We decoded a message with interesting clues.
Kjeld and I were at the orbital station Everus Harbor. We were waiting for the elevator to the landing pads when we were joined by a person in a white armor – Thane McMarshall, the head of security for Microtech. I was quite surprised to meet him here in the Hurston planetary system. Surely this could not be a coincidence.
“Look who’s here. What brings you to the orbit of Hurston?”
“I got the info from the activists that you were here. Kjeld I have a few things to discuss with you.”
My breath caught in my throat, I was stunned. “What connection do you have with the activists?”
“Oh I had arrested one or two of them once.” Thane must have noticed me clenching my fists and anger boiling up inside me. “Take it easy Zero. I let them go again. And I’ve been keeping in touch ever since.”
“We were just about to board Zero’s Star Runner to decrypt a data carrier. I’m sure Zero won’t mind if you come along.”
“What kind of data carrier”, asked Thane.
“My people had found an encrypted data carrier aboard Zero’s ‘White-Rabbit'”, Kjeld continued. “Zero didn’t know the stick was hidden on his ship. We want to find out what is stored on the stick.”
I stood there with my mouth open, not knowing what to make of the situation. Could I trust Thane? Then I remembered how Brubacker and Chhris had been locked up by Thane. Brubacker had confronted Thane and had come down hard on him. A battle raged inside me. It was like when fire and water met. Brubacker concluded that Thane had also been deceived in the Enos matter and trusted him. Besides, Thane was a very good friend of Kjeld. I relaxed. The water gained the upper hand. The fire went out. My anger dissipated like the smoke from the fire. “Well then, welcome aboard Thane.”
We boarded the ‘White-Rabbit’ and after a short quantum jump I parked the Star Runner in space. Far away from space stations, planets and moons. In an undisturbed place, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I joined Kjeld and Thane in the server room. It was easy for the computers of the ‘White-Rabbit’ to decode the message on the data carrier.
“Dear Mr. Arlington,
The Investor Board has decided to consolidate next steps of our cooperation. Further working funds will be transferred to you for the large-scale projects AFA and IDAMO. In addition, we will arrange in-house security services for you from BRF Logistics & Security Headquarters in New Babbage. The new BRF headquarters on Daymar is working under the direction of our security personnel department manager, Claire de Goetia, on a surveillance department tailored for you in the “UNDERGROUND” project. The MBOC allows us to have a screened meeting at the Renaissance’s annual investor party. We therefore expect you to settle in Orison next month and receive your invitation. We will convey your stay reservation in code by 07/15/2951 so that you can make all arrangements in time.
A substitute can be authorized upon request.
Furthermore, we point out the new security protocol: All confidential cooperation data & information are to be exclusively verbal, as well as the passing on excluded.
This concerns especially the large-scale project NOITAERK. Your request to install the starfish will be taken up again. Nevertheless, we suggest another test object for modeling.
Yours sincerely, S.ERIS“
Reading the message, I began to count one and one together. “Eris is the guy who hired the Yellowhands to capture Xedan and keep him alive. Arlington is the CEO of Shubin Interstellar. Shubin was invited by the Thiago to a party on the Renaissance. So Eris is part of the Thiago then. But what is the Renaissance and who is the Thiago Lobby?”
“Behind the Thiago Lobby are investors with a hell of a lot of money,” Thane explained. “The Renaissance is a spaceship, an Origin 890 Jump luxury yacht. I was also invited to the party on the Renaissance.”
Astonished, I looked at Thane. “You were invited by the Thiago? Whose side are you on, anyway?”
“I was invited in my capacity as head of security for Microtech. And believe me, I’m not in cahoots with them. On the contrary. Thiago is working with the MBOC, the microTech Bureau of Organized Crime. I’m not totally on the same page with the MBOC. Anything that helps me piss off the MBOC is fine with me.”
“The BRF is probably the Blood Red Front. A mercenary compound to provide security for Stanton against external threats.” added Kjeld. “So they’re in cahoots with Thiago, too. The radical splinter group Versipellis Sica from the Nine-Tails is also part of the BRF. By the way, the Versipellis Sica group has since left Grim Hex.”
The last piece of information made my ears prick up. “Oh good to know, then it might be safe for me on Grim Hex again now. I had been avoiding the station since the attack on my HAB. Have you heard of the project names in the message?””No, never heard of them,” Kjeld said thoughtfully.
I scratched my head. “OK, the Thiago seems to play a key role. In Shubin’s projects, too. And I’m guessing in ENOS, too. Eris had interrogated Xedan after all. Since Eris belongs to the Thiago, probably the Thiago was interested in information Xedan had.”
“I wonder why the data carrier was hidden on board with you Zero.” Thane looked first at me and then at Kjeld. “Did someone want Zero to find the information? Did someone who wanted to help us hide the data carrier ? It wouldn’t be the first breadcrumbs scattered for us in the whole ENOS thing.”
We went to the Star Runner kitchen area and speculated on possible connections. Kjeld was making himself a coffee when Thane eyed him. “Say, what’s that tattered space suit you’re wearing?”
I laughed. “That’s the outfit I found him in at the junkyard on the moon Daymar.”
Kjeld began to tell the story he had already told me. About a book that was a sphere. A sphere with a surface of BioBots that imitated the gas clouds of Crusader. About a cult and that he had suddenly woken up in the suit. I shook my head. BioBots, bioweapons, killer satellites. What had I gotten myself into.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)