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Chapter 6[]

Dead Man's Hand: Second Star to the Right[]

Garrison Post
Bolsun, Nox
Clan Wolf Occupational Zone
10th September, 3054

"You have something?" Natasha Kerensky asked, suddenly appearing behind Charles Dinour in such a manner that he almost jumped.

"We are not sure." recovering his composure, the Star Colonel directed her attention to a nearby screen, where a somewhat grainy video was playing on a loop.

It showed a woman, dressed in a long cape with the hood pulled up over her head. She staggered somewhat, obviously the worse for ware of alcohol, but still moving with an obvious purpose as she ducked into an alley. Moments later, two men followed, one looking back over his shoulder to make sure they weren't followed. There was a few seconds of inaction, then one of the men stumbled back into view, only to regain their footing and dart back into the alley. He reappeared a second time, this time landing on his back. A fourth figure appeared from off-camera and helped him to his feet, and they both entered the alley, the newcomer drawing what looked like a police issue stun-baton as they went.

The view changed to show the other end of the alley where a nondescript van pulled to a stop, the driver getting out and opening the rear doors. The first two men to enter the alley appeared, one supporting the weight of the other who had a knife embedded in their left leg just above the knee. The third person, the one who'd been brandishing the stun-baton, appeared dragging with them the limp form of the hooded figure by the armpits. The driver of the van helped lift the unconscious woman into the back of the van, a faint hint of blond hair visible for a moment before the doors were closed and the van drove off.

"The vehicle as stolen, of course." Charles Dinour handed over a set of photos showing the burnt-out remains of the van, "The security auxiliaries found it abandoned in the remains of a bombed-out factory. Tracks found at the scene indicate that they had a second vehicle waiting for them."

"They took her alive, whoever they were." the Khan restarted the video, "Any idea who they are?"

"We have had some trouble with former militia members who went to ground rather than accept the surrender, but no worse than other worlds."

"Yet they targeted her... but because they thought she was one of us? Or because they knew she was not?"

"We still do not know who she is." the Star Colonel pointed out, "All we know is that she is not who she was claiming to be at the bar."

"None the less, we do not know for sure what the kidnappers know. I encountered a handful of cases such as this when I was with the Dragoons: one of our people would be grabbed, and we would receive a demand for money, weapons, even that we leave a plant."

"How did you handle it?"

"It depended on if we thought that we would get our people back or not. If we did, we would pretend to go along until we could be rescued."

"And if not?"

"Then we would descend upon them with all the might and fury of a storm, and set an example of why you should not threaten that which is ours."

"But this woman, this... Elsa. She is not one of ours."

"...Neg." there was a strange edge to his Khan's voice, but Charles Dinour ignored it, "No, she is not."

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