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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 3:08 am 
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The halls of the Science Division Lab Complex were deserted, almost. It was still far earlier than most personnel would arrive, but Navia was not most personnel. She struggled through the lab doors trying not to drop the pile of newly laundered lab coats. A shimmy and twist, and the light switch was elbowed on. With an audible hum the overhead lamps came to life, a few flickering in protest before doing thier job. She wrangled the coats onto the rack just inside the door, planning to inspect them later. The cleaners had a new girl she didn't quite trust yet.

She didn't even get a chance to drop the mornings packages on her desk before her receiver lit up, the sharp ring shattering the quiet of the lab. Unceremoniously dumping the bags, she lifted the handset and cradled it against the shoulder. "Head Scientist Radim's Lab, Administrator Ayonis speaking."

She winced slightly at the harsh voice on the other end. "Yes, Sir. I have the results of the Rajick reservoir contaminant particulate study right here. No Sir, It is just waiting for the Head Scientist's signature to release it. I couldn't say, Sir, He has been called off world. No Sir, I haven't read it, and I couldn't explain it if I could. I'm not a scientist. Yes sir, as soon as it is signed I will send it over to your office. Good b..." Navia sighed and hung the handset back on it's hook. Minister Torval always got on her nerves.

Truth be told, the report had been done in time for Ladon to sign it before he was called away. It had gotten 'misplaced' under a stack of requisition forms. The results had been inconclusive at best, and by delaying it's release a few days Minister Edton had time to drum up support for his filtration plans. Torval would insist the the filtration system was unnecessary. Anyone who ever drank from the tap while on the lower levels knew better. Retrieving the folder, as well as several others, a completed stack of requisition forms, and a small confectioners box, she headed for the inner office.

Pulling the heavy chain out from her blouse, Navia flipped to the key that would open Ladons office. She had long ago realized that keeping the important keys anywhere else was a hazard. A lab assistant bucking for a transfer to a competing lab taught her that. It only took a few minutes to lay out the desk. Requisitions to the left, the report to the right for signing, and the most important folder dead center. The one holding the results of Dahlia's tests.

After topping off the 'hidden' stash of candy-coated charo beans, she slipped out of Ladon's sanctuary and quietly shut the door.

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Last edited by Navia Ayonis on Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 6:09 pm 
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It was a quiet day in the lab. Two assistants puttered around on the lab floor, performing a control study for the latest report. She had sent the third down to Doctor Ferris' lab. It seemed a virus of some sort had taken down two of his assistants, one being Dahlia. Dahlia, she knew, was at home. Navia had tried ringing her about lunch time to see if she needed a delivery, but there was no answer. She could only assume Dahlia was resting.

It's not that they were great friends, or even middling friends. They did have a mutual respect, though. Dahlia was brilliant. Almost as brilliant as Ladon, and she had the same drive. Anyone that focused on the good the the genii people got a measure of Navia's respect. As Ladon's sister, Dahlia was also off limits as far as any deal went. She could benefit from them, but she was exempt from being a pawn. There were very few who had exemptions.

Navia did one last circuit of her office before settling in to the day's reading and filing. The Lab coats had been inspected and passed. The Assistants had their day's assignments. The correspondence was completed and only awaited the mail trolley. But most importantly, the charo carafe was hot and full. Everything was just they way it should be.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:00 am 
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From the end of the hall that led to the lab housing his office, Ladon smelled it; the unmistakable, enticing scent of freshly-brewed charo. Just the aroma alone was enough to brighten his eyes and quicken his step. Intellectually, he was aware that olfactory stimuli were powerful mnemonic triggers, but that only confirmed what he'd long known right down to his bones -- charo meant home.

This morning, well, he couldn't remember a time when he'd ever been so glad to be home. He only knew it was morning by looking at the chronometer, having spent the past week on a planet with a rotation that made its day approximately 62.37% of his homeworld's. It had thrown his entire wake-sleep pattern completely off kilter. Matters weren't helped by the fact the ruins were located in an estuary that was covered ankle-deep in black, slimy mud that reeked of the microorganisms fermenting within it. Worst of all, though, was the complete lack of charo, the team's supply of it having been colonized by some sort of orange weevil within an hour of their arrival.

