Tariff

by 

Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

The Neosatian hits me at the base of my spine so hard that I flip over backwards and land heavily, knocking the wind from me. By the time I get my breath, I cannot breathe properly because it’s sitting on me, front paws on my shoulders.

I stare up into the trio of glowing green eyes while slowly sliding my hand toward the shock-rod at my belt. Its burgundy-tipped ears cant forward and it shakes its head in negation. I stop moving.

“Damo Adraste. You are under arrest for sentient slaughter in the thousand-being range. You are also charged with fleeing penalty, your fugitive run of eight years removing all appeal options for both charges. Although it will be duly noted as the longest evasion on record.”

The owner of the dulcet voice strolls up, still beautiful in the bodysuit that leaves nothing to the imagination whilst simultaneously scaring you out of any interest beyond survival. She settles down by me, resting against the alley wall after relieving me of the rod. She catches my gaze and smiles.

“It was always going to end like this. Did you really believe the bollox about Neosatians being avoidable?”

I had hoped it was true. The Mondocalm had gifted humanity with twenty of these enhanced creatures, saying they were all we would need to usher in a new era of crimelessness. The huge black lupines were immediately labelled ‘godwolves’ by the media.

“This furry gentleman is Ebenezer. He’s very pleased to finally meet you.”

The jaws part to reveal a lot more teeth than I am comfortable with at this range.

“While we wait for the custody patrol, Ebenezer wants me to tell you why you could not escape.”

I look up at the godwolf. I would swear that the damn thing is grinning at me.

“Imagine that every living thing leaves a trail. Think of them as multicoloured lines drawn through time and space, with every one being unique. Normal dogs can do amazing things with scent alone. The Mondocalm took the lupine variant of that ability and mated it with their ability to perceive these sentient contrails in a four dimensional continuum. Ebenezer and his kin can never lose your trail as long as you exist.”

Well, that explains a lot. From the deep mines on Spira to the skytowns of Ruben, from the asteroid fields of Cantor to the spiral wastelands of the Eternal Reaches, Pursuit Marshal Sheba Griffon and her loyal godwolf had kept on reappearing, no matter what I did. The fact that the rest of humankind treated the godwolves with an almost religious awe meant I could never get any support for trying old fashioned methods of losing pursuers permanently. Sure I had blown up several places, but bombs are so damn inaccurate.

“Why exactly does he want me to know?”

“So you can tell all your fellow inmates. Eventually you felons will realise that getting away with it is not even an outside option.”

I had done it. Five years and the tariff for my original crime went from mortal to custodial.

“So I’m going to jail?”

“I think there will be several jails between here and Earth.”

And a free trip home. I smile.

“Then you’re going to be incinerated. Tariff reduction is waived as crimes during flight are deemed contiguous with the causal felony.”

Damn.

 

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