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The sun and breeze on my face felt great and in the time it took me to reach Polar Nights, I had come to the conclusion that everything Gabriel had said was true. The entrance to Polar Nights at my back, I took in the view from Sky Level over to the mainland, resting my arms on the safety rail that ran along the edge of the walkway. Fifteen hundred meters below me, the surface looked green and tranquil, the Travways cleverly hidden from the view from above by the designers of New Singapore.

I thought about Gabriel's claim that what I did would have significance for the future of the planet and help prevent a conspiracy that could send us back to the Dark Ages. The Charter came to mind. The revised Charter of the United Nation, wherein individual nations were all consolidated, first published in 2063, seven years after the last Great War. The preamble says: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which is potentially catastrophic and devastating to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of all humans, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of Global Law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and to promote the spread of humankind through the universe.

I had learnt this Preamble as a student, as we all do, and then again with all the treaties, laws, and codicils therein when I had decided on being an arbitrator as an element of my purpose. And now, according to Gabriel, this preamble, this premise that every human capable of reasoned thought takes for granted, was in my hands.

Gabriel’s conversation in my mind was clear now, but like a memory from a dream I could also recall our words spoken for the benefit of those monitoring our interview. I had no doubt that by this time, those images and sounds as well as all the other data attached to that interview would have been dissected and analyzed thousands of times over by many pairs of eyes, but it seemed as if we had pulled off our private chat without any suspicion falling on us.

In less than eight hours Gabriel would disappear from the interview room. I had no idea what he meant by disappear. Escape or vaporize, I simply could not imagine how one could do either. The Deep was approximately two thousand meters down from surface and no one had ever escaped. Gabriel’s level one status meant he was under constant monitoring. Even if his Tag had disappeared off the Grid his physical presence was under containment. Somehow I had no doubt that what Gabriel had said he would do would happen.

I noticed that a rather wet looking cloud was about to envelop the walkway I was on and headed into the Polar Nights, which the Dev by the door advertised as a little piece of heaven designed primarily for hetros but welcome to all, and ambled my way over to the ‘Males’ entrance. A young couple came out of the Unisex entrance and kissed as I walked through into the lowly lit interior. As advertised the emphasis was on hetro and a young woman wearing a beautiful smile and not much else came up to me.

“Hi, welcome to Polar Nights. Are you meeting anyone in particular or can I just help you find a seat?”

“Uhm… I’d like to have a seat and just relax by myself for a while, thanks,” I said and smiled back at her.

“Sure, please come this way, we’ve just upgraded our Siteazys and the Aurora section of the lounge is empty right now. How does that sound?” she asked as she led me through the dark lounge to a huge Siteazy with a Dev beside it. I looked at the Aurora Borealis cast massive on the floor-to-ceiling Devscreen. Perfect, I thought, and sat down in the Siteazy.

The first woman left and a second arrived. “Hi, my name’s Sahara.” She flashed me another beautiful smile. She was about the same height as me, about one hundred and eighty-six cent, with the blondest hair I had ever seen. “Can I get you any refreshment and would you like a leg massage while relaxing?”

“Yes to the refreshment and no to the massage, thanks, Sahara. I’d like a very strong alky, but not paralytic if you know what I mean.”

“Sure. We have a cocktail called the Endorpho 80, which is really great. It’ll put your mind into a semi-meditative state within thirty secs and complete muscle relaxation within forty-five,” she rattled this off and finished with another of those brilliant smiles and I just nodded, lying back in the Siteazy. I thought the day had definitely taken a turn for the better.

The alky arrived borne by the radiant and young Sahara who left me with a charming, “If you need absolutely anything, I am here to serve you,” and swished away with an alluring little sway of her buttocks. I smiled to myself and took a long draught of this Endorpho. It had a slight minty flavor but wasn’t too sweet and slipped down nicely.

I felt the drink hit, as promised. I’d forgotten to ask how long I would stay in this most pleasantly aware but relaxed state, but with these kind of loaded alkys the hit usually lasted at least an hour so I just laid back and enjoyed it. Before I relaxed too completely I punched out a quick command on my Devstick to send me fresh clothes, both inners and outers, from my Envplex to the Polar Nights and told the Dev at the side of Siteazy to have Sahara deliver these once the effects of the Endorpho 80 wore off. With a slight chuckle to myself I wondered if they had an Endorpho 100 and decided not to go there. I would need my wits about me for whatever was to come.

The tension in my body flowed out as the drink hit my nervous system, and my thoughts turned once again to Gabriel and his final words.

Gabriel was my brother, and my uncle was not my uncle, but he was the man who had killed my father. Not only killed, but tortured as well. My uncle, if this was true, was the personification of what our Charter purported to protect us from.

Despite the Endorpho, I tensed, a quiet rage surfacing, but with purpose I pushed that rage aside and turned my thoughts to planning my action ahead. We cannot know the future, but we can plan based upon likely scenarios, and it was these scenarios that I started running through my head like a data stream on free flow.

Chapter 6

A Boring Machine

UNPOL Headquarters, The Deep, Level 1 °Corridor, White Room

Thursday 5 December 2109, 8:08pm +8 UTC

Gabriel sat in exactly the same position as when Jonah had left the interview room over seven hours and thirty-four minutes ago. The fact that Gabriel knew to the second when Jonah had left the room was a testament to his mental strength and his prowess in matters of mind control. Gabriel had been counting since his capture in Bangkok, which had happened two hundred and twenty-eight thousand, eight hundred and forty seconds ago. Or to be less precise, sixty-three and a half hours ago.

Some time in the next twenty-five minutes or so he would be rescued. That is what they had calculated when profiling the capture and containment. That they had been correct up to this point was due to their research into the methods of UNPOL.

Gabriel stopped counting now that the time was so close and instead prepared his breathing for what was coming. Once the room was breached, it and the attached corridor tube would be flooded with paralyzing nerve gas and paralyzing sound. Anyone taking but a single breath or exposing their eardrums to the sound would be instantly immobilized.