Whatever Happened to Ted Johnson? | By: James Turner | | Category: Short Story - Sci-Fi Bookmark and Share

Whatever Happened to Ted Johnson?

By James Turner

“Hello… Yes, we got the order you mentioned… right… yeah it’s already been sent there…Thursday, sure… Thanks, bye”.
Graham Hadley sat bored at his desk, and put down the tiny receiver. He was thoroughly tired and thoroughly un-motivated. Graham was a middle aged and typically middle status office worker. Successful enough to keep a job, but not interesting or corporate enough to be given any sort of promotion above his standing. Sure he was getting paid enough to cover his flat and to keep him in Indian take-aways, but he had reached the non-glass ceiling of this company and was more than happy to stick to it. Graham always made an effort to appear smart, in all aspects. He wore wireframe glasses and always had a suit with a tie that matched company colours on. If other workers actually looked at him closely, they could never tell he couldn’t give a shit about any of his tedious work load. He felt there was thankfully not too many employees at his level who were concerned about their fellow workers, which gave him even more breathing space. The floor he worked on, six incidentally, was a firmly clock in, answer Vid-Screen calls, clock out kind of place. He liked it, it felt like home. Today, Tuesday, was just another day at Nano-Tech Enterprise and he knew it. Despite the great advancements in the World in relation to “big important things”, like the advancement of democracy to counteract the problems of nationalism and the formation of the Central Religious Network of course to help with the problems of organized religion, life at work was still a dull and repetitive environment.

On the Vid-Screen he kept seeing the same unchanged spreadsheet. Numbers and letters blurred into a mess of cells. They were something to do with orders for the company, he knew that at least. Tiredness had slowly gripped his mind this afternoon and he had forgotten the point again of starring at that damn Vid-Screen. Ah, that was it! He was meant to be conferring with head office throughout he day by using the Sphere, but obviously his mind was absent. Shit! It was 4.30 now and he probably wouldn’t be able to contact them again at this time in the afternoon. Thankfully he had done enough work earlier in the week to lessen any criticism that would come his way. Hey, if anyone looked over to see him or Prime Lord forbid, any mind scanners went past, he would invariably start working once more. They would see him typing away, filling the screen briefly with some more numbers, any numbers. The appearance of work was vital to him.

He stared across at the desk opposite him. Man-oh-man was that Sophia a magnificent specimen of woman. She was ergonomically spectacular with wonderful curves, beautiful breasts, as revealed through her cleavage on show in that black blouse, and had a beautiful face to match. Graham had never dare enquire as to her status, although he was fairly certain a woman that attractive would be partnered with some sort of millionaire, and probably a publicly famous guy too. Lucky bastard, whoever that guy was. It had been four years since any intercourse and at some points in his life, I.e. about twice a day he lamented being so single, middle aged and alone. Thirty-Five certainly didn’t mean the end of the road. He had a good job, a hover car and a nice apartment but still nice ladies didn’t take his offer up. Maybe it’s my stink he thought? Crudely smelling his armpits, he thought no way, that is the scent of a successful man. He could see the clock on the wall tick over to 4.55, so grabbed his coat and went out into the lobby to wait for the elevator.

Graham slumped back on his white leather sofa, in his equally gauche but cozy one-bedroom flat. The place was in a nice area and he had made a slight effort to make to convey the appearance of middling success. He had a fine projector, a home Vid-Screen by the far wall and an excellent coffee machine. The overall stylistic impression of his life was good. Graham got up and went to the fridge for another drink. His thoughts went lazily to what had happened after work. Immediately after finishing at the office he had grabbed a couple of moderately expensive lagers in the pub across from road. He obviously shrank away when one of his area bosses from the floor above came into the place. He didn’t want to be seen by them despite knowing that those guys would call in at some point. They were definitely heavier drinkers than he was. Being there was not so much of a problem, he thought. I have enough stats on my system so as not to be suspicious and obviously enough to not yet be fired by them. A couple of drinks in a pub wasn’t a sackable offence anyway. Back in the flat he thought about what he had done at work. His sad conclusion of five cappuccinos and three phone calls was depressing enough for him to grab another beer.

