This is a free, serialized episodic story of the case of Earth v. Nibbitz World Theme Parks over patent infringment on oxygen-breathing life forms.
New episodes will be released from time to time as the manuscript progresses. Eventually it may become a book you can download on your eReader.
Nibbitz Worlds Theme Parks Chief Counsel and Vice President of Sales Friziza Snazazar read the message drone and waved it aside. Friziza was pleased that its aid had successfully communicated with the lottery winning earthling lawyer and that transfer of knowledge had begun. Many doubted that Fartz had what it took to be a leader in this very important case, but Friziza wasn't blinded by the fact that Fartz was mostly Mantorian. In this role it meant Fartz would be doubly aggressive, and that's what Friziza needed right now. Winners, not yes-its. And if that meant having a mostly Mantorian on the team, then so be it. At least when the case was over, win or lose, Friziza would come out ahead. Having a mostly Mantorian on the team meant there was also a mostly at-fault scape-goat too, and if hard pressed, a Mantorian war wasn't such a bad way to re-stimulate the economy.
Frizaza turned while checking itself in the mirror. Good, it thought, no green. That wouldn't do just before a meeting. Frizaza, like all Zothorians, had traces of green in its gaseous form, but unlike Mantorians, Zothorians could turn their green inward as any socially responsible life form would do. It was simply ghastly to flare green for any reason. Even the stress of such an important case as this should not be obvious. No civilized Zothorian would have confidence in Frizaza otherwise. In this regard Frizaza envied its Mantorian comrade. Nothing expected a Mantorian to be capable of concealing its green, therefor they had no stress in constantly trying.
"Gentleclouds," Frizaza said aloud, rehearsing its speech one more time. "This is a momentous occasion for Nibbitz Worlds. We are on the verge of acquiring the most biologically advanced, self-preserving planetary body in the 9-X Fun Parks Properties galaxy. With this acquisition not only will we make Nibbitz Worlds synonymous with virtual oxygen breathing life-form fun, we enter into one of the fastest growing galaxy economies in this universe."
Frizaza coughed and looked itself over in the mirror again. No green, even though the stress was unbearable. You're as slick as a storm, Frizaza thought. But Frizaza knew better than to fall for its own sales pitch. All the investors wanted to know was when the deal would close and how long before Nibbitz could start admitting guests to the Planet Earth theme park.
One hundred days, Frizaza would boast. In ninety days the court case would be heard. No human lawyer stood a chance against Frizaza Snazazar in this matter. Frizaza had been on this case for centuries. It knew every angle and every law. It would crush the human legal defense like a steam roller. They stood no chance. The matter would be settled in 3 days of hearings and in 7 more, Planet Earth would open. What a shining legacy it was making for itself. There was sure to be a star named after it. Maybe even the whole Earthling solar system.
That's why Frizaza was livid when Krutz asked the one question that had never been considered. After listening to Frizaza's long and detailed plans, Krutz coughed to clear the air, then asked "What if you lose the case? In all the details discussed there’s no mention of a contingency."
"What?" Frizaza roiled, fighting to control the undulations of its gaseous form.
"These numbers and projections are all based on taking ownership of Earth," Krutz explained. "Yet I see nowhere your projections should you lose the case. I just thought we should know worst case projections too."
"I see," Frizaza hissed, drifting near a window to look itself over before proceeding. It didn't want the wrong appearances.
"This is a significant investment we're talking about," Krutz went on.
"I understand your concerns," Frizaza told Krutz, although it addressed all the assembled members of the board. "We not only have four cases worth of precedence in our favor, but the preliminary injunction order is seeing a trial, meaning we have a valid claim that Earth must defend. Our judge has a long-standing history of pro-business positions. Finally, you have me leading the legal team. The projections I've laid out, with Earth becoming a Nibbitz Worlds property in 100 days, are our worst projections."
Many of the investors were impressed, others even smiled. Greed was a drug, after all. Nobody wanted reality. They wanted their riches doubled, tripled, ten-fold, and more. Krutz silently steamed, but it would back Frizaza in the end. Greed was stronger than reason.
