Bruce was rather shocked the following day to see a strange new man replacing the Honorable Vort Enai Natral. The new person was a lot younger, of only 92, and he had a face like a hawk, with a large conic nose a big straight-line mouth, and with piercing, round, yellow eyes.
     His name was G’Ven Sei Uluru, an Administrative Level 21. The man had a grayish skin color, “V” shaped eyebrows, and a patch of short, black, stiff hair on top of his big head. Mr. Uluru was mean and rude, and he was permanently pushing Bruce to lose self-control.

Mr. Uluru started by presenting his registration codes. Bruce checked the data, then said, “If you do not mind, Mr. Uluru, I would like to express my concern, because I was expecting to see the Honorable Vort Enai Natral in your place.”
     “The Honorable has been credited as the Voice of the Beneficiary-Group through his Company, not as a Legal Person. I am an Assistant of the Honorable,” explained Mr. Uluru curtly.
     “Shall I expect that all 1,576 Assistants of the Honorable Vort Enai Natral, scattered throughout the ECW, are going to take his place?”
     “Actually, if we have to reach that point, you should expect 24,734 Assistants, Associates, and Cooperative Associates to take his place.”
     “I am very much impressed, Sir. I hope the Honorable is well.”
     “The Honorable is very well. He is taking care of important business from Karan, therefore I shall take over. Are you ready, Mr. Scott?”
     “Yes, Sir, I am ready at your convenience.”
     “Mr. Scott, what is your relation with the Accused, Laleah H’Ven Kinlen?”
     That question was very bad, because Bruce wanted to avoid any reference to Miss Kinlen—and they were just started! He replied, “Sir, I would like to make an appeal at your courtesy, so that the name and all other data pertaining to my Protégée would be omitted from discussions. I am the Person in Custody, therefore any references—”
     Mr. Uluru interrupted him curtly, “Thank you, Mr. Scott. For how long do you know the person named Laleah H’Ven Kinlen?”
     The man had broken the protocols by asking a question without waiting for the answer to end. Bruce thought they were desperate, because the Commission was going to penalize them severely for that. He replied, “Sir, I ask you again to cease all direct references to my Protégée—”
     “Do you refuse AGAIN to answer, Mr. Scott?”
     Bruce felt that he was losing his temper. He answered rather hotly, “No, Sir! I DID NOT, AND I DO NOT! I shall answer to all your questions, but I warn you: if you do not refrain from referring directly to my Protégée, I shall be forced to do the same, in my turn, without any consideration for the anonymity of your Beneficiary-Group. To answer to your question, I know MY PROTÉGÉE for eight conventional days!”
     Mr. G’Ven Sei Uluru allowed himself to do what he was doing only seldom: he smiled! The lousy Technician was losing temper fast. He replied with good disposition, “My Beneficiary-Group is well aware of my strategy in this Process, and they do not fear ANY investigations. I am allowed to conduct these discussions the way I see them proper, in order to achieve our goals.
     However, if this is too inconvenient to you, Mr. Scott, you have, at any moment, the freedom to declare a Bargained Defeat. We could be very generous with you, Mr. Scott . . . very generous! Do you intend to plead for a Bargained Defeat now, Mr. Scott?”

     Bruce suddenly understood the reasons behind that relentless pressure. Although he was the Person in Custody, and the only one to suffer all the penalties, he could actually “sell” his Protégée for half of his punishment, by pleading for a Bargained Defeat. That was a common practice inside the ECW, and huge fortunes were traded to detour, legally, the normal course of justice.
     He answered in a simulated, soft attitude, “Thank you very much for your explanations, Mr. Uluru. I come to understand your strategy, and the position of your Beneficiary-Group and . . . I have to confess, Sir: I am impressed!
     Although, you do understand, Sir, that . . . I do need more data . . . something like more QUANTITATIVE data . . . in order to consider taking any new decision . . . Could you, please, estimate, Mr. Uluru?”
     His K-link to the Communications Center was filed with “TRAITOR!”, “COWARD!”, “SCUM!”, “SEWAGE!”, plus many other similar words. Bruce felt a lot of sorrow thinking of Miss Kinlen’s feelings, only he had to perform that deceiving maneuver in order to divert the topic of discussions. He struggled to compose a genuinely interested facial mimic.