When he arrived at his desk on Wednesday morning, precisely two minutes late, Graham saw a note on his desk. It was crudely written and just said “7th Floor- when you get in, JH”. He gulped a large breath of air. This really wasn’t good he thought, He knew that someone would be there to meet him and that they would be serious. Business actually took place there, he knew that. Money came and went through that office so people took their jobs more seriously than the pencil pushing likes of people such as myself. He fumbled in the lift to press the right button, and before he could even clear his throat he had arrived at the next floor. He continued quietly coughing when the doors opened to reveal John Howard, his area boss. Howard looked at Graham with a bit of contempt and suspicion when he had entered the seventh floor coughing and spluttering. The sturdy looking figure was quick to get to the point.
“Look do you know why you’ve been called up here Mr. Hadley?”
He honestly didn’t.
“No, not really Mr. Howard”
“It isn’t a great problem actually Handley, more of a promotion actually”
“What, a promotion?” Graham started laughing, attempting to make the involuntary laughter quiet but it still came out in a annoyingly boisterous fashion. He didn’t want to appear as some sort of joker or fool to people on the Seventh Floor.
“We aren’t joking with you Mr. Handley. Seriously, we are now looking to make contacts and expand our business of providing Nano-Technology to the intelligent species on Venus”.
Ah, Graham stopped laughing.
“You want Nano-Tech to deal with Venus?” he enquired.
“No, we want you to deal with Venus Graham. Our records show that you have the best psychometric profile to deal with the - ahem - businessmen, shall we politely say of Venus”.
He really didn’t what to say, and certainly didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. Memories were still pretty raw regarding the destruction of so much of Earth following the Venetian War in the late 21st Century. Getting this job was like being charged with the job of helping directly to rebuild Nazi Germany.
“We can assure you great strides have been made to impose democracy on the planet, and we have taught them to appreciate monetary advancement in the way that they knew advancement through violence”
“Right” he absently replied. Graham really didn’t know whether his last particular point was a good thing or a bad thing. Good Lord, some companies really did search for bloody money anywhere. Graham decided to find out more.
“How… how was my profile comparable to the Venetians?”
“You matched them for moral callousness, hesitancy to respect order and the need to express dissidence”
“Ah” he knowingly replied.
“The good news is that in addition to your promotion, you still certainly have a human mind overall. Particularly in regards to your lust levels and your low boredom threshold. Yes, you score on the human level about as well as anybody. You should be relieved”.
“I am. It’s just that some of my brain patterns are… Venetian?” he replied.
“Yes, well some of them”.
Never mind he thought, some Venetian, some human what’s the difference? We weren’t so different he thought. Humans lusted after money, they lusted after destruction, some sort of dynamic could be reached he felt. It’s a basic floor seven, floor six situation. One level is more serious about some things, the other level cares a bit more about other things. Graham felt his brain go slightly numb, as if he had been sitting on it. More had happened in this one morning than had seemingly happened in the last four years at this place! It bothered him that they psyche-monitored his neural activity, but still they did that to everyone these days he thought.
“Can I head back down now Mr. Hughes?” he quietly asked, still a bit overwhelmed by the new task that lay ahead.
“Yes sure Mr. Handley, go get yourself ready for this new job of yours”.

He looked at the Vid-Screen and it no longer seemed so blank and oppressive . He knew the beginnings of serious economic trade agreements were stirring and through the company he worked at of all places! Nano-Tech would be the pioneers in beginning to help rebuild relations between Earth and Venus. It was really quite a task he had on his hands. The peace between the planets had been ensured only through treaties and summonary executions of leading ’war criminals’ from individuals on both sides. There hadn’t been any diplomatic or economic truce that was for sure. Earth had been given free reign to expand economically, whilst the ultimately defeated Venetians had to focus on building social and democratic order. This was necessary to “help” control their legally defined “evil” citizens. There was no denying he thought that the Venetians had got the rough end of the stick following settlements. They paid in all respects in the end. Earth on the other hand continued as before until some of the domestic pressures aiming to minimise all wars came into force. Thank the Prime Lord for that. Graham knew that the days would begin to feel shorter whilst he was preparing deals to be enacted with the telepaths of the Venetian world.  