Wayne still didn't believe any of it. Well, he actually did, but was so dumbfounded by the notion that it still seemed impossible. He sat at the corner coffee shop across from Scarlett Johansson, who graciously signed autograph after autograph and took pictures with countless adoring fans. It irritated him that this thing—what else could he call it?—was having such fun at the expense of the human race. Knowing that the whole custody battle over Earth was for exactly that purpose, so things like her could come live out fantasies here, well that more or less infuriated him. Seeing her enjoying herself—itself, whatever the hell it was—just drove him deeper into despair.
Scarlett finished hugging a teenage boy, firmly pressing her breasts against his chest in what would likely be remembered as the greatest moment in his life, and kissed him on the cheek. She sat down again, grinning from ear to ear.
"I like it here," she said, waving past Wayne at the young man leaving the shop with his friends.
"Will you stop that?" Wayne finally snapped.
"It was your idea to go get some air," she said. "Or would you like me to smash these into you too?" She lifted her breasts from the sides with her hands, shaking them admiringly like melons. "You humans put a lot of emphasis on these things. Although I admit they're very bouncy. Our chief counsel was wise in choosing our hosts."
"Hosts to what?"
"Yes, well, you don't know. In gaseous form we would die in your atmosphere, therefore we control these host bodies."
"So you really are Scarlett Johansson?" Wayne wasn’t sure if he understood her meaning.
Before she could answer they were interrupted again for another autograph.
"Never mind," Wayne said irritably, standing and taking his coat off the back of the chair. He felt sick at everything she had conveyed to him. He didn't like responsibility, and in the last few hours, even as skeptical as he was, she had laid out a roadmap that made his stomach churn.
Scarlett didn't seem to mind his leaving. She had been making cracks about his capabilities to comprehend simple concepts since they had met. He didn't like it. She was better than him, at least in her mind, and what irritated him the most was that in his own mind he knew she was probably right. He was a pathetic excuse for a lawyer given the enormity of the case. Even on an average case he was an average lawyer. The notion that possession of the Earth was going to be decided based on his ability to defend not only the human race, but all creatures on the planet, based on interstellar law he knew nothing about…it was all so overwhelming. He barely knew his own field of common law practice in the States. And with only ninety days to prepare, the only thing swirling in his mind was that he needed to file for some kind of extension.
Wayne crossed the street in a daze. A horn blared, startling him back to his senses. The driver leaned his head out the window, yelling at Wayne to watch where he was going. He managed to get across the street on the adrenaline rush alone and was startled again when his phone started ringing. He answered it with shaking hands.
"You're late for the deposition," Dolores Cramer told him.
"Call it off."
"But we're paying per-diem," she began to object.
"Call it off," Wayne growled.
"OK." Her voice sounded distant, meek. "Where are you, anyway? What happened to Scarlett? Did you get me her autograph?"
"I left her at the coffee shop. You may still be able to catch her if you hurry," he told Dolores and hung up.
Wayne stood at the corner for a while, turning over his conversations he'd had so far with Scarlett Johansson. She seemed particularly interested in ZOLOFT, which was one of the reasons he had covered what he'd said earlier about them so quickly. He dug John Doe's card out of his pocket and turned it over in his hand again. All it said was the word ZOLOFT in bold letters on one side and those now familiar Arabic looking runes on the back. Nothing else.
Taking the file and the coin to the authorities was a bad idea. He didn't think anyone would believe him, and rightfully so. Scarlett Johansson didn't just walk into an average lawyer's office handing out Arabic documents and magic coins used to read them.
Insanity. That's what it was. At least that's what the authorities would think of him. But Dolores wasn't insane too, was she? What he needed was the X-Files guy, but that was about as likely to happen as finding someone who would believe any of this. Even with Scarlett Johansson with him he'd have a tough time making anyone believe him. They'd all think it was a practical joke television show and ask for her autograph or to touch her boobs. Damn it, he should have touched her boobs.
But that hologram and the coin had him on edge. How did she do all that?
How did she do that with her card, he tried to remember. She touched it with her two fingers. Or was it three? Oh, hell, he couldn't remember. He was too busy at the time looking down her blouse.
