“Greeting to you all again. I am your host Gregory Archer, the First Agent of the Emperor.”
There was a murmur of recognition. In their fine new clothes, complete with accessories such as men’s and women’s Rolex watches, the party looked quite high-society.
“Except for a very lucky break, I would have joined your exclusive club as a guest of the Memphis Tennessee Police. I was lucky, and now, so are you.
“May I introduce, James, the son of our Emperor.”
There were a few gasps, and then a spattering of applause.
James stood very straight. Archer had provided him a tuxedo. He had a part to play. But I’m getting rid of this suit the instant I get back to Base.
“I am here today to apologize to you, and to thank you for the great services you have provided my father. The Empress Diana, my mother, is at this minute by the side of Emperor Robert. He was poisoned and was only rescued from near death just moments before your own release.”
James could hear the response of some. Many only needed a good reason why they hadn’t been rescued earlier. Others were likely still bitter.
“Your well-being has been a deep concern to us since we heard the news of your arrests.
“The empire has been lax concerning your safety. It had been the hope of my father that nations would more quickly recognize the legitimacy of the empire, and diplomatic immunity could be provided for its agents.
“We will do better. You will be compensated. We will punish those agencies who so unjustly acted against you. And we will provide protection for you and your families from future attacks.”
There were cheers at that.
“Item one. The Empress Diana has ordered that all imprisoned agents be paid hazard honors of one million dollars US for each hour you were detained.
“Item two.” He had to raise his voice over their cheers.
“Item two. You will be provided safe accommodations, of your own choice, anywhere in the world. First Agent Archer will be working closely with you on that. If your homes are no longer safe, families will be moved, and your wishes accommodated.
“Item three. On this table to your right, you will see an assortment of jewelry. You will each select one, and this will provide your greatest protection.
“Each piece has embedded within it a device that can transport you, in an instant, to the empire’s central base. All you will have to do is call out a single word, which I will give each of you in private.
“No longer.” He paused for their silence. “No longer will you be alone. If they come for you, they can’t keep you. If they come for your families, agents at the base can work immediately to protect them.
“My father is correct in pursuing a diplomatic solution to your permanent safety, and when he is fully recovered he will be making strong moves to insure that. But for now, you have my personal bond as Crown Prince that we won’t let you down again.”
“While I was watching one of the James Bond movies, ‘Diamonds are Forever’, I had the notion that what the world really needed to protect itself from the catastrophe of unchecked teleportation, was some kind of special police force, ready to snap into action, with the technology and tactics needed to keep the common citizen from harm.
“But how to do that? I don’t even know how to detect the spheres remotely, and obviously that would be a necessary tool. The instant I reveal the technology to the world, the cat is out of the bag, and the damage is done.
“Then it occurred to me that I could reverse the roles. I could play the bad guy, the Blofeld, and scare the world community into developing the tools and tactics to defeat me. The world would get used to the idea of teleportation gradually, and if I were nimble enough, I could string it out for years.
“Of course, at best I would live my life out in prison, but people are treated worse for much less. It is my invention, my responsibility. The other researchers have the same theories that I started with. How long until someone else invents it independently?
“I could destroy it now, burn my notes, but what would that accomplish?
“The first person to use teleportation will be the seed crystal around which a new civilization crystallizes. Can I do a better job at phasing in this new thing than every one else? Certainly I can do a better job than some. I can think of a dozen ways to kill everyone on earth. So can the next guy. If I can protect the earth, and I turn down the chance, then what am I?”
James closed the log window.
He got up and went to the bedroom. A sphere blocked the doorway. The first thing James had done was to give Dr. Feldstein a semi-permanent portal back to his office, and he was in and out all the time. The bedroom had become an invisible annex to the county hospital where he worked.
James changed the settings and walked through it, then reset them. No matter how trustworthy the doctor was, security measures had to be followed.
His father raised his hand. James grasped it.
“You look terrible, Emperor.”
He whispered something. He was weak and the treatment was still in the early stages.
“I have been reading the logs. I think I understand what you were trying to do. We are all behind you. You won’t be alone anymore.”