I woke up early in the morning with a feeling that all was not right. I knew I shouldn't have trusted them to keep Martin overnight. Somehow I knew he was in pain. I could sense it, the same way I felt his emotions when I first met him. This was not good. I had to do something.
"This is Xion," I said into the communicator, once the link to Laura was established.
"Good morning, Xion," she replied. "You are up early, ready to go fight for Martin today?"
"Laura, Martin is in pain," I said.
"What? Are you sure? How can you know that?" she wondered.
"I cannot really explain it," I started, "but all the time since he first came to me, I've been able to feel it when he is in emotional or physical pain. Like when he discovered that his mother was dead, I felt like it was my world that was falling apart."
"Well, I'm not sure I believe such things," she hesitated, "but, it would really not be the strangest thing in this case, and I am not willing to take the chance. We need to go down immediately. Meet me at elevator 4K."
I was glad that she was willing to act, even though she wasn't sure I was right. I wasn't sure I was right, at least not intellectually, but deep in my heart, I knew that something was really wrong with Martin.
I hurried to the elevator and arrived a few minutes before Laura. While I was waiting I had more time to think about what could have happened with Martin. I became more anxious each second I had to wait.
"Finally, there you are!" I said when Laura arrived. It might have been a bit rude, because I could see that she had really hurried to get there as soon as possible, but I was not in the mood to care about being polite at this point.
"Let's go," she said without hesitation.
We took the elevator down to the level where the military offices were, and hurried through the corridors until we reached the same front room we were in the day before.
"Where is he?" I demanded to know. The young man behind the counter looked at us, obviously very confused.
"May I help you?" he finally managed to get out.
"Where is the boy? He was brought in yesterday," I asked again.
"I'm sorry, I don't know of any boy," he looked genuinely sorry for not being able to help us.
"Is Mr. Veiler here?" Laura asked.
"I think he is busy interrogating a prisoner," the young man started, "I don't know when he will be available."
"Interrogating a prisoner? It better not be Martin Ruud he's interrogating!" Laura's voice was getting louder now. "You are not allowed to talk to him without a representative of the Child Protection Unit present. I thought that was made very clear yesterday."
The man behind the counter looked really lost. But I didn't have room in my heart to feel pity for him. "Call him right now; we demand to speak with him NOW!" I almost shouted.
"I'm sorry," he said, but he picked up a phone and started talking into it.
"I'm sorry," he said again, "But Mr. Veiler is not available right now. But someone else is coming out to assist you." He looked relieved that the problem would soon be off his hands.
We waited impatiently for a couple of minutes before the door to the inner rooms opened, and Mrs. Webster came out. She did not look very happy.
"I thought we had agreed to meet later today?" she spat out.
"Well, Mrs. Webster, this fine young man here is telling us that Mr. Veiler is interrogating a prisoner. Is it Martin?" Laura said with venom dripping from her voice. Even I felt a chill down my back from the cold way she addressed the other woman.
Mrs. Webster shot a deadly look towards Laura before turning towards the now sweating man behind the counter. "Oh, really?" she said.
"Yes," I interfered, "he was kind enough to let us have that information. Now, we demand to see Martin at once, before he comes to any harm."
"And why do you think he would come to harm by being with us?" Mrs. Webster said coldly.
"Are you joking?" I said. "You put a 14-year-old boy in a cell through the night, the very day after he finds out that he has not only lost everything, but also every person he ever knew? That alone is more harm than anyone should be exposed to, particularly not such a young person."
"Well, Mr. Xion, I'm not exactly happy that you come here and try to tell us how we should deal with our internal affairs. Why should we listen to you an alien Environmental Specialist in matters regarding planet security?" Mrs. Webster said with a cold look at me.
"Planet security?" I was stunned. "How can this, in any way have anything to do with planet security?"
"You really must be stupid if you believe I'm going to tell you that." Mrs. Webster said coldly.
"Come on, woman!" Laura sighed. "Are you sure you're not just putting that label on the case to justify keeping CPU out of the interrogations?"
"I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer," Mrs. Webster spat out. "I want you to leave here now, and we'll meet at noon as we agreed yesterday. Don't think I won't remember this."
With that she was gone. She disappeared back through the door she had entered, and there was no way we could follow her.
I felt lost. This situation was quickly getting totally out of control. If I just had any way of finding out how Martin really was. With evidence that he was treated badly, I am sure the Governor would let us interfere, or I could report it to The Council and request assistance or advice. But as long as it just was a feeling I had, there was nothing I could do.
"Come on, Xion, I don't think we can do anything more here now," Laura said and pulled me towards the exit. "Let us hope that you are wrong and that the boy is fine." She did not sound convinced.