He turned the ZOLOFT card over again and thought maybe this thing worked the same way. Maybe he could read it with the coin. He looked around for someplace out of the way, wondering where he had wandered off to.
With most everyone busy at work, the side street café was nearly empty. Wayne waved hello to the waitress and tossed his coat onto the bench of an empty booth, continuing toward the back of the shop.
"The usual?" the waitress asked as he passed.
"Just coffee for now, Peg," he told her and kept going to the bathrooms. He had been coming to this restaurant for the last five years and about the only thing that ever changed were the busboys. Bob, the irrational, aging Italian cook, and his wife Peg owned the place. They came in every day, even weekends. Twelve hour days. Every day. They probably owned the whole building, slept upstairs in the apartments. Maybe had twenty kids all in Harvard, but the only thing Wayne ever saw of them was right here, every day starting at eight until they closed the doors at eight sharp. He knew because there were several long nights at the office where he arrived five minutes late and the old cook waved through the glass and went back to moping the floors.
There was one cramped stall and a urinal inside the bathroom. He pushed himself in and latched the door behind him before putting two toilet seat covers on the seat to sit on, still wearing his pants. He held the ZOLOFT card in his hand and took a deep breath, telling himself "here goes". He put his fingers over the card the way he thought he remembered Scarlett stroking her identity card. The suddenly appearance of the hologram growing in front of him startled him and he let out a slight yelp. The image trembled with the cadence of his shaky hand. A red and orange cloud materialized in front of him and farting noises began to emanate around him.
"Zothorian Oppression League, Office of Far Terrans, how may we be of assistance?" asked the red and orange answering cloud in as cheerful and inviting a tone as it could muster. Unfortunately, the Earthling recipient heard only gaseous emissions of varying pitches.
"Um, yeah," Wayne said, mildly disgusted. "I'm trying to reach John Doe," Wayne added. The cloud in front of him seemed to roil like a storm brewing, swirling and bulging, belching out flatulent croaks that echoed loudly in the tiny restroom. "Oh, Jesus, keep it down," Wayne said, turning the card sidelong in hopes of finding a volume control.
"It's the human" the answering cloud yelled excitedly across the room. A blue cloud looked up and raced over, asking "what's it saying?" The answering cloud replied helplessly "I don't know." The blue cloud arrived at the holopanel and switched on the translator. "Hello?" it asked.
"Yes, hi," Wayne replied, seeing a radiant blue cloud arriving along with sounds he finally understood. The flatulent babble was now excited chatter in the background. Questions like "what can it look like?" and "is it recording?" came through with the blue cloud's statement.
"Thank you to called ZOLOFT. You perceived John Doe intimation."
"Um," Wayne said with a furrowed brow, trying to piece together what they may have meant to say. "Maybe we should both try simpler words. Me Wayne. Me want speak to John Doe."
The blue cloud bulged in what appeared to be indignation.
"What said it?" asked a voice behind the blue cloud.
"Look, I got this card," Wayne said, eyeing the card in his hand. "Scarlett Johansson was pretty upset when I mentioned your name, so I figured you're someone I should talk to."
"It spoke too fast. Translator not do process," said the voice behind the blue cloud again.
"Please embrace," said the blue cloud. It swam out of the hologram and Wayne could only hear frantic voices in the background. "Where is Thraklish?" "Where is human?" Wayne could tell they were having trouble on their end figuring out what was going on.
"Look," Wayne put in. "I'm at the 3rd Street Corner Café."
"Public restroom!" A jubilant voice sang through the card.
"They sleep sitting?" asked another voice.
"It's a toilet," Wayne explained. "I'm sort of in a public place, so," Wayne began to tell them when he heard the door open. He closed his hand over the card and started standing, shoving the card in his pocket while flushing to mask any noise the card might make while he tried to turn it off, but the hologram image was gone the moment he had put his hand over it.
"Where did it go?" the blue cloud asked the other clouds irritably, controlled enough so that no green emerged. "Have you located Thraklish?"
"It is traveling toward the human now," said a brown wisp. "I have conveyed the coordinates of the public restroom."
"Were we recording?" blue asked another cloud.
