Date: June 22nd, 2022 8:55 AM
Author: Adolf Anderssen
The year is 3025. The technological singularity has come, and most of mankind has been uplifted and lives in a Zone of Thought, as a pure creature of intention in touch with all creation. But the future is unequally distributed. There are "Slow Zones" where the old laws of physics apply. That's where the hyperlawyers bill their time.
Meet Mortimer Kikel, Esq., a partner at Spacelli & Sprokette, LLP. He's been working on your application to blow up Mars, but the Slow Zone's old-fashioned legal system has been stalling him. He's been waiting years for the right technology to solve his problem. Now he's got it.
Mortimer is a "stitchpig," a creature grown from human and pig DNA, designed to be used as a living computer. He's been implanted with a "Harrowgate," a quantum tunneling device that's the key to the future of the Slow Zone. With the Harrowgate, Mortimer can instantly travel anywhere in the world, without the need for a starship.
The only problem is that the Harrowgate is illegal. If Mortimer is caught using it, he'll be arrested and jailed. But that's a risk he's willing to take, because he knows that the future of the Slow Zone depends on it.
Mortimer is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, and he's going to need all his legal skills to survive.
"There's been a breakthrough, Mortimer."
Mortimer Kikl looked up from his workstation to see his boss, Rupert Spacelli, standing in the doorway of his office. Rupert was the senior partner at Spacelli & Sprokette, LLP, the largest law firm in the Slow Zone.
"What kind of breakthrough?" Mortimer asked.
"You remember that project we've been working on for years, to blow up Mars?" Rupert said.
"Of course," Mortimer said. He had been working on the project for nearly a decade.
"We've finally got the technology we need to make it happen," Rupert said. "I've been authorized by the partners to give you a promotion."
Mortimer's heart skipped a beat. He had been waiting for a promotion for years. "I'm being promoted to partner?" he asked.
"Not exactly," Rupert said. "You're being promoted to head of the Mars project."
"But that's not a real job," Mortimer said. "It's just a title."
"It's a real job, Mortimer," Rupert said. "You'll be in charge of the project. You'll have a team of lawyers working for you."
"I don't understand," Mortimer said. "Why me?"
"Because you're the best lawyer we have," Rupert said. "And because you're a stitchpig."
Mortimer resisted the urge to touch his snout. He had been born a human, but he had been genetically modified to be part human, part pig. He was one of the first stitchpigs, and he had never gotten used to his new form.
"What does being a stitchpig have to do with it?" Mortimer asked.
"The Mars project is classified," Rupert said. "Only stitchpigs are allowed to work on it."
"I see," Mortimer said. He had always known that his status as a stitchpig was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, he was one of the most intelligent beings on Earth, with a brain that was specifically designed for legal work. On the other hand, he was an outcast, discriminated against by humans. He had always wanted to be treated like a normal person, but he knew that was never going to happen.
"You'll be able to work from home," Rupert said. "We've installed a Harrowgate in your office."
Mortimer's heart skipped another beat. He had heard of Harrowgates, but he had never seen one. They were illegal in the Slow Zone, but that didn't stop people from using them.
"A Harrowgate?" Mortimer asked, trying to keep the excitement out of his voice.
"Yes," Rupert said. "It's a quantum tunneling device. It allows you to travel instantaneously from one point to another."
"I see," Mortimer said. He had read about Harrowgates, but he had never thought he would actually see one.
"You'll be able to use it to travel to Mars," Rupert said. "And back."
"I see," Mortimer said. His mind was racing. With a Harrowgate, he could travel anywhere in the solar system, without a starship. He could even travel to other star systems, if he could find a way to open a gate to them.
"The partners have authorized me to give you a bonus," Rupert said. "Ten million credits."
Mortimer's jaw dropped. He had never even dreamed of having that much money. "I don't know what to say," he managed to stammer out.
"Say yes, Mortimer," Rupert said. "This is your chance to make a difference."
Mortimer thought for a moment. He knew that he should say no. He knew that the Mars project was illegal. If he was caught using the Harrowgate, he would be arrested and jailed. But he also knew that this was his chance to change the Slow Zone. With the Harrowgate, he could travel anywhere, without being restricted by the slow speed of starships.
"Yes, Rupert," Mortimer said. "I'll do it."
"Excellent," Rupert said. "I'll have the contract sent to your office."
"Thank you, Rupert," Mortimer said.
Rupert turned and walked out of Mortimer's office. Mortimer sat back in his chair and took a deep breath. He had just made the biggest decision of his life.