It was very early Wednesday morning and Graham was still awake. He as mentally pacing up and down in his brain. How should he word the agreements between the parties? Should he refer to them as “evil”? I mean, would he legally have to? Questions, questions, questions. They had kept him awake all night. Three times already he had gotten out of his bed to make a single cappuccino. His idea was that the milk content of the drink would make him tired. This ill-thought precept had come back to haunt him in the shape of thoughts traveling at about a hundred miles an hour. Any milk centric thought he did had was overridden by the caffeine. All positive thoughts start out milky he thought, then the reality kicks in. At some points during the night his brain randomly tried to remember some of the thirteen digit head office numbers he would need. At other times in the night his brain tried to tell him to relax, that this task was just another boring job really at work. He agreed with his later morning milky brain in the end. The arranging of orders with Venetian business would be no different really than making deals with companies in London. Yeah, his conscience thought, like making deals with Nazi funded companies in London. It had a point. The destruction of the Venetian War had undoubtedly changed the Earth, and just the word Venetian continued to retain a dirty influence in the minds of the public. He was surprised actually that Nano-Tech hadn’t put some sort of gagging order on him. This information was very sensitive. Maybe they realised he had no friends and no-one to talk to he absently thought. It was early that Wednesday morning however, in a blurry midst of his caffeine induced state, that he watched an important news story.

He squinted at the large projected image on the far wall. He couldn‘t really see that clearly this early but he could hear the early morning announcements being made on the vid-screen clearly enough.
“Ted Johnson, a supposed citizen of London has today been simultaneously summoned and executed for war crimes during the failed Venetian campaign. We here at Network News can reveal that Mr. Johnson was aged 72 and had been living on Earth in the form of the originally murdered Mr. Johnson for 30 years. He was caught by chance following the work of an off duty police officer”
Graham was stunned and unnerved by the broadcast. He knew in many respects that the Venetians had more advanced technology but a full mind and body switch was a hell of a technique. Selfishly Graham began to worry. He didn’t want to see any negative stories about Venus. He didn’t want the Venetians to be on the defensive, and he didn’t want the even remote possibility of being attacked due to dealing with what had been until that morning the old enemy. He had obviously never heard of this guy, Johnson. The man was old and lived in a care home in Zone 1. That wasn’t the disturbing part. It was the fact that Venetians could be here and living amongst us. They weren’t just a distant enemy. They could be anywhere, on any company floor. He assumed that they would chose to move to Zone 1 to arouse less suspicion, but maybe what if they moved there to try and initiate terrorist attacks? So many questions flowed through his brain. The Venetians were a violent race, they were looking for more ways to kill and destroy the people of Earth, surely that was it. They would initiate attacks in his zone, and kill him and thousands of other innocents! They would not stop into Earth was destroyed, damn Venetians! Calm down Graham. Deep breaths. He paused and regained his composure. The Venetian War was over thirty years ago, and he was only an infant when it had been going on. It was to be Graham Handley himself who was to begin to initiate measures that would lead to increased peace and shared prosperity between the planets. There shouldn’t eventually be any need for an infiltrated terrorist attack now. Beside this guy mentioned, Johnson, he was 72 anyway and was old and decrepit there were no other signs of infiltrated ex-VF members. This guy Johnson clearly posed no apparent harm to the people in his care home or elsewhere. He wasn’t caught by pulling out a laser pistol when they served the trifle, he was caught by an off duty body scanner that a police officer had (illegally) driven past in whilst traveling off his patrol route. He was in the district in order to visit an elderly relative of his. Evidently his law enforcement instincts still came into play even when visiting gramps. Graham knew though that the message had resonance. He would certainly decline to tell people that he was selling robots to the Venetians. And he definitely wouldn’t mention that part of his brain had been shown itself to be Venetian.

