Anderson Bell was fuming. He’d just received the news of the kidnapping twenty minutes ago. When he’d first heard about the discovery of the indigenous life form by Aria Bekhit he’d been enthralled just like everyone else. Alien life had been found here on Xinju. It was a big moment. But now, those life forms had committed a hostile act against them – against their children. This could not be tolerated.
The door opened and a small group of marines entered. In the lead was Major Scott Oakes – their commanding officer. Oakes saluted.
“Reporting for Duty Sir.”
Bell returned the salute. “At ease Gentlemen.” the marines complied. “No doubt you’ve heard about what happened?”
“I’ll brief you in a moment, we’re just waiting on one other person.”
As if on queue, the door opened again. It was Colonel Brice Millwood. Once the formalities of saluting was over again Bell began. “Twenty minutes ago three school children were taken by a hostile force down by the Euphrates river. The attackers were believed to be of the same species as the aquatic creature that Ms Bekhit discovered yesterday. As you can imagine a violent act such as this requires a swift and decisive response. You are going to provide that response.
“Already I have a boat out on the ocean, using sonar to try to locate the creatures. We need to know where they might have taken our people. The next step will be yours – you are to go in and bring the children back.”
“Captain,” Oakes spoke up. “As I understand, the aliens dragged the children under water, so they’re likely to be dead.”
“That is our understanding. Yes. But be it survivors or bodies, your orders are to do whatever it takes to bring them back to their families. We need to communicate a very clear message to these people that kidnapping will not be tolerated.
“Now, given the underwater nature of this mission, I have asked Colonel Millwood to lead the assault.” Bell saw Oakes stiffen. That was to be expected. Nobody liked to be replaced – and these were Oakes’ men. “I realise that he is not a marine, but he has a great deal of experience with diving. In an under water combat situation he is the best choice.”
The marines said nothing.
“Now suit up, you’ll be leaving shortly.”
* * *
Constable Morgan Gill found the girl Kerri Meyers resting comfortably in her bed. Heroux had told him that they’d be moving her shortly, but he’d been given permission to question her briefly before that.
“Hello Miss Meyers. How are you feeling?”
The girl looked up at him with round sad eyes. She looked a little jumpy, but more than that just very sorrowful. Gill always liked to see remorse in the eyes of offenders. It gave him hope of rehabilitation, and was much nicer to deal with than the cockiness displayed by so many.
“I’m okay, it’s still a little sore. You’re the cop who found me aren’t you.”
“Yes I am. I’m afraid you weren’t in a very good condition when we arrived. If we’d been a few minutes later you’d be dead.”
Kerri said nothing but Gill could see the hard reality of her situation was dawning on her.
Gill took a seat by the bed. “I have to ask you some questions about what you were doing in that laboratory.”
Kerri let out a long audible sigh. “We were there to steal plants.”
“What kind of plants?”
Kerri screwed up her forehead and let her bed fall back against her pillow. “Drugs okay. We were looking for drugs.”
“I thought as much.”
“I’m really sorry, it was a stupid thing to do. It’s just…” The girl went silent.
“You’re addicted pretty heavily aren’t you.”
“Doctor Heroux can help with that.”
“I know I’ve got to get off them. I’m pregnant, and I can’t bare to hurt my baby, but it’s just so hard.”
“You said ‘we’ earlier. Who else was with you?”
“Just one other person.”
“Does this person have a name?” Gill tried to keep balance in his voice between seriousness and civility. He didn’t want Kerri to be afraid of him.
“I don’t think I should say.”
Gill leaned back into his chair. “Let me explain what is going on here Miss Meyers. This guy took you along to steal drugs, a pregnant girl. Then, when things get hot, he leaves you there for dead – lying in a pool of your own blood. He didn’t lift a finger to help you, so you don’t owe him anything in return. The best thing that you can do for yourself, and for your baby, is to tell me all you know about him.”
“His name is Liam. Liam Cunningham.”
Gill smiled. “Ah yes, I’ve had occasion to run into young Mister Cunningham in the past. I shouldn’t be surprised.” He stood. “Thank you for your cooperation Miss Meyes. You place yourself in Doctor Heroux’s hands and get yourself better. I want to see you get your life back together.”
* * *
As he was walking out of the medical centre, Gill was accosted by Doctor Heroux. “Constable, could I have a word with you before you leave?”
“As you wish Doctor.”
He followed Heroux into her small office.
“I wanted to let you know about a missing supply of blood.”
“Yes. It’s been taken from the medical centre. We noticed it last night when we needed to give Kerri Meyers a transfusion. All of our AB negative blood is gone.”
“Are you sure it hasn’t just been misplaced?”
“No, I run a very organised centre Constable. It was stolen, and fairly recently as well. It was last inventoried just a week ago.”
“Why would anybody steal a supply of blood? Is there anything special about AB negative?”
“It’s extremely rare.”
Gill scratched his head. “Well that means it is only useful to a very small number of people. Do you have a list of people on the colony who are AB negative?”
“I’m afraid it’s not that simple Constable. You see, someone with AB negative blood can donate to anybody else. It can be given to people of any other blood type. That makes it one of the most valuable types to have in supply.”
Gill folder his arms as he thought. “That ‘s very interesting. The question still remains why somebody would want it. Is someone planning to set up a rogue medical centre?”
Heroux shrugged her shoulders. I can’t imagine why they’d need it, but it’s a big loss to us here.”
“I’ll let you know what I find out.”