"Yes," it replied.
"Good. We need to work on the translator. Keep working on it until you know exactly what the human said."
Wayne felt particularly embarrassed returning to the booth, as though everyone in the café had heard the farting and thought it was him. At least he was sure of one thing, Scarlett Johansson wasn't kidding about her real name.
"Are you OK?" Peg asked while pouring him a hot cup of coffee.
"What?" he replied, certain she meant his gaseous outburst in the toilet.
"You just look a little preoccupied. Not your usual self, you know?"
"Oh," he said, slightly relieved. "I have a tough new case," he told her, waving in the air as if to say it really isn't important. "Can I get some apple pie to go with this?"
"Ran out," she told him. "How about some hot cakes?"
"No, just the pie, thanks," he said absently, reaching for the cream and sugar.
"Hun," she told him, putting her hand on his before he poured the cream. "We ran out of pie, and I've never seen you take cream in your coffee."
"I've never had the pie either," he said with a sigh. "See what you can do for me."
She let his hand go and walked to the back.
Mostly Mantorian Hrumpha Fartz glided triumphantly past the front desk, displaying its deep pockets of green and blue undulations like mating plumage. It had reason to be proud. It had delivered to the human lottery winning representative all information about the case as required by Zothorian Law and, by doing so, had ensured that the case could not be considered for a mistrial. All activities had been successfully recorded by the Judge Arbitrar and entered into material evidence. Although any third-season law student could have served in this capacity and been equally successful, the magnitude of this case and its implication on Nibbitz Worlds Theme Parks revenue for the next fiscal period, which was approximately one thousand Earth years, meant that only the most trusted and valued representative of the company was assigned the mission.
And that was Hrumpha Fartz, mostly Mantorian, green as the day it was formed, and wearing its colors today with no shame.
"The board meeting is still underway," said the orange waif of a secretary. Fissure thin, of course, and gorgeous. That's the way Friziza Snazazar liked them. Friziza had a thing for oranges. "Congratulations on your success, by the way. Everyone is so excited," the secretary went on. "You really showed your colors today," it added gleefully. It was a common expression, one that simply suggested that showing your best color meant to do a great job, but it had negative connotations when said to or around Mantorians because their primary color was green.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Fartz hissed. The orange secretary receded, realizing its blunder.
"I only meant," the secretary began to say meekly.
"I know what you meant," Fartz glowered. "I'll be in my office. Buzz me when they get out." That little orange tramp, thought Fartz as it stormed back down the hallway for its office.
John Doe raced past the 3rd Street Corner Café once, then again the other direction, both times holding a phone to his ear. Wayne shook his head and was about to get up to go fetch the misguided alien when he appeared again, looking up at the words on the door. He then looked through the door, squinting to see inside, and smiled. He didn't hang up even after he reached the table.
"Your call is been answered," John Doe said with a foolish grin.
"Just sit down," Wayne said. John Doe did as he was instructed, his grin still plastered to his face, still holding the phone to his ear. "Are you going to be on the phone the whole time?"
"We can recording this for futuristic significance," John told him with wide eyes, an expression of severity and importance.
"Right, well, put the phone on the table then." Wayne tapped the table with his finger. "Everyone's looking." He turned in his seat. The two other patrons sitting at the barstools weren’t paying them any attention. "Or maybe not," he added. "Just put the phone down."
John had a look of worry.
Wayne held up a reassuring hand. "You don’t have to hang up every time when you move the phone away from your ear."
John looked perplexed, but held the phone away from his ear, looking at it, then put it back and smiled when he realized he hadn’t lost connection. He gingerly put the phone on the table next to his hand.
"Can I get something for your friend?" Peg asked while topping Wayne's cup of coffee.
"Clear liquid," John replied gratefully. She straightened in confusion.
"Water," Wayne told her. "I think he wants water." Peg shook her head and left them.
"Excited," John said, still donning his dumb grin.
"Great," Wayne told him blandly. "Let's get down to brass tacks. I had a strange visitor today," he began to explain. "Stranger than you, I should say," he added.
John nodded gravely. "You have being summoned?"
