The medics handed Inspector Pinkerton a uniform and stared in awe at the test results. The decades spent in microgravity had absolutely no effects on Pinkerton at all, he was a perfect picture of health. The medics discussed the test results vociferously until the Inspector interrupted them saying, “You do remember that I’m genetically re-engineered, right?” That put a rapid stop to the incredulous bantering and brought the medics back to their professional bearing. The medics got back on task, disassembling the monitors and equipment to prepare for their return trip.
Pinkerton had a difficult time trying to put on the new suit, it was built entirely differently from the suits he had been wearing for decades. He needed to ask the medics for help, but there was no way he would let himself ask anyone for help at that point. Just as one of the medics finished preparing for the return voyage to Earth, the medic watched Pinkerton pop the elbow joint off of the uniform suit completely. Pinkerton saw that he was being watched and solved the problem rapidly. He asked if the medics had a scalpel, they obliged, and he cut off his right arm at mid bicep. He didn’t need the arm of the space suit, so he sealed it off at the broken elbow joint. The arm would grow back in a little over two weeks anyway. The medics were fascinated by the way the Inspector flippantly cut off his arm, and the way his body seemed to naturally stop the bleeding rather quickly. Pinkerton looked at them and said, “It only works with the extremities, the core and the head need to stay attached or I won’t recover.” The medics had quite rapidly decided to return to the incredulous bantering over Pinkerton’s physiological oddities. J.R. had to reign them in again, as he asked them to check the seal on the joint before they got into the airlock chamber.
The H.M.S. LIONSBANE was making its approach to Pinkerton’s cell as the Inspector and the medics loaded themselves and their equipment into the airlock. As the shuttle got close enough for them to read all the smaller print on its hull, like ‘Not a Step’ and ‘Aileron Service Hatch’, there was a blinding light, then a thump in their chests and everything went dark. The shuttle exploded and left the medics and Pinkerton unconscious and stranded in a cell designed for one person hurtling around the Earth in a random nongeosynchronous orbit. The tiny space station was designed and launched only to be visited or retrieved with great difficulty. Pinkerton was intended to die in orbit when he became another unwitting and unwilling primate astronaut, a thought that made him feel akin to a rhesus monkey.
The Inspector woke first from the dreamland induced by a rather large explosion. He watched as a second shuttle, painted all black except for a small flag of a puma eating a raven on a field of red and the stenciled words BOYEVOY. One person got into the airlock wearing a black uniform, carrying an ornate dirk, and wearing a mask. The person unceremoniously stabbed each of the medics through the heart and the head, then jettisoned their bodies. The medical equipment was transferred to the BOYEVOY and the assassin turned to Pinkerton, pointed to him and pointed to the shuttle.
Pinkerton shrugged in his mind as he got into the shuttle, “A free ride is a free ride, and beggars can’t be choosers.” The assassin didn’t even make a gesture in response to the Inspector’s comment. The Inspector was ushered to a seat, strapped in, and scanned by the Catamountan medics. They nodded to the pilots, and the shuttle began its return trip. Pinkerton was at once impressed and irritated with the taciturn nature of his new chauffeurs and au pairs. He chuckled to himself given the circumstances, he was imprisoned and exiled because of his genetics, and now people were willing to kill in order to bring his genetics back to Earth. A rather contrary turn of events, the planet’s population must have really done a number on themselves. He entertained himself by thinking about how the wars had changed the geographic boundaries, how the people had stayed the same, and how there could be only two governments left on Earth.
The shuttle bounced and its tires squealed as the BOYEVOY landed in Perth, an outpost of the Catamountan aerospace program. There were hundreds of people gathered at the terminal, probably the entire population of the outpost as far as Pinkerton could tell. Pinkerton became a bit sick to his stomach, although the doctors knew that the Inspector was structurally sound, he had just spent decades in orbit. He held it in until he was meeting the Commandant of the Island Dependencies in front of a cheering crowd with ticker-tape falling like snow from the sky, at which point J.R. let loose the most impressive projectile vomit stream he had ever seen to that point in his long life.
The crowd went silent, then a woman began to snicker. She was hauled off and through the door the sound of a gunshot could be heard. The CID immediately shot Pinkerton twelve times, then Pinkerton laughed a hearty and loud laugh. An aide whispered something in the CID’s ear, to which the bureaucrat responded with a huffing and puffing stomping speedwalk to his vehicle.
The CID held the door and said, “Efter yew, m’lord.”
Pinkerton looked around and all eyes were on him, “You talking to me?”
“Geet een ze car.”
Pinkerton shrugged and got into the car. It was a comfortable, though obviously well-used vehicle, and it amazed the Inspector with the smoothness and silence of its engine. Pinkerton had never been in an electric car before, this was a first. When he had left the planet, the only reasonably designed electric cars cost more than a house. When he returned, everyone had an electric car. He looked out the windows as they passed by the cookie-cutter rows of houses, each with its roof covered in photovoltaic paneling, and marveled at just how clearly he could see the stars. He remembered that the stars weren’t so brilliant the last time he was on the planet.