Brad was headed home and he was exhausted after having to decontaminate. Fortunately, the crime scene Bot’s ability to lift individual layers of evidence also gave them the ability to clean up a mess relatively well.
In reality, Rubenz had actually become a piece of evidence himself. He frowned at this notion as he realized how ridiculous this would look when this case ultimately went to court, not to mention his next review.
Brad was riding back in a common pod. As there was no emergency to respond to now, he did not rate the emergency response pod. He was sitting across from an off duty patrol person, who sat next to what appeared to be a soldier on extended leave maybe even a recently discharged veteran.
Next to him a teenage girl and her grandmother seemed to be wrapped up in a video game. Grandma was apparently much better at first person shooters judging by the curses coming from the granddaughter.
Brad had a lot of follow up work to do, including some interviews with a long list of people. He needed to track down a specialist in prosthetics, he needed to investigate some of the background of this sexual fetish trend, and he needed to dive into the financials of the victim, his company and more.
He touched the side of his own hand held computer which came to life in vivid 3d color visible only to him. The optical illusion of the screen made him forget that he was sitting in this pod and made him feel part of the online landscape.
A.D.D. kicked in and he was instantly pulled into a news update about Al Qaeda in space, this also apparently seemed to be the topic that the patrol person and the soldier were discussing.
Brad started to read a report, refreshing his memory and getting the latest on this event that was likely to cause a lot of trouble both internationally, and maybe locally.
"About 50 years ago in the mid twenties, while the remains of the US government were still being rebuilt and the UN had reached a war crimes stalemate in regards to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. For almost two decades fighters picked up around the world and some on the battlefield had been held in various locations around the world where the UN had little sway. Initially, they had kept many of them in Guantanamo Bay Cuba in a US military prison. But after Castro finally passed away and Cuba melted back into a capitalistic economy, the base there fell into question. The prisoners proceeded to move on a musical chair like path from one gray holding area to another."
"Times have changed but not that much. We can't just bring them back to earth and lock them up again," said the soldier who continued, "but take it from me we can't let them go again either."
"Do you really think some backwards resistance fighter from the turn of the century could keep up with the advances we've made in crime investigation, anti-terrorism, hell even warfare? It has been 15 years since I served in the military myself and even then we were far more advanced than when these Al Qaeda losers were still training on monkey bars." said the cop.
"... the US was losing political favor at an international level. Antarctica and the moon were both bastions of the UN, and the US could not hold them on their own soil or face war crimes charges. No US administration wanted to touch the problem with a ten foot pole. . . . "
"They have a will to fight and fight back unlike what we are used to today. Yes we are technically better, but mentally we are a little softer because our current adversaries are also softer. Everyone knows that the Taliban these days are pretty much just bureaucrats and Al Qaeda is more of a PR firm than a terrorist cell, but give them a fresh infusion of psychopaths with a blood lust and nothing to lose . . . " said the soldier.
"Shit we can practically predict a crime before it happens in most cases today. Plus, we have extensive psychological profiles on these assholes in space. I had to write papers on several of these tools myself in 101 level courses in college. Even if they have the will, they could barely reach down to pull a knife out of their boot before we'd know, let alone cause mass murder." said the police officer.
"...Remnants of the twentieth century NASA program that wanted to salvage some portion of their once sizable budgets dug an old technology out of the vault and offered up a solution. The idea was simple. The prisoners that did not qualify for repatriation, mostly Al Qaeda and various suicide bombers that had failed to detonate would be put into hibernation, a technology not far removed from cryogenics. They would be placed in a space ship and sent into space on an elliptical journey around the solar system."
The officer continued, "many of these guys are going to be pretty docile after being imprisoned for almost two decades on Earth as is. They are not young men any longer."
"That actually is something that makes it even harder for us," said the soldier. "Sure some will be docile, but those will actually serve to hide the dangerous ones even more. During that time they had ample opportunity to cook up new plans and ideas for revenge. Plus some of the political skeletons that were buried in past peace reconciliations will likely be disturbed all over again, unsettling people that for thirty years have come around to our side, but once disturbed might cause trouble again. The original warlords themselves may not be much of a threat here on the ground, but their children and grandchildren have benefited from their payoffs. A lot of people received those old fashioned greenbacks to stop fighting. Even while that money was being used to buy better food, homes and more, they were going home at night and telling and listening to the old stories of battle and glory in the name of Allah. Add into this mix, several thousand heroes of Allah that haven't been around or close to show just how crazy they were or are and their influence today might even be greater than it was when they were at the peak of their training." said the soldier.
