Dear readers, tonight we have something slightly different. A notorious criminal was recently released back into The City. After 5 years of brutal convict military service, he has to face up to a future with very limited prospects.

We could not get him to appear on the interview couch as a guest, as we lost track of him amongst the stars. Instead, we were able to replicate here the last pre-release report from the Coalition.

Report of interview with Jazatar Baldrik.

Pre-Release assessment final phase. Interview conducted by Specialist Interrogator Kilven, Coalition Security Forces. Interrogation Room 473.

Subject appeared slightly ill at ease, high levels of adrenaline recorded, several emotional peaks noted, none visible externally. Neurocological reports suggest the degree of honesty and self-revelation the interview required will have been a mid-level trauma for the subject.

So Jaz – You prefer I call you Jaz? Good – You have been serving a sentence with the Special Legion for the last  five years – and that means you must have committed a crime that is considered a capital offense. Can you tell me about that? Oh, and do bear in mind we’ll know if you are lying to us and if you do that could prejudice your chances of release.

Yeah. I know that. I’ve been wired to the Lattice long enough to know how it works. But, your question, what’s to tell? It’ll all be in my record and you lot ripped everything I ever knew about anything out of me when I was arrested. So you know I was part of a terrorist attack on a Coalition installation. If it’d worked it’d have screwed up Coalition control of the Varn Sector, but it didn’t – someone must’ve betrayed us because you lot were there and waiting. And you know what? The fact I had zero previous and a solid record as a merc fighting in your inter-corporate resource wars didn’t even get a mention at my trial. And you’ll also know I never liked those fanatics in the Legacy, I’m not going to have anything more to do with them. I only did it for my brother.

Ah yes, your ‘brother’ – not a biological relationship, but you felt a strong emotional bond for Avilon Revid, the leader of that terrorist strike. Do you still feel the same way?

About Avilon? Well now that’s an interesting question, because he’s not ‘Avilon Revid’ anymore is he? After your brain plumbers got through with him he’s a completely different person. He’s not got the faintest idea about what he was like before, only what he’s been told. So no, I don’t feel the same way – I feel it different. But no matter what he’s become he’s still my brother and I’m not going to let him rot if he gets out of this.

So let’s have some basic information about you, perhaps you could tell us about your childhood. You grew up in Starcity on Thuringen, a place that has a reputation for its criminal syndicates, and I notice your parent’s names are not listed on the file. Why is that?

That would be because I never knew who they were. And I never had a childhood, not like you mean it. I was a street kid, on my own from far back as I can remember. I didn’t have family, parents any of that. We had no shelters for homeless kids, nothing to look after us. No one gave a shit about us. I ran with a gang, we were mostly scavengers – tech, scap anything we could sell. We looked out for each other ‘cos no one else was going to and in the City no one cared about us enough to bother if we kept breathing or died. I lucked out and got enough education to get into the military, or I’d still be living there like a sewer rat.

And what about now? Do you have something to go back to on Thuringen? Someone?

Yeah. I have my woman and kids. Good kids. That’s down to her though. She promised me when we left the military our kids would never be like we were, they’d get good education, good jobs. I’ve missed out on five years with them, the boys’ll be mid-late late teens now. I’ve not been allowed to contact them so they’ll’ve done a lot of growing up without me. But Tillsa, she’s golden, solid. She’ll have done right with them. I’ll make it up to them all, somehow, when I get out. And I got a job lined up already. Commodore Vane put in a good word for me with Thuringen Planetary Defence. I’m looking forward to it. Good unit. Tight. They have to be, with the ‘City, piracy is kind of a given.

Indeed, as are most forms of criminality. In your time as a mercenary, surely you developed some links with that side of things? Made some enemies, even?

You’re asking me about Shame Cullen, right? And of course I’ve had links with him. You can’t live and work in or around the ‘City and not have – least not my line of work. Cullen’s the biggest Name in charge of the biggest criminal empire in the ‘City. I’ve not had any problems with that, even did a small favour there once. Pays to keep those with power sweet as I’m sure you’ll know in your line of work. But can’t see as how Cullen would have any interest in me now. When I was working as a merc I had something to offer, I had a rep, good one, professional, hard. Now – well let’s just say being an ex-con slammed on terrorist charges isn’t going to be scoring me any points either side of the legal fence.

Was there anything else you feel we might need to know to help us come to the best decision about your future?

Not really. You know it already. I’ve been a model Special. I made Lieutenant faster than anyone before. Not that’s like a proper officer, but shows I got trusted, was good at my job. The rest? I just signed the form agreeing you can operate to take out the tech you stuck in me, the subdural stuff, the cornea grafts, all that kind of thing.  And yes, I know I get to keep the scalp port, you can’t cut that out my brain without taking a good chunk of it out too. So, we’re done? I can go now?

Concluding recommendation: Subject seems stable and will present no threat to the ongoing security of the Coalition if released.

Report Ends.

For her attitude towards writing, EM Swift-Hook would remind you of the words that Robert Heinlein put into the mouth of Lazarus Long: ‘Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.’

Having tried a number of different careers, before settling in the North-East of England with family, three dogs, several cats and a small flock of rescued chickens, she now spends a lot of time in private and has very clean hands. 

You can find Jaz on the pages of the Haruspex trilogy: Trust A Few and the just published Edge of Doom.

Join us next week to meet a young man fighting against immortality. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.