gentle hum of turbines
lulled the passengers of the CW-48 space lift to sleep. One of them,
Smart, struggled with fatigue. He spent the first part of the journey
Finesia space station studying the report prepared by the
from his comfortable bed at half past five, he drove straight to
headquarters in The Hague, where his immediate superior gave him his
will go to the space
station Finesia. Take the documents. Departure in two hours from the
lander. You will investigate the death of Jens Bogatoff, the owner of
you wish, boss. I only
wish you had let me sleep. To the dead man, my rage and a few coffees
his honour are no longer helpful.”
joking, Smart. I had to get
up earlier than you, in fact I didn't go to bed at all.” Bogatoff was a
well-connected man, with contacts in the United Nations and the
Commission. “You know how it is... get to work!”
rested his head against
the headrest of the chair. The cabin emerged from the Earth's
allowed passengers to admire the beautiful starry sky. There was a view
other such facilities around the lift. The area was literally dotted
lifts. Dozens of them had already risen above the Earth. Interconnected
special tunnels, they gave the impression of a spider’s web surrounding
smiled. He had already
worked for nearly fifteen years in the police, five of them at Europol.
much it has changed during his life! It used to take several hours by
get from Frankfurt to New York. Now all you had to do was get into one
move along a corridor to another, and that was the end of the journey.
disliked this form of travel as much as he hated being in space
lift connected the Earth's surface to some city in orbit around the
Laboratories, institutes, landing pads for spaceships and space
well as factories and housing estates, were all located on it and
owners huge profits. One of the tycoons in that industry was Jens
owner of fifty-two per cent of PA-48 Joint Stock Company shares,
citizen, aged fifty-six. The mystery of his death was the reason that
Smart, a forty-two-year-old Europol commissioner and homicide
just flown in.
a short, fat man held
out one of his sweaty palms to greet Robert. “How was the trip?”
you, good.” The
commissioner reciprocated the stranger’s forced smile.
Burke, Commander of
Station Finesia,” he introduced himself. “You don't have to introduce
I was sent information about you. We had better get to work.”
nodded. He swept his
eyes curiously around Bogatoff’s office. Stylish paintings hung on the
the interior of the study was filled exclusively with antiques. The
wealth made it clear who was the most important and powerful man at the
station. The Commissioner went to the window. He looked down. The PA-48
chairman’s office was located at the very top of the tallest building
Finesia. Bogatoff had countless skyscrapers, factories, and airstrips
his range of vision. All this certainly increased his standing.
I can’t deny.” Robert
turned and sat down opposite him in the armchair. They found themselves
in the study.
see, it may be an
unnecessary precaution on my part, but I am pleased that one of the
specialists in Europol has been sent...”
was interrupted by Smart. “What
cause of death has been preliminarily established?” He wasn’t going to
whole day listening to the fat man’s squeaky voice. He didn't like
didn't look you straight in the eye, but looked nervously from side to
if thinking how they could benefit from the situation.
attack? And that is why
you are involving Europol?”
see...” Burke got up and
started walking around the room. “Mr Bogatoff is not just anyone.” He
had many friends, but also many enemies. There were all sorts of
know... That's why it's better to have his death explained by someone
outside, sorry, what I meant to say was someone from Earth. I need to
off. I will assign my best man to help you. He is a highly promising
of this year’s New York Police Academy.”
was the body found?”
behind his desk. It was
lying on the countertop. And one more thing. A heart attack, but... He
transplant last year. He replaced the old heart with a new one grown
cells. The risk of having a heart attack after such a procedure is one
that moment a tall,
handsome blond man in a grey station security uniform entered
Kunst, pleased to
that you have met, I can
leave. I have presented the details to Mr Smart. Good luck!” Vince
the office and the investigators alone.
you come up with
anything, Kunst?” Robert poured himself the fifth cup of coffee from
thermos that day.
was approaching midday.
Despite the tinted windows, the sun beat down on the study mercilessly.
be honest, I don't know...
a heart attack after a transplant? Strange indeed.”
nodded his head. It
looked as if it was going to be a longer stay at the station. Suddenly,
conversation was interrupted by the sound of a holophone. The
opened it. A three-dimensional image of the guard appeared on the wrist
to interrupt, but
there's a guy here. He says his name is Peter Riedl and that he has an
appointment with Mr Bogatoff. What should I do?”
looked questioningly at
is the owner of CW-12, the
closest lift and platform to Arcadia, the space Las Vegas,” Kunst
him in,” Smart decided.
a short while, a slim
but not very tall man dressed in an impeccably tailored suit entered
with a confident step. He introduced himself and, without asking
sat down in the chair behind the desk.
will ask you briefly and to
the point: what is going on here?”
me to introduce myself:
Commissioner Robert Smart, Homicide, Europol, and this is my assistant,
Lieutenant Michael Kunst from Station Security. Don’t you know
what?” asked the
visitor suspiciously. “I had an appointment with Mr Bogatoff for a
meeting. You say you're from Homicide?”
