|actor Michael Sheen|
To take his mind off the crew problems, Darrow went back to his dossier on the missing raw materials and added his new evidence: image analysis from Pallas and post-mortem enzyme reports from his contacts. He contacted them to share the latest information about the ghostly figure, asking them to check the video records for their local incidents under infrared. As he looked at the growing body of evidence, he decided to make a new attempt to convince his superior officer, Commodore Michel, of the threat. He wrote a report, attached the relevant files, plus a copy of the original report outlining his suspicions, and transmitted it to Commodore Michel.
* * *
The following morning, Darrow received an incoming call. He responded eagerly when he saw it was from Commodore Michel. The Commodore was an older man whose sandy blond hair had not yet turned grey. He was smiling but his brown eyes were serious.
‘I read your report Captain. Fascinating, fascinating. I agree it’s worth looking into.’
‘I’m glad you can see it, sir. The threat is escalating, as the timeline shows.’
‘Oh, I’m not sure about that. I called to tell you I’ve passed your data on to Intelligence, it's in their jurisdiction now.’
‘But sir, my contacts on the other worlds agree -’
‘Better to let the experts look at the evidence. Don’t worry, it’s all in hand. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.’
‘But sir -’ The Commodore had gone. Darrow slammed his fist on the table.
Intelligence! He may as well have buried it, he thought. I’m right! I know I am. Why can’t he see? What has to happen before they take it seriously?
His office door buzzed, then Holland entered.
‘The crew’s reports are all in, sir, if you want to see them… Captain, are you all right?’
Darrow paused. ‘I’ve just had an infuriating conversation with Commodore Michel.’
‘Is there anything I can do, sir?’
‘Maybe a reality check.' Darrow said. 'Sit down Commander. You know I’ve got a hobby of collecting mysteries. My contacts have contributed to my collection with mysteries from their worlds. I recently found a pattern in some of them. Raw materials have been disappearing without a trace from all over the galaxy.’
Holland sat forward, ‘Like the quartz from Pallas?’
‘Yes and no. Pallas is the first place that multiple incidents have been recorded, though it’s unclear if that's linked to the smuggling or not. Do you remember the video records and scans I had Commander Blackwell look at?’
‘He found that under infrared light a figure could be seen.’
Holland considered for a moment. ‘Invisible aliens? At least invisible to the visible spectrum. Are they just helping themselves to the raw materials they want?’
Darrow slapped his hand on the desk. ‘Exactly! How come you can see it and Commodore Michel can’t?’
Holland leaned back in his chair and paused for thought. ‘Do you have solid evidence from elsewhere or just Pallas?’
‘I’ve spoken to some of my contacts and their checks are turning up similar results. They've found the same unknown enzyme in the bodies of some of the victims, each death otherwise unexplained, and Dr Thomas found the same enzyme in Pavel Patla.’
‘So they are stealing and killing. They have to be stopped.’
‘I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. Commodore Michel has passed my findings to Intelligence, where they’ll sit on the pile indefinitely.’
Holland leaned forward. ‘You know Admiral Keever?’
‘He’s my uncle.’
‘You kept that quiet! But what’s that got to do with anything?’
‘Well, if I give him a friendly call, and just happen to mention what you’ve discovered, you can’t disobey if he wants to see your findings, can you?’
Darrow slapped the desk and smiled broadly.
[Next week: Within a few hours everything changes]
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