Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

The Story of J: Chapter 9 – Confrontation

=====Work of Fiction=====

Previous:
Chapter 8 – A Clue?
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 10 – Recruiting

J woke up the following morning.  That wasn’t a surprise.  He woke up every morning.

J slipped quietly out of the hotel room.  That wasn’t a surprise either.  He didn’t want to wake up Kat who was sleeping in a separate bed in the same room he occupied.  They had been living off of Kat’s savings and credit since they started this expedition.  J couldn’t contribute.  After all he didn’t have an identity, much less a credit chip.

J ran up three flights of stairs to the gymnasium.  No surprise in that.  He enjoyed running the corridors early in the day.  They were mostly empty.  The gym he attended wasn’t the closest in the hotel, but it was the closest that was above the apartment that he and Kat shared.  He wasn’t sure why he liked the fact that it was at a higher altitude.  It could have something to do with the downhill run at the end of his workout.

When he arrived, J started his workout by hitting and kicking a heavy bag in the gym.  This was his preferred method of exercise.  So, yet again, no surprise.

A stranger approached him.  Well, a stranger in the fact that J didn’t recognize him.  The “Stranger” was not as ignorant of J however.  “Would you like to spar?”  the stranger asked J.

This was unusual, and as such, was a surprise.  The gym was never empty in the early mornings.  But most people maintained a strict concentration on their own workout.  Completely ignoring those around them.

After the initial surprise wore off, J responded “to tell you the truth, I have no idea what I am doing.” J responded honestly.

“Well, you seem to be working that bag over pretty good.  I always prefer to work out with someone.  Don’t worry, I’ll take it easy on you.”  The man said, still not giving a name.

“OK, I’ll give it a try.” J said and followed the man to the octagonal ring that dominated the gym, yet had remained empty every day that J had been present.  There were small bleachers on all sides of the ring.  J had assumed that there were competitions that took place on occasion in the gym.  Because he was always there in the early hours of the day, he had never witnessed them.

“No what?” J asked as they got in to the ring.

“Well, the rules are simple.  Each participant attempts to knock their opponent to the mat.  A ‘knock down’ is only valid if the opposing player remains on the mat for at least two metric seconds.  This allows for rolling and other evasive maneuvers. Three knock downs represents a victory.  After each knock down, each player must simultaniously touch the pole on their side of the ring before the game can continue.  Any method may be used for achieving the goal in question except for biting and attacks to the genitalia. Rounds last for six metric minutes and begin and end with the ringing of a bell.”

“OK, let’s go.”

A bell rang almost immediately., though J didn’t notice his opponent touch any controls and there was no-one around at the time.  But J didn’t have time to think of that because his opponent was rushing him.  Before J could react, the man had ducked and swept J’s legs out from under him, getting his first point with a knock down.

OK, that was different.  J thought and got back up quickly. 

He reached his pole and touched it, noticing that his opponent was already holding the pole on the other side of the ring.  When J made contact, the pole changed to a bright green.  J didn’t waist time thinking this time.  He turned to his assailant and crouched as he saw the man running toward him.  J slipped to his left to avoid the charge.  He stuck out his right foot and with his left hand he ‘encouraged’ the forward motion of the other man.  The man fell forward, buck quickly balled up to do a front flip and end up back on his feet.  No point awarded.

The man was quickly on top of J grabbing his left wrist and pulling it down behind his back.  Suddenly he let go and J lurched forward.  The man grabbed his feet and lifted and J fell to the ground again.  The signal poles changed back to red as the second point was awarded to J’s opponent.

J jumped up quickly again.  He ran to his pole and touched it.  Somehow he reached his pole before the other man.  He had to wait for a slight moment for the other man o touch his pole so that ‘play’ could resume.

The man was obviously aware that J was quickly learning the game.  He didn’t charge this time, but crept to his left.  J matched his movement, keeping the same space between them.  When they had traversed half of the ring, J glanced down to avoid the pole.  He heard, rather than saw, the charge from the other man.  He was anticipating this however.  He quickly moved behind the pole.  The man had to adjust to the pole to get around it, sending him off balance.  J took that adjustment and pushed on his outside shoulder.  The man fell to the ground and J scored his first point.

