As Inquisitor

As Inquisitor

“I do not know why Mox lies so readily, ma’am, but in his defense, at least the lies are part of his overall character or lack thereof.”

“Of course. You do seem to be right about that. Where is he now?”

“I’m not sure, and none of the others have seen him in some time.”

“How much time is some time, dear?”

“I believe the last person who saw him was Uldin during the Bias.”

“How do you know of this?”

“A guarantor requested … ”

“Of course. Who is the most-capable person to find him?”

“Ma’am?”

“Yes.”

“If Mox is hidden, there is no way to find him.”

“There are ways. He has been found in the past, and this will not be the last time he hides, of course.”

“Who would you like for me to send?”

“Do not send anyone. Bring someone to me.”

“Right away, ma’am.”

> . . . <

“Do you know why you are here, Lingerer?”

“To tell the story, I believe.”

“How is it that you know the story?”

“Many years ago, I stumbled upon a different story that seemed to have no end, and so, I began my search to find its end.”

“And that is how you found yourself here?”

“Yes, ma’am. The story is being told as I watch it unfold.”

“Do you not know the end?”

“Yes.”

“I see. Please, proceed.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course.”

They sit in a lofty room, circular, cylindrical actually, and above their heads a large, round stained glass window spreads wide and fills the ceiling completely. Directly centered in the circular room, the older woman sits comfortably upon a rod-iron chair, facing one of the four doors that are equally placed around the circle’s wall, and in front of her sits a small loo table that supports a small, pink, carnival glass plate of crumpets, a stack of old-Earth tea cups and saucers and a glass, self-sieving teapot.

The day seems strange, full of tension as various individuals swarm in and out of the older woman’s office chambers after being called in, one-by-one, to be interrogated about yesterday’s incident. The older woman, of course, understands all and thus knows the cause of said incident, but the repercussions are what concern her, and the only way for her to understand what will be is to figure out the reason the incident happened in the first place. The older woman, feels the intensity in the air, a shift, the clouds no longer sway in a misty formation of carelessness; they know something. “Please, Kira,” the older woman shouts aloud throughout the room despite the fact that Kira stands outside the room. Immediately, the doors to the older woman’s left open as Kira ushers in the next person in question as the current person in question grabs a crumpet as the older woman abruptly dismisses the person with a wave of the hand and a, “Good. Don’t come back.”

For hours, people are summoned from every turn within walking distance to sit and chat with the older woman. Some have a small idea about who the older woman is, but most have no idea who she is or why they are there. Those who know of the older woman easily comply and follow the person who approached them. Those, however, who do not know the older woman, despite the oddity of the situation, do not know whether or not they have the right to decline the offer, if it even is an offer. Thus, all arrive into the office a bit scared, fearful, confused and sometimes quite resistant and demanding. The older woman flexes a certain amount of power and nobody seems to know how it is that she is able to do so. Nevertheless, the vast majority of people within the Orbital do not know the older woman, but for some reason, everyone seems to know of her.

The questions are simple enough, and everyone who arrives usually ends up feeling proud of their own competence. They, of course, have no idea for what the older woman probes, since great pains have been taken to keep the questioning reasonable and plain. Little effort, though, is made to comfort the fearful person in question. The older woman usually begins with a minute or so of pure silence, which ultimately leads to the offering of tea and crumpets to break the silence, “Tea? Crumpets? Sugar and cream are unavailable.” Once the person in question seems to calm down a bit, not to say that all ever calm down, and in fact, there were, on quite a few occasions, those who refused to even acknowledge the older woman’s demand that all be questioned. Eventually, however, they all comply because, “Frankly,” the older woman states as she casually sips some tea, “you must.” Once all of the niceties are established and the person in question realizes that the interrogation revolves around the incident and not around them personally, the older woman decides to make it about them, “Who are you, and where do you live?” Most, of course, begin to feel uncomfortable again as the older woman probes ever deeper into the personal lives of those being questioned. Some, of course, like the attention. Despite the overall consensus that the people in question are answering the older woman’s questions honestly, the older woman feels frustrated at the people’s overwhelming lack of insight and information, since, “For to know anything, one must first know one’s self; it’s no wonder that all of these people have wasted my day.” Angry now, the older woman takes a deep breath, exhales, stretches her neck as she sits up tall in her chair, “Kira, please.”

A moment later, Kira appears before the older woman. “Perhaps,” the older woman states, “since hours have been wasted, turns of a farther distance ought to be searched as well.” “But ma’am, does everyone who potentially understands the incident need to be interrogated?” Kira asks shyly. “Of course not, dear,” the older woman states to obviate further discussion. Kira knows better than to press the matter, thus, with this instruction, the older woman’s staff quickly sets out in an attempt to find out to what extent the incident is known.

“That’s enough,” the older woman commands with a raised hand, and continues, “No, that … Please, that’s enough.” The older woman looks at me. “Stop it!” the older …

“That … Stop it!”

“Ma’am?”

“Must the command be repeated yet again?”

“I’m sorry. I just don’t understand what it is that you want.”

“What is it that you do understand?”

“You want me to stop telling the story?”

“Of course.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Leave us.”

“But ma’am …”

“The daggers that stare hear the words of each whisper that fuels the flame of the conceited.”