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Last Updated     October 13 2017
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Following the Leads

Zimzod and Zach Hunt a Suspect!

Risek     Having gotten an address for the man called Sipos or Genzar from the mailbox shop, Zimzod announced he planned to go for a visit.  When he said that, the Marine Sergeant asked if his team should follow or return to other duties?  Zimzod said, "As of now, you're attached to me." in a commanding tone.  With a "Yes Sir" from the Sergeant, he prepared to get his marines moving.  They left the drop box shop, plotting their route on the run and realized Zach would hold them up, as he wasn't equipped with battle armor.  The sergeant asked what speed Zimzod expected to move at?  When Zimzod said their fastest speed, the Sargent said someone was going to have to carry Zach to do so.  This annoyed Zach, who didn't want to be carried, and Zimzod said, "OK, you can stay here then."  Zach argued that too, asking if one of the marines could escort him while the others moved at speed?  Zimzod pointed out Zach could hardly support the effort if he lagged behind.  And they'd have to stop to update him on scene when he did arrive.

As Zach continued to argue, Zimzod turned to the sergeant saying, "Can you believe this shit?"  The sergeant only shook his head in a negative as Zimzod faced Zach again.  The silence didn't stretch long before Zach gave in and agreed to be carried.  Then, it became a question of how to do the job?  Eventually, two troopers "draped" Zach over one's left shoulder and the group was off to the rental block.  Thirty minutes later, Zach was a little worse for wear and tear with a bruise or two as they arrived.  The rental block ranged up-deck for some distance and extended several decks above and below the level they were on.  With regular spaced lift tubes throughout the block, it was easy to get up or down to other decks from this main travel deck.  There were wall-mounted maps for navigating the apartments.  Thanks to the wall mount, Zimzod easily found the address from the drop box shop.

On Station 371

     In a review of procedures, navy technicians told Ms. Vik's team how they wanted selected video clips to be parsed out.  They also contacted officials in the Tarallo Alliance, hoping to get video feed from their effected areas.  But they'd had no answers back from that government as yet.  As things got late, Ms. Vik asked if some of her team wanted to get some sleep, since their day had gone very long.  Rol and Emkir said they'd sleep after Aiden said he'd keep working with Inger.  Mikah had transitioned from holding her doctors hostage to being part of the team as they all were getting tired.  She had yet to consider the issue of sleep.

Sir Brian considered his plans as he started searching for available parts on the station.  A few of the Navy techs told him they'd help him, but he had no authorization to draw parts for a project that might never happen.  They also pointed out that Admiral Chauss had said no one would leave the infected arcology until further word.  That meant there was no need for the decontamination stations Brian was designing.  Realizing his work was pretty much useless, Brian decided to take his case directly to the Admiral, and headed off to find the man.  Eventually, Brian found a Lieutenant who he asked about seeing the command officers aboard.

After Brian introduced himself and explained his need to speak to the Admiral, he was told the Admiral would be on his flagship, not a support station.  Brian was told that Admiral Jorg Resljeva commanded the station, and might be available after the emergency was over, if that was acceptable?  When Brian persisted, he was sent to a Lieutenant Deniger Kolodvorska, one of the Admiral's aides.  Lt. Kolodvorska listened patiently to Sir Brian's case and told the Knight he would "bring these concerns to the Admiral" when possible.  Not happy with that outcome, but unable to push further, Brian decided to head back and try to get Admiral Meshrumiikiim to help.

Of course, when he woke Emkir, this Admiral was less than pleased with the engineer's reasoning.  Still, he was awake, and it 'could' turn out to be life or death down the line.  So Emkir got himself up and straightened out his cloths as he asked a nearby navy tech for caff.  Once the caff was delivered and his cloths were presentable, Emkir was prepared for Brian to lead him off to Officer's Country.  Brian led and, as they walked, explained his reasoning for convincing the Admiralty to allow him to work.  They were well on the way when they were interrupted by the ear-splitting sound of klaxons ringing and the sight of red "Alarm" lights flashing.  Every navy grunt around them suddenly sped to a run either in their direction of travel or after changing direction!

Red Alert!

