tagSci-Fi & FantasyUninvited Ch. 03: You Shouldn't Be Here

Uninvited Ch. 03: You Shouldn't Be Here

bySnekguy©

CHAPTER 1: FALSEHOODS

I had taken to calling her 'Vi', short for Viper of course, but if any coworkers asked me who I was dating, I could tell them it was short for Violet, or Victoria. She didn't seem to have a real name, or at least none that a human tongue could pronounce. Her visits had become routine since discovering that I lived in the same city she was posted in, and after finding out the address of my spartan apartment she had taken to dropping in almost nightly, whenever her patrols allowed it. My initially boring job had become a welcome reprieve from the nights of endless passion on my now demolished bed frame, and the dull grind of the bottling plant was now tolerable, knowing that my alien lover would no doubt climb through my window and flop heavily into my bedroom after the sun had gone down and the yellow glow of the street lamps was the only illumination. Since the day we had met she had been enamored with me, and to this day I could never guess why.

I no longer missed my family's farmhouse, or my old job, my daily routine was a haze of lovemaking and recovery, I barely noticed the passage of time any more. She was a ferocious lover, her appetite inhuman, and some days I could barely walk to the factory the morning after one of our violent romps. Today was one such day.

"You old dog!" My coworker on the line next to me slapped my back affectionately.

"That girlfriend of yours keeping you up again? Judging by the bags under your eyes you two were at it all night. I'm tellin' you buddy, she'll be the death of you."

I waved him away, chuckling.

"She may very well be, and since when did you have such a keen interest in my sex life, Harry?"

He grinned, his hands moving with a learned agility as he worked the production line.

"Well we never see her is all, the boys think you're hiding her. Big girl is she?"

"You could say that, yeah."

"Hey, to each his own, my wife was a real looker and now she doesn't give me the time of day."

The end of shift bell rang, and we got up from our seats, I flung my coat over my shoulder and clocked out, swiping my ADVENT ID card through the scanner. My friend did the same, accompanying me to the factory gate.

"You'll have to introduce us some time, bring her to the bar, I want to see her for myself and judge if you deserve her."

He took a long drag of a cigarette, then tossed the spent butt into the road.

"Maybe she can give my Irene some pointers on how to not be a frigid bitch."

"I'm sure she'll come around Harry." I replied. "Buy her something nice with this week's wage."

"It would have to be this month's wage the way she throws my paycheck around." He complained. "Besides, why spend money on a failing marriage when I can spend it on beer, and forget I'm married?"

We walked together for a while, chatting about nothing in particular, I didn't have much in common with Harry, but the social niceties must be observed, and he wasn't a bad guy, just a little burned out. Many people were these days, the war against the XCOM insurgency was going badly, sporadic terrorist attacks and even street battles had made news headlines in the last few months, despite ADVENT's technological edge, they were losing ground. The troops were becoming increasingly nervous and militarized, it wasn't uncommon to see towering robots and automated turrets on the city streets, their emotionless sensors scanning every human who walked by them. It made everyone nervous, at least a trooper waving a stun baton and barking incoherent orders had a mind of his own, who knew what parameters these great metal constructs used to determine friend from foe.

I raised my eyes to the clouds as a dropship flew overhead, skimming the tops of the tall buildings that lined the road, its engines flaring against the setting sun.

"Off to round up some protesters no doubt." Harry quipped, shielding his eyes as he watched the craft diminish into the distance. The civil unrest was another problem, people were unhappy with ADVENT's inability to guarantee their safety, especially with the disruptions to the clinics and gene therapy treatments that XCOM seemed oddly fixated on. ADVENT's response to the rioting was oddly callous, they had been several deaths as Mutons and security robots were deployed against civilians, raising serious questions about the alien leadership and their management of the situation.

It was becoming clear that freedom of speech and assembly were not a priority for the occupying force, I remained ambivalent, people were stupid to expect restraint and tolerance from what until very recently was an invading army, and ADVENT had miscalculated the human response to the ever present plague of terrorism.

If anyone was truly at fault it was XCOM for their incessant harassment, but the clandestine organization was not in the public light, and so people lashed out against whoever they could easily reach.