"Tell me about it. Scarlett Johansson came to my office and gave me this." Wayne pushed the file folder across the table. "She got all hot and bothered when I mentioned ZOLOFT"
"You did not speak her of you meeting to us?"
"We really need to work on your English. Do you know any other languages? Maybe we can get a translator or something."
"You did not speak her of you meeting to us," John said again, more insistently. He seemed agitated by the notion, and Wayne wondered why Scarlett was equally concerned.
"No. When she asked, I played it off. I said I was confused about the Zothorian court. Sounded like that pill. Look, she said something about picking my defense team. What does that mean?"
"Nice to you ask me." John straightened and his smile returned. "You defend the Earth team by aligning three," he began to say, holding up four fingers.
"Wait," Wayne said, holding up a hand. "Can you write in Zothorian?"
"Yes," John said, smiling eagerly and shaking his head no.
"Good," Wayne told him, but with little conviction. John didn't exactly inspire confidence. "Write it down." He pushed a note pad across the table to John and held up the blank coin. "At least I can read what you're saying that way. Otherwise I'm going to need to find a taxi driver or a delicatessen."
John began to lay it all out. A little over four thousand Earth years ago, the 9-X Fun Parks opened a series of Planet Adventures in the galaxy served by Earth. In the past, 9-X catered mostly to gravity rides in which the consumer was propelled toward the surface of planets with high G-forces, then whiplashed back out into space. Other rides included moderate shifts from gaseous to liquid form due to extreme variations in temperature. But part of their galaxy acquisition included a planet that consisted of pre-existing life forms. The 9-X Fun Parks research teams wasted no time developing the property, making Living Being Interaction their largest grossing attraction.
"So we're a fun park?" Wayne asked incredulously.
"No, no," John replied. "In ninety days ago, you can be—"
"Write it down," Wayne told him, pointing at the notepad.
John wrote that the case was going to be heard in ninety days to determine if Earthlings were infringing on Zothorian patents. If so, because the Earth didn't have the financial wherewithal to pay damages, and because it was also not part of the 9-X Fun Parks properties, it would become the property of Nibbitz Worlds Theme Parks.
"Who the hell is Nibbitz?" Wayne asked, rubbing his temples. This whole thing was causing him a headache.
"Scarlett Johansson," John replied.
"So who is ZOLOFT?"
"It," John said, pointing at himself. He then hurriedly wrote again.
Zothorian Oppression League, Office of Far Terrans, Chief Legal Counsel Thesher Thraklish. He then pointed to himself and smiled. Wayne wasn't overly impressed but smiled just the same. 9-X Fun Parks supported ZOLOFT and placed John Doe on Earth for Thresher Thraklish to operate in order to interact with Earth Lottery Legal Representative Wayne Smith.
"So you knew they picked me," Wayne said. John nodded. "And your introduction on the train today was too soon, huh?" John shrugged, embarrassed. "So what are we supposed to do now?"
John raised his eyebrows at this and began scribbling furiously.
"Slow down," Wayne said. "Your short hand is worse than your English."
According to Zothorian Law, Wayne needed to choose two assistant counsels to act on his behalf in certain roles during the execution of the case. Because the venue of the case would be Earth itself, certain global common laws were permissible when such laws did not conflict with Zothorian Higher Mandates. There were six classes of Higher Mandates, each concerning a different Policy Board.
"Hold on," Wayne said. "Let's skip the legal lesson for a moment. I wasn't very good in school anyway," he added, exasperated.
"We know," John said with a smile.
"Was that a joke?" Wayne snarled. John cast a concerned look at Wayne. "Never mind," Wayne said, waving a hand. "Can you be one of my two assistants?" Wayne asked.
"Yes," John said, again shaking his head.
"When you say yes, nod up and down, like this, not back and forth. Up and down, yes. Back and forth, no."
"Ah," John replied with an expression of gratitude.
"So I need someone else still. Someone who knows Earth law, don't I?" Wayne thought aloud.
"Yes," John said, proudly nodding his head up and down. Wayne stared at him in disgust. Another unintentional dig on his legal skills. "Do you know of one?" John asked. Wayne glowered.
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