     Completely surprised, and without a duty station to respond to, Brian and Emkir were momentarily pinned like rocks in the middle of a quickly thinning stream.  In the thick of it, Brian called to Emkir, "Aren't you glad I woke you nicely before the station alarm clock rang?"  As the flow of the navy files faded, they decided it might be smart to get vacc suits, since they did not know what had happened.  Because Brian's vacc suit, and the naval suit Emkir had borrowed, were back in their work space, both men took off at a survival-inspired run back there.  At the alarm, Aiden had begun furiously working his comm board as Rol woke and reached for his vacc carry bag.  Ms. Vik froze at her screen before looking around frantically.  Aiden reached Captain Kristianson to ask what the alert was and what instructions they should follow?

As Ms. Vik recovered, she asked the now awake Rol if he could see anything obvious, given his military background.  Hearing this, Aiden said he saw nothing as he scanned the sensor reads and screens available to him.  Through force of habit, Aiden scanned the comm channels he could reach too.  Then He said he was going to suit up and grabbed his vacc suit carry while Rol was already "vaccing up" near the bench chair he'd been sleeping on.  Seeing both veterans suiting up, Ms. Vik decided to follow their example.  All three were in various states of sealing up when Brian and Emkir came sprinting into the area from their aborted trip to officer's country.

Just after both the new arrivals began grabbing for their vacc suits, they got a call from Captain Kristianson.  The signal was on their team's comms frequency rather than the briefing room's panels, meaning Kristianson wanted to be sure to reach all of them.  And they were making sure no one was 'left in the cold'.  They were told naval command had received news from the fighter escorts "flying the wings" of the Destroyer Aku Iikhi.  That was the ship that which had picked up the device removed from the Tarallo Alliance arcology.  There was a pause as Mikah confirmed she was on line too, and those in the station realized they had the whole team on-line for this, not just those on the naval station.  This was the first hint something had gone wrong.

Once everyone checked in, the Captain said the lead fighter pilot had noticed the destroyer had started drifting from its flight path.  As the pilot tried to contact the destroyer's crew and commander, he noted the vessel's nose had slipped "off course", into what the math said wasn't a course change but a lazy roll along the pitch and yaw axis!  Aiden asked how the captain wanted them to respond and Kristianson said, somewhat tartly, that there would be a correctly measured "Naval" response.  A nearby station would send a shuttle to investigate the situation and her call was simply an explanation for the alarm klaxon.  Scaling his attitude back, Aiden asked if the fighters could make any determinations?  The Captain said they were trying to maneuver determine what they could see, but made no promises.  As this started unfolding, Sir Brian decided the destroyer must have been the reason for the alarm and asked Emkir if he'd come along as before?  Emkir was more concerned with the drama they'd learned of and said he'd like to make sure the alarm was not for something else.

Shrugging as he took his vacc suit carry bag, Brian told Emkir to join him when possible.  On the Podesta arcology, Mikah asked the Captain if the destroyer's new course could be determined?  And if the arcology was in danger?  Captain Kristianson said that, while the ship had begun a roll for some reason, the course had not changed.  Since it had been bound for a dock near the hospital she was in, it was logical to assume it would collide with the station near there if not stopped.  The captain continued that this wasn't a concern, in her opinion, because she expected the ship to be recovered as part of the response and investigation.  Skeptical of this, because so many things never work out as expected, Mikah asked how long they had before the destroyer could crash if things went wrong?  Making it clear she thought Mikah was over concerned, Kristianson did some calculations and said it would take two hours at its current speed.

With that, Mikah said if the ship wasn't under some kind of control in an hour, they would begin to abandon the station, back to the cutter, so they'd have time to escape.  Rol suggested that abandoning the station completely wasn't needed, as the destroyer was not a big enough to destroy the whole arcology.  Certainly, evacuating the area of likely impact was wise, but there would be a lot of station left.  Even after the kinetic force was spent.  During this, Emkir reached out to an officer at one of the station's comm centers.  He learned that all station alarms had been raised because 'anything that could take out one ship' usually meant that "something" might be out there and take out more ships or attack a station next.  So it was best to put all personnel on high alert until the situation was understood and any possible aggressors identified.

