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The Adjudicator Chapter (Cover Art)

Chapter 39 - The Adjudicator[]

In the Mind of Charissa Ngo
Virtual Environment
Taussen Star System
Early 3160



[This isn't real....]

"...so the whole plan was just to try to restore some kind of order, Huh?"  Clarissa sipped coffee that didn't quite taste wrong enough.  "So, fleet captain, you were in bed with Comstar for centuries. you gave them an alternative when their plans went sideways..." she put the cup down on the table, and noted it stayed,  when it shouldn't.

"That's about the size of it." he answered.

"Interesting." she stood up, and walked around the interview room, looking outside.  "You're not wearing your hat." she said, "Might want to put that on."

"Why?" asked "the Captain"

She reached up, and grabbed her crowbar, "That's because you left me with the means to do this." Charissa then swing was drill-and-ceremony perfect, the platinum plated endo-steel connected with what should have been ferroglass.  The window shattered.

A howl of winds going out, far too extreme for reality as alarms went off.  "Wait for it." she said, and deliberately tossed her helmet on the table, before wrenching at the transparent material and smashing it again.

"Are you insane?" asked her host

"More than a little." she smashed the windscreen again and again, "After all, you don't have to be crazy to do my job, but it helps."  The winds died and colorless void was revealed where there should have been the hard starfield of vacuum wrapped in starlight and solar winds.  "The illusion was pretty good, but your game writer ****** up his details."

"Which ones?" 'fleet Captain' Cameron asked. "We don't have gravy on my ship. At least if we're not under thrust, it's null-gee. You were walking. This station also doesn't have the right shape to hold a gravity field of one gee." she listed off, "Your sim has windows on the hull, that's just stupid design. If it's in physical reality, you wouldn't pass a basic safety check."

She reached out with the crowbar, "Finally, nobody but an idiot boards a ship through the dorsal airlock in shirtsleeves.  I clocked this as a headgame the second I saw you in those polished low-quarters.  You have to sim one gee, because my body is feeling one gee, diggit?  Since I don't remember coming down to a planet, that means there are things I don't remember. My primary case involves someone who's had their identity and mind raped and rewritten.  So let's try this again, huh?  Where is my body?"

The environment shifted revealing a hospital room.

"Is that me?" she asked.

"You were badly injured." he said, "It was...it was my fault. I hesitated and the Drones followed their program."

"How many of my people won't be coming home?" she asked.

"Fifteen crew were killed, we believe that was by weapons fire and subsequent immediate damage."

'"And survivors?" she asked

"Thirty of your people are alive, five are in critical care. This is including you, but you were the worst case of the survivors." he explained, "I'm...I can't tell you how sorry I am, we were expecting an invasion."

She walked up on the body in the bed, "I've had this nightmare everytime I jump, Fleet Captain." she said, "Like flickers, in between the memories of the things in hyperspace and the white light." she turned and looked the simulation in the eye, "Will I still be me when I wake up? Or will I another programmed drone like Devlin Stone?" stated Clarissa



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