Mr Bogatoff was found
dead. He was sitting right there.”
sprang back as if he had
it is true after all,” he
muttered to himself, then said aloud: “Would you be so kind,
come with me to my office? It's only an hour's corridor flight to the
neighbouring station. I will show you a document of interest.”
the window of the
CK-48/49 horizontal lift cabin, stars twinkled. Under the passengers'
continents quickly flew by. The world seemed to have no limits or time
differences. This was a dream come true for all those in power: all
and important matters could be dealt with over the heads of the people
concerned. The vacuum corridors connecting the space lifts wrapped
globe like a huge spider’s web. The world has truly become a global
rather a suburb for the centres of social life - space stations built
on top of
the human quest for perfection.
Smart mused. In his
jacket pocket was tucked away a copy of probably the most valuable
this part of circumpolar space today. Bogatoff’s Last Will. Handing it
Commissioner, Riedl did not fail to comment.
you can see, theoretically
I should be the one who cares about Bogatoff's quick demise. His wife,
children, relatives will get nothing. Even if they wanted to invalidate
will, I could afford to pay their claims. I will admit to you that we
been planning a merger of our companies. However, this is not easy to
the future partner's wife's family is closely allied and friendly with
mighty of this world, down there. You understand, there was no choice
bequeath the entire estate in the event of death.”
commissioner was puzzled
by Riedl's words: ‘There was no other option.’
Bogatoff's death, his
heir became the largest space tycoon in the world. After the
acquisition of the
deceased’s shares, his market share was, on a conservative estimate,
even eighty percent. To this had to be added know-how, laboratories,
and other minor assets such as mines on Mars. He was the largest
but was he really the only one?
interrupted by a buzzing around his wrist.
Robert answered the
call. A hologram of Michael Kunst appeared on his wrist.
would like to report, boss,
that we have discovered something extremely interesting in Bogatoff's
When can you be expected?”
am already flying to
Finesia. I will be there in fifteen minutes.”
Bogatoff's desk stood a
cage. It was divided into two chambers. In one, a small rat was
pacing around, sniffing everything. The other also contained a rat, the
difference being that it lie dead. Both mammals were at first glance
white with black spots.
is an extremely
interesting discovery? There's nothing unusual about someone breeding
rats,” remarked Robert Smart, as he got to grips with his jammed coffee
and poured himself a cup of the life-giving liquid. He was tired. The
story was beginning to resemble a bad thriller. A rich, powerful
has died. Various social and business circles were trying to use this
their vested interests. They want to snatch as much as possible from
deceased’s estate for themselves, while sinking the competition.
I know, boss, it's
nothing...” Kunst turned red. He was not used to this kind of teasing.
been a top student at police school, and as a result, he believed that
decisions and discoveries had irrefutable value and were the only ones
possible. “However, I discovered this here, behind Bogatoff's desk,
young policeman approached
the wall in question behind the desk. He gently tilted the picture
it. The wall noiselessly slid open, revealing to Smart a small room
mirrors, computers and two glass cubicles. Robert moved towards the
room. As he
crossed the threshold, his assistant tugged on his arm.
better not do that,” he
said emphatically. “When I went in there, the equipment started
stepped back and then saw a cage of rats on the floor.”
you frightened that
computers would generate a monster that would devour you?”
The assistant wrinkled his forehead. “I think this is really serious.
device is a transponder.”
you mean a teleportation
device? They don’t exist. I mean, I wanted to say, they are only in the
are not on Earth,
Commissioner. Admittedly, European Union law applies in Finesia, but
look a little different from down there. These two rats, for example.
true. They look very
are the same,"
Kunst repeated emphatically.
really... our geneticist,
after a cursory examination of them, told me that they are just the
sat down in the chair
behind Bogatoff's desk. He looked at dozens of devices with flashing
crouching like a tiger in the jungle about to leap on its prey. What is
all about? A transponder that has no right to exist. Two similar rats
the office of the CEO of the largest company operating space lifts and
stations. Finally, the top competitor who claims that the deceased
his empire to him, disinheriting his family in the process. Something
add up here.
do you advise, Kunst?”
