It's Geno, the Ebon that we got assigned to the first case of the day, one of the most professional people I've ever worked with, a man of excellent character and unfailing nerve. He sounds like he's taken a few tabs of Drum before he got on the phone to us, something I've never known him to do

"Rio," It's not a question "You owe me for this one boyo."

"What you got?"

"Well," he pauses and I can almost hear him ordering his thoughts. "You're right about one thing, he didn't die quick. They took time about this one, and I say they, because unless the person is some sort of Nec, they couldn't be an Ebb using race, no matter what it looks like."

"Why not?"

He pauses again, whatever he's found has really got to him, I hear him drawing a deep breath.

"The room is the exact colour of -the- white, and whoever replicated this shade of colour knows something more about the Ebb races than most of them do. That in itself is a concern, the fact that he cut off the eyebrows and then pumped the target full of Carcill suggests that he knew the effect that that colour would have on one of us."

Carcill. I've heard of it, a punishment drug from Static, causes the rejection of Dark Lament materials from the body. A side effect of the drug is that it keeps the target awake whilst all the things in their body leak out forcibly, nasty little drug really, can't get it anywhere except with the authority of the council on Static or on the black market.

I notice that Geno's stopped talking, probably waiting for me to digest what's just been said.

"Go on." I say.

"That's not all," he has the sound in his voice of someone who really doesn't want to be reliving this "the inscriptions on the body are all the same glyph, and it's this that really does confuse the living crap out of me."

He pauses again, the pause drags slightly and I'm about to prompt him when he continues.

"The Glyph's are specially crafted, by someone who has a masters ability in the craft, to drain the flux from the target, only someone of exceptional ability could have carved those glyphs and made them correct and working."

"Not someone who's not one of your race then?"

"Well, that's what got me, I don't know of anyone else on the planet who's both non-ebb race and able to craft those abilities, and I know most of the people who deal with this sort of thing."

"So what do you suggest?"

"I placed a word to the council on Static, anyone who doesn't belong to one of the races has no business knowing this language or having the ability to use it. They're sending one of their Templars to see what's going on, hopefully, they'll have more success that I did. Given the normal speed of this sort of thing, I'd expect their person in the next few days."

"Okay, give them my number and I'll take care of it when they get here, let me know when you've got a spare minute, and I'll settle up for this one."

"Another thing, I checked the Operative records on a hunch, and I was right, the person who got killed was called Solomon Theron, an Operative of twenty years service, and get this, in that time, he didn't kill anything, not even accidentally."


"Yeah, one more thing, at the back of his head was one glyph that didn't match the others, all of the others were glyphs of pacifism, this one was a glyph of poverty, not sure if there's any relevance in that, but figured you might want to know. Watch yourself, brother."

"I will."

The line goes quiet, and for a half second afterwards, there's a whisper on the line, nothing that you would notice if you weren't looking for it, but it's a pretty sure sign that the line was being listened in to. One more thing on the list of things to worry about, but not something I can be thinking about just now. Whoever did the first one wanted us to know about the second one (unless two bright sparks came up with the idea for killing something in the name of poverty at the same time), but what relevance is there in that?

Eve calls me back over to the bed, something that I missed, she's rolled the body over and checked the other side, and something there explains a few things.

At the top of the spine is a Spinal Drugs Implant, they only made a few of these, and they're very rare in operatives today, but it would continue functioning and pumping the various drugs into the system long after the internal organs had started to fail. This would explain the inordinate amount of blood and tissue at the end of the bed, and also why there was nothing in the body cavity to be put on the sheets.. Nice observation and one that I would have missed, maybe I'm getting too old for this..............

That said, as Eve packs her things up to go, I think that sometimes teamwork is the only way to do things. At the back of his head, almost covered by the large amounts of hair, is the beginning of a marking, also a glyph of some sort, I pick up the phone and call Geno.

A brief description of the glyph and he verifies that it's the glyph for disobedience.


Okay, I can figure how you kill someone with pacifism, if they never kill anything, then they're not going to kill you even if you're trying to kill them. Poverty is simple enough, if they haven't got the money to save themselves, then no one in SLA will help them for nothing, but disobedience?

How do you kill someone with that?