J ran to his pole and then the game started again.  but not for long, as a bell rang signalling the end of the first round.

The two men were breathing hard.  The man said “I thought I had you with the pole maneuver.”

“It seemed an obvious strategy.  I decided to fall for it, but I couldn’t be sure how yu would adjust.  I’m just glad it worked.” J panted with a wry smile.

The short exchange was all that was available, as the bell rang again.

This time, J was the one to charge.  He tried to grab the man around the shoulders, but the man ducked out of the grasp and grabbed J around the waist.  He lifted and tossed J behind him.  J stayed under control and turned his ungraceful flop in to a less ungraceful flip.  He did lose his balance on the landing, but was able to utilize his momentum to regain his footing before losing the point.

His back was to his opponent.  And the man took advantage of that by quickly taking J’s arm in a grip and pulling J to the edge of the ring.  J took this opportunity to push the man against the clear wall of the ring.  J then pulled him back fell on his own back taking his feet and placing them on the abdomen of his opponent.  He flipped over backwards and end up back on his feet, with the man underneath him. 

The two men quickly returned to their respective poles.  The score was tied, the next point would proclaim a victor.  By this time, a small crowd had gathered around the ring.  The participants didn’t seem to notice as their attention was on each other.

They both charged to the center of the ring. The man quickly hit J in the side of the head.  J countered with a punch to the abdomen.  The two men broke down in to a pugilistic pose each on punching and kicking, blocking and countering.  Finally, the bell rank.

The participants spent the break in silence.  Each one a little bruised and each on winded.  When the bell rang again, to start the third round, the participants once again met in the center of the ring.  J was the first to strike attempting a left jab.  But the man didn’t counter the punch instead, he grabbed J’s arm turned around and tossed him over his shoulder.  J fell to the floor unceremoniously and the matched ended.

“Good game” the man said sincerely.

“Indeed” J panted, still laying on his back.

J finally stood up as the small crowd of spectators dissipated.  The two men exited the ring, shook hands and J headed for the door.  His workout complete.  He jogged back to the room where he was pretty sure Kat would be awake and waiting for him.

****************

“I don’t understand it sir.  I don’t think he is a mentalist, but I wasn’t able to manipulate his mind at all.” The mystery man was reporting after the match was over. “We certainly would have a record of any man that was able to block the mental control of an Agent, but his DNA is nowhere on record.”  The man continued, referring to his bloodied knuckles. “I know that Agents are the bottom of the mentalist barrel, but I still should have been able to push him in to an attack during the match.  But he didn’t attack in that case.  I tried to push him in to complacency when I attacked.  But that didn’t happen either.”

The woman on the other side of the communication was unimpressed.  She was, after all, a mid level bureaucrat in the Office of Mentalic Affairs, a Bureau that technically didn’t exist. She herself was a mentalist, everyone in the Bureau was after all.  More powerful than an Agent, but not nearly powerful enough to reach any height in the organization.  So, she was stuck in this limbo that was called “middle management”.  In some ways, she envied the agents.  At least they got to go out and evaluate threats.  She had to sit behind a desk and read.

“And what of his partner, do you encounter the same resistance with her?” She asked

“No, Kat is in no way enhanced in mentallics.”

“And what did you get from her?”

“Exactly what they said when they arrived on Trantor.  They are here to do research on a secret society of robots.  They are leaving today in order to investigate another planet.  Their visa has almost run out, I’m sure that went in to their decision to leave.”

“What is a robot?”

“A mechanical being of some sort.  They have been spending large amounts of time looking for these things, but I doubt they really exist.”

“And if they do?  Will they represent a threat to us?”

“According to the research I have done, they are mythological.  But they had built in to them a set of laws that were placed in them to force them to serve humanity.  If we assume they exist, we can also assume these laws exist.  The laws seem to be complete.  I can’t imagine that they are any threat to us.”

“So, why are these two looking for them?”

“Well, Kat seems to have a childhood memory that is driving her.  I can’t tell from J’s mind what his motivations are, but according to Kat, he has no memory of who he is.  Somehow, she thinks the robots may have rescued him.  So, she thinks that he thinks that they can tell him who he is.”

“What is your recommendation?”

