The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy

Free The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy by Greta van Der Rol

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Authors: Greta van Der Rol
Tags: Fiction, General, Science-Fiction
parted, eyes widened. “Oh… no. That’s…”
    “Terrible. Yes.”
    She was silent for a moment, unmoving. “Would they really, actually use something like that?”
    “Some people would. Extremists who hate the ptorix.”
    Her face clouded. “Like van Tongeren.”
    “Yes. Will you help me to get into the medical center?” he said.
    “Of course. I hate this place. I hate these people.” She rubbed a hand over her mouth. She looked like a hunted animal, wary, skittish, ready to run. “I feel so… like I’m being used.”
    She sat very close to him, her thigh almost touching his. Could he risk a kiss? Would that be too
    forward? He touched her shoulder. “We’ll do something about it. I need to think about this, consider the outcomes. But I’m pleased to know I have an ally.”
    She smiled at him and warmth stole back into his heart. He checked his tablet. “There’s nobody on duty at the medical center now. Can you get me into the lab?”
    “Yes. I suppose I’d better ‘disappear’ you first. I’ll set your status to being here.” She giggled. “That’ll keep them guessing. If anybody notices at this hour of the night.”
    He watched her work, half an eye on his own status on the tablet, registered as here.
    “Okay, done,” she said.
    He walked to the door and down the stairs to the corridor and checked his own whereabouts again. Up
    there. Amazing. Down here the mine slept. No movement, no sound. The guard who had taken over
    from him sat in the control room. He and Allysha slipped through the deserted passages to the medical center. The lights flashed on in an empty room.
    She sat down at the reception desk and activated her device. Her eyes seemed almost to glaze over.
    Her whole body froze; no, froze was wrong; became still, as if she wasn’t there. Like that time when
    Emment had asked her a question in the control room. Minutes passed and then she came back. He
    couldn’t think of any other word for it.
    “Okay. We can go in.”
    “There’s nobody there?”
    She shook her head.
    The door slid aside. Pistol in hand, he eased himself into the next room.
    Lights had come on. White benches on two walls reflected in the gleaming tiles of the floor. Above them, glass cabinets held dishes and test tubes, labeled bottles and packages. A large microscope stood on a stand. A holovid unit hung on the wall between the benches. Clean, antiseptic, neat.
    “Close the door, Allysha.”
    She activated the mechanism. The door slid silently into place.
    “Something smells,” she said, sniffing. “Something putrid. Just a little bit of a whiff.”
    Saahren moved to his left toward another closed door. He opened it gingerly, keeping himself out of the entrance. Lights came on. His nostrils twitched. That smell again, a little stronger, a little more fetid. The room was like a holding cell for animals. A central corridor ending in a very solid door separated two lines of cages, all empty. Where might the door lead? And what had been in the cages, assuming they
    were part of the laboratory? Karteks? Thranxes?
    A strangled cry from Allysha jolted him. His heart thudding, he returned to the lab. She stared at the holovid’s screen, her face contorted in horror and disgust.
    “Look at this. They did experiments.”
    She jumped back to an earlier point in the images.
    The cages he’d just seen had held ptorix. The data were collected in a series of case studies with daily recordings. Eighty-seven case studies, all with a different victim. Each ptorix had been injected with something and then monitored daily for any changes. Most were unaffected. He wondered what Rostich
    and his people had done with them after the experiment finished. They’d be dead, of course, no doubt
    dumped in the jungle.
    The last case study was longer than the others. The ptorix, a well-built male with the dark blue fur of the lower classes, seemed well enough. He stood, moved around, ate in their disgusting way, sucking up

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