The team, except for Sir Brian, remained plugged into the issue and were soon told one of the fighters had moved so its gun cameras were 'shooting' into the destroyer's bridge viewport.  From that vantage, those analyzing the vid could see no one moving on the bridge.  They could identify one "body" in view, but could determine nothing about that person except their presence.  When this came across, Mikah asked how large the bridge crew would be, and was told three persons, including the Captain(or XO), a pilot and a rating.  Zimzod broke in, suggesting something sudden would have had to have happened to keep the crew from raising an alarm before they were taken out.  Immediate speculation started bubbling up theories of sabotage or attacks on the crew by persons unknown aboard the vessel.  Captain Kristianson dryly interrupted the speculation saying they'd know soon, as the response shuttle was twenty minutes out at that point.

Aiden asked what the policy was regarding out of control ships and was asked for clarification.  He then asked how soon the navy would consider destroying the vessel and, as the others snorted in derision, was told, again dryly, that they would be informed if that became necessary.  As things seemed to be smoothing out and there was nothing else to do, Ms. Vik suggested that folks consider getting some sleep again.  Emkir shrugged and, not caring that Brian expected him, thought to himself, "fuck it" as he went to sleep.  Rol decided not to sleep immediately and watched to see how the situation developed first.

Not completely unfamiliar with dealing with bureaucracies himself, Brian had started doing what work he could to get around the Lieutenant's lack of help getting the Admiral's attention.  He hit a tech shop, trying to use his title to pump them for information on different officers who reported directly to the Admiral.  Once he had a list of possible paths "up the ladder", he headed off to push buttons.  Unfortunately, this netted him little, and he eventually ended up sitting in a reception area waiting after playing his last available card.  He'd leaned into the face of the spacer who'd told him the Admiral was 'not available right now' saying, "I'll wait", while appearing both important and upset.  but the administrative assistant did not seem at all bothered by Sir Brian putting himself out.

Zimzod Hunts Apartments and Answers

     On the Podesta arcology, Zimzod found the correct apartment and began to build speed well before reaching the door.  With that momentum, he simply put a small bit of extra power into his stride and a bit more lift and forward thrust into a single step as he kicked the door and shattered it open.  Altering his stride a bit in the motion, Zimzod stepped to the left with his weapon up scanning right side to center as a marine trooper stepped in to the right side and scanned left to center.  The sergeant stepped into the door way, clearing the center in a move that showed he either thought his battledress was impenetrable or that he was immortal.

In either case, the formerly sleeping man in the efficiency apartment's bed jumped with surprise at the sudden crash and sprung half up, spinning to face the door crashers.  The room was the apartment, in the form of a simple studio, and the bed took the center of the room's far wall, showing it was more hotel-style than long term.  None of the remaining eight devices were visible in the room from the get go, so Zimzod decided it was time to go for the obvious.  The man started to react as he realized he wasn't dreaming.  Zimzod strode forward and grabbed him by an arm, watching in comic repose as the prisoner struggled against the vice on his bicep.  After a brief struggle, Zimzod was able to lift the picture of "Actor #1" to confirm it was their man before simply saying into his comms, "Got him" with a tone of grim satisfaction.

Zimzod then bent slightly at the waist canting his blank faceplate down at the imprisoned man and said, "Talk bitch, sing like a canary."  At this, the prisoner simply started struggling more and Zimzod clarified his last broadcast saying, "We got the man in the picture at the address he registered and he is struggling right now."  He then ordered the marines to "four point him" and each of the troopers took an arm or a leg to hold the man spread eagle above the floor.  Zach started searching the place for anything that might be of use or provide information.  Grilling the prisoner verbally as the troopers held him, Zimzod was unable to get the man to respond to anything.  He just hung as limp as he could, getting his strength back up, before struggling from time to time.

Thinking to play bad cop, Zimzod started taunting him with threats like, "You think you are going to court over this thing?  Cause I got four marines wanna play tug of war here!"  Zach found the man's Ident, which Id'd him as "Gergo Sipos" until that could be verified as untampered with.  Seeing that Sipos wasn't going to be an easy scare, Zimzod called to Mikah and the marines, telling them he'd need help interrogating the prisoner.  Mikah asked for a sample of the prisoner's blood to test.  Lt. Commander Koovr asked if the marines would be taking the prisoner into custody and Zimzod said he just needed an interrogator for the moment.