When getting in to his office that morning, early this time, actually by about fifteen minutes, Graham found another scrawled letter on his desk “Don’t worry about Johnson, it doesn’t concern us JH”. He was simultaneously relieved and disturbed by the message. They were obviously being careful with the regards to the potentially explosive Earth-Venus relations. So they should he thought, hundreds of placard waving peaceniks and headline hunting news crews would do nothing to help the image of Nano-Tech Enterprises. First things first, Graham thought, he went over to the coffee machine and ordered a strong double espresso with a splash of milk. Sitting down at his desk, he checked the Sphere for any messages, and after reading the usual early morning updates he leant back and guzzled his strong morning boost. After the coffee Graham left his coat at the desk and went to the lift. There was no one about the office on his floor at least. He felt a brief and smug flash of contempt, Ha! Those average floor six workers beavering away like the robots we build on endless and aimless record keeping tasks. He was feeling more confident in himself than he had done for years. Maybe he would ask Sophia out for a drink at some point? Yeah, he’d let her know his status as an official diplomat. A vital figure in defusing tensions following the last devastating intergalactic war. She would have to be a bit impressed by that! He was hoping too that the job would lead to a salary increase, Graham had certainly had his eye on a newer, flashier motor and this promotion would have to help. When Graham looked up he could see that the lift had accidentally gone up to level ten. It was only sheer horror that made him get out on that floor…

