Next week, 10,000 Dawns returns in its usual format with Chapter 16! Enjoy the last Bonus Story, and get excited for next time... Its should be a whopper! -Jim
Previous chapters are also available as an audio podcast from the Southgate Media Group.
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If you're new to 10kd, you can read the story from the start for free below:
Bonus #5: You're Not Wrong If You're Right (A Jame Morrel Story)
She turned the cigarette off, and set it down with a clink in the period ashtray. No smoke rose from it, obviously, that would be dangerous. Jame couldn’t help but think that Rachel’s insistence on smoking and using the remaining aesthetic trappings of smoking was ludicrous, but whatever, it wasn’t hurting anyone since they’d genetically engineered the carcinogens out of tobacco. Not that that made it at all appealing. Rachel leaned back at her desk, putting her shoes on it like she was an old gum shoe (indeed, there was actually gum on her shoe) and crossed her arms.
“I’ve got a client for you. Someone who needs a strong defense.”
“They innocent, Rachel?”
“Are any of us really innocent, Jame?”
“Uhh, yeah. Plenty. Pretty clearly actually.”
Rachel’s looked either grumpy or deflated, and took her feet down, the illusion of her pretenses fading.
“You’re no fun Jame.”
“I’m lots of fun if you give me a decanter of whiskey and a strobe light but I actually take my clients seriously. Their lives matter, you know.” Rachel waved her off.
“Fine fine… I guess that’s why I wanted you specifically anyways.” She wiped some stuff off a space on her desk, and pulled up a file on the surface. There was the face of a man, a scar (or series of scars) in the shape of an asterisk on his face.
“Okay, who’s that?”
“You cannot be serious that that is his real name.”
“That’s his real name.”
“Okay. Sure, Rachel.”
“He’s an agent from the criminal rim gang the Index, was being paid to do anti-revolutionary activities in Wabash.”
“The incorporated province of Indiana, yeah.”
“How many people even live in Wabash? Have I tripped over it on my way to LA before?”
Rachel silently shook her head. Lawyers. She pulled up picture’s of Obelisk’s arrest.
“He was found with documents related to something called ‘Project Atlantis’.” That stopped Jame. They knew that name. Obviously, due to the highly classified nature of the information Graelyn had told her about it, they couldn’t tell Rachel, but they couldn’t hold back a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, I see you’re skeptical.” They weren’t. They were intrigued. “He cracked under interrogation, said he was being paid by off world rebels who want to restore Centro Systems to retrieve something from this ‘Project Atlantis’.”
“You do realize the utter strangeness of the phrase “off world rebels who want to restore Centro Systems” right?” Rachel shrugged.
“New world order Jame. Rebels are Kings and Kings are renegades.”
“I doubt many on the WRC would seriously like being called a King.” She shrugged again.
“Whatevs. Anyways, the guy is pretty clearly guilty of something. The question is if he is being tried as an enemy combatant or a traitor. It’s very hard to tell with the case. He’s lived in Wabash for five years now, but was under the Index’s pay the whole time. The WRC is still trying to decide if they should recognize the Rim gangs as governing bodies so it’s a mess.” Jame scrolled through the guy’s file on the table, and looked up incredulous.
“This case is a mess.”
“Hence why I’m asking you.”
“Just once I’d like a case that isn’t complicated.” Rachel shrugged. Jame relaxed their shoulders. They knew they were taking the case. They may as well get used to it.
* * * *
Obelisk was built like a load lifter. This wasn’t even that much of an exaggeration: he literally had parts from load lifters in his arms, including nubs on his forearms that were meant for boxes to clip onto. He looked tough, but Jame had met a lot of tough folks, and she could tell the different types. Obelisk wasn’t the cutthroat kind of tough, he was the “work 14 hours a day because I have to” kind of tough. He was strong, both mechanically and muscular, he had scars, but not from fights. They were the kind you got from box cutters and warehouse mishaps. The guy could be a spy, sure, but he wasn’t the kind who would be trying to shoot his way out of a situation. Still, the WRC thought he was dangerous enough she’d gotten her very own body guard: a gum popping girl in a red beret and black vest over the usual olive-beige uniform with red highlights of the revolution. She had short blonde hair, and a constant aire of being way too peppy about the whole affair. Her nametag said she was called Shona. Still, Jame could tell she’d killed people.
A newbie would think Obelisk was the dangerous one, Shona a little angel. She knew instinctively only one of them had taken lives, and she was obnoxiously humming “Holla Back Girl” a classical pop song from hundreds of years ago.
Jame slid into the seat across from him. He was silent.
“So, you're a traitor to your planet huh? Selling off details to the Index, and doing dirty work to undermine the revolution.” He didn't meet their gaze. Gears rotated in his arms. “So what I want to know, first off, is are these allegations true? See, I'm your lawyer. Or rather I'm gunna be your lawyer, maybe.” He finally looked at her. His metal eyes zoomed in on her face, then his gaze widened and he looked at Shona.
“Extra muscle. So come on, give me the juice, bluce.”
“I don't actually know what it means or if its a word, but it rhymes with juice.” He nodded, sure. He rubbed his metal arms with their oposite metal hands.
“Look, uh, you probably shouldn't take my case.”
“Cause you're guilty?” He looked away.
“That's what I thought.” They set their arms down on the table. “But that doesn't mean I can't get you off.” He raised an eyebrow.
“Aren't you supposed to like...”