Switching to local comms only, which included the marine troopers with him, Zimzod asked if anyone could find him a corkscrew from the kitchenette?  When Rol heard this, he asked why Zimzod was asking and Zimzod answered, "I have a few questions for this guy" with a chuckle.  Rol seriously advised that the Knight seek higher authority before taking any action, to which Zimzod responded, "I am in charge here."  Zach refused to search for a corkscrew, or anything else for Zimzod to use, so Zimzod looked while the marines maintained the four points hold.  When Zach started trying to persuade Zimzod to listen to Rol, Zimzod told Zach he was free to leave.  When Zach argued, "But you are a Knight", Zimzod put his blank faceplate in Zach's face backing him off, and said, "Yes I am."  That got Zach off Zimzod's back, at the very least, as the former trader turned to the marine Sergeant asking if they had an interrogation teams on station, and if the team could be brought in quickly?

As if on cue, Lt. Commander Koovr comm'd the group saying that he was sending personnel directly and asked "Lord Egosion"(using Zimzod's last name) not to take any rash actions.  Zimzod acknowledged the communication and request as he looked for a hammer analog, having picked up a butter knife from the very limited collection of items in the kitchenette.  Returning to searching after washing his hands of what Zimzod was up to, Zach found a credChip among the clothes, and few personal effects the man had in the rental.  Examining it as much as he could, Zach saw the chip was almost completely spent, and had less than Cr10 in it.  Getting back on the comms, Zach called for anyone who could trace the history of the chip or even crack it.  He was told the marine commander would investigate that for him as soon as they had a free moment.

Having decided the base of a lamp was a heavy and hand-manageable object, Zimzod returned to the man hanging prostrate in space and said, "We're gonna have some fun.  You'd better start talking."  While the prisoner went a bit white, he said nothing, so Zimzod turned to the sergeant saying, "This is optional for you.  You don't have to be here for this."  At that, the sergeant said, "Thank you Sir."  Then, to his men, "We're bugging out!" as Zimzod secured the prisoner once more and the troopers filed out the shattered door.  The sergeant was the last to leave saying, "We'll be just outside securing the area in case you need us Sir." in a neutral tone.

After the marines were gone Zimzod snatched a sheet from the bed and secured Sipos to a metal chair in the rental.  As he tied the man down, he was not overly concerned if he cut circulation in places.  By the time Zimzod was done, Zach was certain he'd searched the entire rental.  Aside from a week's worth of generic male-appropriate cloths and "station proper" shoes, the rest of the stuff came with the place as a rental.  Not even the air vents had been disturbed.  The only things Sipos seemed to have brought with him were wallet, watch, credChip and the cloths in his shoulder bag.  Even the toiletries in the fresher were likely an additional Cr 5 with the room.  Making sure Sipos' hands and feet were 'available', Zimzod prepared to go to work.

Intercepting the Aku Iikhi

     Back in space, the shuttle Chance Bolt had arrived at the now drifting hulk of the destroyer Aku Iikhi.  As the entire chain of command listened in, the pilot announced they'd try to moderate the destroyer's roll with their space maneuvering system(SMS) thrusters and deploy a team on the outer hull to see if they can learn anything.  Five minutes later they reported the hull team had jacked into an external comms port and failed to raise a response to any hails.  After an additional five minutes they reported some success reducing the vessel's roll, but a team member looking into the bridge viewport stated the visible body seemed to be "melting"!  On the channel with the rest, Mikah asked if they had any video of the body and asked her doctors if they'd heard of anything at all that presented like this?

Everyone agreed it would have had to be a fast-acting agent to take the crew so quickly.  And no one had heard of a melting corpse except in events involving acids or heavy radiation exposure cases.  One doctor theorized it could have been the result of a solar flare until another of the doctors pointed out that the fighter pilots would have been fried too, were that the case.  After that, the doctors agreed they'd need more data before making a guess.  Mikah asked Zimzod to ask the prisoner how he'd like to be exposed to what was in the Alliance arcology?  Then, after a pause, she asked for Sipos' Blood.  Returning to their work, one of the specialists completed a spectral analysts of their samples and reported that nothing unusual was revealed at all.

