As part of a bold new experiment I'm introducing a new serial set in the same 'world' as my short story Intergalactic Law. Ebbington 'Bing' Mulholland is a lawyer on a giant space ark. The ark, the Isaac Newton, has two cities: Galileo, where the science crew live, and Copernicus, which is home to the crew of support staff, and Mr Mulholland himself. So, without further ado, let us begin with part 1:
Bing sat next to the mauled scientist’s hospital bed. Dr Richard Dorrit had lost both arms, his right leg from the mid-shin down, an ear and the tip of his nose. He was in an induced coma and hooked up to an array of machines like 10-foot tall white marble tombstones, each standing silently. Tiny lights flashed occasionally.
“How did this happen?” Bing asked the dismembered man’s wife.
“Something in the woods got him. We were hiking in the Einstein Memorial Recreation Area.“ She pointed out the window. Galileo General Hospital rose above all the other buildings in this district of the city. Bing could see down the whole length of the cylindrical living space of the ship. Bing had been told the exact measurements of the ship at one point, but hadn’t bothered to commit them to memory. Everytime he caught a view of the ship such as this, his mind had to search for the correct adjectives to describe how big the living space of the Sir Isaac Newton really was. On this day, his brain went for ‘really, massively, fucking gargantuan’. The other city on the ship, Copernicus, was just a dark grey patch at the other end of the cylinder. The woman was pointing at a spot 180 degrees around the cylinder. Einstein Park took up a full quarter of the ship’s inner surface. It was a hilly area of mainly light green grassy open plains, but there were deep green patches of forest, and dark green lakes. The hills were impressive, and were equipped with snow machines at their peaks to make them seem taller and allow for winter mountain sports. The lakes, however, were limited by the thickness of the ship’s hull. If a reasonably tall man were to wade in to the deepest point, his armpits would be perfectly dry.
“We were monitoring the bird populations in the forest, and something attacked us from the side. Something big.”
“What did it look like?”
“It was big, and grey. I thought it might have been a hippo, but it was so fast, and nimble, and too streamlined. The main thing I remember was its big, black, glassy eye staring at me as it tore Richard apart.”
“Are there hippos on the ship?” Asked Bing. He’d lived on the Isaac Newton for two years, and had never heard of there being any hippos.
“Yes, the ship was designed to be an ‘ark’ of sorts after all. I'm aware that one of the labs has a large populations of animals for observation and experiment.”
Interesting, thought Bing. He heard a door open behind them. Through it walked Ivan Gunderson, the chief of security aboard the ship. His uniform was crumpled and the top button was undone. Bing had called him several hours ago to attend urgently. Despite Bing explaining to him in several different ways that Dr Dorrit had suffered life-threatening injuries from a violent attack by an unknown source, Gunderson couldn’t see how this was anything to do with him. Ultimately he had agreed to attend.
Bing needed him there because if any lawsuit was going to get off the ground he would have to do quite a bit of investigating to figure out who to sue. Since he was none too popular with the scientific community, and they had worked out that they didn’t need to speak to him, Bing found it helpful to team up with Gunderson from time to time. While the chief of security was equally unpopular, he had authority that Bing lacked. Also, although he didn’t realise it, he was quite open to following any suggestion Bing made, as long as Bing made it seem like the idea had been Gunderson’s in the first place.
“Well, I’m here. What seems to be the issue?” Gunderson asked the room at large. He walked over to inspect the victim somewhat indifferently, like an antique dealer inspecting an expensive chair that he was very interested in, but didn’t want to pay a lot of money for.
“Chief Gunderson, this is Rosie Dorrit, the wife of Dr Richard Dorrit, with whom I see you have already become acquainted.”
“How do you do,” said the chief, without looking up from Dr Dorrit. “This was some sort of animal attack.”
Nothing gets past you, does it? Thought Bing. “I was just discussing with Mrs Dorrit here that I wasn’t aware of there being any animals on the ship that could cause this kind of injury.” Bing nudged the woman with his elbow and nodded to her.
“Yes, and I was saying to Mr Mulholland that there is in fact a large animal population on board the ship for study and potential breeding. That must be where the beast came from.”
“Well, it’s obvious that we should go speak to the persons in charge of this animal facility to find out what they have to say about it.”“Excellent idea Ivan,” said Bing.