Bruce felt that a huge weight had been lifted from his chest. He rested for one quarter thinking a lot of his incredible past life, and about future possible developments, before he checked his K-link calls. Her message was also there; she said only, “Thank you, Mr. Scott.” He played it many times to admire her face, and to hear her lovely voice . . .

     He later met with the gang in Ab’s quarters, and they spent most of the night discussing a list of “expenses” and “wishes”. There were hot and never-ending arguments on one topic only: the total figure. It kept increasing, then it was commented; next, the total was increased again, and so on. They all skipped the night meeting inside the Hall of the Fountains because nobody cared about it.
     Bruce went to bed very late, still not quite clear about the total figure.
     Next day Bruce was surprised to see the Honorable Vort Enai Natral when the Process started. He said, “Mr. Natral, I am very pleased to meet with you again, Sir.”
     “Mr. Scott, please believe me: the pleasure is entirely mine. I have to admit that I learned a lot from you, Sir, and I want to thank you for this.”
     Bruce felt a little bit touched. He protested, “Aah, you are flattering me, Mr. Natral.”
     “No, Mister Scott, I am just honest. Please excuse any strong arguments I used during this Process, and please understand that they were dictated by the needs of the Process, only, not by personal beliefs.”
     “You do not need to excuse yourself, Sir; I would have done exactly the same in your place,” said Bruce trying to repay Mr. Natral’s consideration.
     “I doubt that very much, Sir. If you do not mind, I would like to address a few personal words to you.”
     “Please, feel free to say anything you wish, Mr. Natral,” invited Bruce driven by slight curiosity.
     “Sir, I would like you to know that I am well aware of the importance of a special person—as you are—for our Equal Coalition Worlds. Many races and cultures have died, and they will die, when they exhaust their productive genetic resources; therefore, your simple addition of strange new biological genes to our ECW gene bank is beyond any value. As for the moral influence your person could render into our History, and in our Civilization, my belief is, with this Process you have just started towards a glorious future. Thank you, Sir!”
     Bruce looked in wonder at the man for a while, and saw that he was sincere. Those were more than just a few nice words for him. He replied slightly troubled, “I am not certain I deserve such superlative appreciations, Mr. Natral, but thank you very much for your kind words, Sir.”
     “Now, Mr. Scott, do you have a total figure for our Penalties?”
     “Yes, Sir, I do. However, before I present it to you, I have a list of names, including mine, which currently have contracts with Iradina Inter-Systems Consortium. All these contracts will be terminated at once, but the company shall honor all payments, and all other services—particularly the medical ones—until the final contractual date. Do you agree, Mr. Natral?”
     “Yes, Sir, I do. Anything else?”
     “I would like you, Mr. Natral, to sign a letter in your name, and in the name of your business, in which you assume responsibility that no persecution form the party involved, and known to you under the name of Beneficiary-Group, would come to any person involved on our party. You will address your letter to the ECW Juridical Commission Iradina 41, and we shall add to it a list with the names of the persons who fall under its protection. Do you agree, Mr. Natral?”
     “Totally, Sir. Anything else?”
     “The requested total figure for damages pertaining to the Penalties of this Process is 25 million ECC, and it must be paid into my Credit Account right now. It will be my obligation to ensure that each person involved in this Process, on our party, gets a fair share from this sum. Do you agree, Sir?”
     “No, Mr. Scott, my Beneficiary-Group does not agree.” Mr. Natral paused for a while, and he took a long look at Bruce—whose face was changing slowly towards a severe expression. After his few precious moments of revenge, Mr. Natral added, “My Beneficiary-Group wishes to thank you for your consideration towards their anonymity. Therefore, as a sign of appreciation for all your efforts, the Beneficiary-Group wants to multiply your total figure by one thousand. They also mention that the difference between your total figure and the figure they propose is directed entirely to your person, to use it as it pleases you. Do you agree, Sir?”
     Bruce remained speechless for some time due to the enormity of the figure: 25 BILLION EQUAL COALITION CREDITS! He thought that the people behind the Beneficiary-Group were, without doubt, extraordinary powerful—therefore, also very dangerous—and they were trying to bribe him. He was thinking he should refuse . . . but then . . .