     Mr. Uluru leaned forward and watched Bruce with sparkles of satisfaction in his eyes. He appeared to be a hawk waiting to take the first bite into his defenseless pray. He said in a persuasive tone of voice, “You do not need to worry about such minor details, as is the QUANTITY . . . of the data, Mr. Scott. You can multiply by one thousand ANY figure you can think of . . . with ANY guarantee you think is proper . . . Do we have a deal, Mr. Scott?”
     The news was, again, very bad for Bruce: the Beneficiary-Group was both desperate and very powerful! He looked at his K-link interface: it was filled with, “Please, do not do it, Bruce,” and alike. The Juridical Commission K-link interface also was blinking a question in green, “Do we have a Bargained Defeat?” plus a warning in big, yellow letters, “DO NOT CONTINUE WITH ANY FURTHER BARGAINED DISCUSSIONS AND ALLUSIONS IN DIRECT PUBLIC BROADCAST!”
     Bruce looked at Mr. Uluru; he smiled, then replied, “Mr. Uluru, I strongly believe that we will reach a deal by the end of this day. I need only a little bit of time to clarify a few minor aspects first, if you do you mind.”
     “By all means, Mr. Scott; take all the time you need! I am at your disposition, Sir, for the next eight quarters—this is, as long as I can last without eating and sleeping. What can I do to help, Mr. Scott?”
     Mr. Uluru was all honey, though he still had a repulsive grin on his face. Bruce answered “NO” to Commission’s question, then he sent, “Stop it and go back to work,” to Ab. He asked, “You referred to my Protégée using the word ‘accused’. Of what is my Protégée accused, Mr. Uluru?” The lawyer was frozen with his last grin on his face—which he called “a smile”—and Bruce thought, “That is a very good shock which will train him well for the future.
     “What did you say, Mr. Scott?” asked Mr. Uluru perplexed.
     “Of what is my Protégée accused, Mr. Uluru?”
     “She is accused of Death-Causing Crime, Mr. Scott. I am certain you know this.”
     “Of whose death, Mr. Uluru?” inquired Bruce.
     “The death of Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber, Mr. Scott,” replied the lawyer puzzled.
     “I see that you have submitted to us the Death Report endorsed by the Medical Team 227 of the Work Base Iradina 41. This is an important document, Mr. Uluru; however, you did not attach to it the Autopsy Report. Could you, please, send it to me now?”
     That one was another severe shock, though Mr. Uluru held fairly well; he explained, “In case you do not know, Mr. Scott, the Autopsy Report is not required once we do have the Death Report endorsed by the Medical Team 227 of the Work Base Iradina 41. Is this answer sufficient?”
     “Yes, Sir, thank you very much, but in case you do not know, Sir, the Accused party has the right to ask for an Autopsy Report. We do ask for it now: where is the Autopsy Report, Mr. Uluru?”
     Mr. Uluru turned very pale and answered a lot less confident than usual, “We do not have it yet, Sir, but as soon as we shall get one, it will be submitted to you. Is my answer sufficient?”
     Bruce replied in a firm voice, “No, Sir, it is not sufficient! In order to submit the Autopsy Report you need the body of the victim. Where is the body, Mr. Uluru?”

     That question was the end of Mr. Uluru’s day. From that moment on, the bold Mr. Uluru became very anxious to escape the debates. The show, however, was far from being over for Bruce.
     Mr. Uluru went working frantically on his K-link for some time. Finally, he stopped and replied, “We are not certain where the body of the victim is at this moment, Sir. We ask for the closure of today’s debates in order to answer your question appropriately. Do you agree, Sir?”
     “No, Sir, I do not agree. I shall withdraw my question to you, so that you have no reasons to interrupt this Process, and I shall answer the question myself.
     If you do not know where the body of the victim is—and I am convinced of your sincerity—I do. Do not worry, Mr. Uluru, I am not going to ask for an official Autopsy Report, also because I do not want any interruption of this Process now. I am satisfied with the Death Report you have already submitted.
