Captain Hart’s frown deepened as he read the investigative report on his holoband. The building had collapsed after the outer walls were blown, the core of the structure had been damaged but it was listed as salvageable so it could be rebuilt once the site had been stabilized. No one outside had been hurt but two dreamers had been inside. Their injuries were so severe the architects had taken them offline. He didn’t know what they did with dreamers who went offline. When people died normally they were cremated, but whenever dreamers died or were rendered inoperable the architects held onto them for some reason. Hart’s mind started to wander into speculations before he refocused his attention. Whatever they did with them didn’t matter, two people had been severely injured to the point of near death. That was what he needed to focus on.
The report listed the multitude of sentries that had been destroyed or damaged by the blast, as well as the two large sentry frames that had been destroyed. The monetary cost of the attack was extremely high, coupled with the offense of destroying government property. The administrative council was breathing down his neck to ensure this did not go unpunished. They hadn’t even seen the report yet. A few of his men were still poking around and some data was being sifted through, but Captain Hart knew what the end result would be. The council was out for blood, if he didn’t get a lead soon they’d have him round up people from every city district and have them turned into dreamers. And once he did have a lead, they’d have him do the same thing to the culprits entire extended family. He didn’t enjoy the heaviness he was typically forced to act with, but this attack was unprecedented. Something had to happen.
Hart silently cursed whoever had done this. “There were always going to be consequences,” he growled. “I’m not at fault here.”
He raised his head from the report to see one of his officers standing at attention.
“Yes?” he nodded.
“Sir, the tracking data from just before the blast came in. The information was routed through the station so it got a little scrambled, but we have a point of origin. Working on getting a specific I.D. now.”
As if on queue, Captain Hart's holo display flashed with an incoming call. Hart sighed, a mixture of relief and apprehension rolling through him. He motioned for the officer to wait and answered. The emblem of the administration, a feathered quill inside an upside down triangle, appeared on his screen.
“This is Captain Hart.”
“Yes we know,” A pleasant sounding female voice sounded on his earpiece and the icon flashed in time with her voice. “I am calling on behalf of councilor Deresea to get an update on the investigation. When can we expect your full report on the situation?”
“We’ve come across several new pieces of information and are presently evaluating them before we submit a full report” Hart responded. The icon on his screen sat motionless while he waited for a response. After a tense moment of silence it flashed again.
“The Councilor has asked that you present him with a plan of action immediately. I’m afraid that he was very insistent on the timing.” her voice maintained the professional air it had before, but there was a tinge of apology in it. “He has suggested that you make rounds of the surrounding area to illustrate the administration’s willingness to exercise absolute force.”
Hart sighed softly, he had expected this. “Could you please ask the Councilor to allow us more time to locate the perpetrator? Let her know that we are closing in and should have them soon.”
Another moment of silence, then a different voice came over the call. “Captain Hart,”
Instinctively Hart stood straighter when he heard the councilor’s voice. “Sir,” he responded.
Councilor Deresea rarely directly spoke to field officers, he was the liaison between the Servator and the Administration. He typically dealt with the leadership, passing information between the two branches. This case was extreme enough that his staff was monitoring it directly. Hart didn’t enjoy having to deal directly with administrators.
“Captain, it seems you misunderstand, so allow me to enlighten you.” His voice had a slight edge of condescension, “I expect you to find whoever is responsible for this. But what’s more important is ensuring this does not happen again. The people have forgotten their place, you WILL remind them of it. Is that understood?”
Hart nodded, “Yes sir, I’ll see to it personally.”
“Good.” With that the call ended and Captain Hart spat to the side before turning to the officer who’d been waiting.
“You have a general location?”
The officer nodded, “Tracking data shows a band went offline near the perimeter. We haven’t salvaged much info from it but we do have a general point of origin. A cluster of neighborhoods not too far away.”
Hart nodded, “Good, send me everything you have. Then get everyone together. The drones can handle the rest of the sweep. We’ve been given a new directive.”
The officer saluted then marched away. Hart rubbed his face, grim anticipation running a chill through him. He’d known it would come to this, but some part of him had hoped it could be avoided. Fortunately he’d be able to limit the collateral damage. But an example had to be made. He was just following orders.
Issac whistled in surprise when he saw the wreckage for himself. When the news reported that a sentry station had been attacked he’d been too curious not to come see for himself. A holographic wall of light surrounded the area but it was translucent enough that Issac could see some considerable damage had been done. It was honestly impressive in a morbid kind of way. The damage was contained mostly to the building itself, what debris Issac could see only extended to the immediate surrounding area. Whoever had done this had wanted to keep collateral damage low, and they hadn’t been caught. If you ignored the fact it was intrinsically stupid to commit bomb attacks in the place you lived. It was obviously a first attempt but it was a pretty good one.
Issac’s train of thought came to a screeching halt. Was he really critiquing the bomb work of a rebel group? He thought back to his hometown, and how he’d left it. Things like this never ended well, he knew that from personal experience. At least if they were caught the people behind this would only get put into the dream, instead of publicly executed or something worse. Utoa wasn’t perfect, but Issac preferred their method of justice to most others.
Curious, Issac focused his aura and scanned over the area again. He saw the auras of the Servators moving around inside the perimeter wall and the aura’s of a few other gawkers standing nearby, then he noticed something odd. There were several dreamers moving around inside, wearing the same colors as the Servators. They also each had their own auras, more subdued than other people but dreamers were technically still alive.
Auras were generated by all living creatures, they appeared to the trained eye as a shifting mass of colors surrounding a person. Aura reacted to the thoughts, feelings, and mental states of each person and they radiated different types of energy. The strange thing Issac noticed was that one dreamer’s aura was completely still and glowed a dull gray. The dreamer was standing near the perimeter, watching to make sure no unauthorized people got to close.
Issac moved over to it. These dreamers were wearing masks over their faces as part of the uniform but Issac guessed it was male from the build. It stood still, eyes hidden behind the mask. Its aura felt… cold. There was no movement, there was no vibrancy, it was just there. Without thinking Issac touched the dead aura with his own. The moment he made contact the gray came to life, surging against his own. Issac ripped back and instinctively pushed against the dreamer, causing it to fall backwards, away from him. Issac sank to his knees shivering, he’d been attacked before. Many times, but that gray aura was different. When it attacked him he felt something behind it. Something powerful, and it had tried to take him.
Still shaken, Issac stood and checked his own aura. There was no trace of the gray anywhere, he’d managed to escape whatever that was. He looked back at the dreamer, it had just stood and walked back to where it had been standing. Which was unsettling enough, but what set Issac’s nerves on edge was the fact that its aura looked normal. He whipped around, checking each dreamer he could see. But there was no trace of that gray aura anywhere.