by Jeff C. Carter
Lancet immediately recognized the body on the slab. It was his old ‘servant’, Valljon, the man who had tried to kill him. He didn’t know the skinny man in the rubber smock. He appeared to be some sort of doctor. He understood now why they were meeting in the damp gray morgue, but not why they had been made to travel to a morgue on the dark side of Sheba.
The soothing voice came from a speaker in the ceiling. Lancet recognized the voice – it belonged to Beebe, the mysterious man who had been his long-distance mentor for most of his life. They had never met face to face, and he was beginning to doubt that they ever would. He was even beginning to doubt if Beebe had a face at all.
“Please allow me to make a few introductions. Councilman Dresden Moab you surely know. He is a long serving and distinguished member of the Peace Council,” Beebe said.
Beebe didn’t introduce himself, which indicated that everyone there knew him well enough that they would travel to Sheba without asking why. It was a small group and introductions didn’t take long.
Lancet began to understand what role each person was there to play.
Anansi Tolliver, the stylish dark skinned man with the big smile. Confidence man. Smooth operator. Trickster.
Pavlovon Neumann, the pale woman in the goggles staring off at something no one else could see. Distributed intelligence engineer. Lancet knew better than to think he understood what wizards did or what they were capable of.
The one in the smock was Dr. Kes. Beebe had brought him up from Zirconia because he had made some important discovery.
Dr. Kes asked everyone to come closer to Valljon’s corpse on the gurney. “A short while ago I performed a detailed scan on a smuggler named Almer Croix. There was something unusual with his nervous system that a lot of physicians would have missed. I was able to refine the image and find a separate life form. The patient’s immune system was ravaged and failing and this life form was to blame. It was actually a highly evolved alien parasite that had taken root in the poor man’s spinal cord.
Lancet couldn’t see what a sick Zirco had to do with the St. Christina’s Riot and the Rahab murders that had precipitated this secret meeting.
“Dr. Kes graciously agreed to perform the autopsies on the inmates of St. Christina’s clinic. They all shared the same parasitic infestation, which I believe is linked to the recent wave of criminal insanity,” Beebe said.
Dr. Kes proudly held up a pair of tongs and dangled a long, oily ribbon of flesh.
Councilman Moab cleared his throat. He awkwardly looked at the speaker on the ceiling, unused to addressing someone he could not hold in his glare. “Are you saying that the riots happened without a leader? There was no agenda?”
“Quite the opposite, Councilman. I have uncovered patterns of association between individuals on Avenir and Zirconia that suggest a loose organization. When combined with the parasite cases an unmistakable network emerges. There has been almost no communication between these individuals, however. All of which leads me to believe that this network is coordinated through psychic transmissions,” Beebe said.
Lancet’s stomach dropped. Was there going to be a war with the aliens? Had it already begun?