     For your knowledge only, Mr. Uluru, the body of the deceased Jurgin Eben Haber is now on an Aunjan spaceship named ‘Red Rojarat’, registration code M7674K2-EK143T65, commandeered by Captain Huxe Hesh Assenex. That ship is a pirate one, since it was declared lost by the Aun Government, about two conventional years ago. That ship is also known as ‘The Stable’, and the Captain calls himself ‘The Chopper’.”
     Bruce had no idea what R’Ezan had promised to pay for that data to his underground connections, and he felt a beginning of a maddening panic just by thinking about it. With some efforts, he drew his mind away from those disturbing thoughts and continued, “Now, Mr. Uluru, do you know who was the deceased, Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber?”
     Mr. Uluru replied with some reminiscence of his lost boldness, “Yes, Sir, I do! I have his complete Personal File in front of me, and I can send it to you if you wish. As for your theory, that his body is on a pirate ship, I do not believe you, Sir. Are you satisfied?”
     “Very much so, Sir; very much so. Do you know, by any chance, that the deceased Jurgin Eben Haber, bearing a ECW Technician Level 15 qualification, was also an undercover agent?”
     Mr. Uluru replied nervously, “No, Sir, I have no knowledge that the deceased Jurgin Eben Haber was an undercover agent. We ask, again, for the end of today’s debates in order to gather more data. Do you agree, Sir?”
     “No, Sir, I do not agree to end the debates now. Do you know, Mr. Uluru, that Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber as an undercover agent had the mission to kill my Protégée?”
     Mr. Uluru replied with irritation, “You are creating fables, Sir! No, I have no knowledge of those fabrications of yours! Is my answer sufficient to you?”
     “Your answer does satisfy me, Mr. Uluru, and I think I am about ready now to end our discussion, and this Process.
     Somehow, Mr. Uluru, your Beneficiary-Group did not tell you the entire story. Probably, they did not want you to know the entire story or—another possibility—they did not know the entire story themselves. Luckily, I am here to help.
     I am certain you have no idea, Mr. Uluru, that the deceased Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber bearing a Technician Level 15 qualification was also a secret agent and, in the same time, a double secret agent of the Nalerr Worlds. It happened that the real Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber died six conventional years ago in a very strange work accident, in a mine on Zurma S22—a Satellite in the Zurma System. After he died, Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber was ‘saved’ thirty conventional days later, without any injury, except at that time he was a physiognomy-altered Nalerr citizen.
     Soon after his ‘rescue’ he received a Bravery Medal class 18 for ‘saving’ 3 other miners who, incidentally, died of injuries before they had the chance to testify about what happened in reality. Next, the same nasty Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber quickly divorced his Lady—she still claims today that he came home totally changed, psychically, after the accident. Then, Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber started on a successful career as an undercover agent, helped by the Bravery Medal he had just received.
     You, Mr. Uluru, and your Beneficiary-Group are wondering, most likely, about our sources of information. Our group, Sir, is formed by Technicians, and we are a vital link for any movement of data or physical objects throughout ECW. Moreover, we do have means to access information beyond your wildest imagination, Mr. Uluru.
     To come back to our story, at the time of the incident in the Hall of the Fountains, somebody had started an Inductive Electron-Resonator, a hand-made device tuned to a random pattern sequence. Your Beneficiary-Group assumed that, due to that device, all the records performed that night inside the Hall of the Fountains were destroyed, therefore there are no evidences left about what Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber actually did. However, we do have that particular Electron-Resonator instrument, plus the random pattern sequence mentioned, and we can submit them for further technical analysis.
     Based on a data flow patterns reconstructed record, we were able to determine that Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber, plus five other persons present in the Hall of the Fountains at the time of the incident, were using military technology. In the particular case of Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber, he used a weapon of military construction named, ‘Interference Based Distance Controlled Energy Expander’ model ILDV-EEN93 class G26, camouflaged in a protective helmet. That type of weapon allows for a small burst of energy to be discharged exactly at the tuned distance. Similar, though a lot larger devices are currently used in mines.
     Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber’s weapon was very small; therefore, it would have left an infinitesimal energy signature inside the body of the victim, quite difficult to identify. Furthermore, should the accident be related to some unexplained conditions, as they can be easily found inside the Hall of the Fountains, nobody would have asked too many questions.
      Unfortunately, Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber had a hard time in tuning his device on the target because, as previously mentioned, there was an Electron-Resonator in use inside the Hall, which prevented all instruments to function properly on an 89 conventional meters radius. In the moment Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber decided that his target was in the right position, between the Blue and the Violet Fountains, he closed the contact of his weapon, only the energy discharge appeared right inside his own head: the blood vessels burst open, and the man died instantly.
     In support of our affirmations we have visual records, energy records, plus spectral analysis records of the atmosphere in the Hall that night, all done with instrumentation superior to the ones currently in use in most laboratories. Further, it is of a particular interest that the timed spectral analysis shows the presence in the air, at a certain moment, of the oxygen 14 isotope found commonly only in Nalerrian Worlds.
     We drew the conclusion that the energy discharged inside Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber’s cranium has dislocated the isotope from his soft tissues, and has released it into the atmosphere. The energy patterns records in our possession helped us to identify the exact type and the model of the weapon used, and the visual, full circle records show Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber and his precise movements at the time of incident.
     After a summary investigation performed with field instrumentation, Medical Team 227 assumed that Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber’s death had been caused by the elevated temperature inside the Hall, and by VERY STRONG EMOTIONS. However, detailed laboratory examinations would have revealed the true cause of his death, therefore the body of the deceased was quickly loaded on a private courier ship. Do not worry, Mr. Uluru, I shall not disclose the owner of the courier ship and its destination, at this time.
     Between the Push-Pull Relay Stations NLW345-72K and NLW345-73K, the currier ship lost its vector and it was deviated from its course. On each of the mentioned Relay Stations, work accident reports—strangely synchronized in time—could be further investigated for possible acts of sabotage.
     There is an old proverb saying, ‘in space nobody knows who is watching whom’, Mr. Uluru. We managed to obtain a record of ships’ movements in the space sector LCN27-H907D-K41T and, if the need arises, we could compare our space scans with the existing official scans of the mentioned sector. That data, plus other information coming from sources I prefer not to disclose at this time, show that the pirate ship, The Stable, attacked the courier ship. The body of the presumed Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber was confiscated, and then the courier ship was directed to a location of no importance.
     The Stable is equipped with ‘Enhanced Independent Flux Galaxy Drive’ engines, therefore it started on a vector towards the Nalerr Worlds. At this moment, the ship with Mr. Jurgin Eben Haber’s body is inside Nalerrian space, therefore out of the ECW control.
     For short, somebody wanted to hide the true cause of Mr. Jurgin Haber’s death, but in the same time somebody else wanted to hide his true identity.”
     Bruce paused; it was the right time to end the Process. It wasn’t a matter of “if” anymore; what mattered most was “how”. He watched his opponent for a few moments. Mr. Uluru had lost his hawk appearance: he looked more like an owl.
     He continued, “Up to this point, Mr. Uluru, I haven’t disclosed the identity of the persons, or of the corporations, who had any particular interests in this game of plots within plots. I am generous; therefore, I agree to end the Process right here, now, only if you declare Admission of Guilt. However, if you and your Beneficiary-Group have any intention to move the process PAST–THIS–POINT . . . I shall be forced to call for an ECW Investigation Commission, to support officially our affirmations, based on the evidences we can provide.
     On the other hand, I would like to inform your Beneficiary-Group that I took all the necessary measures to protect the group of persons I represent, now and in the future. I warned you from the very beginning of this Process to be very careful, considerate, and tactful—and you never listened. I hope you do have the wisdom to end it now, before it is too late.”
     Bruce paused again for a few moments, then he asked in a firm voice while watching the lawyer with penetrating eyes, “Do you declare Admission of Guilt, Mr. Uluru?”
     The lawyer rushed to agree in a lost voice, “Yes, Sir, we do.”
     In that moment the broadcasted transmission was severed, then Juridical Commission informed Bruce that his party had won the Process. The next meeting session was scheduled for the next day, in a private session, to Bargain for Penalties.



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