Detective Robin had long noticed that somebody was following him, step by step. It was not the first time in his career, but this time was surprising as he was not involved in any secret action. Actually, he has been jobless for more than two weeks, now. And he tried to get rid of that follower in various ways, almost amused by that game. But it didn’t even work with the giant Macy’s, where he meandered erratically from one department to the other, even wearing a new hat. The man who was following him was a small, almost insignificant man of probably in his sixty’s, and was always behind him.
Detective Robin realized that that man was indeed a high professional, and decided that it was of no use to go all day like that. So he sat for a coffee in the big and very busy saloon of the moll, choosing a place with a free chair at his side, waiting for him. In fact, the small man came, and sat close to him in silence, without looking at him. But he took out his valet from his jacket, and displayed on the bench, as if he wished to pay right on. And so, the picture and the identification came under the eyes of Robin. Special agent detective Robin saw the name and the mark of the Global Central Security, the big G-CIA. And he had to swallow when he read the name. Wow! The very chief of the Global-CIA! That man was a legend, and several people even doubted that he existed.
He began to sip his coffee and said as if talking to himself.
- Sir, if you wanted to see me, why didn’t you call? I would feel honoured to run to your office.
- Clearly, detective Robin, you are intelligent enough to give yourself an answer to that - answered the Chief.
- Don’t tell me that your phones are under control!
- Indeed, they are. And so are my computers. And about computers, let me add a strange detail. I had chosen your name in a list of one hundred special agents from my computer. Closed the computer, directed towards my assistants to tell them to track you down asap, and saw you, in person, coming out from one office there. I thought it could not be pure chance, and decided to follow you…
- It is a case of synchronicity, Chief. Do you believe in such spooky things?
- No time to chat about that, agent Robin. Stop it! We may be now under scrutiny.
- Such a espionage can only come from The Oriental Ring. And, if I may add, it must have to do with the space fight.
- Go ahead, detective Robin.
- I read classified papers about the controversy on the planet Neptun 6.
- Neptun 6, yes.
- And I know, although I should not know, that we have a space mission ready to go there.
- Yes. It is called the Noah Ark, because is full of animals, that we would like to disseminate there and let them reproduce.
- All out terrestrial animal?
- Of course, detective Robin, our terrestrial animal! Where else from? But only those which can serve as food for our future colonization there. We will send thirty thousand people there in five years’ time.
- I takes three years to get there.
- It gets three years to get there. Yes. And the Ark leaves in three days.
- I guess we are here together because there is some danger of sabotage.
- Yes, and you have been selected among one hundred detectives to solve the problem. You have a couple of days of time.
- Which kind of sabotage?
- We do not know, but we are pretty sure, based on infrared long-distance monitoring, that they have introduced an agent into the Ark. Certainly not for a free ride.
- Man or woman?
- We do not know, come on! Listen, I have to leave you now, perhaps somebody has followed me, as I followed you. Our occasional coffee lasted already too long. Listen carefully. You have ordered a book from Amazon. You will receive it. Read carefully the central twenty pages, which have been substituted. Good by now, and you please pay for my coffee.
- I guess I will have for that a rise in my salary.
- Not time for you humour, agent Robin. Get up and work!
- Yes sir.
Detective Robin took a drone from Macy’s terrace to go back home. And started thinking how all that conflict between the Western Circle and the Oriental Ring had begun. One hundred years back, it was all peaceful and nobody would had ever thought of a controversy between the two parts of the world. But all started with the politics of possession of the exoplanets. The Western Circle had taken the first ten, then the next fifteen, none had gone to Asia, and then China, Japan, all Indonesia, India, almost spontaneously had joined forces to oppose this monopoly. It was first like a cold war, and then it rapidly assumed harsher tones. Stories of spies and crimes of various kind. Now this.
Detective Robin made sure that nobody had followed him, and took all precautions before getting to his floor, pausing before opening the door. The parcel with the book lied on the post vessel outside the door. A nice book he wanted to read since long time, about the life of mankind in the nearby exoplanets. He found the manipulated central pages, and began to read. Very precise instructions. He should order dinner and with that, he will get some special devices that would turn useful for his mission. Forty minutes for dinner, then he should go to the ship. The last line of the book was saying that the robot in guard of the Noah Ark had been instructed - it had been a perfect hacker job- to kill him or any other agent of the G-CIA. Nice! Robin thought.
He was by now hungry, there was only a cold sandwich in his served dinner, which contained instead a series of electronic devices. An infrared gun to detect living bodies and their movements, and a small, very complex gadget to confuse and dismantle the robot’s software. The janitor, down, would take him to a private drone in the garage, waiting for him.
