Tatter: Chapter 21

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Straker stood in the corner of the wide, empty storage room a block from Loa’s club, observing the anxious doorman and the stolid, armored officers that wreathed him.

“What do you want?” Kras inquired flippantly, his anger vainly palled by a posture of cocky diffidence.

“Vilar Corp maintains a thorough record of its personnel, past and present,” Straker replied dispassionately, “One request and a indexed affinity search revealed all of Vangr’s past associates. Given your history with Vangr in security, and position within Loa’s network – I reasoned you would be among the first to which he would turn.”

“Yeah, I knew him. So what? I haven’t spoken to him since the day before he left Vilar Corp. You’re barking up the wrong tree.”

“You’re the only one barking, Mr. Kras.”

“Where’s your proof?”

“I only wish to retrieve what was stolen. If you help me, I would have no reason to bring this matter before the judiciary council. Of course if you prefer their involvement-”

She paused. An alert on her affinity module.


She turned on her heels, gesturing with a slight inclination of her head to Colonel Syzr who nodded curtly.

“Hey. Where are you going?” Kras demanded nervously, taking a step toward Vera. He froze as Syzr’s armored bulk intervened. Shining albescent and vermeil beneath the flickering blue lights.

“You can’t just keep me here. Its illegal.”

Syzr said nothing and pointed to a chair in the corner. Kras stood his ground for a moment, his pride crumbling to uncertainty, and dejectedly acquiesced to the silent command.

Vera answered with haste the moment she passed through the front door of the abandoned storage house.


“Pertinent information has come to light, Director. Listen well. Analysis of the -60 C solution found upon the members of Aestival you detained revealed large concentrations of irregular nanoparticulates. Synthetic viral entities purposed for subversion of genomic maintenance. Exposure of human tissue to the particulates produced marked telomeric degeneration. Host death occurs rapidly, but slowly enough to ensure further transmission in densely populated areas.”

“Aestival couldn’t have produced such a bioweapon.”

“The ersatz virus was produced at the Vekt Institute of Virology.”

“Why would Ermin Gild’s company manufacture something like this? And how did Aestival find out about it?”

“You’re missing the bigger picture, Director. Remember. These samples were obtained during the grid attack. Conclusion: It was a diversion. Aestival surmised that in the event of an assault upon the grid, the Consortium would focus on clean-up, security and PR. Not on a minor Vekt Corp property. That is precisely what has transpired.”

“Someone at Vekt Corp was aiding them.”

“Probable. Further, the nanites were designed for human transmission. That my Daughter’s abduction coincides with the theft of the solution is unlikely to be a coincidence. For the particulates would have no effect upon Her, given Her genomic irregularity.”

“You think they want to use Her as a carrier?”


“I won’t let that happen.”

“A sample is missing, Director. Find it.”

“As you wish. Sir.”

The line went dead. Thoughts like sharks circled her mind. Vera closed her eyes and sighed and looked up to the stars, scarcely visible against the vibrant luminosity of the city and the satellites beyond.

The partisans considered nanites a weapon of mass destruction only because they had never seen a star devour a planet, she thought pensively. All those nebulas. Stellar mausoleums. How many contained life before their effulgent sublimation?

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