Returning at long last, he'd swung by his quarters only long enough to scrub the mud stench from his hair and skin, change into fresh, blessedly clean clothes, and head for the lab. Navia he knew would already be there, and have everything perfectly arranged and prepared for his arrival. Especially the charo.

Still inhaling deeply, Ladon strode through the lab doors, pausing briefly to glance around in case the impossible had happened and there was something he needed to deal with personally. His Administrator appeared promptly at his side and a mug -- his favorite, the one shaped like a bird for no reason he could determine -- practically materialized in his hand, steaming gently.

He took a large sip, savoring the hints of spice and honey blended in in precise measure before he swallowed and spoke. "Good morning, Navia. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?" A harmless-seeming question, it was actually a code, and she had a selection of equally innocuous replies that would notify him covertly what sort of trouble was actually brewing.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:43 pm 
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Navia has just finished topping off Ladon's favorite mug, when he came through the double doors. He paused at the steps leading down to the labs main floor. Judging by the damp hair curling about his collar, she had surmised his need to tidy up correctly. He had also picked up a touch of color while away, but that would fade soon enough. Navia made a mental note to pick up protective skin ointment to add to his offworld kit. Silently, she walked up beside him and handed him the mug. The tiniest of sighs let her know she had gotten the charo right. She suppressed a smile of self-satisfaction.

"Good morning, Navia. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?" He asked.

"Not particularly, sir. They are still having problems with the feral hounds, seems they are getting into the refuse." Translation: Acastus Kolya, a person of interest, had spent the week strengthening his political ties. For the last month Kolya had been positioning himself to take over Cowen's elite guard. Now he was one step closer.

Navia crossed over to the door to the inner office. Fishing out the key, she unlocked it before returning behind her desk. "I've rescheduled you appointment with Minister Torval, he had not realized you were off world. Dahlia is home, resting. Test results are on your desk, and there is a new batch of requisition forms." She had no doubt that he would find the request for a gross of fine towels. The real quandary was, would he question them?

"Shall I inform Dr. Ferris and the other Leads that you are back and need an update on progress made over the week? "

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:51 am 
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Ladon sipped his charo, listening to Navia's briefing on events of the past week. His expression was relaxed and thoughtful, even when she mentioned the 'feral hounds,' giving no outward sign that anything he was hearing was of more than casual interest. His youthful features lent themselves well to that deception, fooling more than a few shrewd individuals into think he was as apolitical and unambitious as it was possible for a man who'd attained his lofty position to be.

In reality, behind his mild, blue-grey eyes a very sharp mind was turning busily away. Kolya was an ongoing problem. Or, rather, was the current and worst manifestation of an ongoing problem. Power among the Genii rarely changed hands peacefully. The present Chief, Cowen, was just the most recent claimant to claw his way to the top, and at least half a dozen others circled, watching for the opportunity to take it for themselves. Of them all, Acastus Kolya was the most likely to succeed. He would also, in Ladon's considered belief, be an absolute disaster as Chief. Cowen was arrogant, corrupt, selfish, venal, and a bully, but he also understood the occasional necessity for statesmanship. Kolya was all of the former, along with a Commander to his bones. He knew nothing of persuasion, only coercion. Unfortunately, he was also extremely popular in certain quarters, so any moves made against him would have to be extremely subtle and discreet.

Still mulling over the news with part of his mind, Ladon strolled after Navia toward his office. He had his own key -- worn, as she did hers, on a chain around his neck -- but he still cradled the charo mug in one hand, so he left the fiddling to her. Pausing in the doorway, he absorbed rest of the Administrator's news with the same outward aplomb, though the news about Dahlia brought his heart surging into his throat with a mixture of hope and fear.

"Shall I inform Dr. Ferris and the other Leads that you are back and need an update on progress made over the week? " Navia finished, and he nodded.

"Yes, thank you." Glancing over his shoulder at his desk, he eyed the files there. "I'll review what you've already given me and call you in shortly." With a final nod and smile, he stepped into his sanctum, closing the door behind him.

