Kalid awoke in a hospital bed and looked up into the face of Felice. She leaned close and said, "I failed to protect you."
Kalid tried to speak but his neck exploded in pain. Felice handed him a tube and he drank cool water. He realized that his neck was ringed with a medical device that was directing nanites to repair his damaged neck tissues. Now able to speak he put a hand on the machine that covered his neck and said, "You could not have anticipated Aristark's attack on me. I was foolish to provoke him into his murderous attack. I put you and others at risk of physical harm." Kalid drank some more water and felt his head clearing, although he was surely still under the influence of drugs that had been put into his body to limit pain and the risk of blood clots spreading to his vital organs.
Felice took the water tube from Kalid. "You anticipated his attack?"
Kalid reflexively tried to shake his head and was struck by another wave of pain. "No. I was only realizing the truth about Aristark's role in events on Sakkara and Flammis while I was talking in the courtroom. I only knew I was correct about Aristark when he launched his attack on me. I have a clear memory of everything until I was being taken from the courtroom...then things become fuzzy."
Felice explained, "When you reached this hospital the medical staff sedated you and performed an operation on your neck. You only just now regained consciousness. You are lucky to be alive. Aristark did an expert job of butchering your neck arteries."
Kalid said, "I'm surprised that Aristark was allowed to bring a knife into the courtroom."
Felice shook her head. "No, he did not have a knife. He had two blades implanted in his hands. It is now clear that Aristark was well trained in how to use those implants....and the others that we found in his body."
Something about the way Felice said, "his body" sent a chill up Kalid's spine. "Aristark is dead?"
"No, but he is not in good shape. He is in another hospital about a kilometer from here. He either tried to use one of his implants to kill himself or someone else triggered one of his implants and tried to kill him. Chances are good that he will survive."
A robot entered the room and handed a thin folder to Felice. She flipped open the folder and Kalid could see that she held the report on the Sakkaran space elevators disaster which had been prepared by Sybil and which had been in his spaceship. Felice said to the robot, "Good work. I trust you had no great difficulty getting into Kalid's spaceship and finding this report."
The robot replied, "There was no problem getting into the spaceship. Kalid had been ticketed for trans-system flight without use of a navigation beacon and forced to turn over to the space dock his spacehips's access codes. The report was sitting on a table in the main salon of the spaceship. However..."
Kalid was amused to see the robot shifting uneasily from foot to foot as if hesitating to speak. Felice said, "You can speak in front of Kalid."
The robot said, "You had also issued orders that watch be kept on Kalid's spaceship in case an attempt was made to sabotage it. Such an attempt was made. The saboteur is now being held in confinement at the space dock. He planted a device that could have been used to destroy Kalid's spaceship and he was caught after attaching it to the hull of Kalid's spaceship. He then went inside and tried to steal some equipment from the engineering room."
Kalid rose up on one elbow. His neck throbbed but he gasped, "Did he disconnect or damage that equipment?"
The robot said, "No, he was placed under arrest before he damaged anything in the ship."
Kalid relaxed back into his bed and chuckled briefly then stopped because of the pain it caused in his neck. He reached out and took hold of Felice's hand. "See, you did protect me."
The robot said, "The device is highly sophisticated. I scanned the criminology database, but this is far beyond anything previously recorded."
Kalid explained, "Set is a leader of the Futurist Party. They pride themselves on having the most advanced technology."
Felice asked the robot, "Is there any indication that the saboteur was working for Set?"
The robot replied, "No, but another name was mentioned when the saboteur was placed under mind lock. Ketar."
A doctor came in and said, "Felice, what's going on in here? You said you were just going to watch him."
Kalid said, "I'm fine, doc. Felice is good medicine...she just saved my life."
The doctor checked the data feeds from the tissue repair device on Kalid's neck. "You are still half dead. Keep straining these arteries and they'll pop...right now they are just a loose collection of nanites."
Kalid said, "I'll make a deal, doc. Get me to my ship and I'll sleep once I'm there...give these nanobots a chance to do their job."
The doctor said, "Bull shit. I heard you blasted in here pushing fifty gees acceleration and your spaceship can only compensate for forty gees. If you had been at even one gee when you were sliced open you'd be dead right now. We are keeping this room at 0.1 gee in order to let your arteries heal. You cannot be moved now."
Kalid sat up. He became very dizzy and almost passed out. He had to grab Felice and hold on with both hands. "I hear ya, doc. You have two choices. Roll this bed to my ship or else I'm going to walk there. Get me to my ship and I promise I'll keep my cabin at 0.1 gee."
The doctor swore under his breath and left the room.
Kalid sank back on the bed, still very dizzy. Obviously the nanites were having trouble keeping up the flow of blood to his brain.
Felice asked, "What do you think you are doing? I didn't save your life just to watch you kill yourself."
Kalid said, "So, tell me Felice, where is Set?"
She quickly said, "I don't know."
Kalid made a guess and said, "There is a ship in system that you are tracking by radar." Kalid could read her face and see that he had guessed correctly. "What is the spaceship's course? What is the destination?"
Kalid felt a natural connection to Felice and now he turned his telepathic transmission up to full, with an additional amplification from equipment on his spaceship. Felice said, "I'm not going to help you kill yourself. Why do you care where Set is....can't you let our militia deal with him?"
Kalid still had hold of her hand. He stroked her palm with his finger tips. "Felice, don't put your militia in harms way. Set is a desperate murderer. Somehow Ketar is helping Set. Their target right now is the Osiris Order. I am the head of the Osiris Order and it is my duty to stop Set and Ketar. You must help me. Help me get to my ship....I must go after Set. The Osirus Order has technology that might give Ketar or Set the power to start a galactic civil war that would kill trillions. Help me now and we can prevent that."
Felice said, "Okay, but I'm going with you."
Set was confident that his was one of the fastest spaceships in the galaxy, but he waited impatiently while the green face of Earth slowly swelled ahead. His attention was increasingly drawn towards the silvery image of the Moon. Ketar had assured him that the Osiris Order Temple on the Moon had long ago been destroyed, but Set increasingly felt telepathic signals coming from the Moon and not Earth.
Set had long been ignoring radio signals from both Mars and the Moon, but now he opened a channel to Moon Navcom and purposefully sent a week signal. "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. I was hit by space debris after I left Mars orbit. My ship is under repair but I will not be able to initiate normal landing procedures for my destination, Earth. I'm not sure if my navigation beacon is working. I now have an emergency transmitter online, but I'm not sure if it has enough power to be detected. I'm going to make an emergency landing on Earth's moon. My autopliot has a landing path selected that might put me down near Shackleton crater."
Set visits the base on Earth's Moon and learns from the local residents that Earth was destroyed by a spaceship explosion and that the Spaceship Guild covers up such disasters by releasing the "green nanite goo". This chapter could include a flashback that describes how the green goo was first used.
Kalid, Leone, Set and Ketar all meet at the Osiris Order Temple on Earth. Kalid realizes that Ketar has corrupted part of the Osiris Order in an attempt to liberate Azur from the Empire. This chapter could include a flashback that describes how the Osiris Order was first formed and its goal of preventing the mis-use of telepathy. Ketar kills Kalid and tries to take complete control of the Osiris Order.