Author : Martin Sumner

The matter of the Checks & Balances Office in dispute with Collins-Chapter was ordered onto the Administrative Ladder to be passed up to State Query. Deputy van Aerts stamped the case file, the Oversight Governor-General struck his gavel and signed it off. Committee Clerk Corvidius placed the file with all due ceremony into his legal satchel, and pulled out a new file for consideration. He read from the cover:

The matter of Detention Colony E, Seventy-Sixth System.

“Don’t tell me they’ve finally found it again!” said Committeeman Ibarra, quite against protocol. Corvidius was scanning the summary page. In the ensuing silence, the Oversight Governor-General decanted ice-water into a crystal goblet, and sipped.

“It seems, my esteemed colleagues, that the colony host planet has indeed been recovered,” reported the clerk, “at the farthest end of the Black Pearl Spiral.”

“What of The Cartel, Corvidius?” – Deputy van Aerts.

Committee Clerk Corvidius proceeded to read out the Executive Summary. Lost in the wilderness for nearly one hundredth of an Age, with no means of escape from E, the Cartel members were long since perished and gone to dust. And with them the last vestiges of the most terrible criminal clique across time, space and the dimensions. A long-range survey had finally identified the planet, lost to the Detention Service for so long after a bureaucrat’s administration error had deleted all records of it’s whereabouts.

But there was a problem. An Anthropological Census Analyst from the survey team had been called to the Oversight Committee to explain his findings.

“Call in the witness, Corvidius, let’s hear it.” – van Aerts again.

The Committee Clerk paced steadily to the great panelled door that led into the Visitor’s Receiving Hall. He formally called for Anthropological Census Analyst Settus to present himself before the Oversight Committee. Settus was waiting nervously in an ancient Empire chair by the door. He followed the clerk into the Oversight Chamber and took his place at the stand.

Deputy van Aerts addressed him: “Mister Settus, kindly appraise us of your analysis.”

It seemed that The Cartel, though long since dead and passed out of all knowledge on E, still had a profound effect on the planet’s environment and governance. A global civilisation had sprung up from a genetic mix of the prison colony and an indigenous species that was a close match to our own. The planet was dominated utterly by this human-amalgam, and it’s civil systems based on acquisition, conflict, and oppression were built in the horrific image of their Cartel progenitors.

“In short,” concluded Settus, “the planet is a living hell of suffering and misery. A picture postcard from The Cartel.”

Committeeman Ibarra slammed his fist on the table, issuing a volley of expletives. He was quietened by the raised hand of the Governor-General.

“Corvidius, erase all recordings of this hearing and pass the case file to me. I think we must all be agreed that our Paradise of A Billion Suns does not need the worry of a potential return of The Cartel. Mister Settus, I expect a promotion to The Admiralty, with a purpose built ship of your design and a posting to anywhere in Paradise will be adequate recompense for your good work thusfar, and your future discretion. Deputy van Aerts, please contact Stryker by secure means and inform her that we require an unexpected, inexplicable and catastrophic super-nova in the Seventy-Sixth System with immediate effect. That is all for today, I believe.”

The Oversight Governor-General struck his gavel and dismissed his committee.

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