“Defend my client's? Of course. See, the thing is, I won't like for you either. You say you're guilty, boom, you're guilty. But I'll fight tooth and nail for a lower sentence. See, the thing here is that while you're guilty I'm not sure you're guilty in the way people want to think you're guilty. So like, you're guilty, but not guilty-guilty, you feel me?” He clearly did not feel them. Neither did Shona. “Okay uh, think about it this way. You admit you were selling off this stuff to someone off world right? The stuff you're selling, 'Project Atlantis' details, that's the funny bit. I read up on Project Atlantis. Some bro named John Aril was trying to start an underwater city years ago before he recently got kicked out a window. The project didn't work out, so the reason that people off world want it has to be something we don't know about. You tell me, I can probably get you a plea deal.” He shrugged.
“I don't know why they want it, honest. They just paid me.” Jame played with one of the piercings in their lip.
“Why Wabash to? Wabash isn't exactly the trade capitol of the world.”
“That's where the files were kept. It was supposed to be out of the way, but not too out of the way, I guess.”
“Well that's what their guy said?” Jame raised an eyebrow.
* * * *
Jame made Shona join them on the flight over to Wabash. Shona didn't really want to go, but there was no way in hell that Jame was gunna go to another continent to try to confront a mysterious person trying to steal documents from another planet without back up. Their only regret was that Shona used this opportunity to try to show them pictures on their phone during the entire trip, many of which involved animals wearing hats.
“That ones a Zebra! Its got a crown!”
“Yes, Shona.” Jesus. Eventually the vtol landed mercifully in Wabash. The city was a generic city in the American Midwest as far as Jame was concerned, but Shona seemed to find it fascinating. They stopped for lunch at some sort of local diner, and Jame found the address of the building Obelisk had broken into.
“So what's your plan, Jame?”
“We break into the building.” Shona lowered her sandwich from her mouth.
“What's your real plan.”
“You break into the building and I follow you.”
“Okay, this isn't what I signed up for.” Jame shrugged.
“Then stay here.”
* * * *
Shona didnt know how to pick a lock, and wasn't strong enough to break a lock, so Jame just called a locksmith and said they were some official from blah blah blah who needed some documents for some WRC blah blah blah and they popped the lock for them. Easy. The room was filled with filing cabinets, hard copy documents that couldn't be hacked or copied easily.
“So what's the plan now that we're inside?” Jame went over to a file cabinet, flipped through it, grunted as they looked at something, pulled the file out, and then looked around for a chair, and sat down. They pointed to another chair, nearby but out of cat picture range.
“We wait for someone to come arrest us.”
* * * *
Miles away, he got the call.
“Sir, uh, we've had another break in at the Wabash fascility.” He cursed.
“Well take care of it then.”
“Sir, one of them is a WRC soldier.” He cursed louder.
“I'll be right there.”
* * * *
Jame had fallen asleep when Shona nudged them awake.
“Someone's coming.” The door opened to reveal a group of soldiers, led by World Revolutionary Council Member Ian MacLeod, Alice MacLeod's uncle. He crossed his arms.
“I'll give you ten seconds to explain why you've broken into a top secret records fascility.” Jame stretched their arms up, and scrached themselves.
“I'll give you ten seconds to tell me why you have Centro secrets in here.” He sighed.
“Because the WRC is in charge of this planet now, not them now if you-”
“And why you're selling those secrets offworld.” There was a silence. They looked back and forth between each other.
“Excuse me? Do you know the implications of what you just said?”
“Do you know the implications of selling details on ex-living Centro Director John Aril's plans to Ariadne Moore on Europa are?” Shona looked shocked. Ian looked surprised.
“What?” He said, probably saying too much.
“You're making that up!”
“Then tell me I'm wrong.”
“You're... Wrong.” He obviously lied. Jame smiled.
“It was pretty obvious. I mean, I wasn't sure exactly why till I looked at the file, but I knew it had to be true. You were awful sure Graelyn was guilty. Your own niece wanted her off the hook at her trial, and there you were all pompous and braggarty, ready to throw her to the dogs. And how did Ariadne Moore get out of New York during the siege? How did she obviously influence decisions going on here? I mean, I'm not a rube I've played this game for a long time Ian. But what's in this folder? Even more surprising....” They flipped through it, smiling. He scowled.
“What do you want?”
“My client Obelisk Alpha is taking your fall. Get him off the hook.” He was angry, good.
“That's the main bit, but now I need to know... Why shouldn't I still turn you in? I mean, I have a ton of evidence here.” He looked at his armed guards, “And if you kill me, it goes public no matter what. So Ian, you scoundrel, me and Shona here are sitting here patiently, and we want to know why you should, of all people, get off here.” A bead of sweat rolled down his face, he looked uncertain.
“I've-- I haven't given her everything, I still have information she needs to do anything.”
“And I'll turn it over to the WRC.” Shona smiled, and looked over at Jame, who nodded.
“Good. I expect you will. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to see if there is anything interesting in Wabash.”
“There isn't.” He spat.
“I'll let Shona be the judge of that. Come on.” As they left, Ian heard Shona get excited when she saw a passing dog. He rubbed his temples. He needed an out here.
* * * *
Alice sat watching Jim and Annie tinker with her armor. She'd taken out a terror ring yesterday, and it had gotten a bit dinged up. Nothing they couldn't fix. Then there was a knock on the door. She rose to get it, tapping the activator. On the other side was her Uncle.
“Uncle Ian! What a pleasant surprise! Have you met Annie and Jim?” The pair looked up from their work briefly to wave in unison, and then returned to it. He awkwardly waved back.
“Alice, I uh, I brought you something, for your eyes only.” He pulled a manilla envelope out of a bag, and set it down in front of her.
“What's this Uncle Ian?”
“This, this is the key to our future, which I just dug out of a Centro archieve.” He flipped it open. Her eyes went wide.
“This... These are the plans to the machine that brought Graelyn here from her world to ours.”
“Yes. Only it never worked in our reality, for some reason.” Annie and Jim were clearly listening while trying not to listen.
“If we could get this working....” Alice looked over at them. “Well then, I think we might have a new project in our spare time.”
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.