Sunday, 20 December 2009
The investigation revealed the window of opportunity had been rather small. Three hours at the most between when Kayleigh had disembarked from her ship and the first shout of alarm from Moonora in corporate mail.
Kayleigh hadn’t needed a corporate mail to know something was wrong. One of the perks of being a director in the corp was that she had actual windows in her quarters with a view to the nearby moon and some of the tower structures. The first thing she’d done when she’d woken up in her rather cramped quarters had been to stretch in front of her window as usual.
The view which had greeted her had been unusual, however: several ships were undocked and just floating around. She had rubbed her slanted grey eyes and squinted sleepily at them. The adrenaline surge had come when she’d recognised the dull, rust-coloured Loki hull outside. No one else in SPHERE had a Loki, much less one that would look exactly like the Second Breath.
Her entire day was a rush: reading messages, alerting the leadership, getting ships back into hangars and securing them, trying to figure what was missing and who had taken it. Once she pooled information together with the XianKun sisters, it became clear who had done it
And it had been Moonora.
She didn’t think Moonora was particularly bright. Why else post that alarming mail to all the corporation? The only reason Kayleigh could think of was to perhaps shift suspicion away from Moonora herself, but all the mail had really managed had been to narrow down the window of opportunity to a mere two or three hours, during which the logs showed only two pilots would have been active: herself and Moonora. If not for that message, the list of suspects would have been much longer.
Once all ships were accounted for, Kayleigh could only consider herself lucky, despite everything. All she’d lost had been the Alenia, one of her old Retriever hulls equipped with tech 2 strip miners and a choice of mining crystals in the hold, and the Racing Team III, the Iteron III which still sported the faded-out colours of the old Dragonstar Racing Team from the days when she used to assemble replacement ships in strategic points of the circuits. They had sentimental value, for sure, but they weren’t a big dent in her wallet. Other pilots had lost battleships, battlecruisers even the odd stealth bomber, with expensive fittings more often than not. She didn’t even want to think how broke she would have been if she’d lost her second Loki so soon after the first.
Kayleigh officially hated her, now. And it wasn’t just for the betrayal in trust; it was because Kayleigh herself had been the one to post the day’s exit on the billboard for all of the corp to know and come or go as they pleased even when the current wormhole dwellers were docked and getting their night’s sleep. Kayleigh had only posted it at all because some corp mates – and Moonora most vocally among them – had complained it was sometimes hard to get an escort into the system. By taking advantage of Kayleigh’s willingness to help corp mates Moonora had made the jin-mei feel particularly stupid and gullible. Kayleigh didn’t appreciate the feeling.
Going after the thief now was not a good idea. She was officially with a State corp, already, and CONCORD would frown on swift retribution without a sanctioned war which they couldn’t declare on Deep Core Mining, anyway. But jin-mei were nothing if not patient. And they do say revenge is best served cold. At any rate, Kayleigh had always been good at holding a grudge.