The curtains were drawn across the window overlooking the lab, so Ladon allowed his mask to slip a little. Walking quickly around his desk, he settled into his chair, never taking his gaze off the folder in the middle. Dahlia's file. Ignoring the other two, he reached out and put his hand on top of it. Inched it closer. Stopped. Stared at it as if he could will the contents to be good news, some minor ailment, easily dealt with. Despite a creeping suspicion otherwise, a cynical worm eating away at hope.

Sucking in his breath, he plucked up the file, flipped it open, and began to read. Ten minutes later, he set it down again, then picked up the handset and linked out to the Administrator's desk. With an effort, he kept his voice normal. "Navia, come see me please."

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:50 am 
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Navia settled into her chair and let out the smallest of sighs. There was always an undercurrent of tension when Ladon wasn't in the office, even more so when he was off world. She had grown comfortable in this position. Should something have happened to him, things would all change. It wasn't that she doubted her ability to adapt to a new boss, but if she was going to be honest about it, she doubted any replacement would measure up to the original. Now things could get back to normal, and normal meant typing reports.

Kicking off lightly, Navia wheeled her chair over to side desk. She was actually quite proud of the shiny black typograph that sat there. Though the key positioning was not standard, the action of the swing arms was much smoother than the average regulation typograph. When she had finally conquered the unusual letter progression, she found she could type several more pages in the same span of time. That made a huge difference in her productivity. Pity the prototype never took off.

She was a good way into a very dry report on results of tava bean modifications and how they effected yield, when Ladon's voice crackled from the speaker on her receiver base. "Navia, come see me please."

"Yes, sir." She replied, after thumbing the microphone on. Gathering up a notepad and graphite, Navia headed for the inner office. A small smile played on her lips. She was actually looking forward to explaining how a gross of fine towel was going to turn into a large capacity centrifuge. This deal had taken a lot of finesse, and she knew he would appreciate it.

The smile didn't last past the door. Something about his face, about the stillness in his demeanor, sucked the joy out of her and replaced it with concern. Something was wrong. Judging by the fact only one folder had been moved, that something had to do with Dahlia. She quietly shut the door behind her, took a seat on the edge of the sofa and waited for him to speak.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:30 pm 
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The word most commonly used to describe Ladon Radim was ‘dispassionate.’ He’d learned when he was very young that to show strong emotion was to show weakness. That included not just the obvious one of fear, but anger and hate as well. To feel those required that you care, and revealing that meant they knew they’d gotten to you, gotten under your skin to what you really treasured, and that could never be allowed. Maintaining his demeanor of cool reserve was made easier by the fact that only a handful of things in his life inspired that kind of emotional investment for him. His sister was one, the Genii another, and science a third.

As a result, very few people had ever seen Ladon truly angry, and even fewer realized what they were looking at. He was angry now, so furious that even with his adamantine self-control had it had taken him several minutes after reading Dahlia’s test results to compose himself. He sat very still, hands palms down on the folder, fingers interlaced. His back was straight, head up, and if the normal bright gleam in his eye was more like a hard glitter, perhaps that was just a trick of the light.

“I need to know exactly how you came by this report,” he said, his voice level and calm, the only off note a slight inflection only noticeable to someone who knew him well. “Omit no detail.”

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:54 pm 
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Navia's heart jumped, and for a moment panic gripped her. Had she overstepped? Ladon had always seemed to appreciate the deals he knew the details of, and tactically ignored those he did not. The times he had specifically questioned a deal she could count on one hand, and never with the intensity she saw in his face now. A quick review of the steps she had taken showed nothing untoward. She could only assume there was some element she was unaware of. That in itself was more than mildly disturbing.

She took a steadying breath and folded her hands in her lap, unconsciously mirroring Ladon's stance. Normally she would have balked at revealing her mechanizations so frankly, but obviously Ladon believed it was important. She had also done the weekly sweep for listening devices just that morning, so she was confident they were secure.

"I escorted Dahlia to Doctor Wodard's office where she was examined. Not being family, I had to outside. The exam seemed cursory, as the Doctor was only present for about 10 minutes of it. Dahlia emerged with orders for a blood draw and a few other samples, so I directed her to medical lab 16. I know one of the technicians there. Kegan Gestron. He is a good man, but a womanizer. I waited for him to come out with the samples, and struck up a conversation with him about his latest chase. Secha Tepho, she is the blonde receptionist on the fifth floor with the taste for strong scents. In exchange for the contact information of a particularly talented perfumer, Kegan agreed to have a copy of his finding delivered to me. Discreetly, of course."