“I think we should bring them in for direct questioning.  The reasons given for J’s interests do not seem sufficient.”

“Agreed.  Also, conduct a search of their ship.”

“That may be a problem.  Their ship has denied my team access.”

The woman referred to her notes, off screen. “It is a standard ‘XG’ model fighter-interceptor.  How did the computer deny you access?  It doesn’t have control of the docking port.”

“That is true of a standard ‘XG’, but this computer does have access.  According to Kat, the computer has been replaced.  It looks like a robot’s brain according to her interpretation.”

“OK, tow the vehicle to our facility and we will cut a door open.”

“The vehicle will not allow that.  It has prevented all of our attempts to move it.  Before you ask, we tried to cut it open ourselves.  The hull is not exactly duranium.  We couldn’t cut it with a standard torch.  When we tried to use one of our plasma torches, the ship moved away.”  The Agent said.

“OK, get J to move it for us before you bring him in.”  The woman said, then changed her mind “On second thought, I will come with you to the space port.  Maybe we can convince him to cooperate.”  She terminated the connection and arranged for her short trip to the space port.  Finally, she would be in the field.

****************

Kat and J had quickly eaten before leaving the hotel.  They made the trek to the train station.  The train station took them to the space port where Exie was waiting for them.  The train ride took quite a while due to the distance from the hotel.  The pair spent the time in silence.  Granted, Kat wanted to know why J looked so beaten up, but when she had mentioned it during breakfast, he had simply shrugged.

When they arrived at the space port, it took quite a while to locate their ride.  Part of the problem was that the building was massive, and confusing to the pair of outlanders.  But the greater concern was that the ship was not where they had left it.  After consulting with a not-so-helpful employee, they found the ship was on a different level.  When they arrived at the port, they found a pair of official-looking officers. 

J recognized one of the two, the male, immediately.  He instinctively reached for his cheek where a small cut had recently been healed.  But he was standing behind, and to one side of the woman.  She was an intimidating presence.  She was tall at nearly 190 cm.  Her black hair was cut short, though it was still pulled back in to an efficient pony tail.  Her face was angular and gave the distinct impression of a bird of prey.

She spoke “Are you Katelyn Mangello and J?”

Kat moved slightly behind J, obviously preferring that he do the talking. “We are” he said, trying to look just as intimidating as the two military officers.

“Could you open your ship please?” The woman asked, her words were pleasant, but her voice carried the request in the form of an order.

“No, I don’t think I will do that.” J responded.  Obviously surprising the female officer.

“That was not a request.” She reiterated.

“I know” J answered nonchalantly.

“May I ask why not?” The man asked.

“This ship is important to me.  I don’t want it violated by some impostors posing as soldiers.” J answered.

Both of the false military officers paused visibly.

“Why do you think that we are not officers?” The woman finally said.

“Well, your boots have heels that are greater than 3 cm in length.  No doubt, you want to look as intimidating as possible.  But no military would use such footwear.  They would be impractical on a ship with knee-knockers as military ships have.  Also, your uniform doesn’t have any pockets on the sides of your pants on tunic.  Pockets are handy things to have and I doubt that a military uniform would actually be missing them.  There are a few more clues, but I think you get my point.” J said and left Kat and the two agents flabbergasted.

The man reached in to an inside pocket in his tunic and pulled out a badge. “Your right, we are not military officers.” he said, taking his supervisor off guard. “I am agent Leo of the Office of Mentalic Affairs.  We want to have a word with you, and we want to search your ship.”

“There is no such organization.” Kat said.

“I believe them” J said, then turning to the two uniformed impostors “You can ask my compatriot and I any questions you want.  But I will not grant you access to my ship.  I doubt that you would be asking if you could access the ship on your own.  The fact that it has moved proves my point.  This is probably your last ditch effort.  I will not have my property damaged.  It is, after all, all I have in the galaxy.  But you are welcome to lead my friend and I to any interrogation chamber you desire.”

The agents looked at each other inquisitively.  Then, shrugging their shoulders they lead the two tourists off to the Office.

Previous:
Chapter 8 – A Clue?
Table of Contents Next:
Chapter 10 – Recruiting
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January 21, 2008 - Posted by | Story of J, The

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