At his workstation, Aiden asked for caff from one of the navy techs, who later returned with the drink.  Rol asked if they could get video from the team aboard the Aku Iikhi and Mikah asked the Captain to keep them updated on the destroyer's flight path and projected impact.  The Captain said she'd handle the updates but couldn't get a video link at the time.  Rol asked about radiation coming from the vessel and was told everything was normal according to the teams on-site, even the ship's reactor was working within specs.  Rol decided to monitor the situation for thirty more minutes before hitting the rack if not needed.  He did make one more call, asking if they had an overall status on the destroyer yet, and was told it wasn't available as the team were still on the outside of the hull.

Brian sat in the reception area he'd been waiting in for the stations commanding Admiral to become available for thirty minutes and then gave up.  He asked to have the officer contact him when he was available as he left.  Brian then returned to the team's headquarters to see Emkir fast asleep on some chairs.  After checking in with the others, Brian bumped Emkir hard as he moved to grab some sleeping space himself, but Emkir just rolled a bit and never woke.

More Questioning in the Apartment

     In the rental, Zimzod leaned down, holding the lamp base and dull knife as he loomed over the prisoner and asked, "What chemical is in these devices?"  When the prisoner didn't answer, Zimzod struck down hard and hit the man's left big toe with crushing force.  Not only broken, the toe was flattened and bleeding as the bone shattered, yet the prisoner managed to hold in the screams of the agony he must have felt.  When the man didn't answer the question again, Zimzod pulled the toe off, intending to hold it in front of the man once free.  But as the remains of the toe were twisted and pulled and finally came free, the man's horrifying screams were silenced as he fainted due to pain and shock.  Seeing this sadistic display, Zach rushed to the kitchenette, getting a glass and some ice from the freezer.

Meanwhile Zimzod comm'd the marines saying Zach would be out with a requested medical sample to be delivered to Dame Mikah as soon as possible.  After placing the shattered toe into the ice and covering it, Zimzod tied a tourniquet at the base of Sipos' ankle while Zach took the glass out to a trooper who secured it and used his enhanced exoskeleton to sprint to the hospital.  With the prisoner out cold, there was nothing Zimzod could do but wait for the interrogation team to arrive.

Quickly enough, the marine arrived in the hospital carrying the mashed toe, and the doctors started taking samples.  They were reminded that there's no guarantee the prisoner Sipos was even infected.  Nor, for that matter, was it a guarantee the tissue was not infected on the run over.  In any event, someone said that, from what has been seen, any contagion that hit the blood stream seemed to immediately mutate into some naturally occurring structure which was why it hadn't yet been detected.

More From The Aku Iikhi

     Eventually, the team were comm'd by the navy and given access to a vid-link established from the Aku Iikhi.  Dame Mikah asked the doctors to look very closely, asking if what they saw matched anything in their experiences?  As the investigators on the ship confirmed they had no life signs from their sensors, the doctors examined the feed.  The only thing they agreed might act like what they were seeing was some kind of acid.  It couldn't be determined if the clothing of the body had been effected, due to the lack of sharp resolution of the camera used, while shooting through the bridge viewport canopy.  They realized they'd only know more once the ship was opened up.

On that point, the investigators were working with the naval brass to decide if they should vent the whole ship or just part of it?  And if only part, which section, fore or aft?  Rol asked about external connections to the ship's black boxes and was told such access was internal only.  As the Navy began discussing the wisdom of venting the engineering or bridge section to get control, Ms. Vik asked for caff and Rol decided to sleep.

Still at his screens and dragging a bit, Aiden asked if the navy had gotten any response from the Alliance about joining in with their investigation?  He was told Alliance Security said they were handling the investigation and would update any proper authorities if they found anything of note.  The official statement sounded as if they felt they were being accused of incompetence.  Word came in ten minutes before Mikah's ordered evacuation deadline that the navy had begun venting the destroyer's engineering section after using the Aku Iikhi's computer to seal the forward sections.  Five quiet minutes after that, it was reported that an engineering team was being sent into the hull.  Despite the navy's hands on the situation, Mikah decided that her team were close to exhaustion and needed to get back to the cutter in any event.

