Home of Sword and Soul
Thunder boomed. Lightning flashed. A heavy downpour lashed the city as the four vehicle motorcade pulled into the lane leading to Vigilance Hall, the governing headquarters of the Planetary Authority.
Chairman Johansen and the Cassad investigators emerged from the middle car. Security official with parasols escorted the chairman and his guests through a gated side entrance, into the building.
Once inside, the Cassads met First Inspector Clement Abdil, head of the Continental Police. Afterward, they settled in the Hall’s main conference room.
“It would have been nice if General Corvan were here,” Johansen remarked, walking to the head of a polished, hard wood table. “Unfortunately he declined due to pressing issues.”
“Not more pressing than the matter at hand I hope,” Javaris said dryly.
The chairman’s mirthful look conveyed more than words ever could. When everyone was seated, he got down to business. He gestured and an aid moved to the other end of the table with a large paper map that he unfurled on top.
Johansen removed an adjustable pointer from a compartment beneath the table, extended it and used it to tap a location on the map. “This is Tolliver Province, the site of the worst Goehlem attack in a century. Goehlems…pure bloods…overran this city.” The chairman slid the pointer’s tip until it stopped on a black dot representing a city called Hedleyville. “They wiped out a third of a population numbering little over half a million before our forces moved in to contain and neutralize them.”
Horrific as the story was, Skye could not help but to be mildly distracted by the quaintness of a hard copy map. Maybe I’ll suggest to the chairman that he upgrade with a visual screen. It’ll put far more pep in his presentations. Just as quickly she thought better of the idea and refocused on Johansen.
“I wish I could say our response eliminated the problem,” said Johansen. “Most pure blood Goehlems have been exterminated. Most, not all. The biggest problem we’re dealing with are human-appearing Goehlems who blend into the population. It’s terribly difficult to root them out since their genetic structure mimics our own. As a result, the whole of Tolliver is under Quarantine Level martial law. That means no residents are allowed to leave the province.”
“How long has this quarantine been effect?” asked Cranston.
“Two years,” the Chairman replied.
Skye frowned. “Two years? That’s a long time for that implementation to be active, especially when Cassad assistance was readily available.”
Johansen nodded with a grimace, his tone taking on a measure of distaste. “I agree. Unfortunately, it took that long for me to get the Planetary Council to agree to that assistance.”