her way to the detention room which already had two guards posted outside it. She breezed in the through the doorway, which was composed of a force field screen which would then solidify very rapidly with a kind of liquid polymer, to form a visual barrier.

Sat around a circular desk was General Herod, Nemesis and two more guards.

As Magdala walked towards the desk she said “General Herod, how nice to see you” and she simply nodded at the other men, followed by a discreet but short stare into the eye of Nemesis, who merely smiled back.

“Please release the prisoner from his binders, there’s no need for that kind of restraint here. This room is also shielded so you can also remove the pathing disruptor”.

Herod was initially startled by the request to remove the disruptor and was on the verge of objecting, but with a slight shrug of the shoulders, he waved towards one of his men and motioned for the request to be carried out.

Nemesis immediately began to exercise his arms and flex the fingers in his hands and thanked Magdala.

“Now to the point you’re here. You are without doubt the most renowned leader of the PiruNostram and simply incarcerating you in an off-world prison, will not help us to deal with the unacceptable level of crime and violence here on Xethenia and elsewhere. The time has come where we must work together to bring this tyranny to an end”.

There was a brief silence in the room before Nemesis spoke “Do you include extermination as a way to bring an end to the tyranny you speak of Senator?”

“Extermination! What are you talking about?” Magdala stared wide eyed at Nemesis then looked straight at General Herod, with a gesture saying “Well General …. what is he talking about?”

Herod moved uneasily on his seat and looked awkwardly at Magdala and eventually he said “I don’t think this is a discussion to be had in front of the prisoner Senator, as you know only full well how they lie, cheat and deceive”.

“Hmmm very well. However, I do need to question Nemesis and whilst I hear what you say, I also need him to speak freely and without any feeling of oppression. So I need you and your men to leave the room and wait outside with the other guards. Please make yourself comfortable and feel free to use the catering facilities in the adjacent lounge. I will call you on my com-link when I’m ready for you to rejoin us”.

Herod stood up and looked worried “You want me to leave you alone with this renegade?”

“Yes that’s exactly what I want you to do. Where’s he going to go General? What harm can he do to me? If there’s an issue, however so unlikely there will be, then I will call you. Now as I said, please leave me to talk with him”.

“I have to say this is highly irregular Senator” barked Herod.

“Well it’s not that often and especially whilst we’re in this state of uncertainty regarding new legislation that as a Senator on the Apostophet I have the chance to interview such a high ranking member of the PiruNostram”.

“As you wish Senator but there is nothing high ranking about a criminal” and with that Herod motioned to his men to follow him and they left the room as requested.

“Hello Magdala how are you and thank you for rescuing me”.

“Now just listen to me Nemesis, first of all you need to respect my position here and secondly I have not rescued you. You are a prisoner as General Herod has reminded you. You are in the custody of the Planetary Protectorate of which admittedly I have authority over, but I can’t just simply allow you to walk out of here”.

“Have you suddenly elected to forget our little secret Senator?” teased Nemesis.

Magdala was staring out of a huge window which looked out over the sprawling metropolis of the quadrant she was responsible for, but she suddenly rounded on him and smashed a clenched fist on to the table directly in front of him and shouted “How can I ever forget. You don’t need to remind me Nemesis. At the end of the day there are limits as to what I can do in this situation, so for now let’s just concentrate on the facts as they exist in the present. So what’s this about extermination?”

“Does the name TAURUS mean anything to you?”

“Stop playing games with me Nemesis you know full well what it is. You’re obviously aware of what happened to one of your pack in a recent experimental trial”.

“Yes I have only recently become aware of what happened to Malice, but let me rephrase the question. Are you aware of TAURUS on Quella?”

Magdala stopped dead in her tracks, her mind was racing “Quella …… what do you mean. What’s Quella got to do with this?”

“I’m saying are you aware of the existence of TAURUS on Quella and what they are doing to my people with it?”

Magdala was in a state of panic and disbelief “This cannot be. There’s been no Apostophet consent for TAURUS to be fully commissioned and activated. You’re lying to me Nemesis! Don’t lie to me”.

“Then don’t believe me and ask your Principal instead”.

Magdala was pacing the room muttering to herself when suddenly she screamed and shouted “Guards”!

The doorway dissolved and Herod along with all his men stormed in, traction beam guns at the ready.

“Stop!” shouted Magdala “That won’t be necessary. I need to speak with Principal Sobek but I haven’t finished with Nemesis, so please remain here on guard and I’ll be back shortly” and with that she walked out of the room.

Magdala went to a conference suite so she could make a Reality call. Com links work in tandem with the user’s ability to path, so they take an image of the person you wish to call if you know them, or they can identify them from the equivalent of an online directory by name, business, or purely a known ID number. Magdala simply composed the name of Principal Sobek in her mind and then touched her neck to activate the call.

Sobek glimmered into full 3D view in front of her. He smiled and said “Hello Senator Magdala, what can I do for you?”

“What can you tell me about the developments with the TAURUS project Principal?”

Sobek could tell she was angry and emotional so he needed to be careful and guarded “As you’re aware Senator we have yet to hold an Apostophet meeting to formalise the deployment plan here on Xethenia”

“So what about Quella? What have you been doing there?”

“Quella? You know we have no jurisdiction on Quella. How can I possibly comment about what the authorities are doing there? Look what is the problem Senator?”