Shifts and Sleep

     Mikah contacted Zimzod and ordered him to return with Zach ASAP, before assuring the doctors in the lab that she'd return and heading out herself.  For their part, the doctors were now running on their own steam and no longer unwilling prisoners.  While some had found corners to sleep in, they had set up a shift system and reached out to those few friends they knew would be useful and still could reach.  In the rental units, the vacc suited interrogation team arrived and surveyed the scene with looks of, distaste, on their faces.  Once they saw the condition of the prisoner they formally requested custody of the man and Zimzod gave it to them, disgusted that he hadn't gotten anything and that they'd use less "satisfying" methods.  In any case, by the time Mikah's order came down the line, Zach and Zimzod were ready to head out.  Twenty minutes later, as the various team members worked at their posts or made their way back for the docking bay where they parked the cutter, the navy announced they'd gained control of the destroyer's systems and were deciding where to park the ship for investigation.

By the time Mikah arrived at the bay, the navy had decided to move the vessel to the lab they had set up at SDB bay 210.  The teams that had been moved there days before would have something to work on other than data feed from the Podesta hospital lab.  Without waiting for the others, Mikah crushed the bay worker's hopes again and crossed to the cutter to start washing her suit's exterior with the bleaches and other chemicals they had brought in hopes it would decontaminate their suits.  Before Zimzod and Zach arrived at the bay, word came that the Imperial interrogation team had learned Sipos' female co-conspirator was named "Anna Zebrinkt".  That data had been passed up-line for investigation.  Satisfied that Mikah was as decontaminated as she was going to get, Zimzod and then Zach crossed over to the cutter in their turns and did the same before settling inside the cutter to eat and setting an alarm for six hours.  That done, they hit the rack.


Tracking Anna Zebrinkt

     Shortly after things whittled down to just Ms. Vik and Aiden, word came, from the video front again.  A woman's picture was found matching all the parameters to the highest degree yet.  Once it was forwarded to the team for verification, Ms. Vik saw it was the woman believed to be the second person in the clip from the agro-dome, who had been working with Sipos.  The shot in question had the suspect in the boarding area for a merchant passenger vessel, though the navy had not yet produced the name or submitted flight plan for the ship docked there at the time.  The time stamp on the clip said it had been taken five hours before the best estimate for the first reported infection.  That meant that if it was the second suspect, she had cut things very close.  Over the next five hours, Ms. Vik and Aiden both kept at it, but no new video was discovered.

Using the clip of the woman, they learned she boarded the IMS Maku Keeruu(J2 400 ton Passenger Liner) ultimately bound for the Jesedipere System(Aramis) on the border of Imperial and Vargr space!  While the navy was certain they could intercept the ship at its second stop, the Henoz System(Rhylanor), the first stop was the heavily overpopulated Zivije System.  So the suspect, if indeed she was the woman they wanted, could easily leave the vessel in that system and get lost in the massive population.  Naval speculation was that the only opportunity to catch her was to do so before the vessel landed or docked and debarked.  The first wave of destroyers would have to reach that system first, or early enough to comm other ships in-system in time.  This would allow a possible quarantine to be enacted, forcing her to remain aboard the Keeruu until a second destroyer or destroyer escort arrived with her "wanted" data.  Ultimately, this woman was well beyond the system and the team, regardless of her level of involvement.

Answers From The Aku Iikhi

     On other matters, the navy had brought the Aku Iikhi under the control of a recovery crew and moved her to the lab set up on SDB bay 210.  There, a hole had been drilled into her, forward and still-pressurized compartments.  The team was analyzing the air caught from the breach.  They were also bringing in an in-system cargo hauler, rigged as an observation dormitory, for the recovery crew.  The recovery personnel showed no signs of any illness and the specialists on the SDB station were reasonably certain they'd determined the substance that killed the crew to be an organic acid!  This was supported by follow-on work depressurizing the rest of the destroyer to get at the dispenser and the bodies.  When the recovery team moved in, they found the corroded dispenser, within the remains of the plastic shell covering it, had a huge "tunnel" eaten open by the acid.