Surrounding the body were five huge and well armored police men and a few office workers. They scarcely looked up when he got out of the lift.
Graham found himself standing in the middle of the lift doors gawping, like the classic rubber necking drivers heading past a motor zone pile up. What was going on here he thought? The atmosphere of death hung heavy in the air. Floor ten had the feeling of a battlefield morgue. Instinctively Graham looked around for someone to gain information. He tried to speak to one of the workers who was chatting quietly to one of the larger police officers but all blank faced guy said to him was, “John Howard, it’s terrible isn’t it? I mean this guy was godfather to my kids. He was just a nice guy you know?”
He didn’t know that, but looked empathetic whilst the guy unloaded his emotions about John Howard. Graham suddenly felt very awkward and out of place. Thankfully another floor ten office worker calmly guided Graham to the side. The man was a small and compact guy. He was neat and efficient in nearly every aspect. His being was perfectly suited to calmly dispensing information on any matter. Anything ranging from orders to Zone 3, sudden gangland style executions of fellow office workers, things like that.
“Ah, Mr. Handley, I’m sorry you have had to see this. We didn’t expect to be able to tell you the bad news until a quieter period during the day”.
Graham was still shocked, his mind wasn’t working. Was John Howard from floor seven really dead? Was the very real, very dead body lying there limp and rag doll-esque really that polite guy who had only just started leaving him notes on Tuesday this week? The same guy who was going to get him promoted? The neat chap continued proffering information…
“It is terrible news, unfortunately for John of course and actually for yourself Mr. Handley. The promotion that was offered to you has necessarily been removed, we apologise”.
Somehow he had guess that would happen.
“Can you tell me how he was killed please” morbid curiosity got the better of him.
“He was shot and murdered, a hit and run job. It could be the government, it could even be someone from the Central Religious Network, we don’t know yet. Don‘t tell anyone else that view though”
“So he was assassinated?” Graham was stunned and shocked. “Why?”
“I’m sorry to tell you this, but they believe that Mr. Hughes was a Venetian spy like that fellow at the old people’s home, Ted Johnson”
“What?” Graham didn’t want to believe that.
“There was evidence that he had been sending messages from public Vid-Screens to leading figures in the Venetian Forces. He was another war criminal Graham, like that other fellow summoned and executed”.
There was obviously no public jury this time he thought, things had evidently become suddenly very sour and very serious. The seemingly great world diplomatic progress that the two of them were on the brink of was turning to be just another loose and meaningless dream. The economic truce planned was simply a set up after all. Hughes had been a spy and was sending the Venetian’s knowledge of our war technology. That was just great. Why did this Howard have to start sending him notes? Why did he have to be a damn accomplice to a Venetian spy? His dreams of an intergalactic truce seemed like a bit of an insult now in the cold light of a new day. Truce? His conscious mind laughed callously. There cannot be a truce between a morally superior and a morally inferior planet. The scoffing sound of disdain came from the more annoying part of his brain he normally kept silent. Disappointment and shock however had reinvigorated it. Earth was sorting itself out, but any dreams that it would export these values to the rest of the vastly different planets of the universe seemed fairly fatuous now. The Prime Lord and his virtues were still owned by Earth apparently. Stupid utopian ideals he thought, they just get people murdered. He was annoyed at Howard for dying and briefly spoiling his chances of helping to seal the rift between at least one planet in this universe and Earth. Stupid virtues denying me a new hover car. Then his active mind, the supposedly practical bit then told Graham pertinent news. The good part of the brain told him that the police would soon start following up leads in the company soon and they would quickly lead to him. Graham Handley would be a bloody suspect in an assassination case. Fantastic. Even though he was probably taking a dump or drinking a coffee when the man was killed he would almost certainly have to head down to the station and answer a whole manner of questions probably whilst being mind scanned. Great, a police record. That will really help me if I get fired after all this.
The neat man that introduced him to level ten began speaking again, maybe he had been talking for a while. Stupid interrupting brain, he thought. Without his good brain’s permission.
“Ahem. You should know Mr. Graham that we were developing top secret military technology on this floor. Much like yourself, John Howard came to this floor by accident a couple of weeks ago. Unlike yourself however he left a small but very real mobile vidi-unit to try and get information about the latest military secrets going on here at Nano-Tech Enterprises”.
The news was still rushing through his head. He felt bitter still, despite these latest espionage findings about that Howard guy. There was genuinely going to be peaceful agreements made! He would have been involved in something globally important as opposed to the standard monumentally dull. All parts of his brain were selfishly feeling quietly devastated.
“So my work with regards to Venetian orders is off” Graham asked the floor ten rep, despite knowing the answer.
“They are certainly off Mr. Handley, for an indefinite period that could turn out in fact to be hundreds of years, with any luck. The Venetians may have to be given some more very serious economic sanctions. The use of spies by such a destructive species was obviously outlawed following the post war settlements”.
“Yes of course.” He felt a strange sense of disappointment that the chance for integrated economic trade was slipping away.
When he asked the next question he felt the continuation of that prophetic feeling he had developed.
“Couldn’t we just sell them military hardware as well? Who is to say they would use it against us? It may just be self defence”
The answer was straight from the pre-knowledge text book.
“Really Mr. Handley, they were certainly right when scanning your brain weren’t they?”.
Despite knowing the answer he still felt bothered by the response. So humans really know everything about the universe then? He let the thought go, calmly and without any struggle.  
The tenth floor figure guided Graham back to the lift. The chap obviously had some sympathy for the office drone from level six standing despondently in front of him. Still remaining on a higher level stunned by involvement that day with both death and disappointment.
“Look, I’m sorry you had to see the body. You can take the rest of the day off Mr. Handley”
He didn’t argue. Handley left the large tinted-glass high-rise building of Nano-Tech Enterprises and went across to the pub.