I waved goodbye to Harry as he took a branching street to his favorite dive bar, and I continued along my usual route home past the ADVENT checkpoint, they were extra twitchy, and I made sure to approach slowly and keep my hands in view. I was waved through, and was soon entering the door to my apartment building. I climbed the stairs, fumbling for my keys in my trouser pocket, and unlocked the door, discarding my coat on my ruined bed. The mattress sagged and the springs were shot, it sent blood to my cheeks as I remembered the previous night, and anticipated the next.

I opened my fridge, leaning in for a soft drink, and heard a knock at my door. I hesitated, I didn't have any friends who visited me, who could it be? I put the drink back, and walked to the door.

The visitor knocked again, more urgently this time. I hurried, unlocking it and opening it a crack, peering out into the hallway.

"Yes? Who is it?"

There were three men standing there, two ADVENT troopers, their faces hidden by their signature red armor, and a short man wearing a long black duster and round eyeglasses with dark lenses that obscured his eyes. He fiddled absent-mindedly with his black leather gloves, and straightened his spectacles before addressing me. The two troopers held rifles, shifting their weight from foot to foot nervously.

"I'm sorry to bother you so late, sir. I'm with the ADVENT bureau of intelligence, I wondered if I might take up a few minutes of your time?"

He waited, clearly expecting to be invited in. The idea did not appeal to me, what would he say should Vi drop in through my window a little early tonight, her chest plate already half removed?

"Er..."

The short man waited, impatient.

"S-sure, please come in."

I opened the door all the way and stood aside as the men walked into my tiny apartment, the two soldiers moved to either side of the room, one checked the en suite bathroom suspiciously. The short man with the spectacles looked around the messy living space with distaste, a sneer on his lips, then pulled up a chair at my kitchen table, gesturing that I should join him with a gloved hand.

I sat, a worried look on my face.

"Er...how can I help you inspector?"

He reached his hand into his duster, retrieving photographs printed on laminated paper, and tossed them unceremoniously onto the table. I picked them up, leafing through them, they were candid pictures of a man, he looked to be about middle age, maybe younger. They looked like screenshots from a security camera.

"Are you currently, or have you ever been in contact with one Tiberius Harris?"

I thought for a moment, examining the photographs.

"I had a cousin called Tiberius, I wouldn't forget a name like that. But I'm afraid I've not been in touch with him since before the invas...before the liberation."

The little man eyed me through his dark glasses, he resumed fiddling with his gloves, tugging at the fingers one by one, it was distracting, I tried to keep my focus on his face.

"One Tiberius Harris was caught by our street cameras, planting an explosive device on a monument to the Elders, a heinous crime as you can surely appreciate."

I nodded.

"We believe he is in league with XCOM, they probably recruited him immediately after the war and he has only just resurfaced. He must have had help getting in and out of the residential zone, we have records of all the soldiers who fought against ADVENT during the liberation and who did not surrender, and our automated security systems would have identified him were he to attempt to enter an ADVENT controlled zone."

"So you think because he's my cousin, it was me?"

The inspector pushed his glasses up the bridge of his pointed nose.

"You can appreciate how we made that connection, I'm sure. This is not a personal attack against you, we're simply following up what few leads we have. It is my job to root out and expose support for this terrorist organization in all of its forms, from planting bombs in clinics to simply expressing anti-ADVENT leanings, we cannot be too careful in these...trying times."

I nodded enthusiastically.

"Oh of course Inspector, I didn't mean to imply anything, I just wanted to clarify."

"Indeed...you are of course innocent until proven guilty, the law is no less just and fair under ADVENT administration."

I relaxed into my seat a little, relieved.

"Can I offer you a drink, perhaps?" I glanced to his security detail, only their mouths visible under their heavy helmets. "Or your men?"

He waved his leather clad hand dismissively.

"That won't be necessary, thank you. What I'm here to determine today is of course, your innocence in this affair, and in order to do that I would ask you to accompany me to the station, so that we can question you and ascertain whether you're being truthful with me."

I shifted uncomfortably in the plastic chair.

"With all due respect Inspector, how long will that take? I'm supposed to be somewhere tonight, and tomorrow I have work."

