Inspector Pinkerton and the Commandant of the Island Dependencies remained taciturn in the back seat of the spacious car until the chauffeur stopped at the seaport several hours from the spaceport. The Commandant stepped out of the car and shook hands with a tall blonde man in a natty outfit. The man wore an impeccably pressed pair of slacks, obviously well-made brogues, a black shirt with the top button undone, and the most impressive vest Pinkerton had ever seen. Everything about the man’s manner of dress was obviously meant to give the impression of wealth and privilege, and his mannerisms exuded confidence and power. The Commandant kissed the blonde man’s ring and said, “Supreme Leader, this is the man we have violated our peace terms for.”
The Inspector, sensing his cue, stepped out of the vehicle and meant to reach for a handshake with the man when he realized something important that had slipped his mind. His right arm had only regenerated to a tiny hand protruding from a lumpy nub, the Supreme Leader chortled. The dapper despot ushered Pinkerton to his waiting vessel, and into the massive quarters below decks. He introduced himself to the Inspector as the Supreme Leader of the Tri-Continental Republic of Catamount, “But you can call me Alexander.”
“Supreme Leader Alexander, are there any clothes available for me to change into? This jumpsuit seems wildly understated given my surroundings.”
Alexander smiled wryly and took J.R. to his own quarters across the passageway from the expansive quarters. Pinkerton found that everything had been laid out for him in there, with no expense spared. He slowly dressed in the clothing laid out for him with his one good arm. The Inspector felt like a king wearing such a fine outfit and poured himself a glass of aquavit. As he capped the decanter, a knock at his chamber door startled him. A porter was standing in the passageway, and J.R. wondered what all else he could possibly need in his room. As the porter began lugging items into the luxurious room, a middle-aged man with a Japanese accent introduced himself to Pinkerton.
“I am the Chief Medical Officer aboard the PASTI, and I will personally be monitoring your health for the Supreme Leader.”
“I am Haruki and, before your meeting with the Supreme Leader, I must collect some samples for testing.”
Haruki opened one of the large cases the porter had placed near the bed and instructed Pinkerton to sit down on the bed. He removed a large syringe, a ball and a tourniquet from the case and placed them on the nightstand. Then he began removing vacuum tubes, Pinkerton counted twelve of them and raised his eyebrows, “Will I have any blood left when you’re done here?”
Haruki collected the samples, bowed to Pinkerton, and left the room. The Inspector was more than a little curious about all the testing being done on him between the medics in his cell 1,200 miles above and on this ship. He wondered if there was some sort of unspoken scheme that he had unwittingly become a part of. He mused that he was probably the most interesting person on the ship due to his ability to regenerate and his centenarian age.
J.R. was ushered back into the quarters of the Supreme Leader before he could even get a drink from his glass of aquavit. Alexander was sitting at an ornate desk staring intently at his tablet and grinning mischievously. Pinkerton felt awkward and a little woozy.
“You’ve been given a mild sedative, don’t worry about a thing Mister Pinkerton.”
J.R. awoke to the sounds of rockets being launched and noticed that his right arm had fully regenerated. He had been unconscious for nearly two weeks and was curious about what had been done to him in the meantime. Alexander and Haruki were standing over him smiling broadly when he finally opened his eyes.
“If that was a mild sedative, I’m the Queen of England.” He stated in a rather gruff tone.
Alexander took on a more serious candor and replied, “England doesn’t exist now. There is Catamount, and there are the lands of the dissidents who will capitulate or die.”
“Sounds like you have an ace up your sleeve Supreme Leader.”
“I do, and you’re it. We have managed to replicate your very particular genetic code. You were the only person to survive the genetic engineering project at the turn of the century, that makes you very lucky. Your ability to survive and heal makes you very special indeed, and your genes in every one of my most highly trained soldiers mean that I will soon rule the world.”
“Is that so?”
Alexander and Haruki left the room. Pinkerton chuckled lightly when he realized he had been moved from one prison to another, going from exile to being a highly prized lab animal worth killing for. He felt consternation over the dapper despot’s grand plans of global conquest, but also held some deeply seated feelings of disappointment in the human race in general after they jettisoned him from the planet for fifty years.
The Inspector got himself to his feet and quickly got dressed in the suit again. He tried the door and found that it was locked, so he removed the jacket and opened the porthole forcibly. Pinkerton had to break his own ribs to fit out the porthole, and he began to swim toward the opposite direction from where the ship was sailing. He agonized over every breath and every stroke for several hours as he swam aimlessly hoping for land to appear in front of him. He was in the middle of the Indian Ocean and unwittingly swimming further out to sea.
The PASTI was sailing for Madagascar and Pinkerton was swimming toward Perth. He swam until he was well and truly exhausted, then turned over and floated on his back staring at the sky, wishing he was still in orbit where every basic need was provided for except entertainment and companionship.