On their way back to the ship they were hindered by police and a throng of reporters. Questions were hurled their way and Brodin shoved them aside. Numb, feeling dead himself, realizing that his world had just been taken from him, he was barely aware of what was going on around him. Head bowed, stride only slightly visibly weakened, they hurried back to the Parallax. As they left the crowd and entered the comparative calmness of the hangar area, he realized his comlink had been chirping incessantly. He wearily lifted it up. "What." "Captain, are you all right?" came the urgent voice on the other side. "Our sensors picked up the explosion as being huge." "Scan for Mia's tracking signal," Brodin said. Ryatt frowned and started to protest. Brodin shook him off and repeated his command. There was a wait of only a few moments. "We already tried, sir. It's not here, it's gone. It disappeared as the explosion went off." Brodin shook his head. "Wait, scan for--" Ryatt tore the comlink from his fingers. "Brodin, stop this!" His hands grasped Brodin's shoulders. "Mia is gone, Brodin," he said firmly. "We all saw it. The building she was in exploded. Mia is dead. Your cousin is dead. I don't want to believe it either, but--" "No she's not!" Brodin exclaimed. "She can't be. I raised her, you know that better than anyone. She is like my daughter, Ryatt. Please." Brodin's eyes were beseeching. Ryatt sighed. "Scan the planet for Mia's lifesigns," he said into the comlink. "Captain's orders." Toshia stepped closer. "She died trying to help others, trying to stop that bomb. You can take comfort in that." Ryatt was about to agree when his attention was suddenly caught by someone else. "Well, of all the sniveling little--" He strode off to one side and hurriedly plucked a small, defenseless reporter off the ground. "What are you doing?" he barked. "Get -- getting material for a story," the reporter stammered, the front of his shirt in Ryatt's firm grasp. "*What* story?" Ryatt thundered. Well over six feet tall, he was able to intimidate quite a few people. "The story, on the explosion. You said you knew someone who died in it?" the reporter asked eagerly, leaning towards Brodin. With a roar, Ryatt shook him. "Don't you dare print anything about that. You have no idea what you're talking about." "But this Mia, she did die, correct?" the reporter tried to clarify. Brodin took him from Ryatt's grasp. "You go back to your boss," he said menacingly into his face, "and you tell him that the news's job is not about reporting someone's grief. My grief is nobody else's business." "Oh, that's good, that's very good," the reporter said, scribbling notes as fast as he could. Brodin shoved him back. "Get out of my sight." The reporter scrambled away as fast as he could as Ryatt's comlink chirped. Ryatt spoke into it. "Go ahead." "Mia's lifesigns aren't anywhere on the planet, sir," came the report. Brodin felt despair crashing over him again like thundering waves. "There's not even anyone we can blame it on," Brodin said. "The speeder was an accident. But I *told* Mia to get out of there! I told her!" he insisted. "We know, Brodin," Ryatt said. "We know. Come on." He took Brodin by the arm and they started for the Parallax once again. "Captain Brodin!" a woman's voice called out. He turned. A woman was running towards them. "What?" he demanded, a scowl on his face. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't yell my name in public." "Sorry," she said, out of breath. "I was wondering if you'd grant me a few minutes of your time. I need to ask you some questions." His face darkened. "No interview, this is none of your business!" "Captain, please, we really need to know what happened. I'm with the authorities," she explained, showing him an ID. He felt himself giving in. Since when had he cared about cooperating with the authorities? He shook his head. Since he'd seen his cousin die, that's when. Bitterness and anger rose in him, but he was snapped from the whirlpool of emotions when the woman spoke up. "Taylin Plessa. My superiors wanted to know what exactly was going on down there. We need to know for the records. When there's a disturbance of the peace, we have to document it for port security." She paused. "I'm sorry for your loss, and for that reporter. Don't mind him," she said sympathetically. "But can you tell me what happened?" Ryatt was having the ID scanned and he nodded to Brodin. Slowly, painfully, Brodin began the story of how they were trying to rescue a late crewmember from a slavery ring when a failsafe device was triggered that would incinerate the building. "It was one of the ringleader's goons, misinterpreting the orders." He went on to tell how he asked Mia Jesbar, his cousin, to hack into the computer to stop the bomb so that they could get the rest of the slaves out in time. But then a speeder had crashed into a parked speeder, the two had hit the building, and it had gone up in flames, quickly making the bomb go off. He was watching her in the upstairs window when the explosion happened. A large crowd saw it as well. "Thank you. Now all I need is your full name in case we need further information." He looked at her closely, numb and closed off from his emotions. Telling it like it was an everyday occurrence helped him to distance himself from the pain. "Brodin Jesbar." She wrote it down quickly. "Between you and me, ending that slavery ring did this city a world of good." He swallowed hard and looked down. She placed a light hand on his arm. "Thank you again, Captain. I am truly sorry. Please accept my condolences. Remember, my name is Tailyn Plessa, if you have any other questions." "Miss Plessa," he stopped her from leaving, "I would appreciate it if you didn't mention any of this to reporters." She smiled at him. "It's strictly confidential. Any access to these records has to be approved by me." She left. Brodin sighed and turned back to the ship. "I'm sorry, Brodin," Ryatt said. "I know. So am I." Now all that was left to do now was face the pain.
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