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“Growing concerns arise in the admiralty as the case of a murder in the diplomatic entourage remains unsolved. Are the trade talks in jeopardy? Or worse? Stay with us, in our news talks at seven the whole case gets debated by our top journalists.” Darius turned around to the Admiral. Other headlines followed, including one about a new party drug like implant, before the programme returned to the daily routine of TV shows produced on the Destiny, and old ones from Earth.

“How did this get out?” Her voice close to shrieking Admiral Kanjeet had jumped off the table, marched through the room. “Unknown.” First officer commander John Lewis replied over the intercom line.

“It is out, now we need to contain it.” He resumed.

Pryia stopped dead in her tracks, shook her head and resumed pacing around the room. “Prepare a statement. We need to calm this situation.” She sighed, closing the transmission.

 

As his shift ended Darius strode down the hallway towards his quarters. “Hello friend.” From a corridor Abdul stepped into the main hallway. “Hello.”

“I haven’t quite had the time to thank you properly.” The tall man mumbled beneath his beard, he looked around nervously. “There is no need. As long as you hold up your end of the bargain. Any production from the Kismet for our stuff, your archives for ours.” mumbling too, Darius replied.

With a hastily whispered greeting, Abdul vanished into the next corridor.

Except for security personnel, the hallway was empty. Plants rose from pots on either side of the corridor, spending oxygen, and most would bear fruit sooner or later. Bioengineers had taken their cue from Explorer, and the votes of the people. Grasses grew in lanes at the sides of the hallway. No lawn though.

“Good evening.” Abruptly torn away from his thoughts of the uselessness of lawn, Darius looked at Irina leaning against the wall, her bare feet in the grass.

“The same to you. You could’ve told me that Mr. Savic was your uncle.” Glad he had not to deal with his interrogator, but the lovely niece, Darius remained calm.

“I had given it no thought, but how about we spend the evening in front of the screen?” Irina extended her hand to him. “Gladly. What are watching?”

A playfulness surrounded her smile as she replied with a quote. “Good evening, Mister Bond.”

 

Like small twigs spreading from a branch, dimly lit corridors split off of the main hallway. It was the dim corridors that the man stuck to. Outside a common room he found what he was searching for.

“Good evening friend.” The tall man outside the common room greeted another. “I believe I have gained the trust of someone here, sneaking in the Trojan over the communication line shouldn’t be a problem. The access codes for the Ericsson station should be in our hands soon, whether they trade for it, or not.”

Hidden in the shadow of a citrus tree the man smirked, the glasses he wore had done their job of automatic translation well.

“Good, but we must be cautious, they will monitor the communication line well. Besides, I’m worried that the murder of Hakeem was no coincidence.” The other person replied, nervously looking around, but glancing over the hidden man only meters from them.

Time to go.

The two men continued their conversation, but had switched to different matters. Staying with the back corridors, the man from the shadows waited in a safer distance for the two to split up.

After what seemed like ages the two finally departed, headed in different directions.

“Hello, friend.” Surprised the tall man looked into the darkness behind a small willow. It stood at the corner of a corridor leading to the main hallway. “Hello? Who are you?”

“Just a friend.” A moment later a tasing dart stuck in the tall man’s chest. “What exactly are your plans with the access codes?”

Fiddling with his gun in the shadows, resetting it to a higher dose for the tasing darts. “I don’t know what you are talking about!”

“I overheard you talking back there. There is no need denying it.” His glasses were wired into the environmental sensors of the hallway. He did not see the other man, but noticed his presence due to body heat and oxygen levels.

The tall man on the ground only saw two shadows hitting each other, heard a few curse words. His friend, whom he had talked to minutes earlier fell into view, twitching uncontrollably, emptying his bladder.

A taser dart stuck in his forehead.

“I haven’t had an answer from you yet.” The man in the shadows said, somewhat short on breath. Still feeling paralysed from his taser shot the tall man breathed heavily in his beard. “Secure fissionable compounds, we need to have all the weaponry we can get.”

“Do the sheiks know?”

“No. We’re operating covertly. The less people know, the better. If our leaders knew, they would negotiate for such compounds. But they have lost all connection to reality. And the threats your people have brought upon us.” The man in the shadows knew that his captive was talking about the Harpies. Although details had been kept secret, Horizon sent only encrypted messages, but news casts from the Destiny had not been encrypted.

In the vague light of the dim hallway the tall man on the ground only saw the gun pointing at him. “Please, I only do what is necessary!”

“So do I.” Another dart followed.

 

“Two men dead, and one vanished without a trace!” Prince Shamim yelled, spittle flew from his mouth. “And all that within four days of arriving on your vessel!”

The Admiral tried to calm him, since he already started to turn red. Helpless and tired Darius watched. He stood a few steps behind the Admiral.

“This is an outrage! Abdul ben Mustafa was part of my family’s entourage since before I was born! A dear friend of my uncle, and I demand you find out where he is, immediately!” Darius’ heart skipped a beat. His newly acquainted friend Abdul was the missing man.

“Please sir, calm down.” A personal assistant of the prince approached him. “These people are trying to get behind the mystery. If we keep them from doing so, it is our fault if they can’t find him, not theirs.” Calmed a little by the older man’s soothing words and voice the prince turned away from the Admiral.

For a brief moment Darius thought he could see the man’s distain for having to talk to a woman. It passed as quickly as it had come.

“We urge you to increase your efforts, and we would kindly request to be closer involved in the questioning of suspects.” The older man continued, addressing the Admiral. “Alright, it is the least we can do at this time.” She sighed. “Konrads, raise security chief Savic and inform him that our guests will add personnel to the investigation and questioning.”

Saluting Darius strode across the room, and called the uncle of Irina. After the call was not answered he tried again.

