Fiction Friday. Escape pod here.
Blue Flame of Revenge - Part 6
"Doctor, thank you for joining us. I know you must be keen to rejoin your colleagues at Douvolle but we think there may be a bigger threat at large and you might be key to helping us identify it."
"Of course. Anything I can do to help." Gian replied.
"I've read all your reports. Excellent work everybody. Here is what we know. 12 years ago Thanan Fiert foiled a pirate attack on one of his mineral haulers, killing several of them in the process after they boarded. However it was found immediately after they were not pirates but Templis Dragonaurs. Apparently the local cell was low on cash and Thanan's transport looked an easy target. The cell leader's twin brother was killed in that attempt. Snatching Thanan's family they demanded a ransom they knew he couldn't pay. This was more about revenge and making him feel helpless than the money by the look of it. They sent him videos of them torturing his wife and finally killed her, and also his son and his daughter. Thanan drops out of the public eye and isn't seen again for over a decade. During that time he identifies an ancient story which leads him to an uncharted system where the sun went nova millennia ago. He puts his fortune into sending a expedition there. After only month in the shattered system, the ship's AI takes control and jumps the ship back to low-sec where it is intercepted by a carrier from Black Sun Security, who are the security providers to Thanan Industries. They take Dr Gian separately, remove the other scientists to a location unknown and kill everyone else. They then leave the ship in an asteroid belt knowing the local pirates would take care of the evidence. Why? What's the end game? Suggestions?"
The officers around the table paused in thought.
"There has to be something in that system. Whatever it was, they found it and the ships AI brought it back. Jove Tech? Something older? A weapon may be? I'd say he's looking for revenge but against who? They never found those responsible." Yoshi suggested.
"I'd say against most of us here. Its clear to me Thanan has a hatred of Caldari. He beat that woman at his hotel and you should have seen him look at me when I bid against him at the auction. Templis are an illegal Caldari paramilitary group fighting the Gallente. May be he thinks all Caldari are to blame. Tacit approval and all that."
"It might be just coincidence," Dr Gian started "But I had just found a sample of an unknown mineral. At first I thought it was just isogen, it was a similar looking blue crystalline mineral, but the scans couldn't identify it. I had just logged the find into the system when when the AI jumped us back."
"OK. Unless we have any better suggestions we'll assume that was what they are looking for. Doctor, if I could ask you to work with Aki here to try and find anything you can on what that crystal you found might be. I know it's going to be difficult without a sample but anything you can uncover may be useful. The rest of us will concentrate on finding Thanan. Hopefully he's got his precious book with him still. It should be very easy if he has."
Detective Aleira came around slowly. Her shoulder throbed. She looked down and saw that she was tied to a chair, still in the lab where the Professor had shot her. She saw the scorched material of her white blouse. A stun blast. The man sat on a bench, still pointing the gun at her silently. The door to the lab opened and a smartly dressed Gallente man entered.
"Detective Aleira . You are a long way from the Throne worlds!"
"And you are?" she asked.
"Oh that doesn't matter." he said approaching one of the many large lasers that littered the room on tripods and stands. "I'm not important. However, what your colleagues back in the Empire know about my little enterprise is. I don't suppose you'd tell me everything without things having to get awkward would you?"
Aleira stayed silent. Her colleagues knew very little. She'd explained she was going to this university in the Federation to make some enquiries. It might be a coincidence that they tried to buy six molecular lasers and were refused a few months before the sickening attacks in Amarr space which saw the exact same number stolen. Or it might not be. She was sure now it was no coincidence but her fellow offices light years away didn't know that. If she revealed this information they'd just kill her. They couldn't let her go and no point holding her given her fellow officers knew practically nothing. Easiest for them to set that blaster to kill and finish her if she revealed the extent of the investigation.
"Not talkative? That's a shame as I really need to know how much time I have."
The Gallente man flicked some switches and the laser hummed ominously. The barrel was about 2 metres long and a red tube spiralling around it started to glow as it raised up slowly.
"As you can see we tried to make our own molecular lasers. However we couldn't get the focus accurate enough. I have to hand it to you Amarrians, nobody makes laser crystals anywhere near as good as you." he said as he approached her.
"I'll pass your praise onto our engineers." she said sarcastically getting nervous.
He smiled as he crouched in front of her. Slowly and methodically he unbuttoned her blouse. With her arms tied to the chair she struggled but it was impossible to stop him. He pulled the blouse down as far as it would go to her tied elbows and stepped back to the laser. He took a small pad from the side of the machine and started to tap commands into it. The barrel of the laser tilted up and then swung to face her. Aleira's breathing increased.
"That stun-shot you took to your right shoulder might leave a scar. Do you want to tell me what your friends back in the Empire know or shall I even you up a bit."
Aleira shook her head, fear etched on her face.
"Well we'll start low power, wide spread and go from there shall we? So, for the first time, what do your fellow officers know?"
He waited a few seconds and then pressed a button. A red beam sprung from the lasers barrel and projected a red disc on her left shoulder about an inch wide. Flesh sizzled and steam rose as she screamed through gritted teeth.
