Author : Jay Hill
Phillipe Renault tried to wait for the speaker to finish before posing his question. He stirred sugar into his espresso with a tiny plastic spoon, gently moving the utensil in a tight figure eight. After several seconds, he tapped it on the edge of the saucer and began drumming his fingertips on the marble table, waiting for the beverage to cool. The next pause in the presentation proved elusive, however. Each new screen brought with it a fresh set of questions. Whether it was the result of too much caffeine or just a general lack of patience, he finally interrupted the briefing to address the issue many in the room were eager to understand.
“You mean we can have criminals escaping to other universes?” Renault asked with intended incredulity.
The concept of inter-universal travel loomed heavily over the Interpol Chiefs meeting. The rumor that the theory was now a practice raised the level of concern for what this might mean to a group of officers already tasked with identifying and capturing suspected criminals moving across geographic borders.
After allowing the room occupants several minutes of addled murmuring, Regional Chief Alana Gehring stood up from the north end of the conference table and paced over to the display screen.
“That is correct,” she answered in a thick German accent. “We have already documented several instances of this.”
The confirmation, so matter of fact, resounded around the room with explicit finality. Her response was met with a collective inhale of surprised gasps.
“The corresponding ‘blips’ here, here and here represent tracers,” she explained. “These informants were hired to follow selected suspects into parallel –“
“So you’re saying that it’s a fact?” Renault interrupted again to clarify. “This briefing isn’t just an update on hypothetical possibilities. You’ve actually managed to catch people doing this?”
Gehring motioned towards the blinking lights on the data screen and nodded. A long palpable silence followed.
“But how did they get this technology?” a female Interpol officer from Spain asked.
“Was it the Americans?” another officer added.
“How many cases are we talking here?” the Belgian Chief questioned.
“And how will we equip our agents to continue pursuits across the…” Renault paused mid-sentence. “What do you even call it, the parallels?”
“These are all very good questions,” Gehring surmised, raising her hands to discourage further outbursts. “Rest assured that we have already considered many of these scenarios in crafting today’s update.
“Now if you will scan ahead to page 54, we will discuss jurisdictional boundaries.”
“Jurisdiction?!” Renault interrupted a third time. “How can we even start to worry about…” He put his hands up, sighed heavily and shook his head in deference.
“I’m too old for this,” he muttered to himself.
“And think of the changes in extradition law,” the Belgian Chief hissed.
Renault took another sip of his espresso and scrolled through the rest of the presentation. Section C covered Jurisdictional Boundaries, D outlined Allowable Pursuit Tactics, and just like the Belgian Chief forewarned, the fifth section addressed Changes in Extradition Law. F covered the consequences of an Inter-universal Weapons Discharge, and the final section, Parallel Identification Issues discussed the various ramifications of bringing in the wrong ‘parallel’ for questioning. On the opening slide for this section, Gehring was quoted, saying: “An individual may be guilty in our universe, but innocent in his/her own.” Renault minimized the presentation on his digital pad, and instead opened an antiquated spreadsheet software and began reviewing again, the number of months until he could retire.
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