9 Chapter 8
As Trace was walked out of the cell, he noticed he had an escort of no less than 4 burly looking guards, all of them in full combat gear. Following the guards, he was led down the ships hallways, but strangely they didn't see any crew. When they reached the hangar, which was once again strangely empty with the exception of a drop ship, Trace was led onboard said drop ship. Once on, he was strapped into the seat using restraints. Each of the guards also took a seat near him, but unlike him, their arms were free and unrestrained so as to provide access to their weapons.
Unlike his first ride on a drop ship, this one actually had windows. Looking out one of them, Trace found himself completely awestruck by the view. A vast blue and green planet. Even though he'd lived there his entire life and seen pictures of the Earth from space, nothing could prepare him for the real thing. "It's… beautiful" he said.
One of the guards looked at him, before saying, "The prisoner will refrain from speaking unless spoken to". After saying this, the guard went back to sitting in silence. The rest of the ride went much like this, until of course when they landed.
They landed at the Terran Union Marine headquarters. One of the biggest buildings around, it was truly imposing. Seeing as it was the headquarters, there were many civilians who worked there or were there for various reasons, but Trace wasn't lead through the front entrance. No, they landed on the roof. Once they disembarked, they were met by four more guards, but these ones all had a gold stripe on their shoulder and wore blue armor.
Trace was handed off to the new guards with little ceremony, and he turned around and watched as the drop ship took off again. Trace was led through winding hallways and corridors until eventually, he arrived at someone's office. One of the guards knocked on the door, and a voice from inside spoke.
"Enter." The guard opened the door, and gestured for Trace to go in before he closed the door behind him.
Sitting at a wooden desk in the office was a general. Not just a general, a 5 stripe general. He'd been awarded every one of the highest medals that could be awarded.
Coming to attention, Trace saluted the man stiffly. For a good half a minute, the general just let him stand there, seemingly observing Trace.
"Trace Bellinger, right?"
Nodding, Trace attempted to open his mouth to inquire as to what was going on, but was interrupted.
"I'm not sure you realize the extent of the damage you've caused. You've managed to cause riots planet-wide. Caused a global uproar. And now no ones quite sure what to do with you. You'll be questioned, for sure. But if we find that you are who you say you are, then what? We just let you back onto the front lines?"
Trace looked at him for a second, before saying "With all due respect sir, yes?"
The general stated at Trace for a bit, the atmosphere of the room stifling. Trace broke into a cold sweat, wondering if he had offended this man by saying that, before suddenly something unexpected happened.
The general broke into laughter. Huge, gasping belly laughs. He wheezed for almost a full minute before getting himself back under control, wiping tears from his eyes.
"Hahaha! You've got a lot of spirit, don't you? I like your attitude! Reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger! But anyways, I suppose what you said is true. We'll perform a formal investigation on you, and if we find that you committed no crimes, then you'll be off the hook."
Trace looked at the general for a second before breathing out a sigh of relief.
"With all due respect, sir, are we done? I'd like to get this investigation out of the way as fast as possible." Trace said.
The general let out one last laugh before saying "Yes, I suppose we are done here. Follow the guard outside my office and he'll lead you to your quarters for now. You'll be under house-arrows, though we will do what we can to make it comfortable."
Trace sharply saluted the general before turning and walking out the door. Once outside, a guard in that blue armor looked at him before saying, "Follow me, kid".
Doing as was told, Trace diligently followed the guard in silence as the walked down windowless concrete hallways, moving towards an unknown location. Carefully observing his surroundings, Trace couldn't help but notice that they didn't meet a single other human on the way to… wherever they were going.
Eventually they arrived at a wooden door with "RESIDENCE NO. 47" inscribed in it. As the guard in front of him opened the door, Trace walked through into what seemed like an everyday apartment. It had a kitchen, a bedroom, a living room, a bathroom, and that was it. The most basic possible apartment.
Trace did, however, notice that what at first glance seemed like windows were actually screens embedded in the walls. Turning around to look at the guard, Trace asked "What do I need to know?"
The guard observed Trace for a moment before responding, saying "You are not to leave this room unless escorted by a guard. The door will be guarded at all times. There is a basic food synthesizer in the kitchen. Other than that, just stay in this room and don't cause trouble."
One week later…
All in all, things had gone much better than expected. He had found a basic entertainment pad in the bedroom, though without basic Net access. Other than the three times he was called out for questioning, he didn't leave the room.
Speaking of the questioning, it was actually much simpler than Trace expected. They had given him a combination of truth serum and a highly advanced lie detector that scanned brainwaves to tell if someone was lying. In theory, this questioning was impossible to fool, though it had been done on occasion.
Trace aced each of these tests without telling a lie even once. Although they seemed reluctant, the interrogator eventually decided that Trace was telling the truth, and that he really had played no part in the Martian attack.
After one more visit to the general, Trace was pardoned and found innocent of any suspected crimes. After this, Trace was marched to the next shuttle off planet, which quickly docked with the T.U.C. Odysseus. Walking off the shuttle, Trace found out that he had been assigned to the 167th Marine battalion. After using his wristband to pull up some quick directions, Trace found himself standing outside the door to the 167th bunk room.
And without a second thought, Trace opened the door and walked in.