Klingseis Chapter Two
Center For The Executive Counsel
0894 Local Time
I’m startled at the darkness of the Counsel chambers. Only a single light shining from above allows a chair in the center of the room to be easily visible. I can hear rumblings from a small crowd gathered in the seating area, all here to see a show where I’m the main attraction. When my eyes adjust, I’m slightly comforted to see a lack of excitement staring back at me from those assembled. I wonder if we all lost sleep worrying about the future of my career.
The room is a large circle, one half with a raised floor and reserved for the Counsel themselves, the other half for people important enough to witness my testimony. Gray walls blend in with gray chairs and gray carpets. Breaking the monotony of the lifeless meeting hall is the obviously Hycain technology resting in the center of the room. The equipment is brilliantly colored, neon-yellow with hints of bright green. Doctor Parma stands beside his equipment, excited to begin.
“Good morning, Doctor.” I try to sound polite as I close the distance between the two of us, hoping that my courtesy might encourage the doctor to take extra care with my mind. He gives me a tight smile and a curt nod, but I notice the slight accumulation of sweat near his brow. He has the look of a man with something to prove and seems to be as nervous as I am.
He must be in deep shit after the incident with the Marine.
Not quite ready to sit in that thing, I slowly turn my head to look behind me at those already assembled. Some look like journalists, others like government officials, but I’m surprised to see no high ranking military brass. I let out a sigh of relief at the thought that maybe my superiors will only be reading about this in a report. As soon as that thought gains traction, the door immediately behind me opens and Commander Prendable enters.
I hear more sliding of doors, each jarring me in a way I haven’t felt since my first day in a cockpit. I turn back and notice the Executive Counsel entering through their private front entrance. The aged leadership, without haste and with a graceful stroll, ooze into their chairs in a way that resembles cooking oil being poured into a pot. The increasing clamor of the doors behind me increases my suspicion that Briggs might have joined the audience. I want to confirm that he’s here, but that would mean turning my back on the Executive Counsel, an obvious sign of disrespect.
If XO Briggs is with the Commander, I’m going to have to resign my commission. I couldn’t ever look at him again.
Only one thing to do now.
Dear God or gods or Prophets, I’ve never prayed to you before and I’m pretty sure you don’t exist. But, if anyone can hear me and help me out, just let me know which one of you saved me from embarrassment, and I’ll convert. I’ll convert everyone. We’ll explore the galaxy engaging in all kinds of religious shit. Just don’t let Jason Briggs be here.
The cold voice of the woman in the center snaps me back into the moment. Secretary Sarkozy, the most powerful person in the human government is staring at me, eager to unearth whatever little secrets are hiding in my head. The people surrounding her seem harmless. A few gray, a few balding, but mostly they resemble my grandparents.
“Reporting as requested, Secretary,” I say as I bow.
“Has Doctor Parma filled you in on the procedure and performed the needed tests?”
A screen in the background begins lowering while she speaks. These people don’t waste any time.
“Yes, ma’am. The doctor and I worked together yesterday.”
Oh hell, why did I agree to do this?
“Then let’s get started.”
Hear my cries, three prophets.
I pray for your mercy and guidance.
Deliver me through this day.
A little prayer my mom used to repeat on occasion runs through my head. As the doctor guides me into the chair, I can’t help but wish she were sitting beside me. She wasn’t the warmest woman, never one to offer consolation when a boy broke my heart or I was embarrassed at school. I didn’t receive the bedtime stories most children looked forward to every night. In fact, she spent most nights away from home, searching for meaning that she never found. But I’d still really like it if she were here today.
The doctor places the electrodes on my forehead. My anxiety forces a tight grip on the armrests. I feel like a fool for voluntarily placing myself into an interrogation chair. The only difference between this and torture is this is sanctioned by the government. As Dr. Parma begins to activate the device and a river of sweat flows down my arm, I run through my exit strategy.
As soon as this is over, stand up. Don’t turn around. Walk straight out through the private Counsel chamber doors. It’s the best way to avoid risking embarrassment by making eye contact with the Commander or Briggs. Sure, there will be some outrage for violating the sanctimony of the Counsel’s space, but what can they do? Discharge me? That will probably already be apparent when they see………
My worries about the future fade away as a warm numbness begins to flow through my body. I can’t help but close my eyes and sink into the feeling as the sound of my alarm clock begins to reverberate throughout the room.