Location: Parva Ward, Kernel Free Infirmary
*The Hospital is a hive of activity. Medical Droids and orderlies stream down corridors carrying hover gurnys spilling over with the dead and dying. Blood of all shades cover every surface overwhelming the normally fastidious cleaning robots.
In an alcove off of the main a Lemuran Surgeon draws heavily from a water flask. He thought it would serve as a temporary oasis of respite away from the chaos that had gripped the Infirmary. He was wrong.
A pair of immaculately dressed men approach. The surgeon lets out a sigh as both flash their PLA51-slates
A brief discourse follows. The surgeon wearily nods and beckons the Officers follow. The trio push into a side room where a Hospital security guard sits beside a seriously injured Antigonian suspended within a LIFE CAST.
The Security guard looks to the surgeon for re-assurance but he does not react instead he stares away through the one way glass at the events unfolding in the next wards.
"Y…yes Sir..but he"
"Leave us…" one of the CAD-Sec officers murmers at the Guard who instinctive low grade training kicks in to action. He snaps to attention and scuttles out – the Surgeon follows, looking back briefly and with a tinge of guilt. The doors close.
"You are Sibbi Mercato Danforth, Acting Captain of the SPIRIT OF ISHRA. 2 hours ago a concealed thermal device detonated aboard all but destroying the ship and the Terminus above Kernel"
The weak and wounded individual nestled within the LIFE CASE shuffles up on his elbows. A servo assisted cradle assists, limiting his range of movement and supporting his injured limbs. Pain grips him and he touches his hands to his temples, breathing deeply. Almost immediately the gaggle of medical droids administer a cocktail of analgaesics. Danforth furrows his brow, taking his time to consider what the taller of the 2 CAD-Sec officers had just told him.
"Acting Captain? I…Gentlemen I do not know who you…"
"CAD-Sec, Te-Agun and Ulan Donnet, Kernel Bureau of Affairs"
"…y..yes quite… look first of all I am more than happy to assist you with your enquiries but I am no Captain, check your manifest Gentlemen, I was employed as a physician…"
The impatient CAD-Sec officers interject once more
"Dr Danforth the blast to which we refer, the same blast which rendered you of your wounds cruelly took the lives of over 4/5ths of the expeditions crew who were aboard the SPIRIT OF ISHRA. Furthermore over 2000 unfortunate souls who were present within the Terminal in anticipation of the ships arrival also perished not to mention 4000+ wounded. Friends, family, Cadre Siblings, dead or maimed by a wanton act of terror. As a result of the attack Dr Danforth YOU remain the ranking officer among the survivors."
Danforth slinks back into the LIFE CASE and for a moment he remains there, silent, his eyes closed tightly. His frown grows into a grimace and eventually he responds though his eyes remain clamped closed
"Nnrggh….What do you want from me"
"We have questions Dr Danforth. Pressing questions. Word will have reached Antigony of the SPIRITS demise and the Empress will demand answers. The people will demand retribution. Anything pertinent to the events leading up to and including the atrocity. Unfortunately Kernel law prevents us from authorising a MIND WIPE, despite the extenuating circumstances. As a citizen of the Empire we ask that you provide us with everything you know."
One of the CAD-Sec officers produces an intricate AUDIOSCOPE and proceeds to hook the device up into his cerebral cortex via the jack port in the back of his neck. A depressing of the on switch and the device begins recording.
"I…I remember the explosion…nay…I remember the panic that came before…as for the event itself….I hope it doesn't return by KIB my friends…kinsmen….so many innocent lives"
"Pull it together Doctor, we've no time for sentiment"
"Yes yes of course…forgive me… As you no doubt know already the SPIRIT traversed the QUABOEL Nebula from Ageem 2 to Zufola in the Far Rim. Our journey was uneventful in so much as my expertise as a medical Doctor was barely called upon. A few cases of RUEL sickness from the copious use of VAPOUR was about the worst that befell us….."
"These men. Do you remember taking them aboard? The manifest shows three individuals alighting at the Astrakhan Space Port before the SPIRITS final leg of the journey to Kernel."
The image of 2 Antigonians and a Bokkhan coalesce upon the data slate thrust before the incapacitated Doctor.
"I have no idea, these men…they don't look familiar..you believe them to be responsible?"
"We do not know, not yet. A notorious Terrorist Group by the name of the Furious 8901st World Freedom Fighters was recently expelled from their base of operations in the Western Canton of VAL ADID. We recently received an anonymous tip that operatives loyal to the organisation may have embedded themselves within Antigonian military and merchant services, specifically the SPIRIT during her final tour before her decommissioning at the Kernel ship yards"
The shorter of the two stares at his taller superior and immediately corrects him.
"We are…almost certain that the Freedom Fighters are responsible"
A modicum of tension builds though this is immediately diffused as Danforth winces in pain.
Danforth looks physically exhausted from his mental exertions and physical ordeal. Several warning lights appear on the LIFE CASE and a tall, spindly Servitor droid politely requests that the CAD-Sec officers vacate. Begrudgingly they agree and start toward the door
"Dr Danforth we will return again tomorrow. Be safe"
The CAD-Sec officers exit the Hospital and take a flitter to a nearby transit terminal. Instead of alighting and joining the automated walkway back to the Conurbations the pair decide to walk though the covered parks and atriums that dot the habitable zone. The giant light globes that illuminate the expanse of habitable areas begin to dim slightly, a sign that end of watch nears. By a fountain the taller of the 2, the Lemuran-Antigonian Lieutenant Te-Agun, lights up a VAPOUR stick, leans heavily on the wall and drums his fingers along the marble while gazing into the water
"The Freedom Fighters? Really Donnet?"
"It's all we have to go on Lieutenant."
"I don't buy it. Well don't tell me you do? What happened to your objectivity?"
"I don't know what you mean Te. Just drop it, it's not our place to ask"
"The VID-TEL footage, the slate data which has clearly been doctored. Spoon fed….. a trail of fuckin' breadcrumbs…its a bloody fit up. Look Donnet it's no secret the Hierarchs and those close to the Office of the Empress are looking for a smoking gun, a pretext"
Suddenly one of the immense light globes overhead begins to fade to black. Te-Agun looks perplexed. Turning to his assistant he spies 3 men clad in long leather coats emerging from the shadows, their faces concealed. In the distance the monorail snakes over the parklands, a thin wisp of light in the blackness. Te-Agun stands; speechless as the group fan out.
"Sejjukar?….What the…You. YOU. You fucking streak of Crelym piss…"
"You couldn't keep quiet could you Lieutenant Te. Such a simple fucking assignment served up to us on a plate and you had to stir the water didn't you…"
The Lieutenant drops his VAPOUR stick, his hand moving instinctively to his holster
"You never did mention that you were assigned to the GREEN CADRE did you Sir? Come on…you're a detective, work it out. I tried to warn you off, I tried didn't I? For both our sakes don't make another mo…"
A raking salvo from the Sejjukar death rays punch a hole into Sergeant Donnet sending him slumping forward
In a snap the experienced Lieutenant whips a pair of pistols from a brace of concealed waist holsters and within a split second both are trained on the two nearest Sejjukar. A stand off ensues.
"Cowards. I'm supposed to die here, that much is clear. But if I go, two of you fellas are goin' with me to the HereAfter."