Polished through Trial

Pinkerton had been floating face up in the open sea long enough to attract the attention of seabirds.  He thought to himself, “A gem is not polished without friction and a man without trials.” The thought of having his eyes pecked out and swimming in the open ocean blindly was enough to motivate him to continue swimming.  He had an epiphany during that moment though.

“Birds! Seagulls! They will lead me to land.”

Just as he started swimming toward the direction he decided the gulls had come from, he could see a battleship in the distance.  It certainly wasn’t the luxurious cruiser of the despotic leader of the Catamount Republic and, within a matter of minutes, he could discern the distinct banner of a raven eating a lion.  He hadn’t expected to see an Atlantian ship in the Indian Ocean, but it sure was a sight for sore eyes.  As the ship got closer to him, he could see the woman who had visited his cell in orbit, he knew her now as Queen Samira by skimming one of the news articles on the tablet in his quarters on the Catamountan ship.

Pinkerton was beginning to glimpse pieces of the full scope of the war and what each side was willing to do to win.  What he liked least was his position as a pawn, a prized pawn, but still a pawn.  Out of his aversion to death, the Inspector decided that he may as well give the Atlantians a go at him to even out the odds for global domination.  As the rescue craft was launched from the ship, Pinkerton wished he had managed to swim to land.  He wished he could have made a tropical atoll with enough things to eat and drink to keep him healthy until both sides gave up looking for him.

Once he was aboard, the Queen introduced herself and asked Pinkerton to consider his options regarding donating his genetics to the Atlantians.  J.R. was taken aback by the respectfulness and honesty of such a powerful political entity, and willingly donated blood and other bodily fluids to the cause.  The Fleet Admiral arrived toward the end of Pinkerton’s donations and asked the Queen for a destination.

“Tokelau Admiral, the Inspector will be safe there.”

The Admiral nodded and returned to the ship’s bridge.  As he walked up the passageway, his whistling to the tune of GymnopĂ©dies No. 2.  He was a tall man with salt and pepper hair and a curled mustache, wearing a stark white uniform with enough shiny stuff hanging off of it to make him look akin to a Christmas tree with the ‘snow’ on it.  The echoing whistled tune made an eerie mood come over Pinkerton.  He had heard that tune whistled before when he was quarantined in the ‘University’.  He had only heard it at night when it was him, the other human guinea pigs, and the guards present.  This naval officer knew more about the Inspector than he was letting on, and Pinkerton felt like he needed to find out more about the man.

The Inspector asked the Queen what Tokelau was, to which the Queen replied with a gentle chuckle.  Samira nodded to her assistant.

The assistant told him about the wars of the preceding fifty years, and how her homeland was lost to the ravages of war long before it was formally taken into enemy possession.  Eastern and Central Europe had seen the brunt of the collateral damage during a series of wars that came to be collectively referred to as World War III.  There was no strong unifying force, each country hated the others after the treaties and accords started falling by the wayside due to powerful politicians who were acting in the interests of their personal finances.

The United States ceased to be united at about the same time that the European Union crumbled.  The Russian Federation could have pounced on the opportunity to seize power if it weren’t for their civil war and concurrent wars with China and India.  While the only remaining superpowers fought in a three-way war, they each fell from within due to civil unrest and internal wars.  After a decade of fighting in Asia, other remaining powers began to pick up the pieces by force.  Argentina took control of most of South America and the Carribean after making an alliance with the Unified German States, which consisted of the majority of the post-World War II country.  The exception being the state of Schleswig-Holstein who had petitioned to rejoin the Kingdom of Denmark after a hundred year absence.

After thirty years of fighting side by side to protect each other’s interests, the Unified German States and the Argentine Republic merged to become the Trans-Atlantic Confederation of States.  Samira, the leader of the Unified German States, married the Argentine ruler Arturo.  They declared themselves King and Queen of Atlantia and campaigned to unify the Western Hemisphere under their rule.  Through a promise of absolute protection, they gained control of New Zealand and its dependencies.  The King built his most fortified base on a small atoll called Tokelau, where he launched attacks on the strongholds of the Catamountan forces and took highly valued prisoners for enhanced interrogation.

“Well, now I know what a Tokelau is.  Where is it?”

“Well, sir, that’s the key.  Nobody knows where Tokelau is.”

Pinkerton was ushered to his quarters where he busied himself with a tablet that was left for him on the bunk.  He eagerly looked for anything he could find about Tokelau, the Admiral, the Catamountan rulers and leaders, and the Atlantians.  He made notes of anything that seemed reliable and worked diligently to plan his next move.  A few boring days passed, during that time he was treated as an honored guest and only spoken to in what seemed like prepared speeches.  Everything about his return to Earth had his hackles raised, and the inspector was highly motivated to learn why.


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