     “Do you agree, Sir?” asked Mr. Natral again.
     “Sir, I have the power now to send the entire Beneficiary-Group to the prison Planet Hoshal, and I also have the right to know the true identities of the persons hiding behind the name of Beneficiary-Group. However, Mr. Natral, you know I am not going to do any of that. From the very beginning of this Process I have been generous and considerate, therefore I shall end it exactly the same.
     Please be aware, Sir, that my generosity ends with this Process. I do not want to meet with the people belonging to the Beneficiary-Group in any other Process, or conflicting situation. My answer to your question is: yes, Sir, I agree. Thank you.”
     Once he finished the words, Bruce watched as in a dream how his personal Credit Account increasing with more than 25 billion ECC, since contractual payments had also been included.
     “Mr. Scott, my Beneficiary-Group wants me to convey a direct message to you. They hope that you will bear no hurt feelings towards them, and they will be able to benefit of your expert services into the future—should the need arise for that. The little token of appreciation they have offered to you today is nothing compared to what they are prepared to offer—again, should the need arise. Please, remember this common name: the Beneficiary-Group. And now, Mr. Scott, do you have any other requests pertaining to the Penalties of this Process?”
     “No, Sir. In the name of the winning party I, Virgil Bruce Scott, declare that all the Penalties of this Process have been fully satisfied, therefore no further persecution of the Beneficiary-Group is possible into the future.”
     “Thank you very much, Mr. Scott.”
     Bruce multiplied by one thousand each payment on his list, with a single exception: R’Ezan had promised five million ECC to his underground contacts, and he intended to pay exactly that sum. However, he was considering a bonus, therefore he decided to discuss that issue with R’Ezan because his connections did an excellent job—almost of a capital importance—and their services could be needed again into the future.
     He had five billion extra and he intended to keep the money for the time being. There was, however, plenty for everybody. Each of his friends, including Miss. Kinlen and himself, was entitled to 2.5 billion. The group of Technicians who worked on information was going to receive 50 million each. In addition, he had money to pay for the Iradina Inter-Systems Trust contractual obligations to each person on his list, and that time Miss Kinlen’s friend was also included.
     Bruce made the money transfers, then he went for his medical therapy session because he had neglected it during the last days. Besides, he was waiting for the situation changes to take effect. By the time he finished his treatment, he was confident that everybody had received his or her Contract Termination with Iradina Inter-Systems Consortium, and also the whopping credit increase notice.
     His K-link was full of messages. Miss Kinlen also wanted to talk to him. He contacted her, though he had to wait for a little while until she answered.
     “Mr. Scott, thank you for answering to my message. I would like to talk to you.”
     “Me too, Miss. Kinlen, only we have to leave it for tomorrow. Tonight, if you remember, we have a meeting inside the Hall of the Fountains.”
     “Yes, Mr. Scott, I remember my promise, and I shall be there tonight. There are, however, other things I would like to discuss with you.”
     She appeared to be scared. Her eyes were dark-brown, almost black, and her hair was also black in color. Bruce became alert, and he asked quickly, with concern, “Is anything wrong, Miss Kinlen? Are you all right?”
     “Oh, yes, Mr. Scott, I am fine, thank you. Please do not mind my appearance. It is just that . . . I haven’t been totally honest with you, and I want to apologize.”
     Bruce felt great relief. He replied, “Oh, you scared me, Miss Kinlen! Look, tonight we meet inside the Hall of the Fountains: we have little fun, and we forget about everything. Tomorrow, we shall meet just you and me. We are going to discuss as much as we want, and we shall solve any possible problems you may have. How does this sound to you?”
     “I owe you so much, Mr. Scott—”
     “Pardon me for interrupting you, Miss Kinlen, but you are making a big mistake. You owe noting to me. On the contrary, all that my friends and I have now we owe it to you. It was a team effort, Miss Kinlen, and you were the most important member of this team.”
     “I was not referring at money, Mr. Scott. I . . . I hoped you would lose the Process. I wished that you were convicted, so that I could go to the prison Planet Hoshal with you,” confessed Miss Kinlen timidly.
     Her words stunned Bruce. He watched her for some time, while all her bodily colors were changing towards shades of red. He asked perplexed, “Why would you want to go to the prison Planet, Miss Kinlen?”
     She appeared to be troubled by his question; she answered with desperation in her voice, “I have to go there, Mr. Scott, and you were my best hope of getting there!”
     “Miss Kinlen, that awful place is nothing good for a Lady like you—” started Bruce in a pleading tone of voice.
     She interrupted him nervously, “I have to go there, Mr. Scott! My father is on that horrible Planet, and I must help him out!” She ended her words with terrified eyes, while all her colors started turning rapidly towards dark-violet shades. It was obvious she was scared she had revealed too much of her secrets.
     “Miss Kinlen, do you trust me?” asked Bruce gently, trying to calm her down.
     She took a long look at him, then replied, “Yes, I trust you, Mr. Scott. I was uncertain about you, at first, but I see you are a honest person, and a very capable one as well.”
     “Please, listen to this, Miss Kinlen: I promise I shall help you rescue your father.”
     “I cannot ask you to do that, Mr. Scott, because it is my responsibility—”
     Bruce interrupted her saying, “Miss Kinlen, due to the recent past events my life has changed in a dramatic way. I do not have to work and build my career anymore, but I also do not have anything else to do. If you allow me to help you, you help me by giving a purpose to my life, a task to accomplish—”
     “I cannot allow that, Mr. Scott. It is too dangerous—”
     “I told you once, Miss Kinlen, that any problem has more than one way of solving it. Please, trust me, and we shall find together the easiest and the safest manner to liberate your father. I promise you this, and I hope you trust, now, that I always keep my promises.”
     She paused for a long while watching him with gratitude and innocent hope in her sky-blue eyes. She sighed, then said, “Thank you so much for your kind words, Mr. Scott. You have no idea how much they mean to me . . . We shall meet in the Hall of the Fountains tonight.”
     “Thank you, Miss Kinlen.”



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