“You’re looking a bit worn out today, Xiānshēng.”
Masunori Yatsumoto looked up. “Commander Zhang. I’ve been expecting you. Come in and shut the door.”
“Mind if I pour myself a drink? You look like you could use one too.”
“What I want, Commander, is an explanation. Look at these reports I received from Commander Owens. I understand that you were on duty during the incidents in question.”
Zhang smiled cockily, and lifted his cup of saké. “Really, sir, you know that you and I already discussed this issue. It’s not my fault that your agent failed in her mission.” He held out a second glass of rice wine towards Yatsumoto.
“You’re right, Commander. It’s not your fault that Asante failed in her original mission.” He paused and stood up, folding his hands behind his back. “No thank you, Commander. However, drink up.” He smiled. “To your good health.”
Zhang drank deeply, sucking down the small glass in one gulp. He put the empty cup down, and swiped up the second. “I told you everything that I know about the terrorists who hit the Rim’s Dream. It was impossible to know that the transport of Baron Fairchild’s daughter was a cover for an incursion into Level 7.” He raised the small cup to his lips, sipping this time.
Yatsumoto sighed. His gaze was stern and piercing. “Review the information about the Crew, Commander.”
The Commander frowned. “We’ve been through all this before.”
“I want to hear it all again, Commander.”
“These terrorists are unpredictable. The wild card is Edward Elliot Edwards. He was assigned to the biological weapons division and worked closely with Durran Haymer. However, Edwards was transferred to the PSYOP/MISO division in Ariel when his ‘experiments’ became too far outside the limits of his real assignments. That’s when some of the physicians within the Project realized that he was no longer a Sleeper, but had actually become an Active. He started to display the ability to Read, although it was wild and uncontrolled. We believe that’s when he started to experiment with using and abusing drugs in a futile attempt to place his abilities into remission. We believe that he was frightened of his emerging powers, likely thinking that he was suffering from a mental break involving a schizoaffective disorder. What he found was that methamphetamines seemed to help him with what he thought was an emerging psychosis. It wasn’t until later that he realized that he was developing the same abilities as the subjects that he was operating on within the Program. We believe that his drug abuse was a key factor in his decision to go Rouge. His loss of contact with reality and mood problems ultimately resulted in his decision to rabbit from Ariel and the Program along with two other fugitives.”
Yatsumoto nodded. “Continue.”
“Abel Longworth Bai-Xiong Whitham-Smythe … aka Abel Smith.” He cleared his voice. “And John “Mack” MacGruer, a Elite Alliance Special Forces trooper turned Contract Salvager. According to Academy files, Mr. Smythe followed his brothers into the military, becoming an expert in weapons and unarmed combat. During his last stationing he was recommended for security detail on the PSYOP/MISO program. At some point, the young man started to grow a conscious about the Program and he started to correspond with a reporter Before Smythe could be apprehended, he was intercepted by MacGruer who helped him escape alongside Edwards.”
Yatsumoto cleared his voice. “And now, Commander, what about the others?”
Zhang finished his drink, and replaced the cup. He stammered a little before speaking. “Edwards, Smith, and MacGruer have joined up with a mercenary crew known to pilot the ship LIBERATION. The crew only recently came into our radar, so to speak, due to their association with the Doctor. Benjamin Clemson is the Captain. He was an Officer in the Independent Army and earned honors during the Battle of Serenity.”
Yatsumoto raised an eyebrow as Zhang made a face and clutched at his stomach. “It’s too bad that you won’t be able to finish your report, Commander. You’re not looking so well. Perhaps you drank the rice wine too quickly.”
Zhang moaned painfully. “Sir?”
“I’m sure that you would tell me wonderful details about Clemson and his Academy Drop-Out companion, MacLoch. However, I’m thinking that you wouldn’t be as detailed with the information about Randa Cabott.”
Zhang dropped to his knees. A thick, white foam dribbled out of his mouth. His eyes widened in pain and surprise.
“You see, Commander, I know that you have connections to Miss Cabott’s family in Ariel. And when I was given word from the home office that a large sum of money was placed into your personal retirement account, I started to put two and two together.”
The Commander shook his head. He tried to speak, but he simply managed to choke on the foam that was filling his mouth and soaking his shirt.
“It was a genius plan, Commander. Cabott hacks into Templeton Steele’s bank accounts, transfers the money through a few dummy accounts, and then drops it into your account. It was rather a challenge to track all the trails, but luckily all Alliance credits are registered and traceable.”
Commander Zhang fell to the floor, moaning.
“And I’m laughing, Commander, because I discovered your treason.” He paused. “My, Commander, you look pale.”
Zhang finally stopped struggling. With a soft sigh, he died.
“Must have been bad saké, Commander. You have my apologies.”