"It was a fifty year journey. The decision basically kicked the political can down the road. Once the deed was done, no one could do much about it, but the fifty year game ends in two weeks. Al Qaeda would be returning to Earth and no one knew what to do with them still. No one alive today, really had much skin in the game for the decision made fifty years ago. The US government didn't truly exist in its past form. The world community didn't hold much of a grudge against the US for the mistakes of its predecessors. The former countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, which were now collections of large feudal city states, did not want the fighters back. They had been continuously at war the entire time, but the fight had changed. Some factions still wanted to have foreign fighters removed from their soil, but the definition had been muddled. There was almost no side in the fight that did not have foreign fighters on their side. The immediate families of the men and women of Al Qaeda in space had all aged and mostly died away. Those that still survived would not acknowledge the connection, even though intelligence reports still had them documented."
In short no one wanted Al Qaeda. Plus, for fifty years parents around the world had turned Al Qaeda members in space into something of a bed time story bogeyman for their children. 'You better eat all of your food or Al Qaeda will fly down from space and blow you up.' 'Don't eat that gluten filled cookie or Al Qaeda himself will hit you with a beam from space and give you a belly ache.' The stories were never very realistic and often times personified the entire group as something of an angry super man or woman depending on the story.
But now the real Al Qaeda fighters were going to pass by Earth. If the world failed to pluck them from the sky, these Al Qaeda detainees would go around the solar system again, which seemed very inhumane. The world collectively felt like it had advanced past such barbarism, but it couldn't collectively figure out a solution either.
If they did collect the spacecraft, bring Al Qaeda down to Earth, then what? They couldn't be prosecuted. It was inhumane to hold them on Earth longer, especially if they were allowed to age. From the information they had from the spaceship, all of the sleepers were still in good health and had not aged much, it would be as if they had been asleep for about a month.
"No matter what, we can't just send them back around the solar system to lose another 50 years. That would be adding one crime to another, and they would be that much more out of place in fifty years when they came back around. Besides, there is the emissary issue. We are starting to get more signals from other likely sources of intelligence in space. What happens if some other species come to visit us, and stumble upon Al Qaeda first? Do we want Al Qaeda to make the first impression or alliance with a foreign intelligence? They are more of a threat to Earth in space than they are here living amongst us," said the patrol person in a definitive statement.
They would need physical rehabilitation. Their bone density and muscle mass would need a severe amount of therapy and rebuilding. So they would not be an immediate threat in a physical way, but what about their infective ancient ideas of revenge and terrorism and fighting off foreign invaders from their home land?
"That's just some old superstition that dates back almost 100 years to some silly science fiction movie that was old even to my grandparents. We shouldn't opt for a dangerous bird in the hand to avoid a hypothetical pair in the bush. That analogy only works in reverse when the potential involves reality, not some politically cooked up fear. That's the type of fear that started this war to begin with." said the soldier.
To Brad's ears, the pair seemed to be arguing in circles and he was starting to have a difficult time assessing which side either of the participants were really on.
The world frankly felt that they did not need those old wounds re-infected. There was only so much that science, therapy, re-education, and re-training could do. The Al Qaeda banishment of fifty years ago as terrible as it was, is still one of the few effective punishments to prevent suicide bombers that society has come up with. It deprive a suicide bomber or terrorist of their homeland, of their life (temporarily), of their afterlife and all of its promises for fifty year stretches and the cost benefit analysis that was pitched to a suicide bomber became much more difficult to rationalize.
'Go blow yourself up for the cause, and you will die a martyr in heaven with seventy-two virgins and the best afterlife possible under god. . . .' But that didn't play out very well when modern science could heal almost any wound. That included many suicide bombers post detonation. Science could keep a brain alive if found in tact and put someone's consciousness on deep freeze for fifty years ago blocking them from their heaven.
Furthermore, PR campaigns in a post super digital world were so powerful that any given terrorist organization could barely account for whether or not a suicide bombing had been remotely effective. Digital cover ups stopped them from finding out if the bomb went off. It prevented them from determining if anyone was killed or injured including the bomber. They could barely determine if any property was damaged, destroyed or scratched.
Terror did not work if no one saw the results of terror. With no horrid death and destruction visible, it was as if a tree fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it, talk about it, and no one could find the remnants of the tree at all! No terror, no career path for terrorists.
But these Al Qaeda space travelers had the concept ingrained in their psyche before the super digital revolution. That and they had been imprisoned for fifty to seventy years or more, held captive, in some cases physically tortured, and in all cases severed from their families and friends, who were now probably dead. In short they had yet another axe to grind.
Even with the PR tools of the present, the ever present digital recording devices around the planet would watch them around the clock. If they did find a way to cause damage, it would be sensationalized worse than the hundreds of movies on just such a possible scenario had predicted fictionally, while they were still in space.
It was a big fat mess and Brad was captivated by the story, but he had some work to do. The community pod came to a stop. As he got up, the grandmother snickered and her granddaughter snapped a quick picture of him. Brad stepped out of the car, and could see through the window as the pair started talking. On the screen of the grandmother’s device was a news report and video playing featuring an image of Brad standing in the warehouse with a giant erect phallus on his head.
Continue to Next Chapter - 015 – Another Discovery