Here, as best was determined, was the ill-fated story of the Destroyer INS Aku Iikhi, a 3,000 Combat escort vessel, of the Midu Agashaam class, with Six Officers and 27 crew which was assigned the Escort division of the 1601st BatRon(or Battle Squadron):

         The Aku Iikhi(pronounced: Ah-ki-uh Ee-cha-ih ) was commanded by Captain Schiavone
         until her fateful mission to a Tarallo Alliance arcology in the system to pick up a secured
         package for delivery to one Dame Mikah Kirlim aboard the disease infected Podesta
         Republic arcology. The mission, under emergency conditions as the outbreak in Podesta
         caused a system wide interdict, went well at first. The crew of the destroyer received
         the package in good order securing it in a ward room near the main air lock.

         This was the fatal error as was later learned, but was done to allow the quick removal of
         the device from the ship on arrival. Captain Schiavone turned his vessel toward the
         target station about the same time Dame Mikah worked on a similar but shattered device
         on the infected arcology. It was assumed the second device had the same contents, a
         disease contagion, that Dame Kirlim's sample had held. So it was hoped this would
         help find a cure. As the crew went efficiently about their business, they wanted nothing
         to do with the device except that it had to be moved and gotten off their ship. Because
         no one cared to examine it, and it wasn't in a work area, it wasn't checked on. This was
         also because it had been completely sealed in high carbon plastic by the Tarallo Alliance
         when they found it, so the fatal assumption was made that it was "secure".

         Unfortunately, this device had a reservoir thinly lined with glass inside, and
         contained organic acid which specifically fed on carbon based materials(like high
         carbon plastics or flesh). As soon as the device's timer said it was time to wake, it
         began trying to pump acid into the surrounding environment. That being high carbon
         plastic, the pressure built, causing a heat buildup even as the acid began to burn
         a cavity in the sealed plastic. This also caused the acid to eat at the dispersal
         container itself, as the outside wasn't glass lined. So, with the plastic coating failing
         as the acid bubbled, the container failed and all the remaining acid made very short
         work of the remaining covering.

         This was when the next event in the fatal chain occurred. "If" the container had been
         placed in a cargo hold, it would have been isolated once the acid ate its way free. But
         it was in a ward room which, like most ship's compartments, was part of the air circulation
         and recycling system. So it was that the acid travelled throughout the ship, thanks to air
         currents and air circulation. Because most of the acid spilled without contacting some
         carbon based material, it was fresh, strong and vaporized quickly. This led to
         concentrated and deadly acid vapor clouds, which killed almost instantly as it attacked
         the victim's lungs. This prevented screaming from the crew alerting anyone before it
         was too late.

         In the end, the crew went about their tasks under the grim and dark cloud of
            events around them.

         As they died in their one's and two's, the already depressed silence aboard covered their
         quiet departures. Finally, the pilot and bridge crew succumbed and, sensing there was no
         one "at the wheel", the computer pushed the control systems into "rest state". Without
         positive thrust and control, the ship took on a slight twisting roll, with her nose dropping
         and lateral axis twisting counterclockwise due to nearby gravity wells. It was this first
         sign at which the pilots of the escorting Rampart fighters reported something had gone
         wrong and tried to contact the destroyer crew. Of course, these events would not play out
         fully until Dame Mikah was in the ninth hour of suit clad work....

(INS Aku Iikhi, Midu Agashaam class Destroyer, TL 15, 3,000 Ton, J-4, 6G, Crew: 6 officers,
         27 ratings).

No Answers From The Toe

     Back on the Podesta arcology, doctors had worked to learn as much from suspect Sipos' toe as they could and found no sign it.  Or the suspect, was infected or inoculated against anything abnormal in their slice of Imperial society.  This came with a ready confession that they could be missing something developed using higher tech methods than they were used to or familiar with.  But they did defend their cross-Imperium level of education and their programs keeping up with medical discoveries and technology even beyond their system's level to produce.  So unless the Imperial interrogators got more out of Sipos, he was rapidly becoming a dead end.  Also, under the operating assumption the contagion mutated into something naturally occurring or expected, they had been separating out infected blood into content types and waited for the vat of swabs to grow anything indicative of a contagion.

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Next: Left Turns becoming Fights