Graham arrived forty-five minutes late on Thursday morning. He hoped it was still morning, at least officially. Driving early whilst having a large hangover was harder work than he anticipated. Mid journey he managed to get the auto route programmed, just in time probably. The night had been an indulgent blur of expensive lagers and shots at the pub. He knew that there would be the inevitable consequences and that work would still be there. Great he thought, another morning of looking at the same, now permanently meaningless, Vid-Screen. He got to his desk and forgot about the need for getting a coffee. Part of his brain knew he needed one, but another more influential part said ’Just sit down Graham, you are here’. He tried to open his early morning messages, to look to see if he had to reply to anyone quickly to apologise for being late. Before he was able to check these messages however his eyes caught a news broadcast that was playing in the corner of his and all other standard Vid-Screens. The stern, brown haired  human automaton began authoritatively reading the new news…
“Police have now caught the two individuals who we believe are the only two spies working for the Venetian Forces. In the spirit of intergalactic diplomacy and following the spirit of the Prime Lord, no reciprocal strikes will be aimed by crafts into Venetian cities or even at Venetian factories. The forces at the World Government and Central Religious Network have made clear today that they genuinely aim to end war as we have known it”.
Graham felt a wave of relief go over him. Maybe peace and trade would be possible again between the two planets again at some point. Maybe after known spies have been killed, he sadly and cynically thought. 
There was actually one real message on the Sphere for him. It read “Go to level ten for police questions.” There was no name given. There didn’t really need to be one with that type of request. Great he thought, time to give a profile of a guy I had just met who happened to be a Venetian spy. Maybe they would like me to talk about Hitler’s favourite breakfast whilst I’m there, or more accurately why this guy Hughes seemed to behave like a spy. Not that his opinion mattered to whoever had killed Hughes. He doubted it would matter to the police much either.

He got to the tenth floor and waited in the immediate corridor. The same neat man met him.
“Yes, hello again Mr. Handley. I see you look a bit worse for wear. Never mind, eh? The questions will be routine, they just want a simple statement about what Howard had said to you in person”.
He got to the desks where the police where sitting and mentally prepared for the pending questions.
“He seemed like a good guy” Graham found himself saying
“He was pleasant and seemed to want to help out with things”.
The police officer to the right of him interrupted…
“Did you ever think he was working for the Venetians? Did he give you any clues”
“Lord, not that I can think of. I guess…”
“Go on, Mr. Handley”
“I guess… Well maybe, he described the Venetians as ‘businessmen now’ I think. He seemed to believe that trade between us and Venus would be easy. I guess I got carried away with the whole possibility of it all as well. I mean I guess he felt that the Venetians were badly treated by the post-war settlements”
“Right, I see” the burly officer replied.
“He was keen to pick you because you were, or are, we should say… workably malleable?”
“Who said that?” Graham felt a surge of anger
“It was in his intercepted Vid-Screen messages to the VF. Look it’s ok, it doesn’t actually mean you are in trouble, it gets you out of trouble”
“That’s good”
“Yes, indeed you were simply picked because you have arrived at work permanently, well until this morning, on time within five minutes of the clock”
“Which we should tell you now is ten minutes early”
He had guessed that before.
“So, Howard really was a spy then?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so”
“And I’m going to be charged aren’t I, as an accomplish?”
“No, you are actually free to go. Like I said, you weren’t chosen because of any psyche-scan, that was totally made up by Howard, you were chosen as we said because you could be manipulated”.
Graham slowly got up.
“Is it ok then now to leave?” he asked.
“Yes, sure you’re free to go Mr. Handley”.
Graham walked back past the desks the police were huddled around, he walked back down through the corridor and back into the lift down to the sixth floor.  

After work, Graham decided to be more productive than getting hammered as he had done the previous night. He cleared the cans and bottles that had been left by his personal Vid-Screen and began to search the Sphere again for the original guy “Johnson”, there was something about that name that bothered him. Despite it being early in the morning the last time he saw the image, Graham could have sworn that he had seen the old man before, possibly even at the pub outside his place of work. He put in the terms, JOHNSON‘Evidence we have exclusively uncovered her on this site has indicated that the man killed, Ted Johnson, was in fact not a veteran of the Venetian Forces but actually a veteran agent for Earth Zone 3 forces! Yes, indeed our research has shown the man may have in fact been a double agent who was involved with the Venetian’s simply to ascertain whether they were or were not going to instigate any terrorist attacks on any Earth Zones. Evidently they were not since the guy had been retired for twenty years and we hear at Newsforce certainly haven’t been aware of any Venetian ordered terrorist attacks on Earth! The rumours too on the Sphere are that the dead businessmen of Nano-Tech Enterprises was another suspect innocent of Venetian involvement! Is there a reason for this Venetian spy panic, Newsforce certainly thinks that the authorities are obviously worried about something emanating from Venus- maybe the gas of that giant war zone Hs become toxic and is heading back to Earth! This is Writer Zee signing off’
Graham decided to give searching a break for a while. The information found on this site had raised enough questions- maybe this idiot was right! Maybe the people killed, Ted Johnson and John Howard were killed by mistake. Howard was obviously a panic job and despite the legal jury, it seems that Johnson was too. Why had a war that had been dormant for thirty years with a now tamed planet suddenly become front page news? Why had John Howard really been killed. Then it struck him, quickly and viciously. Somebody doesn’t want Earth and Venus to begin trading with one another.

