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Dead Man's Hand - Family Values (Chapter Cover Art) 1

Chapter 25[]

Dead Man's Hand: Family Values[]

Blackheath Maximum Security Prison
Rubat, Eden
Pentagon Worlds
Deep Periphery
25th April, 3058

"Prisoner #1864!" The wardens voice echoed down a cellblock, "You have a visitor."

"How unexpected." Cathy sat up on her bunk as her cell door slid open, "Who could possibly want to see me?"

She stood, stretching her long, slender arms above her head. Near starvation rations and enforced exercises time had honed her body in a way that her previous life as one of her Clans premier genetic researchers never had. Unlike many senior scientists, she had not washed out of warrior training, but had rather grown up the Freeborn daughter of two humble farmers, until her natural aptitude had been discovered in early childhood. The Clans always insisted on the best out of their lower casts, even if they were treated as little more than chattel by the Warriors. As such she had been transferred to the Scientist Cast, and had been educated to the best of her Clans abilities. Her natural inclination towards biotech had been encouraged, and she had soon gained the Labname Franklin for her work isolating a recessive gene that had been plaguing the Jade Falcon Aerospace Pilot phenotype for some time.

Unfortunately, her proposed cure had been deemed too radical, and had been rejected by her superiors. Believing them to be closed minded, she had attempted to prove her point, by clandestinely altering the DNA of an entire Sibko. Her actions had been discovered, resulting in her arrest, and the destruction of the altered embryos.

Most people in her position would have simply been executed, but her brilliant mind was still considered a potentially valuable resource, and a such she had been sentenced to life within Blackheath, one of the few prisons in Clan Space.

Stepping out into the corridor, Cathy looked down along the row of identical cells. While their origins varied greatly, everyone in Blackheath was considered too dangerous to be left free. Even in the tightly controlled society set forth by Nicholas Kerensky, yet too potentially useful to be simply discarded. As such their were an odd assortment of scientists, engineers, warriors and even the odd artisan...who tended to be very odd indeed. She could feel them watching her therough the small openings in their cells a she made her way to the steel door at the end of the block, where the warden, a Solahma Elemental named Hindley.

"Prisoner #1864, reporting as ordered, sir." she smiled sweetly.

Hindley simple grunted, and bid her to follow him to a small room containing a table, two chairs, and another woman. Her uniform was that of Star Captain, but bore no name or unit identification, which immediately identified them as a member of the Watch, the closest thing any of the Clans had to a covert military intelligence agency.

"Sit." the woman stood with her back to the door, hands clasped behind her back as she looked out the window.

Cathy did as she was instructed, and silently waited for the other shoe to drop.

"Degnerative Neural Sheath Annihilation Syndrome." the unnamed warrior said after close to a minute of silence.

"Inherited genetic disorder found amongst the descendants of the early recombinant DNA therapies development on Terra in the mid 21st century. Used to treat a number of degenerative conditions including Huntington's Disease, Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, as well as heritable vulnerability to depression and psychosis." the scientist recalled from memory, "The treatment was not approved by the Western Block nations, but a number of their citizens did travel for treatment. Even so, it is predominantly found in people of Southeast Asian decent. Most commonly known as Cholmann's Syndrome."

"Is there a cure?" the Star Captain asked.

"No. Cholmann's is still considered to be one of the so-called 'Incureables'." Cathy shook her head, "There was some promising work done in the Capellan Confederation, before the fall of the Star League, but nothing definitive."

"If you were to be granted access to the records of that research, could you find a cure?"

The question surprised Cathy. To the best of her knowledge, the defective genome had been eradicated from the Clan gene pool centuries ago, and it was only remembered as a cautionary tale. A reminder of the inherent hubris all too common in those who sort to play God.

"I do not know." She admitted after careful consideration, "I would have to review the records for myself."

"They will be provided." the Star Captain turned, "You can review them in transit."

"May I asked where I am going?" Cathy looked up.

"You are going to the Inner Sphere." The warrior explained, "There, you will prove your continued usefulness to the Clan by curing the incurable."

"And if I fail?" the scientist asked.

"Then you will have proven that you are no longer of use." the unspoken thereat hung heavy in the air.

"Motivation is always key." Cathy did her best not to let her fear show, "Just as well I have nothing to pack. When do we leave?"

"Immediately." the Star Captain announced.

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