Disguised as a veterinarian control specialist, with due papers to examine the animals inside the Ark, special detective Robin had to pass three long control posts before he could reach the yellow line which was circumscribing the space allotted to the gigantic Ark. It was the largest space ship ever constructed-a gigantic black cigar-like shape sleeping quiet and cold in the large hangar. A robot run immediately towards him, pointing his gun. It was one of the newest robot models, capable of talking with humans, and provided with a certain mental autonomy.
- Stop there, beyond the yellow line! - the robot exclaimed with his metallic voice.
- I will not trespass the yellow line without your permission, robot. What is your name?
- I am Discoid 654. And now I have to make a scan of your face. Do not move!
This was dangerous, thought detective Robin. He will find my face in the G-CIA list, and he is certainly programmed to shoot at me right away.
He took the anti-robot gadget in his pocket and pointed at him.
- What is that? - asked the robot.
- It is also a scanner. I need to make sure that you are really one of the official robots in charge of the Ark surveillance.
- Your scanner… too strong… All my software feel confused… stop it!
- Now, it is done, Discoid 654. No more problem. But I suggest you to go in standby for 24 hours, starting now.
- Standby? But then, I cannot be operational.
The robot’ shining eyes became dark, and he let the gun slip to the floor.
- Are you okay, Discoid 654?
No answer. The robot did not move, did not react.
Detective Robin trespassed cautiously the yellow line. No reaction. He moved fast towards the Ark.
A few meters away from the spaceship, he begun to activate the infrared detector. A lot of chaotic signals, due to all those animals a board. He clicked the differential mood, so as to monitor only the moving bodies. Nobody should be there, at this hour, but in fact there was one moving living body. Probably the spy, thought detective Robin. He climbed up to one side portal, which was locked. Carefully, he opened it with his pass-partout. Entered. There was enough light to walk around.
He begun to move slowly and silently towards the red spot in his infrared monitor. Had to cross a large room full of pigs, each of them in a large bamboo cage.
- They look happy - thought detective Robin waving to them a kind sign of greeting.
The signal was now very messy, and it took a while to become clear again. Up by a steep stair till a corridor with cabins, probably the rooms of the officers. A strong signal from the cabin on the left. Detective Robin took out his gun, and proceeded cautiously towards the door. He paused before pressing the handle. If the door was locked, the person inside would notice the attempted intrusion. And maybe he or she would fire through the door.
But the door yielded easily and detective Robin found himself facing a young oriental woman, probably a Japanese. She was scared, opened the mouth to scream, but remain silent.
- Sit down and do not move! – ordered detective Robin with a harsh voice.
She sat looking at him eagerly.
- What do you want? - she uttered finally.
- I am a spy hunter, and you belong to the Oriental Ring , actually, you look like an officer, right?
- Yes sir, but I am not a spy.
- Oh, no? And what are you doing on this flight, then?
- It is not… as you think, sir.
- No? well, I will take you with me to the G-CIA office, and you will explain there…
- No, you will not do that! - said a voice behind him, and he felt the cold metal of a gun by his head. – Give me your gun!
Detective Robin did as he was told, then went quietly to sit by the girl, who stood up and moved towards the man who had entered. This was in uniform, and Robin thought that he must be one of the captains of the Ark.
- She is not a spy - repeated the Captain. And surprisingly he put down his gun on the table. – You want to know the real story?
- Why not? I have nothing else to do…
- Nice sense of humour. Perhaps you will then understand. Listen.
- I am listening.
- Her name is Elisabeth, and she is, or was, an officer of the Oriental Ring. We met at a meeting in Nagasaki, one year ago, a meeting for peace between high officers of the Oriental Ring and of the Western Circle. We were on opposite fronts, but…
- You started flirting with each other...
- Please, sir! - said the Captain with a concerned voice - it is a serious business. We… well… fell in love and decided to marry. But then, I was destined to this mission to this crazy Neptun 6 planet, to bring there this cargo of animals for reproduction. The journey lasts 3 years, I would have come back at the best in six years. So, we decided to stay together and depart together. This is why she is here. Detective Robin nodded.
- How do you know that you say the truth? Suppose she is a spy who want to sabotage this space trip, and you are a traitor and working with her.
- Can’t you tell the truth from a lie? Are you a robot, or a man? - cried the woman.
- I guess I could tell my chief that the moving signal in their infrared monitor was a pig which had escaped from the bamboo cage… and wondering about the ship…
- Indeed, it really happened one week ago - said the Captain - I have a video that I could give you.
- A pig wondering about the ship… a case of synchronicity, don’t you think?
- We… do not know what you mean, sir…
- Doesn’t matter. Give me the video, and send me a card from Neptun 6.