Soon enough, in terms of the Inspector’s sense of time, that distant shuttle port he had seen his visitor descend to in South America began to glow with the brilliance of a rocket launch. Pinkerton watched as the bright glow grew larger and larger, and he smiled for the first time in ages. He thought about the visitor he had been observed by so long ago, yet not so long ago.
He hadn’t been paying attention to his little incarceration timer for quite some time, he had begun tracking time by the number of freeze dried meals he had rehydrated with his recycled urine. That thought never seemed to comfort him, he didn’t mind the memory of eating his own leg, but he found no solace in the urine recycler being his primary water source. With the supplemental water sources being the dehumidifier and the thingamabob that sucked all the moisture out of his crap. No matter how hard he tried to stop thinking about it, he felt like all of his rehydrated foods, and certainly all of the water, tasted like ass.
“Meh. Sometimes you’re the pigeon, some days you’re the statue.” He mumbled aloud.
As he chuckled at the joke he made of his recycled bodily waste, he watched the glowing little rocket growing larger. Pinkerton wondered whether he would be removed from the fish bowl anytime soon, or the visitor would just be coming up to make sure he was still there again. Out of pure curiosity, he looked to the timer and deduced that his last visitor had come to look at him like a zoogoer watches the polar bears swimming about three years before.
“What took you so long?” screamed the Inspector.
He continued screaming that question over and over for hours. The only reasons he stopped were twofold, he realized he was on the precipice of madness again and he couldn’t recognize the flag painted on the side of the approaching shuttle. It was not a flag he had seen on Earth prior to his being rocketed into exile. It was an interesting flag, it had a blue background with an outline in black of a raven apparently eating the eyes out of a lion. He was certain that it had some new connotation that he wouldn’t understand since he’d been in the heavens for so long.
The shuttle began making its approach, and Pinkerton saw another rocket being launched from Australia. ‘They never shoot two rockets up in one day’, he thought to himself. As the shuttle got closer to docking on his one-man space station, the Inspector could clearly read H.M.S. LIONSBANE on its port side.
The shuttle docked successfully, and Pinkerton got as excited as a child on Christmas morning. He was absolutely giddy as a team of people wearing body armor and carrying a bevy of medical monitoring equipment piled into the airlock chamber. The airlock hissed and groaned for a couple of minutes, and suddenly he was face to face with five of the best-trained doctors and nurses from Earth.
He was impressed by them and their equipment, and speechless to have human contact. The team of doctors and nurses were slack-jawed looking beyond Pinkerton. The Inspector turned around and saw a shuttle launching missiles.
“So, I take it there’s no peace on Earth or safety in space at this point.” He said.
One of the doctors replied, “We have had a cease-fire between our kingdom and the Autarchy of Catamount for over fifty years to this point.”
“I guess that’s gone to pot. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t the catamount a type of lion? Is that the reason for your flag and ship name? And what is your kingdom? And why are you here?”
“Yes, yes, you’re quite right. We are the Kingdom of Atlantia, formerly the Trans-Atlantic Confederation of States. We had come together as a union of smaller nations to fight against Catamount and were nearly crushed, Queen Samira and King Arturo of the Hispaño-Deutsch states of South America married and put forth an offer to the Confederation to unite under their rule. It was a unanimous vote, all of the free nations knew they had to unite under one strong central government if they hoped to stave the tide of autocracy.”
“Are those missiles meant for me, or you?”
The team started attaching monitoring equipment to Pinkerton. They had to determine what, if any, damage had been done to the Inspector by his having spent decades in spaces. After taking some samples and monitoring his vital signs for fifteen minutes, the whole time watching the missiles get closer, the whole group was a little surprised to hear the airlock disengage without them aboard the shuttle.
H.M.S. LIONSBANE departed the cell and looked like it was headed toward the moon. The missiles were gaining on the shuttle as it jetted toward the moon with every ounce of thrust it could put out. Pinkerton watched patiently hoping the pilots had something up their sleeves, he didn’t want to be stuck in his box for another fifty years or more. The team of medics seemed nervous and tense. Apparently, they didn’t want to spend any more time with Pinkerton than was necessary.
Pinkerton looked at the medics and chuckled to himself. He started to bark and howl.
The medics all huddled in a corner, prepared for the worst, prepared to be torn apart by the mad cannibal that had been exiled from Earth.
The Inspector laughed at them, chided them for being so timid, then pointed toward the moon. The shuttle LIONSBANE came back into view moving markedly faster than it was moving on its approach to the moon. He applauded. The sharp pop of his first clap made his timorous visitors cower again. They all watched as the missiles ran out of fuel and self-destructed.
The doctor told Pinkerton that it was time for a full body scan, and the rest of the medics appeared to begin playing Tetris with the remaining pieces of equipment. In short order, the medics had assembled a machine that looked like a marriage between a tanning bed and a copying machine. The Inspector took his place in the contraption and the scanning began.