Now it was Magdala who needed to be careful, because she couldn’t very well announce that she’d taken Nemesis into custody, as she would have to explain how this had happened. Although she was screaming in her mind to accuse Sobek of lying and covering up, she was forced to take a deep breath and say something else “There have been rumours about a deployment of TAURUS machines on Quella”

“And where have you got this information from?”

“Well ...... let’s just say it’s from the PiruNostram”, she replied and feeling such a fool in the process.

“I see. Well we all know how good the PiruNostram are at spreading malicious propaganda, so even by your standards and your cause for their wellbeing, then surely you must know this is just another tale to disrupt our determination to deal with them?”

Magdala couldn’t wait to end the call “Well as I say, rumours abound or not we have a duty to investigate and to reassure the populace that we are working objectively and cohesively to protect the livelihoods of all Xethantians”.

“I heartily agree with you Senator and we will progress our discussions on TAURUS at the next meeting in 10 cycles time. Was there anything else?” he asked with a knowing grin on his face.

“No that is all Principal. Thank you” and she ended the call, smarting and seething. She marched out the conference room and back down the corridor to the detention room. Two guards had been posted back to the entrance and one of them waved a hand over a sensor which caused the doorway to dissolve, allowing her to pass through.

“Right, let’s get back to where I left off. So if you would please leave us again General Herod, as I need to carry on interviewing Nemesis”.

Once everyone had left the room it was Nemesis that spoke first “So I take it Sobek didn’t concur with my revelation?”

“Oh I know he’s up to something but I couldn’t very well tell him that I’d got it from you, or indeed that you were in my custody, so it was very difficult to approach him confidently. But he knows I’m on his case, so you’d better tell me what you know”.

Nemesis regaled Magdala with recent events and by the time he was done she was sat down with her head in her hands, almost in tears and shaking with anger.

“I take it you won’t have any idea if TAURUS has been put into operation elsewhere in the galaxy?”

“No I don’t. I can put someone on it, but I need to path with them if you want my help to stop this”.

Magdala looked deeply into his glowing blue eyes and for a moment her mind drifted back to a time when her partner Padmonell, was still alive.  He was much older than her and had reached Transition 500 Orbinars ago. For the most part she’d had a happy life with him and they were both delighted when Magdalene and the eminent Doctor from Quella with whom she had partnered, gave birth to a son.

Unfortunately, Eradius Sen and the boy didn’t bond, or see eye to eye and this put such a strain on the family relationship, he eventually left Xethenia and returned alone to live on Quella.

When Magdalene left for her exploration visit to Earth, her son was a young man at just 100 orbinars old, but by then his behaviour had begun to rapidly deteriorate. Eventually he became completely destabilised and vanished somewhere off-world without trace. She never saw Eradius again and because he was mortal, he died whilst she was away.

Magdala shook herself back to reality, but now there was sadness in her eyes. However, she suddenly felt a renewed sense of determination to make things right.  Her face tightened as she clenched her jaw. Despite the challenge to her moral compass and the weight of expectation on her as a Senator, she stood up and told Nemesis to follow her.

As they walked out of the room, the guards immediately yelled and lunged for Nemesis. This only served to attract the attention of General Herod and his other officers, as they were in the neighbouring lounge.

“Let him be” Magdala shouted.

“Where are you taking him Senator? Besides you should not be escorting a prisoner by yourself” responded Herod.

“I’ve arranged for Senator Mayan to join us here and was on my way back to my private office”.

It was at that moment that Herod realised that Nemesis was still not wearing the pathing disruptor. He quickly grabbed one from his utility belt and rushed over to where Nemesis was standing to fix it onto his forehead, whilst shouting at Magdala for bringing him into a non-shielded area.

Nemesis didn’t need much time to path one of his pack leaders who was located in the same quadrant in order to pass on a significant amount of data and news; so by the time Herod reached him, his task was complete.

Magdala scowled at Herod “I’m sorry General I completely forgot, but please don’t chastise me like a child”.

“I apologise Senator. Now perhaps we can escort you and this thug back to your office?”

“Well in hindsight it may be best to stay here and await Senator Mayan’s arrival. So I will stay with Nemesis in private until then”.

Magdala knew full well what she’d allowed Nemesis to do and she’d lied about the meeting with Mayan. She would have to excuse herself away from waiting for her and arrange for Nemesis to be escorted to a prison, where he would likely have arranged to be sprung from.

Herod was becoming incredibly suspicious of Magdala’s empathy towards Nemesis and the PiruNostram in general. He walked away from his men who were back in the lounge and walked down the corridor until he was out of ear shot. Then he called Sobek on a secure link.

During his conversation he said “I have grave concerns about Senator Magdala’s loyalty to the Apostophet and moreover how much Nemesis knows about the deployment of TAURUS on Quella. If we are to reach your targets of eradicating the PiruNostram Principal, then we will need to ramp up their operational capacity, either here on Xethenia or on other off-world planets. If or when this news gets out, then it will get very awkward and I fear for your position and for those around you”.

“Yes I know General. You are a good man and you’ve been a loyal protector for our cause. I will seek to expose Senator Magdala as a traitor. It may be that it’s not just the PiruNostram that we end up eradicating through TAURUS” and he closed the call.


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