The commissioner took a large sip of coffee. Caffeine certainly came in
for him now. He had to do a lot of analysis.
largest hi-tech, or new
technology, laboratory is based here in Finesia. Space Time Industries
Have you heard of it?”
course, it’s the reason we
have space lifts for everyone and holophones, after all.” Smart waved
yes, I am sorry. No
offence, but up here we look at the Earth and its problems
like provincial buffoons,
incapable of thinking on a universal scale, right?” The commissioner
There was something in the young assistant's words. Space lifts and the
opportunities they gave humanity were changing the world even faster
IT and telecommunications revolution did at the turn of the 20th
century. The communities living on the stations became increasingly
from their earthly roots.
no, not like that,”
Kunst grunted. “Going back to the subject, the CEO of Space Time
or rather was, a friend of Bogatoff. I suggest a meeting with him. This
probably help us to solve the mystery of the tycoon’s death. After all,
on Earth has a transponder, except maybe the military.”
you say: a
dead rat together with a live one in the same cage? A fascinating
story. I just
don't know what I have to do with it...” Frederick Wolfhart, CEO of
Industries, sat back in his chair.
was a fifty-year-old man
with a distinctive tone of voice. He owed it to a larynx transplant and
treatment. Besides, he was a slim, balding representative of the upper
circumpolar society. So he did not feel obliged to hide his irony or
reluctant attitude towards the police commissioner interrupting his
do not know whether you
were kind enough to notice that I raised the issue of Mr Bogatoff
transponder. I don't think it's entirely legal.” Robert Smart leaned
comfortably against the back of the chair he was sitting in. “Driving
checked the regulations on the subject. European Union directives
prohibit the possession of transponders by private individuals. Let
experimenting with transmitting particles at a distance without a
can see that you are
well-versed in the subject.” Wolfhart put down his glass of whisky, got
went to the window. “You know, it's not the same here in orbit as on
regulations do not match the pace, and level, of life in space.
Bogatoff was my
friend. Together we created Finesia. We believed in the possibility of
progress, humanity going into space, new technologies. What we got in
were greedy wives, bloated partners, and a bloated bureaucracy. I'm not
surprised Jens finally couldn't stand it and did it.”
did he do?” Robert also
rose from his chair. He tried not to let it show, but the
intrigued him. However, something was behind Bogatoff's death.
mentioned two rats in a
me?” Smart did not
Moving matter is
less complicated than everyone thinks. We have come to the point where
down an object into atoms and copy them.”
say. The transponder
creates a matrix which it duplicates. It then sends the copied atoms to
different locations. Do you understand?”
rubbed his eye.
“Copying and cloning in one? A rat moved to two places at once?
it easy.” Wolfhart put
his hand on his shoulder. “You'd better sit down.”
sat down on an
managed to move things,
still life. Jens got the idea to try it with living beings. We tried
bacteria, then with multi-cellular organisms. Always with the same
moved the organism to two locations. However, it has never happened
organisms have lived in both places. At least one of them materialised
Isn't this proof of the existence of some kind of life force, a soul?
be duplicated. It follows the heart, as one of our scientists aptly put
Jens died of a heart attack...”
know what you want to ask.
No, we haven't tried with humans or even mammals. I will tell you,
that the key to solving the mystery of Bogatoff's death lies with rats.
Robert Smart sat
alone in Jens Bogatoff's office. He needed to focus. Wolfhart's words
his head. The solution to the mystery has to do with rats and a
Robert approached the device. He swung the door open. The gentle hum of
machinery meant that the machine had started to work. He came in. He
in a chair standing in the middle of the small cabin.
That's all he
felt. A glow of bright light crept softly through his eyelids. Then
noise. The sea? Yes, the smell of salt water reached his nostrils and
the lungs. He opened his eyes.
smiling man helped him up.
it easy. It is the shock
of materialisation. It will soon pass, please breathe deeply.”
made an effort and
looked at the man. He knew that face from somewhere. No, that is not
You know, it's fun
to watch the investigation into your own death, the dance of the
the estate. The poor fools, they don't even know they're not getting
is this place?”
Bogatoff helped Robert to sit down on a wicker chair. “You are not
is unfortunately not paradise, although some people think so. It is
private island in the boundless waters of the Pacific. Well, I guess we
doomed to be with each other... but soon we will bring your family too.
that is your wife will come in handy in my new company. You, on the
will make an excellent head of security. What do you say to that?”
Drietl, commissioner of
Europol's homicide division, stood on the platform of the CW-48 space
silently cursed his boss, on whose orders he fought the wind and rain
Bosphorus. A journey to the space station Finesia awaited him. He was
investigate the death of his colleague Robert Smart. Smart's body was
Jens Bogatoff's office. Interesting, thought Drietl. Is it possible
person conducting the investigation died in the same circumstances as
subject of the investigation? From a heart attack...
commissioner breathed in deeply the sea air. A long investigation
© 2022 Adam Ostaszewski
Bio: Adam Ostaszewski, legal
advisor, living and working in Poland, where he runs his law firm.
Enthusiast and author of short stories and novels of the widely
understood fantasy genre. His interests include classic
science-fiction, fantasy, creation of alternative worlds.
Two of his short stories were awarded in international literary
competitions: at the 1st Clarke-Bradbury International Science Fiction
Competition and at the 2nd Clarke-Bradbury International Science
Fiction Competition and published in English in collections of
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