Again with the light. This time, though, with the splintered stick in the ear.

That’s a new one today, he thought. He didn’t say it, however. No, he was too busy screaming.

Eventually, the sharp pain ebbed into an aching throb.

“Did you act alone?” The deep-voiced Hekayti interrogator, a close companion these past few days of his misadventure on the colony world of Ashkodt. He hadn’t seen the big fellow’s face yet. The interrogator had carefully kept to the shadows behind him and to the left. They had strapped him to a metal table, which they angled with his head toward the floor and his floppy orange-furred feet toward the ceiling.

They weren’t asking him to confess anymore. He supposed that was progress. They had him. They had the computer that he had used. Apparently, they didn’t consider it possible that he had managed to succeed on his own. But he had. Undeniably, he had broken through the digital fortification around their Emergence program, which established cultural brainwashing and social programming for a generation of young Hekayti colonists. He had breached the walls and rewritten the code so that the new generation would demand to govern their own destiny.

“I do my best work alone,” he rasped.

Sticks in both ears for a while. Eventually, someone shrieked something panicked about his helpers. He wanted that person to shut up. Unfortunately, he realized too late, it was his voice doing the shrieking.

“Now,” the interrogator said, leaning close behind his braced head, “their names.”

By Brody

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