Zeus and Io - Books 1 and 2
Chapter 17

Copyright 2012,2013 by Harry Carton


By 2100 hours, we were back on the Interstate, heading for Phoenix. At Phoenix, we would have to decide whether we were going to El Paso and Juarez, or back to our base on the reservation. I had expressed my opinion that we would not be able to get very much in positive results at the border. However, the final decision was to be made by Zeus and Artemis ... and Martinez, although I felt he was too close, personally, to participate rationally.

I began to update my biological partners on the various other projects I was monitoring, in approximate order of importance. I would update my transcendental partner as well, for what other term could be applied to Master Chief Martinez?

I told them, "The national newspaper has run a story that is of interest."

I changed my speaking voice to emulate the recorded voice patterns of Edward R. Murrow, as I thought that would be appropriate.

From USA Today:

"Billionaire arrested in Sexual Slavery Raid"

By Sandra Pendergast and William Harmon

"The FBI and New York State Police conducted a joint raid on the Adirondack home of James Worth, heir to the Worth family fortune, and owner of 'Worth Gun Works' of Newport, Rhode Island. The 52 year-old Worth was taken into custody, and is being held at the Federal Center at Binghamton, NY. A Worth family spokesman said, 'This is all a misunderstanding. Mr. Worth has done nothing wrong.'

"Sources close to the investigation, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the raid was based on a tip given to the FBI, several hours earlier.

"The raid produced three young girls, who allegedly had been held captive by the reclusive billionaire. All three were held in conditions that the police source said were "dungeon-like," and "in a secret room." He went on to say that all the girls were underaged. No clothing for the girls was discovered in the mansion. All three have been taken to a local hospital, and one is alleged to be pregnant. No further details about the identity of the girls were available at press time.

"Hospital officials said that no identifying information would be available, but that rape kits were taken for the non-pregnant 'children, ' leaving the clear impression that these were very young girls. The hospital spokeswoman further said that counseling was being made available to the children.

"The families of the two girls were notified and are being brought to the upstate New York area from Milwaukee and Memphis by FBI jet. The clear implication was that the girls had crossed state lines, adding charges for interstate transport of minors for immoral purposes to the kidnapping and rape charges that may be brought against Worth.

"The pregnant girl was not able or willing to communicate with authorities. Her family has not been notified, since no identification can be made. Hospital personnel said that 'It's a clear case of Stockholm Syndrome, ' referring to a condition where hostages or prisoners come to identify with their captors.

"Also arrested were all of Worth's personal staff: four men. They were identified as one housekeeper, and three bodyguards. In addition to the alleged sexual slaves found in Worth's mansion, a supply of illegal weapons was found. The police source said, 'There are enough weapons, here, to arm a small army.'

"In a parallel raid, authorities seized the records of the Worth Gun Company and of the Worth Family Trust, although no hold has been placed on the assets of either.

"Mr. Worth was involved in a messy divorce five years ago. The former Mrs. Worth could not be reached for comment."

"Hmm," said Zeus. "Sounds promising. Like the President did his job. Good voice, too, Io. Who was it?"

"It was Edward R. Murrow's voice. I patched a composite voice together from his radio and early television broadcasts."

"Io," said Arti, "keep a watch on this story, please. He is a billionaire charged with some heavy duty crimes. Everybody knows that billionaires don't go to jail. Either he's going to get out on bail and skip the country, or he'll hire some big deal lawyers who'll get him off ... or both. Oh, yeah ... trace all that family money, too.

"I assume," she said to Zeus, "that we don't want this slime ball to escape to some cozy tropical retreat and get away with it. Christ ... he could even have a new crop of girls sent to his new hiding spot."

"Good thinking, Artemis," I said. "What shall I do with the money?"

"I don't know," she replied. "It's not ours no matter how rotten this guy is."

"It's not?" asked Martinez. "He's in the same category as the guy who sold him the girls, isn't he? ... And we're planning on taking all of his money. It may not have been dirty money when he, or his grandad, earned it, but he's planning on using it to get out from under the charges against him ... and that is dirty."

"I agree with the Master Chief," said Zeus. "Dirty is dirty."

Arti said, "I'm not so sure. I mean: yes, dirty is dirty. But we don't know that he's going to skip to Brazil or someplace, and everybody is entitled to hire the best lawyers he can. So I say: Let's wait until he tries to do something clearly dirty before we take his money."

"Buying sex slaves? Buying fourteen year-old girls isn't dirty enough for you?" Martinez asked. "Remember, we don't have to have legal proof. We know he did it, and they found the girls in his place. And remember, too, that we're going to terminate his miserable existence if he manages to wriggle out of his legal problems."

"I know, I know. But..." Arti's comment drifted off into nothing.

"Is it because he's a rich, white guy? Somehow that makes it okay for him to have a stash of money to buy and sell poor little girls?" Martinez was relentless.

"The funds are not all liquid. It would take some time for him to sell the various holdings in his trust fund," I pointed out. "We should have plenty of time to sneak in the back door and rob him of his wealth, if we want to do that."

