“Perhaps we could rule you as incompetent?” Vrennj replied. “That sometimes works.”
“Generally depends on the judge making the ruling. The lawyers are good about knowing the best path to take for that.”
“How do I contact one of them?”
Vrennj held out her palm and touched in two places, without any holographic image displayed. “There I’ve done it for you.”
“How does that work?”
“A lawyer will show up, decide you can’t pay him and leave. Maybe one will take the case because you might remind him of his grandfather or something.”
I’m not that old, Knowles wanted to shout. He asked politely instead, “No I mean your hand. How does that work? How does it display an image?”
“Oh,” Vrennj looked startled that anyone would ask. “I’ve had a printed biometric system installed, rather, my boss allowed me to obtain one. I just was promoted to the third assistant to the senior junior supervisory board.”
“The senior junior board?”
“Yes we are the board that sets up the matches between the inter-galactic worlds and opposed to intra-galactic.”
“You would think the senior board would be in charge of inter-galactic matches.”
“Technically, they oversee both, but there is more to lose in local matches than those from another galaxy.”
“Certainly, take yourself, for instance,” Vrennj explained. “There would no political fallout if something happened to you. We have no treaties with earth, and unlikely will seek one. For someone more local, it is a different matter. That’s why the seniors handle them.”
“I’m sure a senior senior board member would have some clue about obtaining some sort of accouterments.”
“Wait here, I’ll see what I can do,” Vrennj said. “You may look but do not touch anything while I’m gone.”
Knowles nodded as he watched a wall fade as Vrennj walked through it. It formed immediately after she passed through.
He wondered around the room looking at the equipment. He could not comprehend any of it. Screens that appeared as large as his Philco set at home were not nearly as thick. What kind of tube do those use? he thought.
As he walked through the room the enormity of his situation sank in. This accused crown, he fumed. Why did I ever think to desire it, to put it on?
He reached up and tried to take it off. As soon as he touched it, the lights went out and the room was plunged into darkness.
“Damn,” Knowles whispered.
He stood in the silent dark room for the longest time. He feared to move.
At last, bright light from one side of the room blinked and faded.
“You couldn’t follow directions even for nine minutes? Now I’m remembering why we rarely have Earthers. They never listen even to the simplest directions.”
The lights came on once again, the brightness again momentarily blinding Knowles.
“Here sign this,” Vrennj held out a thin glass square with unintelligible script.
Sighing Vrennj pointed out a small oval near the bottom of the screen. “Just slide your thumb over the oval.”
Knowles did so. The script disappeared and a new one took place. He found the oval and looked at Vrennj.
“Yes, sign that one, too,” she smiled. “Humans might be trainable after all.”
Knowles ended up signing eight pages.
“What did I just do?”
“You got these,” Vrennj handed him a large container. “You may enter the cubicle you came here in and get dressed.”
Knowles entered the cubicle, the door slid down and the lights stayed on. He opened the container (there was a small oval that he slid his thumb across – resulting in a small hiss and the lid opening). He reached in and pulled out an outfit very similar to the one Samir showed him. He put it on.
Everything fit perfectly, even the boots.
He wondered how to leave the cubicle. “Vrennj, how do I leave the cubicle?”
“Touch the door,” was the muffled reply.
He did so. A satisfying hiss as the door opened was his reward.
“All of this fits great. You must be a great size estimator,” Knowles said.
A cold glare shot through Knowles.
“We do not estimate here. We have precise measurements of every part of your body.”
“How did you do that?”
Vrennj rolled her eyes and took a deep breath. “How do you think you got here?”
“I put on the crown and passed out and woke up in that small room.”
“Genius!” Vrennj said. “So in your mind, the crown had something to do with your coming to this place?”
“Well then,” Vrennj smiled. “It’s amazing that you grasp a concept such as this, considered that a score or so millennium ago, your ancestors were dragging their knuckles as they walked. My, how humanity has advanced!”
“So, the crown somehow got me here?”
“Before I explain this to you, please let me have your full name for my records.”
“T. Frederic Alfred Knowles.”
“The ‘T’ is for what?”
“I usually don’t use it.”
“I’m sure you usually aren’t whisked away to different worlds either. Nevertheless, I need the full name for the records.”
“Thaddeus,” Knowles whispered.
“Thaddeus? I understand. I’ll just call you Ted from here on,” Vrennj said.
“So,” Vrennj continued. “To explain, Ted, how you arrived here. Once you placed the helmet upon you quasi-civilized head, you were whisked to the large cubicle in which you arrived. The helmet compressed all you cells storing you effectively in the cavity now occupied by you cranium. The cubicle device, while carefully avoiding those little orbiting silver balls that your world considers a ‘Space Program’ launched into a near speed of light jump, coming through a wormhole and delivering you to an orbit her. Once in orbit, your cells were decompressed.
“In that we have a highly complex decompression system, exact measurements were made. Also, we were able to remove your appendix, several polyps, and permanently repair a stress fracture in your right lower leg. I’d imagine that it is only now that you understand why you have no pain whilst you walk.”
“I thought it might be a lighter gravity or something.”
A pleasant tone sounded, ending the conversation.
“Ah, it must be your lawyer.”