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Admiral Kanjeet silently read through the report. In front of her were the injector and other evidence from the club, as well as pictures on the display integrated in her table. Richard and François stood at ease on the other side of the table.

Raising an eyebrow she put the tablet down, folding her hands. “This ship’s military security continues to be a troublesome branch.” With a gesture of her hand she told the two to sit down. “However, this is excellent work gentlemen. Proper procedures could’ve delayed the search of the place, and the governors agree that in regard to the overall security, which this falls into, this is our jurisdiction.”

She leaned back. “Your next step must be getting information from the arrested suspects.” Formulated more a statement than a question, Richard glanced to his superior who confirmed the Admiral’s words.

“Reopen the club, install our own security equipment, I want twenty four hours of surveillance by at least two people. Computers can be manipulated, one person corrupted or tricked. But it gets more difficult with more people involved.” She turned the display in the table off, stood up. As did Richard and François.

“Gentlemen.” She greeted the two, escorting them out of the room.

 

Sent to talk to Marie, Richard waited for the tube cab. He reflected upon what had happened to Darius and Irina.

After they had been officially found fit for duty by a doctor in the infirmary, who had also postulated that the implants would sooner or later be broken down by the body, they returned to their duties. Since that they had reassigned to technical division, got married. Reportedly Irina had filed for having a child, and promptly had gotten pregnant after receiving clearance.

Hissing the doors slid open. For a moment Richard felt a shock.

Irina Konrads sat in one of the seats. With a smile she greeted him as she got up and left the cab.

Deeply immersed in thought Richard stood the entire ride, left after a few minutes, headed to the detention center.

In one cell sat Lucy. Just as he was told through his superior, she sat on her bunk, two plates of food sat untouched in front of her. “Hello Lucy.” Deciding to try the younger woman first Richard stopped under the watchful eyes of the guards. After finding out about the widespread popularity of the implants Admiral Kanjeet had posted security details everywhere. Always at least two people, in addition to the computerised surveillance, also overlooked by at least two people. “You should eat, it makes for a better now than starving yourself.” No reaction from her. Shaking her head a guard told him that they had tried reasoning the prisoner into eating. They would continue to do so, until she had to be force fed to keep her from dying.

 

“Good afternoon Marie.” Richard stood in front of the cell in which his other prisoner was held. “I am delighted to see that at least you are eating.”

“Such rare delicacies shouldn’t go to waste.” She replied with sarcasm in her voice.

“Your sister seems to think otherwise.” Pulling up a chair Richard sat down, trying to look at ease he assumed a rather relaxed pose. “She has linked out.” Marie replied, sitting down on the floor in front of the bars. “In this rather isolated environment she sought the comfort of the others. That is why she joined in the first place, you know.”

Hiding his surprise of her intricate knowledge of the link Richard raised one eyebrow, letting her do the talking. “When the news was broadcast that the planet we called home, together with billions of people, was finally destroyed, she was close to losing her mind, so she joined in search for closure.”

With a twisted smirk on her lips Marie looked in the direction of her sister’s cell. “I can feel her. Writhing in fear and despair, drawing solace from the link, from the level of companionship not possible otherwise.”

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat Richard squinted his eyes. “You not only knew, but were part of it?”

“Still am. Most of it was my doing.” Marie nodded to the surveillance cameras with the side of her head, Richard recognised the faint red dot signalling activity was missing. “Your guards are fed false feeds.” A powerful but tiny hand grabbed Richard’s shoulder. It was the security guard from before, her colleague sat at his desk, head resting on the surface.

“He’s only unconscious. But you need to hear us out.” Richard played with the thought of reaching for his sidearm, but remembered he had to surender it before being admitted to the cell block.

“You might perceive us as a threat, but we only are the next logical step in our evolution as a species. Maybe we are at a fork in the evolutionary branch, since we have no desire to kill you.” Still Richard toyed with ideas of violence against his colleague. “No, you desire to assimilate us.” Somehow he expected to be injected with a microchip at any moment.

“The thought has occured to us. But sadly it would be only a temporary solution.” With an elongated sigh Marie got up and stepped closer to the bars. “But, you see, even we don’t understand the true power of the brain. Yet. If you are unwilling to be participating in our link, your brain would reject the implant soon after it has settled in. If your mind rejects it, your brain forms neurological pathways around the implant.” For now. One day you’ll find a way around that. “So you are telling me this, why exactly?”

The smirk on Marie’s face intensified. “Drop the charges. Never has anyone been subjected to the link against his or her will,” she stopped with a musing expression, “well, one has, it is from him that we know of the brain’s power to reject the implant.”

She sat back down right where she had sat before, the guard let go of her grip on Richard’s shoulder. Returning to her post she sprayed something at the unconscious man at the desk. A moment later the light on the surveillance cameras came back on. Should I show that some glitch had occurred? “Well,” he began, but stopped mid thought. Afraid that the crew in the surveillance operating room might be part of the whole scam he got up. “If you won’t tell me where that booze came from, I’m sure your customers will, inadvertently.” By her surprised expression he gathered that the collective mind of the link had not anticipated his move either, but hoped for it.

Without further words to anyone Richard made his way out, collected his gun, inspected it for any signs of tampering, but found none.

 

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