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I mean the whole thing could be a set up. This could all be part of some elaborate training exercise designed to test me under adverse circumstances.

What if they’ve got an internal and external transcript of the discussion? Do they have that kind of technology? I mean I know they can read heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, that kind of stuff. Can they record your mind while you’re having a chat? I don’t know. Then don’t worry about it. If they do, you’re finished, but if Gabriel’s telling the truth and you do walk into Uncle’s office and spew out everything you two talked about, then you’re headed for brain wipe or worse.

“Destination is estimated to be reached in approximately four minutes, Arbitrator Oliver.”

Chapter 4

The Director’s Review

UNPOL Headquarters, Director’s Office, 244th floor

Thursday 5 December 2109, 1:09PM +8 UTC

Sir Thomas paused the image of Jonah as he was just leaving the White Room, after his discussion with the prisoner Jibril Muraz.

He turned sideways in his Siteazy and leaned towards Agent Cochran. “So, what do you think?” he asked, without any expression on his face.

Agent Cochran rose from the chair in front of Sir Thomas’s desk and walked over to the wall screen. The image cut off as her body intercepted the light from the Dev and, turning to face the Director, she said, “I don’t like it, but I don’t know what I don’t like. If all the runner wanted was a free ticket to the wilds and a bunch of cred, why didn’t he come out with that at the beginning and save himself from the Truth Treatment? That doesn’t make sense.”

“Perhaps he felt that he needed someone who he knew he could trust to deliver the right message on his behalf. Have you checked the list of illegals that my nephew has so kindly and fairly represented in his time as arbitrator?”

“Yes, Sir Thomas, I have. We’re looking at fourteen individuals over the past eighteen months as our initial scan. In total though your nephew has dispensed his kindness with over eighty-five illegals cases, so we plan to run through and interview the last eighteen months first and if we get nothing solid there we’ll track back further. All of the digital information on record has of course already been analyzed, but no hits there.”

Sir Thomas tapped the Dev console set into the arm of the Siteazy and the screen flashed on again — the sudden light a reminder to Agent Cochran that she was talking to the Director. She quickly sat down, straight-backed, on the wooden chair and awaited Sir Thomas’s pleasure.

He leaned towards her and in a conspirative tone said, “And what did you think of Jonah’s reaction to the question ‘You probably think I’m totally crazy?’ Didn’t anything odd strike you about that? Hmm?” Sir Thomas then said, “Dev, take the scene back to where Muraz talks about being crazy, please.”

The image on the screen changed into a close up shot of Jibril’s face. His pulse, body temperature, heartbeat, and heat signature were all displayed at the bottom of the image. They were all within normal parameters, except the pulse rate which seemed a tad below normal.

As Jonah said on screen, ‘No, no, not at all, I just haven’t heard that story of my name before. It’s very interesting’, Sir Thomas leant over to Agent Cochran and again almost whispering said, “There, start watching there and tell me what you see.” Jabbing with his forefinger at the wall screen and fixing her with a look that would make ice cubes if he cared to put it to that use.

Agent Cochran studied the images again, from Jonah to the runner. And as the runner said, ‘You represented an illegal that I once ran. He said you were kind and fair to him, which was good enough for me, and so I asked for you,’ she said, “Please stop the image there and focus on Muraz. There, yes, advance one, another. There, do you see that Sir Thomas? The bead of sweat running down his temple. All his readings are normal, room temp was set at optimal for the core body heat of the two people in the room, so why the bead of sweat?”

The Director smiled at her. She felt like it was a threat and smiled as non-threateningly as possible back. Sir Thomas lifted his eyes towards the door of his office and nodded to her. She turned to face in that direction as the Director looked at his watch and said, “Now, you have two minutes before my nephew walks through that door, so get yourself ready.”

She quickly ran through a list of the routines she could choose. Her mind games. She wanted to wait, let him settle down before she probed. Get right at what he was thinking while he was answering a question, so he’d be as naked in his mind as he was in the White Room. An image of Jonah naked flashed in her mind. And then an image of Jibril. She squirmed on the straight-backed wooden seat.

She slowed her breathing and let the present thoughts fall away. Focusing on breathing through her nose, feeling the passage of its life-sustaining force pass under the tip of her nose, she kept her eyes wide open and saw everything but nothing as she cleared her mind for the task ahead. Focused, she heard Sir Thomas speak.

“Dev, please open the door for my nephew,” and Cochran prepared to cast her mind into Jonah’s.

Sir Thomas and Agent Cochran were sitting down, both looking at the space where the door was when I walked in. Their attention turned to me.

I had chaired and participated in many debriefings after interview sessions. The monitor was almost always immediately played to key sponsors as soon as the interview had finished, which might have just been possible since I’d had to relieve my bladder after leaving the Lev.

“Jonah, please take a seat.” Sir Thomas waved his hand at the chair to Cochran’s right.

I advanced across the Kurdish carpet and noticed that the weave changed colors as I walked over it. I sat down.

“Agent Cochran and I have been reviewing the monitor of your interview with the runner. It all seems to have gone remarkably well, wouldn’t you say?” Sir Thomas said this with a slight smile on his face that made me very nervous. I could feel my heart racing.

“Well yes, Sir, it seems relatively straightforward,” I replied, thinking, “I wish I could be like my uncle — he is so together.”

“Right,” said Sir Thomas, holding his smile in place. “Any other impressions of the runner, this Jibril, as he calls himself?”

“Um, well, I did think it strange that he wanted to see me in the first place. As Agent Cochran said in our earlier meeting, he’s been through Truth Treatment, so I wonder why he didn’t simply state these terms earlier. Frankly, I haven’t been able to discern why he chose to wait to speak to me before asking for what he wants, and there was one other thing that I thought a little odd, but can likewise find no reason for.”

“Well, spit it out, Jonah. What is this other thing you thought was odd?” Sir Thomas had changed his smile, and now regarded me with pursed lips, and a slight frown.

“Well at one point I noticed that a single bead of sweat rolled off him and fell on his stomach. Room temp was optimal for us so it wasn’t heat. Therefore it must have been stress. However, what he was talking about at that time wasn’t particularly stressful, and so I cannot really figure out why he was sweating.”

“Do you see me Jonah?”

The words pierced into my mind from nowhere. I quickly thought, “I really want to be like my uncle. I hope that I can win his respect through this case. I must bring this case to a successful conclusion.”

My uncle smiled and said, “Yes, well, Jonah, you’ve done well. I think you should take the rest of the day off, but remain ready to come back in if we need you.”

“Thank you, sir,” and rising I smiled at Agent Cochran, who smiled back. I kept thinking, “It’s great that my uncle thinks I handled that well,” and held that thought until I was out of my uncle’s office, once again following the lights’ direction back to the Lev port.