MAY 2012

by Howard Anderson


     "Thank you for seeing me, Admiral," the lawyer said as he entered the office.
     "As if I had a choice," Admiral Koval muttered. "What now?" Koval hated this lawyer, not least because he was a civilian. Koval's Southeast Fleet had begun its invasion of the Federation with only three military lawyers on the fleet staff, two business lawyers to handle contracts with Klingon corporations that sold supplies to his fleet, and the JAG to supervise the military justice system. Now he had over a hundred. This one, now his chief lawyer, was a civilian defense attorney from Klardon. Most of the new lawyers were civilians, mostly criminal defense attorneys from Dunkaria and Zoolax, which had thriving legal systems.
     Koval wondered, not for the first time, if the entire planet of Klinshai had a hundred criminal defense attorneys.
     "The usual suspects," the lawyer said, opening his briefcase. Koval winced as the locks snapped open, knowing all too well that this was an intimidation technique taught to Klingon lawyers by their Federation counterparts before the War began.
     "We have the usual indictment against you for 'waging a war of aggression' but I think I can get that one quashed," the lawyer said, putting the first file aside with a smile. "Having you declared a diplomat was one of my better moves. Of course, if we lose the war, you'll end up facing those charges."
     "They can hang me after the ESS gets done," Koval snorted. "What else? How many ship captains will I lose?"
     "Three," the lawyer responded. Koval winced again. The Federation delighted in filing no end of criminal and civil charges against his captains. Each had to be resolved in a courtroom on Organia, and while most of his officers were found not guilty (it was a war after all!) taking them away from their ships for a month or two at a time was disrupting his command structure. At least a quarter of his warships were under command of their XOs and at least five were under command of their watch officers as the XO was facing trial for actions while in temporary command.
     "First, the captain and weapons officer of the Antagonist have been indicted for firing on a Federation diplomatic ship."
     "Rubbish!" Koval snapped. "The diplomat was simply a passenger on a frigate, one we had trapped in an ambush. The diplomat was interned and will be repatriated. The crew of the ship is on one of the prison planets."
     "Sauce for the kellish is sauce for the kellix, Admiral," the lawyer smiled. When the Admiral clearly didn't understand, he explained. "They will raise the issue of you being a diplomat, but we will deflect this by noting you have used that status only in the case of law suits, not in combat. Our defense to the charge is that the diplomatic status was abused to allow a warship to escape from a combat zone."
     "Just handle it," the Admiral sighed. His staff would send the captain to Organia on what had become a regular flight.
     "The captain of the Adept has been indicted for violation of the Endangered Species Act, firing on a space dragon."
     "That was eating his ship!"
     "We will note this in his defense, but he didn't really have to kill the dragon to escape from it.
     "In the third case, the entire crew of the Senior Sergeant Korl faces a class action suit for looting and pillaging."
     "Spoils of war," Koval sneered.
     "The laws of war allow military personnel to confiscate weapons, government property, and anything needed by the exigencies of the situation, but not personal property."
     "Do you know how much trouble it will be to assemble an entire crew for that frigate, not to mention a marine battalion?"
     "I am sure it will be a problem, but perhaps you could swap the crew with a crippled frigate being sent back for repairs?"
     "My staff will see to it. At least today was no worse than your last visit," Koval said, reaching for his liquor cabinet.
     "Unfortunately," the lawyer began hesitantly, "there is another matter." Koval simply glared at the lawyer. "I have received a complaint from the Federation Express Corporation that your credit card is over the limit."
     "What, if I may ask, is a 'credit card'?" Koval asked.
     "It is a Federation concept, similar to our debit cards. While our cards take the funds directly out of our accounts, in the Federation, such cards are used by consumers to obtain small amounts of credit, to borrow money if you will, and pay it back at the end of the month, or over several months in installments."
     "Bah! Any fool could see that such things would be the ruin of any civilized society," Koval sneared. "Now why would a Federation company be sending me a bill? For that matter, why would they issue me such a card? One that I haven't used!"
     "It's a difficult concept to grasp, Admiral," the lawyer tried to explain, "but it appears that someone on Alpha-Centauri, has, well, the term they use is ... 'stolen your identity' ... if you can understand the concept."
     "Explain this more clearly, if you will."
     "Well, someone on Alpha-Centauri is pretending to be you. He has obtained forged identification documents, and has been issued a credit card in your name. He is buying consumer goods and charging them to you. The Federation Express Corporation is sending you the bill."
     "This is preposterous. They know very well that I am not on Alpha-Centauri, at least not yet. Ignore them."
     "Not a good idea, Admiral," the lawyer explained. "You have only 30 days to contest the charges and prove you are not on Alpha-Centauri. Otherwise, under Federation law, the debt will be declared valid and you will be subject to arrest for fraud."
     "Very well. I contest. Do the paperwork. Anything else?"
     "It isn't that simple, Admiral," the lawyer explained. "You have to file a sworn affidavit, and to do that you must present yourself to a Federation police official."
     "Absurd. Is this another trick by the GIA?"
     "Perhaps," the lawyer answered. "To avoid the issue, I have had the ESS search through the files of prisoners taken. We have located a Federation police commander, captured with his ship a few weeks ago. I have taken the liberty of having him sent here by fast courier. You can swear your affidavit, he will certify it, and then we will release him in a shuttle and allow him safe passage to a Federation planet. After the War, a brief appearance in a Federation civil court will clear up the issue."
     "This is insane, but at least there is an end to the insanity," Koval responded, reaching again for the Sefarian brandy.
     "Sadly, that is not the end," the lawyer explained. "I have taken the liberty of having military intelligence check the 'credit history' of your senior officers. I must report that dozens of them have had their identities stolen by gangs of criminals on Alpha-Centauri, Cygnus, and Rigel, who have run up tens of thousands of credits in bogus charges. I have asked the ESS to find more Federation police officials and send them here so I can clear these things up as the statements arrive on my desk."
     "Very well," the admiral said, "this is all most worrying, but fortunately, I have just received some exciting news."
     "Can you share it with me, Admiral?"
     "Read if for yourself," Koval said, passing over the printout.
     Honored Sir. We have never met, but I know you are a man of great integrity. My father, the late governor of Nigeriax, left a stockpile of 10,000 nuclear drones hidden in a cave on that planet. I have Orion customers for these weapons, and if you can help me recover them, you may keep 10% of them for yourself