We must look to the examples of the greatest among us, those who have always placed the lives of others above their own lives, whether in pursuit of justice, truth, liberty—those things that are the greatest of virtues that we as human beings can aspire to.  We must look to oftentimes the tragic memories of men and women who gave their lives for the sake of these things in order to find the greatest heroes of our modern times.  They are what we, as fellow men and women, should aspire to become when we talk about becoming better than what we are today.  My husband was an ordinary man who believed in truth and justice.  The pursuit of both killed him.  I pray that his sacrifice will not be in vain.

— Daciana Mason Rose, 25 Duodecem 5237 PD


26 Novem, 5249 PD


She froze, eyes widening at the sound of a voice she hadn’t heard in twelve long years.  Her heart began to beat a little faster as she slowly looked up from the files in her lap and at the flickering image of a man twelve years dead.

“Frederick,” she breathed.  He’d been everything then—friend, mentor, idol.  She had said more than once that without his tutelage, she’d never have become Chief Inspector for the New Earth Commonwealth.  Hell, the Office of the Inspector General might not exist anymore if he hadn’t become the legend—and the martyr—he had back then.

The image didn’t smile, but she wasn’t sure why she’d expected it to.  She caught her lower lip between her teeth, staring at the image as he paused for another beat and spoke.

“This message is meant for you and your eyes only.  I knew that eventually you’d go looking through our old case files for old time’s sake, especially if something happened to me.  If I’m not there with you, odds are something did.  Maybe it was a case that killed me.  Maybe it’s the one I’m about to tell you about.

“Or maybe I was wrong and they didn’t catch up with me and I’m showing this to you just to watch the look on your face.  I’ve got no way of knowing.  Either way, just in case the worst happens, I’ve got something you need to know.

“I still can’t quite be sure if it wasn’t more of them, but I know that there was an alliance between Idesalli, Chinasia, and the Compact that plotted what happened on Mimir.  That’s not the worst of it, either.  Someone in the Commonwealth knew, Seph.  I don’t know who and until I know who, I can’t be sure why they didn’t stop it, but I’m positive that there was more than one person that knew this was coming and didn’t raise a finger to stop it from happening.  That’s the worst of it.  All of those lives—millions—are on their head.”

His holographic image glanced away for a moment before it turned back to her.  “I wish I had more to tell you.  Find the green case.  In the lining is a chip that’s got a copy of all my research up until the night before I left for Eldas.  It’s everything, Seph.

“If I haven’t done it yet, use it to bury them.  No one—no like me, anyway—is going to be safe until it’s all unraveled.  I knew there was hate inside the Commonwealth, I just didn’t think it was enough to cause something like this.”

A shiver worked its way down her spine and she exhaled a shaky breath.  Freder…what did you unravel?  Why didn’t you tell me back then?

Maybe they wouldn’t have killed you.

“Good luck, Seph,” Frederick’s voice said softly.  “Be careful and good luck.  You always were a good friend and a sharp investigator.  You’ll do fine.


The hologram sputtered and died.  Sephora swallowed against a lump in her throat.

“Good-bye, Freder,” she whispered softly.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll figure it out even if it kills me.”  Even if I have to burn the Commonwealth to the ground to get to the bottom of this, I’ll figure it out.  You deserve that much from me.

 •           •           •

 “Telly, has Winston already headed out?”

Her communications coordinator jerked his head toward her, blinking owlishly through his visor.  “The First Grade?  Yes, ma’am.  You told him immediately.  He’s already on his way to the far reaches.”  He reached over and tapped a few controls.  “Left this morning on the Tiana.  He’ll be making it out there by end of next week.”

“Damn,” she muttered under her breath.  “Have they cleared the system yet?”

Tellaris tapped a few controls, brow furrowing.  “Made the jump an hour ago.  Do you need a tight-beam?”

“Tight-beam, direct line, maximum encryption.  Headset?”

He handed her one, still frowning.  “Everything okay, Seph?”

“Not since Frederick Rose died,” she muttered, fitting the headset on, frowning darkly.  How do I tell Winston everything I need to tell him and make sure it doesn’t get back to someone in the Commonwealth who’ll find my words suspect?

Hellfire and damnation.

Tellaris eyed her for a moment, then shook his head slowly.  “Right.  Well, you’re rigged.  Go ahead and hit that green button there to record the message.”  He hesitated.  “You want me to stick around or beat feet?”

“Beat it,” Sephora said after a moment’s hesitation.  I don’t need anyone else getting deeper into this than needs to be.  Right now, Winston and I need to be—and whoever he finds to help him when he reaches E-557 is going to end up knee-deep in this, too.

Damn, what was the name of that friend of his?  Windsor?  Something like that.

She waited until Tellaris was gone and the door was closed behind him before she touched the control he’d indicated.  “Tim, this is the Inspector General.  Listen carefully and destroy this message once you’ve listened to it.  Trust no one inside the confines of the Commonwealth.  Rose knew more than he ever told anyone here.  He had his reasons.  Find his friends on E-557.  They should help you.  You—and they—might be our only hope.  Find the man named Windsor.  Shoot a tight-beam to my personal line when you make contact.  Out.”

Sephora cut the transmission and slumped in her chair.  She squeezed her eyes shut, knuckled her eyes and wished the stinging would go away.

Why didn’t you tell me that sooner, Frederick?

And why the hell didn’t I go looking at the files before now?

She’d just sent her best investigator out into what was about to become a warzone, she had no doubt.  All she could do was hope that Timrel Winston kept his head—and his life.

At the end of the day, that hope was all she had.

1 thought on “Prologue

  1. Wow, it really starts intense…

    I hope Sephora will make it.


    PS: Typo suspected:
    No one—no like me, anyway—is going to be safe until it’s all unraveled. => …no _one_ like me…

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