Shortly after CIS Agent Neidermeyer leaves, the receptionist informs Councillor Rafael Santiago that he’s got an incoming transmission from Mars on the encrypted frequency.

Having spent most of the day just gazing outside, other than the slight interruption from the intelligence officer, Santiago is snapped out of some deep state of thought to be alerted of an incoming message. “Put the transmission on my main display.” He says into a commlink as he activated the main display on one of the walls. He stands up from his chair and moves in front of it. Waiting to see the transmission appear on the screen.

The woman who appears on the holodisplay has silver hair and pale skin. She’s stringy, growing up in low gravity, and on Earth she would appear freakishly tall. “Councillor Santiago,” she says. “I’m not sure if you remember me. We met once at a cocktail party in Sagan West. My name is Isadora Phelps. I have something vital to Martian homeworld security that I must discuss with you. Is now a good time?”

The Councillor nods to the woman on the screen. “You’ll forgive me if I don’t recall you, Miss Phelps. I attend so many functions, shake so many hands, talk to too many people.” He sighs. “In any case, you say you have information vital to Mars security? I have time now. Speak, and be heard.” He moves back to his desk, waiting for the woman to talk. As he waits, to activated a recording device to capture the contents of this call.

“Very well,” she says. “My great niece is…was…a misguided young woman named Maureen Derrick. She has family here – my brother – but she’s actually spent most of her life on Earth with her foster family in Utah. She was born in Bradbury, here on Mars, but she’s an Earther by upbringing. She graduated from the Consortium Medical Science Academy with a degree in biological microorganism engineering. And for the past six years since graduation, I am told, she has been an agent of Consortium Intelligence.”

Santiago listens, jotting down notes. A name. A location. An occupation. He stops at the mention of the last organization. “Consortium Intelligence, you say?” He thinks. “Biological micro-organism engineering. Consortium Intelligence. What exactly are you getting at?” He jumps right into it.

“I assume you’re familiar with the concept of a ‘false flag’ operation?” the old woman replies. “The government you serve coordinated an attack on itself, then made it look like the planet Mars attempted to frame the Texas Republic.”

“These are serious allegations. Very serious.” Santiago replies, tapping his desk, pondering the implications. “What proof do you have? And how do I obtain it?”

“Maureen had friends at the medical science academy who remained close to her after graduation,” Phelps replies. “Perhaps the closest friend was an old roommate who’s now a resident physician at Manhattan Medical. Her name’s Siri Clowell. She might know more. If I learn any more specifics, I’ll pass them along, but Consortium Intelligence does a pretty good job of covering tracks. Be careful, Councillor.”

The Councillor nods, listening and jotting down the new name. “Very well, keep in touch if you find anything out. Santiago out.” He kills the comm unit, and screen goes blank. He looks at the list of names, pondering the implications. He presses the comm switch again, connecting it to his assistant. “I need to make an in person appointment to Manhattan Medical. Doctor Siri Clowell, as soon as possible. Don’t use my name, use one of my alias’.” He says, turning the comm switch off again. One of the advantages of being a Mars councillor, the Martian Census Bureau is more than happy to help you get around unnoticed.

“I can understand why you might be confused,” Santiago’s assistant says over the comms to the receptionist in Clowell’s New York City office a short while later. “It’s not any of my business why Mr. Turducken wants to see a gynecologist. Thank you, though. I’ll let him know he’s set for the day after tomorrow.”

By Brody

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