"We will of course inform your employer of your situation, assuming our questioning should drag on that long, which I seriously doubt, as for your social obligations I'm afraid you will have to make excuses next time you see your friends."

"Oh..." He was being polite, but firm, I felt as if I didn't really have a choice. Now was not the time to try his patience, it looked like his soldiers could drag me away kicking if they needed to.

"Very well inspector, please give me a moment to gather my things."

He nodded and rose to his feet, the soldiers returning to flank him.

"Please join me in the hall when you're ready."

The ride to the station was less than pleasant, I was loaded into the back of a troop transport with the inspector and his two cronies, and nobody spoke during the short drive. I tried to keep my eyes on the floor of the vehicle, and not on the troopers who stared at me from behind their opaque visors.

When the truck came to a stop I was hurried inside, and walked past the front desk to a room in the back of the small building, past holding cells and weapon racks. One of the troopers took me roughly by the arm and seated me in a cold steel chair before a desk, the room was featureless besides the door, the sparse furnishings and a solitary security camera in the top right corner.

The two troopers stood guard on either side the door, and after a short delay the inspector entered, pulling up a chair in front of the desk to stare at me.

"As you are probably aware, we do not make these allegations lightly."

I sat silent, worried that anything I said offhand might incriminate me.

"Perhaps the...previous administration might have afforded you Miranda rights, but under the declaration of a state of emergency those rights have been temporarily suspended, you will be required to waive them before we continue, and then tell us everything you know."

"Hang on, you're going to 'make' me waive my Miranda rights? How is that legal?"

"Are you a lawyer, Sir?"

"No, but I know my-"

"Then kindly refrain from interpreting legal matters, this line of questioning concerns national security, and you will answer any questions that are put to you truthfully."

"I never said I wouldn't..." I complained, leaning back in my chair. This inspector was rapidly draining my patience, ADVENT or not, everyone still had rights. I wasn't about to let myself be bullied by this glorified bailiff.

He seemed to sense my hostility, leaning on the metal table with his gloved hands arched.

"This can be easy, or it can be hard, answer truthfully and tell me what you know, and you'll be out of here and back home in time for bed. Resist me, or attempt to deceive me, and I will know."

He removed his dark glasses, I recoiled in shock as he revealed slitted, reptilian pupils in oversized sockets, odd skin patterning extending across his face like a grotesque Venetian mask. His green eyes reflected the light from the naked bulb on the ceiling, he must be genetically enhanced in some way, perhaps so he could detect the minute tells of a liar or the subtle contractions of fear in a human retina. I was taken aback, rattled, and he no doubt knew.

"What..."

"What am I?" He chuckled, pulling his leather gloves taut. "I am an ADVENT inspector, enhanced in order to seek out and expose enemies of the Elders."

He pushed a glass of water along the surface of the desk. I grasped it and took a draw, never taking my eyes off his bizarre face. His alien eyes peered at me, piercing in their intensity, I felt like he could see through my very soul.

"Shall we begin?" He asked.

I nodded.

"So, you admit that Harris is your cousin, and you deny any and all contact with him since the events of the war?"

I tensed, we were being recorded by the camera, and he was wording his questions in such a way as to incriminate me.

"I don't 'admit' to anything, Harris is my cousin, that's a fact."

The inspector smiled wryly.

"Be that as it may, you are a blood relation of a known terrorist, who entered the city through unknown means, bypassing all of our security checkpoints. Tell me, do you know a secret way in and out of the residential area?" He scrutinized me, his reptilian pupils expanding as he stared. It was making me nervous, I worried he would mistake that for guilt.

"No."

His eyes narrowed.

"Please maintain eye contact when you answer my questions."

I looked him in the eyes and answered again.

"I do not."

He watched me for a moment, then moved on to the next question.

"Can you tell me any details about the last time you saw Harris? Where you might have seen him? What might have been said?"

"It was twenty years ago!" I scoffed. "I would only have been...twelve or thirteen."

"And how old was Harris?"

"He was nineteen, he'd be around thirty nine now, he was a soldier in the defense force."