Graham actually took Friday off work. He wanted to really get to the bottom of all this. After all he had known John Howard, and he couldn’t shake the nagging suspicion that he knew Ted Johnson. He got himself a double espresso and sat down by the personal Vid-Screen. He decided to search the Sphere this time for VENUSIt was the third piece given on the Sphere that really took Graham aback “Are the Venetians more brutal or more advanced than us?’ It was certainly a question that wasn’t often posed. Earthly superiority was grounded firmly in government and religion. Most assessments of foreign bodies almost certainly ended with disdainful analysis. Not here though, somehow. The article went on ‘We believe at the University of Nairobi that the Venetian people are simply misunderstood. The violent tendencies that have been analysed were the result not of any psychosomatic problems from within the species, but were a natural and fair reaction to the alien (to them) bodies that were entering their vastly different atmosphere. They were reacting to forces armed with weapons to back their pre-supposed reason. They did not co-operate with us as we wanted them to not through belligerence or inferior values but as a result of already being perceived of as a threat. The principle of ’do unto others as they do unto you’ was indeed realised following our earliest relations. Earth and the World Government in particular set the tone of destruction. War followed prolonged hostility and superior notions of the human intellect’.
Graham sat a bit stunned by the piece, thankfully freedom of speech, if not freedom of thought, had been prominent on Earth for centuries. Then he realised the meaning from these three articles, it struck him like a tiny meteorite. Ted Johnson and John Howard weren’t killed because they were Venetians but actually because they were not! Both had involvement in dealing with Venus so they were proved guilty before innocent. The authorities obviously felt they were going o collude with the Venetians and so were killed before any tensions could increase again. Graham began to panic. Surely I would be next on this seemingly short list? I mean he had already sent one proposed order forms to the government of Venus. Sweat started to form at the base of his spine. What would his life be to the authorities? It was clear to him that the deaths of Johnson and Howard had sadly been accepted by the public as blood refreshing the tree of liberty. The dominance of humanity would be ensured by life and death apparently

The weekend passed like so many without real interest or incident and Graham got himself dressed and ready Monday morning in the same mechanical fashion he always did. Apart from in the those rare mornings you struggle with a hangover and with dealing with remnants of sick his conscious told him. Anyway, he soon arrived at work after programming a route that avoided the morning work traffic. He didn’t feel like driving the route this morning for some reason. When he arrived at work for the first day of the week Graham had this horrid and unshakeable sensation that he would indeed be the next person ordered dead for dealing with the Venetians.
He went to the coffee machine first before his desk, collecting greedily two double espressos. Well, if it was to be the last day he was alive then muchos caffeine would be needed
He scanned his screen for any important messages again. Thankfully nothing from the Venetians yet. Thinking ahead for once, Graham went to his ’sent messages’ and deleted both the template and the actual message to the Venetians. There were no messages to be deleted from John Howard. It was almost as if he had never existed. To be sure he scanned his desk for any of the notes Howard had left, thankfully though they had already been thrown into the bin. He checked the bin itself, which was empty. Surely the police or the killers on his case wouldn’t be checking his personal bins for messages? Would they? There was a chance certainly, but he couldn’t do anything about that now. Graham decided to busy himself with the task of looking like a real level six office worker and not some assailant in conspiratorial activities.