There, that was the whole of it, now she would find out if she had slipped.

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Last edited by Navia Ayonis on Sun Aug 30, 2015 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:47 am 
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Ladon listened intently to Navia’s account, gaze focused not-quite-on-her in a somewhat disquieting way. It was as if he was looking at something else, something only he could see, but watching her out of the corner of his eye. When he was sure she’d finished, he thought for a long moment, then nodded.

“Discreetly,” he said. “Good. So no one save you and this Kagan Gestron knows I’ve seen this file.” It was partially a question, and he kept that strange half-gaze on her until she indicated confirmation.

When she had, he nodded once again and leaned back in his chair, tilting his head so that his gaze shifted from her and up toward the ceiling. The position stretched his throat and he hoped it would ease the tightness there. For an instant, his face twisted, boyish features distorting into an expression of grief and pain, then he drew in and exhaled a deep breath and his normal, bland mask returned. “Dahlia,” he said, unable to keep an undercurrent of bleakness completely out of his voice, “has been poisoned.”

He hadn’t wanted to say the words aloud, some superstitious, atavistic part of his mind insisting that to speak them was to make it real. But he was a scientist, and however much he might lie and deceive others in power games, to himself he gave the truth, even when it was brutally hard. If you started with a dishonest premise, no matter the purity of your reasoning thenceforth, your conclusions would be corrupt. And, worse, you would have wasted precious time, as he had done these past months since the first time his sister had been taken ill. Because from the very beginning, the truth had been kept from him.

“Dr. Wodard,” Ladon continued, “called me this morning, just before I came here. Assured me that it was just a touch of anemia, and that all she needed was more iron and protein. No one with medical training could mistake this -- " he tapped his fingertips on the file " -- for anemia. So either your friend has lied to Dr. Wodard ... or Dr. Wodard has lied to me."

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:24 pm 
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Navia has seen the calculating distant stare before, when Ladon had been working a particularly complicated formula or device, but she had never even marginally been part of it. Even now, the glancing exposure she was getting was incinerating in intensity. The time between when she finished and when he finally spoke seemed an eternity.

“Discreetly,” he said. “Good. So no one save you and this Kagan Gestron knows I’ve seen this file.” It was partially a question, and he kept that strange half-gaze on her, waiting for an answer. All she could do was a curt nod. He returned the nod and leaned back in his chair, finally releasing her. She sighed in relief, it wasn't her. What ever it was that had him so intent, it wasn't because of her. If she had had even a smidgen of faith, she would have thanked the ancestors. For whoever was at the heart of this was going to face the full force of that look, and be burned to ash. It wasn't her.

What came next was equally as terrifying, in a much more intimate way. For just a moment, Ladon's expression slipped. There, for anyone to see was a great pain and sadness. Navia found herself leaning forward, instinctively wanting to comfort him. Then he gathered himself and the moment passed. Which was for the best, Navia know as much about offering comfort as Ladon did about accepting it. The fact that the instinct arose, though, concerned her.

“Dahlia,” he said, unable to keep an undercurrent of bleakness completely out of his voice, “has been poisoned.” He paused, and Navia sensed the struggle within him. “Dr. Wodard,” Ladon continued, “called me this morning, just before I came here. Assured me that it was just a touch of anemia, and that all she needed was more iron and protein. No one with medical training could mistake this -- " he tapped his fingertips on the file " -- for anemia. So either your friend has lied to Dr. Wodard ... or Dr. Wodard has lied to me."

Her mind spun through the option before her. Kagan would have no reason to lie, he had no career ambitions and was content to use the modest income he had in pursuit of companionship. Dr. Wodard was basically a good man, a family man, who got to his position through hard work. He, like Ladon, had a strong faith in the sanctity of his science. If the misinformation came from him, it was not for personal gain. In fact the only reason she could fathom that he would lie, would be if he had been ordered to. Which meant this was much bigger than an erroneous report.

Calmly, she answered the only way she could. "What can I do?"

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