The third time he called security in general. “I can’t get through to Chief of security, Nusrat Savic, there is urgent information,” he stopped abruptly. Heat rose to his face, as an eerie cold grasped him tightly around the chest. “Repeat that Irina.” What felt like a breathed reply was louder than he anticipated.

“My uncle is dead.”

 

A doctor stood over the chief’s body. He had not started an autopsy. Neither had he done so with the other bodies in the make shift morgue. Originally intended as a refrigerated pantry for the adjacent kitchen and common room, it now was used as morgue. For religious reasons neither of the two murder victims from the Kismet had been touched, other than to bring them to the morgue. “There is no need to open him.” The man said in a calm voice. “According to his implant he died from somewhat natural causes.”

“Somewhat?” Pryia raised her eyebrows, wrinkling her forehead. “His heart and lungs stoped working.” pausing he glanced from his virtual viewscreen in his glasses to the Admiral and Irina who stood in front of Darius. “Because, the implant triggered a gland in his brain to spill so much of the hormone that paralyses your muscles while sleeping, that these were paralysed.” Sighing he pushed the glasses to the top of his head. “Meaning, he was murdered, but the cause can be found without opening him up.”

Clenching her fists Irina stared at her uncle. His features were peaceful, unlike the image that Darius had of him. With a nod Pryia told Darius to get Irina out of the morgue. “Thank you doctor.”

“He was the only one of my family left. He practically raised me!” Irina’s voice was clear, no trembles. But sharp pronunciations.

Tightly she clenched his hand. “I need to find my uncle’s murderer!” She hissed. Staring in his eyes.

“Calm down, please.” Pressing the words through his teeth, trying not to show how much her tight grip hurt, his words sounded like an angry hiss too.

“Help me, instead of being an ass. Take a que from the movies, and help me. Bond would.”

Something in Darius’ mind flickered. Images flashed before his eyes, sounds rang in his ears. “What did you say?” Both the unusual experience and the pain in his hand fought for supremacy.

“I said help me.” She jerked his hand, close to an angry fit of throwing them away. “Anid I said that Bond would help me! Be like Bond!”

More flickers.

“Yes, Moneypenny.” With a blank stare Irina’s grip loosened, gently Darius slipped his hand from hers. “It was you. And me. From the get go.” He opened and closed his hand, pumping blood into his fingers.

“It was, I think. How?”

More flickering memories haunted Darius as he worked his fingers. “Link?” He tapped her forehead, and then his.

“The implant? I didn’t,”

 

Darkness, sliced into pieces by lasers and other lights of the lightshow, basses trembled through the room, through the body. Darius sat at a table with Irina.

It has been mere hours since they met, both had come to the bar in search of something. Darius on his own, Irina as covert mission.

The party drug, or rather implant. Someone had taken the technological details from the Harpy implants sent by the Horizon, and had fashioned something similar. “Adjustment complete.” Both spoke as one, together with a woman who sat at the table with them. Unheared by either, but felt in their linked minds, a few dozen other people had said the same thing.

 

Sitting in the grass outside Darius’ quarters Irina rubbed her temples. He stood leaning against the wall a few steps away. “If I activated you, who activated me?”

Wishing for nothing more than a cigarette Darius fiddled with a leaf. “Who else but M?” His chuckle died in his throat. “No seriously, it was him.” He pointed in the direction they had come from. Pain striken Irina pinched her nose between her eyes. “Uncle, what have you done?”

A woman entered the section of the hallway they were in, immediately both turned silent. As Irina, she too wore the uniform of a security officer. “Good evening.” She stopped, looked around and then stepped closer. “Your implants have shut down, the strain of suppressing part of your memory and orders was too much.”

A non verbal question seemed to form on both their faces. “The new M you could say. Your uncle was murdered by agents of the Kismet.” With a slight hint of a smile she turned to Darius. “As was the first victim. He had accidentally uncovered their plans to nick the access codes and was about to inform the prince. The man you captured last night, Abdul ben Mustafa, was very talkative.”

Calming himself, mostly with the memories of his actions, Darius straightened his own uniform. “We need to inform the Admiral.”

“No need.” new M replied calmly. “Everything has been set in motion.”

 

Looking at Abdul with disdain the prince sat at the table, next to Admiral Kanjeet on one side, and his personal advisor on the other. “Your uncle gave the orders, he wanted to obtain the access codes to gain the vital materials. With this he could’ve overwhelmed your father, and succeeded him.”

Grinding his teeth in silence the prince gave a wave of his hand, immediately two guards swept towards Abdul, took him into their custody.

With the case of the murders resolved the prince took a deep breath. “Thank you, Admiral. This plot could have endangered both our ships’ security and safety.”

Determined to see someone pay for the treachery he rose. “Our negotiations will be postponed, I must return home.”

 

After having seen the diplomatic envoy off, the Admiral returned to the former diplomatic rim. In a holding cell she looked at Darius and Irina. “I expect a full debrief of your mission. I want all the names you can give me. I don’t like a secret agency aboard this ship, especially if I am unaware of it and its actions!” Leaning on the table she looked from one to the other and back. “Get writing, once you’re done report to the infirmary to have those things removed from your brains.”

 

Uncertain whether their feelings for one another are genuine or were produced by the implants to aid in their mission Irina and Darius entered the infirmary, holding hands nonetheless. “Come into my office.” Sporting strains of grey hair the woman in the doctors coat waved them towards herself.

Taking a seat at her desk the two exchanged an awkward look. “We’re here to have,”

“I know exactly why you’re here, the Admiral has informed me.” She waved to a person behind the two, immediately the door to the office shut. A woman in security guard uniform stood outside, clearly visible through the glass door.

“Well, Mister Bond, Miss Moneypenny, seems you need to remember who we are, and that you belong to us.”

 

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