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The Absolute Zero (Cover Art)

Chapter 8 - The Absolute Zero[]

FSS Kentares
Kentares Class Corvette / Ram Ship
Sian Orbit
Capellen Confederation
3159 CE

[Sick Bay...]

"How is she?"  Julian asked.

"Well...we can keep her alive on a heart-lung machine for a while, but Lieutenant Graves is going to be bedridden for the rest of her life unless we can find a tissue-type match in the local transplant bank.  The bullet was designed to fragment after penetration. It turned her lungs into chowder, Highness.  We're keeping her sedated for now, medically induced coma."

He turned to Major Pickett, "I want explanations. Why is my secretary on life support?"  I'm going to have to explain this to her parents. god.

"Cleary." Pickett said, "He's from Benjamin, it's kind of convenient that this happened here. At the same time someone attacked the Lyran Embassy and that's no lie-they've got a chief petty officer who's being treated for toxic shock over on the Frederic Steiner after saving your cousin Trillian from an attempt, and the new Chancellor's put off the public funeral after a large team of saboteurs were caught rigging the grounds."

"Upshot?"

Fox Class Corvette (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

Kentares Class Corvette/Ram Ship, FSS Kentares

"Well, we think Cleary was turned by someone hostile. Who's definitely aiming at the attendees of the funeral. It could be local but, I don't think it is.  The Lyran assassin is unidentified but, poison gas suggests something pretty low-professional, though his gear was top-shelf for the black market."

"You already think they're connected, right?"

Pickett scratched behind his ear, "Yeah, I do."

"Keep me informed, and coordinate with the Cappies and my cousin's people. Find out who's running this."

"Yes, sir."

"And Pickett?" Julian said, "Don't blame yourself for Cleary. Even I thought he was loyal, but find out why my assistant is on life support so I can explain it to her parents."

"Sir?"

"Kid took a bullet for me, when it wasn't her job.  They deserve to know why." Julian said grimly.

"Yes, sir."

Julian walked along the grav decking and looked down to look out.

The transparent armor of the grav-deck passed by something that made him stop, a terrible idea coming to mind.

He hurried to the ship's CIC.



On the holotank stage, Alaric Ward's face was almost life-sized.  "I did not expect this call, Julian." the Wolf Khan said.

"Tell me if you will, Khan Alaric Ward, does your ship carry vat-cloning equipment and can your doctors do a repair-say, two lungs on a nineteen year old girl?" Julian asked.

"hm, Just a moment.
"  Ward vanished for a moment, then reappeared.  "We do indeed have that facility." he said, "Your request is curiously specific."

"A nineteen year old girl who keeps my calendar stopped an assassin from stopping me, she is on a heart-lung machine right now.  So, do we do this like a bid and fight it out? The kid had a hard time, she was on temporary duty after being stuck on the hull of a ship in hyperspace screwed her up..."

"Unaugmented." Alaric said.

"I can do that."

"and because I'm intrigued...Rochambeau, best of three." The wolf said with a slight smirk, "If you lose, i'll take the girl-she will get treatment, and maybe a better posting."

"I am a pretty good boss...ready?"

Julian won the contest with scissors.

Lieutenant Charlene 'Charlie' Graves was transferred to the medical bay of the CWS Dire Wolf within an hour for sampling and life support until her destroyed lungs could be replaced.



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