»Is the autopilot defective? The security service is stopping us…«, Nevon asked, looking back at Dowagen and Nuna.
Two cars with blue lights lined up on the motorway before and after the vehicle, which had slowed on it’s own. After the first exit into the glade there was a roadhouse. So far they had already driven through hundreds of kilometers of forest, having seen only that on both the left and the right of the motorway. At regular intervals along the motorway there were automatic resting places, which were usually empty and were built in the same way down to the last detail. The particular rest stop they were now at was situated a little higher on a hill far above the forest. You could now see on the horizon that there were only trees in every direction. Nevon, Nuna, and Dowagen got out of the car, lining up with their backs to their vehicle.
»Passengers, do you know why you were stopped?«, one of the four officers asked the frightened passengers.
»No, we do not. The car has been driving autonomously at the same speed for three days now, and we haven’t changed the vehicle’s default settings«, Nevon replied.
»That’s not the reason. Where are you travelling to?«, asked another of the officers, seriously. The uniforms were dark blue, like those of a policeman, but they wore no hats and were unarmed. This did not make the atmosphere any less threatening, however.
Dowagen tried to explain in a weak voice: »My friend Nevon was in the hospital for a long time and now we want to visit his relatives in the North. He lay in bed for months and now a little distraction would do him good.«
»That’s right. I see here that Steel Nevon was in the hospital for three months«, one of the officer’s said, looking at information on a tablet-like device. »It also says here that he suffers from amnesia. Our next instruction now is to explain to you your rights and obligations, so please just tell us the truth or keep quiet. The trial can begin now.« With this the officer dictated the date and time into the device, during which the other officers were silent. Once this was complete he continued.
»As I can read here, because Nevon is ill, you get an eighty percent penalty reduction. The cameras we wear on our bodies record everything and what you say is automatically analyzed. The verdict will be given at the end of the hearing. Do you have any more questions?«
»Verdict? What did we even do?«, Nevon asked, a look of confusion on his face.
»Please, Nevon. Just answer the questions«, Dowagen said, taking him by the hand.
»You are driving a vehicle that has been reported as stolen. You are also four thousand kilometers away from the last place where the owner parked his car.«
»How is it stolen? This is a car from my garage«, Nevon replied, outraged.
»Hence the eighty percent reduction in sentence, as you obviously don’t remember your former life. But, why was the car in your garage? The car belongs to a homeless man named Bratan. He’s been living in the car for a long time because he has an identity penalty. It also does not make sense to drive by car to the North Pole, much less in a stolen vehicle. It is a hundred-thousand kilometers away. You said a small change would do him good. You mean driving in a car for a month? Why not use public transport like everyone else? Please answer truthfully; otherwise the penalty will be automatically extended.«