It was actually his co-worker and occasional drinker partner Gary that led to the arrest of Graham Handley. He had heard and reported on Graham after that drunken evening, where evidently he had been talking at length to everyone about how important he could be in the history of intergalactic relations. That evening he had arisen the suspicion of the passing thought scanners and half of the other people in the bar too. His situation was different from Ted Johnson and certainly John Howard though. Ted Johnson was certainly an ex zone service man, and he had certainly infiltrated Venus during the war years. He was wrongly tried by the jury for being a Venetian and he did indeed lose his life with the world seeing him as a traitor. John Howard on the other hand was a spy for the World Government, They knew about the military plans going on at level ten, but also about the proximity of Graham Handley himself to these prototypes. You see John Howard didn’t send any vidi-scanners or any other spying equipment into level ten. He had been sent there three months ago by the Intelligence division of the Central Religious Network to monitor suspicious activity from a certain level six employee at Nano-Tech Enterprise aka Mr. Graham Handley. Graham knew that it was his thoughts betraying him. He thought about peace and trade between Venus and Earth more than most, or really any, normal human would. For the simple reason that as an infant at the start of the Venetian War he had been mind and body scanned into the newly born body of a zone 3 infant. He was of course a full and cold blooded Venetian at his core. The Venetians had helped to get him a job, and subtly intervened in his thoughts to try and get him in adulthood to get him a job at a major firm with intergalactic trade. The intention was to try in some small way to end the hostility between Venus and Earth. As telepaths you see, those high officials in the Venetian Forces were aware of certain defeat in the war with Earth. They simply didn’t have the advanced nano-weapons of the combined World Government forces. The original, eventually altered intention had been to use Handley as an intergalactic spy. To force him to indeed go to level ten get a promotion at some point and to steal prototype nano-weapon technology at the very cutting edge used by Earth forces. Unfortunately Graham Handley had proved quite adept at reacting to conditions on Earth and become to all intents and purposes a human. Despite the continued subliminal telepathic messages sent to him, unknown by the thought scanners because of the different cerebral frequencies of the species, Handley went undetected and unchanged by Venetian orders. Ironically it was his human thoughts of attempted reconciliation and his damn praise of the Prime Lord that on the one hand pointed him out as a non-typical human (seeking reconciliation with a defined enemy, whatever next!) and on the other modulated his thoughts to force the Venetian high command to consider his placement to advance more peaceful means. The high command of the Venetian Forces were not fully distraught however when Graham was caught. His mission had failed and become potentially problematic. Indeed it was a relief that the authorities on Earth decided to do the judgmental killing for the Venetians. If only they knew, General Philox thought, what destruction some of their warped ideals caused. That article Mr. Handley had found was certainly right. The Venetian Species was not inherently destructive, but they had to reply to conflict that was generated on Venus. They had to consider the continuation of their species via any means possible. Survival not war was their basic instinct. War had temporarily at least changed that, like it had with most other nations who suffered from righteous hostility. Peaceful reconciliation between the planets he realised would be impossible whilst such destructive processes of thought went on from within. Never mind though. Let them slowly undo the progress they have made. Then we will return with greater purpose, greater meaning and greater weapons. Indeed through Graham Handley they had began to comprehend and appreciate the meaning of the Prime Lord. This was a monumental discovery for the Venetian Forces, and they wanted to spread the findings to their people. God had finally found Venus. The Venetians had strongly come to fell that the human race, particularly as represented by the destructive Central Religious Network (which was ironically set up to minimise religious differences) could be a globally destructive presence in the liberation of other intergalactic species. The Venetians now too intended to spread the word of the Prime Lord. The Venetian High Command responded to the execution of jury of Graham Handley with plans and procedures to show Earth, by force, the true mental and spiritual liberation offered by the Prime Lord. General Philox felt charged with religious righteousness and set out to carefully plan a more effective war to wage with Earth.      

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