Garnet (part 3)

Just shy of three years later, another fragment. I’m tentatively back on the blogging thing, though at this point I’m not setting any hard guidelines for what gets published. It’s a hard follow-on from the previous fragment, so probably best to go back to the earlier bits before continuing.

For all that the architecture indicated a local origin for the complex, nobody had been able to find any evidence of it back home. The geoarchaeologists had put through several requests for deep archive searches that  came back blank after months of being shunted from one low-priority queue to another; my own investigations, though treated with far more urgency, had returned the same result: there was nothing to imply that anyone had ever come this way from Hearthfire before the current expedition. The whole situation was highly unusual, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the lead investigator had logged a request for expert help right before he’d been murdered.

As killings went, it hadn’t been spectacular. Doctor Lyell had been found by his research partner, trapped in a chamber near the edge of the complex they had been studying. Both of the examiners had reported that he’d died from lack of air – he was mapped to a ship bio-body identical to my own – but he was badly bruised and his communicator had been smashed to bits, which left little room for accident.

Working back through the witness statements on the terminal was excruciatingly slow: my hands fumbled every second or third gesture, and I still felt too dizzy to read, leaving real-time audio playback as the only option to absorb them. Still, I pressed on and listened, once again, to the recordings of the three surviving ground staff: Sial Hutton, the other scientist, Hu Kielo, the expedition’s cyberneticist and doctor, and Asteyan, its sponsor. I let their panic and concern and wheedling wash over me in turn, and felt no wiser for it once I was done.

Again, I went back to sleep.

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