"Captain, it's bad news. Very bad news." Aki said as they assembled around the table. "There is a theoretical mineral with a scientific name so long it'd take me a week to pronounce it. The short version is Blue Nova Crystal."
"Blue Nova Crystal? Never heard of it." the Captain replied.
"Its existence was only a theory." Dr Gian took the lead "As nobody has visited a system destroyed by a blue star going super nova it had never been proved. Some scientist proposed the formation of the mineral in such an event and there has been debate on it since in some areas of astrogeology. Its similar to isogen but the forces and temperature of a blue star super nova radically alter it."
"We talking isogen-5 dangerous?" Yoshi asked. Isogen-5 was a rare isotope of the common mineral widely blamed for the Seyllin Incident incident and the formation of the unstable wormholes.
"Yes and no. It is theorised to be much more stable than isogen-5. You could surrounding it in high explosives, detonate it and you'd just shatter the crystal. Nothing more. However if you could introduce controlled fusion then a first sized chunk could power the planet of Gallente Prime for a decade."
"So this could be the answer to energy crisis on certain worlds?" the Captain asked.
"No sir." Aki took up again. "The doctor said if we 'could'. There would be no way to stop the chain-reaction once started. Unlike normal fissionable material, this cannot be slowed or stopped once started. It would cascade and go critical within an hour if the calculations are correct. Thankfully it is believed that fission could only be achieved by a number of molecular lasers all targeting the same molecule from different angles. Those lasers are rare and you'd need half a dozen at least."
"Right, get chasing up on who has six molecular lasers, those things are rare. What sort of bang are we talking?"
"A fist sized chunk would vaporise an Upwell Keepstar if detonated in space." Aki replied.
There were murmurs around the table. An Upwell Keepstar was over 150km in size and even a titan's doomsday weapon would not put a huge dent in its protection.
"And planet side?"
Aki and Dr Gian exchanged worried glances.
"This is where different scientists have very different views Captain." the Doctor explained "Best case is a 50km superheated fireball vapourising everything in its radius. The death and destruction to two hundred kilometres would be immense."
"So any capital city could be lost with upwards of a hundred million people. Dare I ask about worst case?"
"There are some who believe if the fusion is started in a particular way, the initial fireball would be smaller, some propose only 10km, however the heat would be a magnitude higher. So hot in fact that it has been theorised that it could jumpstart start fusion in oxygen and hydrogen atoms causing a chain reaction. A planet with a temperate atmosphere, 20 percent O2 and large bodies of water could be engulfed."
The Captain looked on in horror.
"You are saying that a fist sized chunk of this crystal could destroy a planet?"
"Not destroy technically sir. It would ignite the atmosphere and water. Breaking the molecular bonds turning H2O into its component parts and feeding the fire. One scientist calculated a normal temperate planet would be turned into something resembling a cold red dwarf star for six hours before becoming a barren planet."
"Targets?" Sosa asked.
"I have three Captain if we think Thanan is looking for revenge against the Caldari State as a whole for the actions of the Dragonaurs." Riku said. "3rd place is Jita 4-4. Wiping that station would cripple the Caldari economy. 2nd Caldari Prime but that would kill millions of Gallente too and we don't know what effect the destruction of Caldari Prime would have on Gallente Prime in the same system. So that leaves us with a more likely target."
"New Caldari Prime. The city of New Tovil and over a hundred million residents or worse case, the entire planet and billions of Caldari." the Captain finished for him.
"Really, it would be so much better if you could tell me what I need to know." Thanan sighed.
Detective Aleira was still tied to the chair breathing rapidly. Sweat dripped from her body and half a dozen circular wounds dotted both shoulders and top of her chest. She did not answer. Thanan approached a desk and picked up a pair of scissors. Slowly he approached her.
"If the last ten minutes hasn't persuaded you, may be we need to up our game here. I'm sure you know that the areas of the body that can give the most pleasure can also give the most pain." he spoke softly as he lifted the bra strap on her left shoulder and snipped through it. "I'd think long and hard about why you are refusing to converse with me, as things are about to get very unpleasant." He cut the strap on her right shoulder. The bra sagged as he placed the jaws of the scissors around the material holding the cups together. The sound of a vibration cut through the only other sound which was Aleira's rapid breathing.
Thanan withdrew the scissors and reached for his datapad. His expression changed.
With that Thanan quickly span around and walked from the room leaving Deuverin speechless for a few seconds. Once he recovered he slid from the bench and approached Aleira, raising the gun to point at her face. She looked up and stared down the barrel of the blaster. She saw something in his eyes. He ran the tip of his tongue across his top lip. She then saw he wasn't looking at her face. He slipped the gun into the back of his pants and picked up the scissors Thanan had been using a minute before. Aleira appraised the man. He was overweight and didn't appear to have much muscle but she was petite against him, he'd be almost impossible to overpower. He cut the ties that secured her legs to the chair. She decided to play the helpless female and then try to surprise him. He was about to cut the ties around her wrists when he paused. Smiling he stepped back and pulled the gun. Adjusting the settings he aimed it at her.
"Ready for some fun?" he sneered and fired.