We left the room and started walking back. Just as we turned a corner, another man came out a door. As he spotted us, he nodded to Laura and waited for us to reach him.
"Good morning, Dr. Steiger," Laura greeted the man.
"Good morning, Laura," he replied. "I was hoping to see you. There is a case I think the CPU should be looking into."
"Really?" Laura looked up. "What might that be then?"
"Well, I'm not really allowed to tell, I should probably contact my attorney before revealing anything. There are different issues at stake, and I'm not sure how the laws and regulations apply here."
"Alright," Laura was all business now. "But if you think it might be a case for the CPU, it probably isn't something that should wait too long. Do you think you can find it out quickly?" she asked.
"I'll get right to it," he promised and turned around to walk in the direction we came from.
"Wait," I called. "Dr. Steiger, could you please tell me one thing?"
"Actually, I do not think so, Mr…"
"Xion," I introduced myself. "I am Xion, working for The Council. Could you tell me if it has to do with a fourteen-year-old boy that's been imprisoned by the military?" I asked.
"Do you know this boy you are talking about?" the doctor asked.
"Yes, he has been placed in my care by The Council. I'm his official guardian until a permanent placement can be done." I explained.
"Well, if that's the case it makes things somewhat easier. You are right; it has to do with him. I'm afraid he has been injured, and will need some medical attention in the next few hours."
"WHAT?!" Laura and I shouted together. "How?" I asked.
"They claim he fell to the floor while being interrogated, but I do not believe it was an accident." Dr. Steiger explained. He was obviously not happy about the situation.
At this point, I almost lost it. It was all I could do not to storm back and start tearing people apart for hurting my boy. How could they treat him like this? I am a man of a very calm temper, but now…
"Where is he?" I asked.
"He is back in his cell," Dr. Steiger explained. "I gave him something for the pain, so he should be asleep for a while now. I didn't want him to wake up soon, so they could start over again. That man, Mr. Veiler, he's not a good person."
I had figured that much out for myself, and I couldn't let him get away with this. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to push him down on the floor and kick him. I wanted to…
I needed to regain control over myself. If I continued in this state of mind, I could end up doing stuff that I would regret later. I took a deep breath and looked up at Laura and Dr. Steiger. They were both sending me concerned looks. I could see that they had moved a step or two away to avoid being in harm's way from the explosion they must have thought was coming.
"I'm sorry," I said. "What do we do now?"
"Well," Dr. Steiger began. "I'm probably going to get in deep trouble for telling you about this, so I would rather go get my attorney before returning. I would also suggest taking this as high as possible before going back in there. The boy will not wake up for at least a couple of hours, and I explicitly denied them to try waking him for further interrogations before I can look at him again."
"Alright," Laura said. "Let's move then. Xion, I suggest we go to my boss, Mr. Gundersen, and take it from there. I suppose we will have to involve the governor's office, so I hope we can reach Mr. Belgari."
"That is good," Dr. Steiger nodded. "I'll go get my lawyer then, and I'll see you soon, I hope."
"Thank you for telling us," I said sincerely to the doctor. I knew he probably was in danger of losing his job, and perhaps facing imprisonment himself, for doing so.
"Well, I'm glad I did. As his guardian, you have the right to know. It is just that when the military is involved, things aren't always as they should be."
We departed in different directions. Laura and I went back to the elevator we had come down in, while Dr. Steiger left the other way. While we were traveling up the elevator, Laura tried reaching someone on her communicator. Finally, she made contact.
"Mr. Gundersen? This is Laura. We have some disturbing news about Martin, the boy we discussed yesterday. It seems he has been hurt during unauthorized interrogations done by the military. Xion and I are on our way to your office right now." She finished quickly and closed the communicator.
We didn't say any other word while walking the distance from the elevator to Mr. Gundersen's office.
I could see that he was not in a good mood as we entered.
"What is this?" he started shouting as soon as we had closed the door behind us. "The military specifically agreed to wait before interrogating, but not only breaches that but end up hurting the kid in the process? Is that correctly understood?" he asked Laura.
"Yes, sir. That seems to be the case." Lauar answered him.
"This has gone too far. Have you seen the boy?" he asked.
"No. They will not let us in. They are claiming it is a matter of planet security." I explained.
"Planet Security? How on the Moon can this be a matter of planet security?" he wanted to know.
"You know them," Laura sighed. "They just use that label for everything they do not want to show the public or other agencies."
"I know," Mr. Gundersen sighed. "But we're talking about a kid here. He's just a kid for heaven's sake."
He sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He seemed to consider the situation carefully before he finally looked up again and said, more calmly now, "This is a very big issue. We will have to involve the governor's office, at the very least."
I sighed. "More red tape?" I asked. "Can't you people ever do anything efficiently?" I wondered.
"Well, do you have any better idea?" Mr. Gunderson asked a bit sarcastically.
"I could beam him out of there with my transporter if I had a certain lock on him," I said in thought. "But then he'll end up as a fugitive and could get problems returning to the Earth ever again. I don't want to do that to him. We need to think of his future as well as the current situation."
"I agree, that is not a viable option, unless we find a reason to believe he is in immediate danger." Mr. Gundersen nodded. "I've never trusted the transporter technology either, who knows what could happen."
"I'm not afraid of that, it is quite safe. Many systems use it as the most common way of transportation. I don't think I've come across any other races who are so skeptical to the technology as you humans are."
"Well, it doesn't matter; let's try to solve the situation at hand now."
Many years earlier, 13-year-old John Veiler walked home from school. It had been a year since the incident took place. That dreadful day when he lost his very best friend. There were no clues to what had happened. The shuttle was just gone.
Some days he managed to put the story behind him. He remembered all the good times he had enjoyed with his friend, how Tom and he had played together when they were little, how they had explored the Moon mall together, or just how good it felt to know that he was laying on the floor next to his bed when he slept over in the weekends.
Other days were hard. He still remembered the good times, but instead of being happy for it, he would just be overwhelmed with longing or sorrow. This was such a day.
When he had his bad days, his father would usually do his best to comfort him. They had stopped going for the drives they had used to. It was just too much of a reminder of that day. Instead, they had found other things they could do together. And sometimes, at the very worst days for John, they would just sit in the couch together. John had many times fallen asleep, leaning into his father for comfort, while crying his eyes out.
His parents had been really worried about him. They had taken him to a therapist to help him cope with the sorrow, and it had helped somewhat. The number of good days related to the number of bad days was increasing. But still, once in a while, John would retract into himself and plow deep into the grief.
John didn't know what had set him off this day. It could have been something someone said, or something he saw or whatever it was. But it had reminded him of Tom, and suddenly he had gotten the now so familiar feeling of falling down into a deep place in his soul. His teachers had noticed, and stopped asking him to answer their questions. They had mostly given up on getting through to him when he was like this. He would just sit at his desk and stare out in the air until the bell rang so he could set a course for his home.
Like in a trance he walked back home. He needed the comfort of his father today. Somehow he could often help him getting back up from that deep place he was finding himself in.
'Oh, Tom, why did you have to leave me?' he screamed in his thoughts as he walked up to the door to his home.
He walked through the house without seeing any signs of his father. Why did he have to leave now? Why couldn't he be home when John needed him?
John threw himself on the couch and buried his head in a pillow and released the flow of tears he had held within. He had hoped to have his father there when he did that. But not even that would go his way this day.
This was the way his mother found him when she came home from work half an hour later.
"Honey, are you alright?" she asked her son. She wished she could do more for him, but she had never been able to connect with her son the way her husband did.
"Where's dad?" John got out between the sobs.
"Oh, John, he had to leave to New York for a meeting. It looks very good for the deal he has been trying to make with the Fobian trade delegation. If he can nail this deal, he might be able to open his own store, maybe even on the Moon mall."
"Is he meeting with aliens?" John asked. The thought cheered him up, a little bit. He had always been fascinated with the aliens that had shown up on the Earth the last century. Most of them looked mostly human, but there was the odd case of a non-humanoid visiting as well.
"Yes, the Fobians have a delegation in New York, and they invited him to meet with them to discuss business today. It was on very short notice, so your father just called me and told me what was going on before leaving."
She was glad to see that this had brought her son's mind off his grief for a while. Hopefully, this could keep him out of the depression, until his father came home the next day.
And it did help. John had something other than his grief to put his mind on. He started dreaming of how he would work with aliens when he got older. That had always been a dream he shared with his friend Tom, and he thought that Tom would like that he pursued that dream even if he wasn't there to share it with him anymore.
By the time dinner was ready, John's mother could hardly recognize her son. His mood was better than she had seen in a very long time. The news about his father's possible trades with the alien delegation had really cheered him up. She had been afraid that it would push him further into depression that his father wasn't there, but she was very happy that it had turned out so much better.
John was quite cheerful during dinner. He kept talking about all the cool aliens he wanted to meet, and perhaps even be allowed to travel out in the universe with some of them. His mother encouraged him; she was so happy that he did better.
