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Death of Diaz

Death of Diaz

It was evening, but still in the high thirties outside and cash, like the cheap spirits in my glass had long since evaporated. It was stifling and damp, though opening the window would bring no relief. The lights were off along with the cooler. I had been disconnected, literally. Somebody had got wise to my blackmarket override code and removed the coupling. I was weighing up my options not liking any of them when she walked in.

'So, you’re in, maybe you should leave a light on or something.'

My shoes, parked on the table had hid her entrance while the whirring of my thoughts had drowned out the noise of the door opening. Her voice was soft with a slight lilt that would be worth waking up to, well, just a couple of times anyway. I moved my feet, returning the chair to as close to the upright position as it would go and tried to pierce the Stygian gloom to the speaker. If she was half as good as her silhouette I was in trouble.


She took two languid steps forward and leaned down a little to place both hands on my desk, staring long and cool in the eyes. My mind told my eyes to meet hers, they however had their own agenda.

Trouble.

'What do you know about Diaz?' she asked, not blinking and defying me to.
'Only that she retired from public service some time back and that she died a few days ago after an illness.' Diaz, her interest in heels aside the dame had been healthy, some would say vigorous, personally I don't listen to gossip unless it is relevant to the case.
'You buy the stories it was some form of rare alien virus?'
'That depends who's selling.'
'Fifty a week with three hundred expenses says you find out.'
'Sounds above my pay grade sweets. Tell me, if the pols aren't interested, what's it to you? Have a lot of shares in footwear?' Yeah, I knew baiting her could cost me a packet, but something didn't add up.
'Take a week to think about it and poke around.' With that she left, casually dropping a dime chip on the desk. I waited, drinking in the view; all the way down to her heels. Trouble.

It was sometime before I picked up the chip. A hundred was indicated on the reader. That would go a long way to getting me ahead for once. I was already at the door, my body having decided before my head had finished the debate.
It was a busy few days putting feelers out. Word got around that I was on a case so the monkeys were paying their respects, I was just paying. I still had enough to put some sharp lines on my body. If I was going to be brushing shoulders with the movers and shakers I had to scrub up with a new suit. First though, there was a captain just heading out that wanted a quick word about his recent trip to Straddle. Yeah, I had to look it up. Some backwater system. Seems the imperials and republic have been having a punch-up over it. Started in the time Diaz was calling the shots.

I was being tailed on the way to the dock. I had picked him up at the starport gates. The fashion was right, though the stooge was working it too hard. He clocked me and backed off. Time to have a chat. That's when it hit me, the right hook to the gut. Suckered by the old obvious distraction. While I was still reeling a second splintered my sight and I was looking up at a squat face. The guy must have been a gravity junkie. What they lose in height they more than make up for in power. A stubby finger was pointed down at me. 'Stay of the Diaz case, else!'
When I finally had reopened my eyes he was gone. Starport security, never around when you're getting the stuffing knocked out of you but try dripping blood across the concourse as you stagger to the conveniences. Bastards.

By the time security was finished with me my contact was off-world. A dead end. I decided to hit my local. After covering my tab and being hustled into covering the leaner times ahead I worked through what I knew. Those in authority were officially mourning the passing of the great lady. Some cutie was hiring a low-life, yours truly, to poke around and somebody really didn't want me talking to the captain. I took this to mean that she wanted somebody below the political arena, somebody not already on a payroll. I also suspected that she was simply a pawn of a bigger fish, somebody that wanted the truth exposed without the light shining on them at the same time.

I ghosted the scenes for the next couple of nights, looking the part without standing out. Diaz cropped up a few times in conversation, though it was clear that those talking about her were definitely not in the know. Sometimes it's what people don't say that you have to pay close attention to.

It took all my powers of persuasion and a large chunk of the expenses to dig out the name of the doctor who treated Diaz at the end. What was the connection between Diaz, a university toxicologist and a captain from Straddle?
I was told under no uncertain terms to leave the university campus before I even made it to reception. Attempts to reach the Dr were in vain. The guy was being shielded and I was at the end of the first week. I left, returned to the office and climbed into a bottle of the hard stuff.

My office had been given the once over. I also suspected that my data-vault had been mined. I only ever keep the old stuff there. Figure someday I will write my memoirs. The good stuff I commit to memory. Good ol' fashioned organic, nothing cyber. Paint me paranoid but I have seen how soldiers react as though somebody is pushing their buttons.
A few hours later I dropped the empty bottle into the basket. That's when I saw it. The office may have been turned over but nobody thought to look in the trash. Amateurs or maybe they thought I was in the habit of chucking away cash chips. Clearly they didn't know me very well.

The dame had been round, it had her scent, something I had not noticed first time, distracted as I was by her eyes, at least that's what I intended to write in my memoirs. I slotted it. More money but also schedule for a doctor, a schedule that put him attending a private seminar outside the university.

My cover as waste disposal maintenance was flimsy though security at the seminar was poor. I had also taken the time to openly fail to get into the university before going to the bar. This allowed me to shake off the tails I had once again picked up. I was ignoring them while watching out for hammer hands just to be on the safe side.
The seminar was dull. Yeah, so a lot of planets mean a lot of life and by extension, a lot of poisons. So some guy has spent a lifetime looking at them. While most are simple chemicals that wreck biology and are obvious, some have evolved for native fauna and are mostly harmless against non-native biology. That was it. I waited for questions and was awarded my opportunity.



'You say evolved poisons are mostly harmless against non-native species? Can you give an example where this isn't the case?'
'In most cases the toxin is an enzyme. Normally they are denatured when removed from their natural environment or do not have the correct active site to bind with non-native biochemistry such as cell walls. That said there was a case I dealt with recently in which an enzyme was biologically close to human enzymes. It caused the breakdown of neural cells resulting in dementia then brain death. It took weeks to take effect, though I only dealt with the post mortem toxicology report.'
'Was this from Straddle?'
He started to nod, paused then looked at me more closely before turning to somebody out of sight. I had the information I needed and was out of there as fast as I could.

Poisoned from a toxin that came from a world that was being fought over with the imperials. That was what they didn't want me finding out. This just left two questions. Who poisoned Diaz but more importantly, at least to my mind, who was hiring me? Either way the outlook was pretty grim. From the sounds of it, Diaz had been poisoned while still in office. Was this the real reason she stepped down. Was the House of Lords covering-up that their best security was not good enough to protect the Speaker from the imperials or was there a conspiracy to replace her? If they latter, then who was leading it?




 
News
Is open for business...
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

  •  
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.

    The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.

    The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.

    DEN continue to strike at the Empire

    Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.

    AFT turn to piracy

    The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
    Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.

    The AFT remain silent over the attack.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Combat Special Edition

    Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.

    Felini strike back at Dewiek

    Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!

    GTT get sucked into the war

    A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”

    Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules

    A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.

    The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.

    DOM make a choice

    After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.

    DOM positions share out

    Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.

    *** Affiliations ***


    AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
    CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
    DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
    DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
    DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - Urd
    DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
    FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
    FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
    FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
    FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
    GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
    GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
    GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
    HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
    IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
    KRL Krell (30) - Namica
    KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
    KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
    MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
    MOH Mohache (73) - Listens
    MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
    NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
    RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
    RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
    SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
    USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
    WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

    * Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
    ** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact

    NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS

    Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

    Deceased: CAL

    *** Submission ***

    By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

    Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

    No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

    In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****


    DEN continue to shoot innocents

    The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

    This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Return of the LiQuans

    A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

    Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


     

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