Aleira convulsed as the white bolt hit her. Electricity assaulted her body and crippling her nervous system.
"I'd say you'll be fine in ten minutes, but by the time that taser wears off, you'll have a hole in the head to worry about. Now, talking of holes..." he laughed as he cut the ties around her wrists and threw her to the floor. She flopped heavily to the ground, paralyzed from the taser shot.
She couldn't move and just lay there staring up at the man as he loosened his belt. Her head swam and the room started to spin. Before she blacked out she had a strange thought.
"That sounded like a Sisters of Eve spoke-bomb going off!"
The two police officers entered the management office of the small start port near Tovil city.
"Good afternoon Arikari." the taller of the two announced as they neared the reception desk.
The woman smiled and leant forward. Arikari dropped his eyes to her chest before looking back up at the smiling woman.
"Your boss in?" he asked.
"Sure go on it." she replies.
As the two officers walked towards the side door the receptionist pressed a small button on the underside of her desk.
The two police didn't bother to knock and just entered the small office. Waskisen was sat behind a desk littered with paper. It appeared to have no discernible filing system.
"Ever thought about tidying this shit hole up?" the shorter cop sneered.
Waskisen smiled and leant back in his chair.
"If I tidied up, I'd never find anything! What brings New Caldari's finest to my humble office?"
Natakko sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk as his partner wandered the office looking down at the various pieces of paper that littered all the surfaces.
"Rumor is you're expecting a shipment. Rumor is Guristas have hijacked a Serp narc shipment as they are distracted with the capsuleer campaign against them. Rumor is, they are going to land the shipment at your port."
"So that's what the rumors say is it?" Waskisen said casually as if he didn't care.
"Yeah. Apparently is a cool ten million Caldari Credits."
"I do wonder where some people come up with these wild fantasies. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Okaseilen Fukashi over at port 14. He's always trying to spread false rumors about me as he cannot compete commercially against me."
Natakko laughed. He well knew the owner of Port 14 the other side of the city had bad blood with Waskisen. However he knew they were as bad as each other. More criminal activity flowed through their two star ports than all the others combines including the space-elevator.
"Look officers, I run a legitimate business here, continually dogged by lies spread by my competitors. Have a look at this file." he slid a closed file over to Natakko "This is what we handle. No guns, no drugs, no slaves, just commodities."
The officer opened the file. It was for a drop ship docked. Its bill of export showed it was transporting cattle to the colonies in the system of Tama. He flicked through the various permits and certificates until he came to a stack of cred-notes. 5000 credit bills, twenty of them in two clips. He discretely pocket the cash and passed the file back.
"Well everything is in order and I'm sure Kunken here will agree. We'll see you again in a couple of days." he said standing.
"Make it four and I'm sure you'll be glad you did." Waskisen replied.
"Four then. We'd better be satisfied with your reports!"
The two cops left and Waskisen smiled, leaning back in his old tattered chair. He was tempted to leave a hidden camera here just to see their faces when they came back in four days expecting a massive bribe. However they'd be disappointed. The rumors about the Guristas shipment were true. They'd be arriving in 48 hours. He'd pocket a cool million and with the rest of his savings that was all he needed. He and his girl would be light-years away starting their new life when those two dumb cops returned.
Aleira woke and instantly knew she was on a starship. Years of living in space had attuned her senses to the subtle noises, vibrations and the feel of artificial gravity. A woman in a doctor's coat appeared over her.
"How you feeling?"
"Like I've drunk the entire annual wine output from the Nidhan monastery and then got into a fight with a dozen Matari cage fighters." Aleira groaned. "What happened? Where am I?"
"You are on a Legion ship. Your investigation apparently crossed with our own. Luckily for you we arrived just in time."
"Ah yes. Ingvar over there caught him with his pants down. Literally." the doctor replied nodding across the room. Aleira propped herself up and saw a hulking Matari Brutor with a bandage around his right arm.
"What happened to you? she asked.
"Whilst he had his pants down he still had a gun. After we breached the lab with the spoke-bomb he was able to get one shot off."
"What happened to that man?"
"I still had my left arm and he ain't no man with what he was about to do."
Aleira glanced down. Whilst her shoulders and top of chest hurt and were visibly red, there was no sign of the burns Thanan had inflicted with the laser.
"We have a top of the line dermal regenerator. It'll be sore for a few days but it'll pass and I can give you something for the pain. The Captain would like to speak to you if you are up to it."
Aleira nodded and the doctor tapped something on a datapad. A few minutes later Captain Sosa entered.
"Are you OK?" he asked as he approached. They exchanged introductions and Aleira thanked him for rescuing her.
"What led you there?" she asked.
"We are both working on the same case but from different angles. We are chasing a man who killed the majority of the crew of a research ship. Hundreds of people. We believe he is intending to launch a devastating attack against the Caldari. To complete the weapon he needs molecular lasers."
"We had a firm suspect and tracked him to the university. Hacking their systems and through scans we identified you and could see something was up so I sent a team in. I'm afraid the main suspect escaped."
"So what the frack are we doing sat here just talking about it?" she said with a smile.
To be continued....