After the meal, John helped his mother clean the table. While they were working, the phone rang. John's mother put a plug in her ear and answered while she continued moving the dirty plates to the kitchen.
John looked up at her when she suddenly stopped. He could see her face got instantly white. Then the plates she was holding on to left her hand and followed gravity's path downwards towards the floor. She almost followed them, but she got hold of the wall next to her and leaned on to that.
"Mom?" John said carefully. "What is it? You're scaring me."
But she didn't answer. How could she? How could she tell the news to her only son? And now that he seemed so happy for a change. How would this affect him? It would destroy him. It would destroy her.
John got more and more scared, and almost screamed to his mother to tell him what was going on.
"John, it's… It's your father, John," she finally managed to get out as she removed the earplug.
"What? What is it? Tell me, mom!" John demanded.
"There was an accident, he was trying their equipment, and must have done something wrong..." she trailed off.
"What? Is he alright?"
"John, I'm sorry, no." John's mother moved over to a chair and sat down.
"He… he… John, your father is dead!" she finally got out just as she broke down crying.
When I woke up, I was still lying on the floor. I don't know how long I had been gone, perhaps a few minutes. But my head hurt really bad! And there was blood dripping out of my nose. It had gathered into a little pond on the floor. I felt sick, and thought I was just about to throw up.
It took me a few moments to realize where I was and what had happened. I was alone in the room now, so Mr. Veiler must have left me after he delivered the kick that knocked me unconscious.
The door opened, and Mr. Veiler came in with a woman I hadn't seen before. I kept my eyes shut and didn't move while they were talking.
"Ah, John, what have you done?" she asked.
"I'm sorry, Liv, but he just pisses me off so bad!"
"I know, but you shouldn't hurt him like that. He is just a kid," the woman said.
"I'm not so sure." Mr. Veiler muttered.
"Now that CPU lady, Carlson was it? Well, now she's going to cause all kinds of trouble for us."
"Well, just keep her away then." Mr. Veiler said.
"It's not that simple, John. The law is on their side here. We are not really allowed to hold a minor like this, and certainly not interrogating him, with or without the unnecessary violence you are showing. I wish you could control yourself better, John," she sighed.
Just then I heard a beep and Mr. Veiler answered what I understood was an intercom. I could only hear his side of the conversation though.
"What? Send them away."
"Tell them to go. I don't have time for this."
"All right, I'll send someone to talk to them. Just don't let them in, and don't tell them anything."
"You need to go out to the front room," he then said to the woman. "The CPU woman and that ugly alien are trying to get to the boy. Stop them."
"I'm not sure I can," the woman said.
My heart skipped a bit. Was Xion finally coming for me?
"Make something up. Say it has to do with planet security or something. And let the doctor in if you see him." Mr. Veiler said.
The woman left and shortly after someone knocked on the door. Mr. Veiler opened it, and let in a man wearing a white coat.
"My God! What happened here?" he asked.
"We had an accident. This perp fell on the floor while being interrogated." Mr. Veiler said.
I moaned, and the man I guessed must have been a doctor came straight to me.
"Must have been some fall," he said coldly.
He checked on my injuries and said, "I think we need to sedate him. Don't you have a better place for him to lie than on the cold floor of an interrogation room?"
"Take him to the cell then." Mr. Veiler said.
I felt someone lift me up and carry me back to my cell. There I was put on the bed, and the doctor gave me a shot of something.
"I'm sorry this has happened to you," the doctor whispered as he emptied the syringe in my arm.
Soon it didn't feel so bad, and I started to get sleepy.
Before long I was out again.
When I woke up, Xion was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding my hand.
Well, that's it for chapter five. What a surprising end it was. It looks like things are brightening up a bit for Martin, but what did really happen? How did Xion end up in the cell? Maybe the next chapter will clear that up? Who knows?
MY goodness, I am glad that Xion has finally made it to be with Martin. I was pretty scared there for a bit. Now, all we have to do is wait for the next chapter and we will, hopefully, find out what will happen next. John was hurt pretty bad by the earlier experiences, wasn't he? It almost makes you feel sorry for him too. I said almost. At least the Phone didn't have any hang-up about dealing with interspecies bigotry. The Phone has tapped into some interesting facts.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher
It's about time Xion did more than worry. I know he can be an awesome force and has the power and authority. I'm just wondering exactly what he is undercover for. It must be pretty big for him to not want to blow his cover. Poor Martin but at least Xion has come to comfort him (Could he have used a Cell Phone). I'm looking forward to the surprise on John's face when he opens the door and Xion is sitting there. I guess John's number is up. I love it when a plan comes together.
Str8mayb AKA Evil Author & Master of Misdirection