"Io," said Zeus. "You are part of the voting membership of this band of Robin Hoodies. What are your feelings on taking the money?"

"OH!" I said, nonplussed. "I had not considered that you three would want my intrusion into your deliberations. I don't know that I have any feelings about the subject."

Zeus said, "Io. First of all, you are as important a member as any of us, and, in particular, you found out about Worth and arranged to nail him. Of course you get a vote!

"And secondly, you just said that you 'don't know that you have any feelings about the subject, ' right?"

"Yes I did."

"In the almost nine months that I have known you, you have never ... and I mean NEVER ... used a contraction in any sentence. Why did you say don't?"

"I don't know. I mean, I do not know." I paused for nearly a full second, to ponder the situation. I had never used contractions because ... well, because I learned English from studying manuals and handbooks. Why did I use one now? "I think it was because my 'fuzzy logic' circuits were engaged in a dialog wherein you asked me to participate in a decision that would ... I guess, Zeus, that I don't have a reason."

"More and more sentient, Io," said Zeus. "Humans do not actively choose one word or another most of the time, at least when speaking in their native language. I suggest that you are beginning to think in English, instead of the language of your circuitry."

"An interesting hypothesis, Zeus," I said. "I shall attempt to analyze the situation. In any case, I agree with Martinez and Artemis, tempered by the facts of the situation. If he begins to liquidate his trust fund and begins to move it overseas, or into hiding, we take it with a clear conscience. If he engages in a fair fight in court, then we let the judicial system take him. And if he prevails, we can punish him for cheating the system."

"Io, that's not logical," Martinez said. "Why not take away his advantage ... the money ... and let him be represented by whatever legal firm he can manage? That is far more than he offered to the girls he held in his dungeon!"

It stung that Martinez accused me of illogic.

"We cannot take it until it is in liquid funds, Master Chief, in any case. If we take the money now, the other holdings will be locked up by his lawyers," I countered. "If it remains in stocks or gold or whatever he is currently invested in, we will not have access to it without using the most blatant 'blunt force' methods. We should wait, then, until it moves. If it moves, I agree we should take it."

Arti rejoined the colloquy at this point. "How much money is it, Io?"

"A little over ten billion dollars, Arti."

"Wow. I had no idea that guns were so profitable."

"The bulk of the money came from several steel plants that his grandfather sold to Andrew Carnegie."

"So it was legitimately made, then."

"Well, at least it was not illegally made," I said. "However, no 'turn of the previous century' fortune was amassed without the economic slavery of hundreds of thousands of workers. J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt ... even the Hobarts (the identity that Zeus now wears) ... and many others – they all amassed fortunes stolen from the backs of the working man, most of whom toiled in the most abject slavery imaginable."

"Io, you're turning into a regular communist," Zeus laughed.

"I merely restate the facts of late 19th century industrial America. I can do so without adopting the philosophy of Josef Stalin ... who, by the way, was not even the greatest mass murderer in history, although he is often accused of that."

"Really?" said Arti.

"Genghis Khan holds that dubious distinction. He murdered forty million people at a time when the world's population was much lower than when 'Uncle' Joe Stalin killed his thirty million.

"But we are getting far afield ... Mr. Worth has no dependents, no current wife and, if press releases are to be believed, intends to leave his fortune to a set of cousins," I said.

Artemis said, "I have changed my mind. Mostly from what the Master Chief said. I propose that we take the bulk of Worth's fortune – when he tries to move it, as I'm sure he will – and give 400 million to his child..."

"I thought he didn't have any children," said Zeus.

"One of the girls is pregnant, Zeus. We'll also give 100 million to each of the three girls he was using as slaves, and allocate another billion to divide among his heirs. We'll use the rest for our projects. We're closer to 'doing the right thing' with the money, than he'll ever be."

"That sounds like a rationalization, to be honest," said Zeus.

"I thought you voted to take his money," Arti answered.

"I did. But I'm not fooling myself about the reasons. He is a bad guy. We take no prisoners: not the Mexican kidnappers, not the Yemeni terrorists, and not this guy."

"Okay," she said. "I just want to use some of the money to support the victims of his crimes and give some to his legitimate heirs."

"With a fortune this big, any documents are going to be legally tested and retested, Arti," said Zeus. "Let's leave the issue for now, and say that we'll do the right thing for the victims and any innocents we find along the way; same thing as we've done with the terrorist money."

After a little further discussion, I resumed my update of current projects.

"The next item in importance is the computer center, and the operations therein. I want to authorize an expanded work schedule. It will cost us some money, perhaps as much as an additional million or two. We have roughly two-thirds of our original two billion left. Some of that is allocated to building your redoubt, and we have yet to build the power station. Therefore, we are about at the limit I'm comfortable spending, without further discussion."

"So," said Arti, "part of the money we will take from Worth will be needed for the projects we already have on the boards?"

"Precisely," I told her.

"Why do you need to speed up things?" asked Zeus.

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