"He hasn't contacted you in any way in the last twenty years?"

"No, I was sure he had died in the war. Now I see he must have gone underground."

The inspector scrutinized me.

"What about you? Do you harbor any ill will towards ADVENT or any pro-rebel leanings? I noticed when I was reading your records that you were forcibly relocated from your family's residence in the country when a nearby clinic was destroyed. A strange coincidence that you are the cousin of a known terrorist who has been living under the radar for twenty years, that a clinic near your family's residence was destroyed, and that Harris happened to show up in the residential zone shortly after you were relocated here."

My face reddened and I lost my cool for a moment.

"Hey, that's some pretty fucking speculative reasoning there!" The two soldiers bristled, their fingers hovering over the triggers on their energy rifles.

"Please try to maintain your composure, Sir." The inspector grinned, this was what he wanted, for me to lose my cool and slip up, he had no intention of treating me fairly, he had contrived a conspiracy theory in his head, and wanted only enough circumstantial evidence to make it stick, regardless of my innocence. I was in real danger.

I tried to relax and control my breathing, thinking of ways I could turn this situation around.

"If you have records of me, you'll know that I've never attended a protest, and I've never been in trouble with ADVENT security."

"Why would a terrorist make his allegiance known by attending a protest?" The Inspector smirked. I folded my arms defensively, leaning back into the chair. His emerald eyes tracked me intently.

"I'll ask the question a second time, try to answer it directly, do you harbor any ill will or resentment towards ADVENT for the loss of your family home?"

I considered for a moment, the cogs turning in my head. If I lied, he would probably know, and if I told the truth it might incriminate me further. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. I chose to tell the truth.

"A little, yes. But I'm past that now, I'm quite comfortable in my new apartment, I like my job."

His brow furrowed, was he annoyed that I had responded truthfully? Unbelievable. If I didn't have any resentment towards ADVENT before, I certainly would now.

"Be that as it may, I would still call that probable cause."

I shook my head in disbelief.

"Tell me, has anyone visited your apartment in the last few months?"

Shit, I couldn't tell them about Vi, who knew how they would react, but I couldn't lie either, I would have to choose my responses very carefully.

"Yes."

"Can you tell me who?"

"A girlfriend."

"And when does this girlfriend visit you? After curfew?"

"Yes."

"That is a violation of the law in itself, and you admit to it freely?"

"I do."

The inspector retrieved a tablet computer from inside his duster and tapped it, entering information.

"What is her name?"

I hesitated, trying to plan my answer, the inspector noticed and watched me silently. If I lied and gave a false name he would know, and they would certainly check for records of such a person, and find none.

"I can't tell you, I don't want to get her in any trouble." I replied, it wasn't a lie.

"While I understand your desire to protect your friend, I must remind you that willfully withholding information from an inspector during an interrogation is a crime, and yours are starting to rack up."

I took another swig of water from the glass, then set it back down on the table.

"Begging your pardon inspector, but I don't feel as if I'm being given a chance to defend myself, I would like a lawyer."

He chuckled, putting a gloved fist to his mouth to suppress the sound.

"You don't get a lawyer, and you don't get a trial by jury either, we're at war and all of your rights have been suspended, I will give whatever information I can glean from you to an ADVENT appointed judge who will make the decision on whether to convict or acquit, and let me warn you in advance, they have very little patience for XCOM sympathizers."

I opened my mouth to complain, but he cut me off.

"If you want to blame someone, blame XCOM, this is not how we wanted to handle things."

"Let me guess." I said sarcastically. "You're also going to detain me without charges and deny me my phone call?"

"That is about the state of things, yes. Perhaps you don't realize how much trouble you're in, but now is not the time to be making sarcastic remarks."

I shrugged dismissively.

"I don't understand what you want from me, you're not allowing me to defend myself and it sounds like your mind is already made up. You can't charge me with a crime based solely on blood relation."

He pounded his gloved fist on the table, the impact made me jump out of my seat in surprise.

"I want names, I want safe houses, tell me how Harris got in and out of the city without being detected, tell me how he contacts XCOM."

"I don't know any of those things! I'm not a rebel! I can't tell you things I don't know!"

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