A/N: Been a while, I know. So, what's the new idea? Jan's enemies are competent and powerful, their motivations now make sense and he isn't a total sociopath anymore. Yes, there will be more exposition chapters like this one, but goddamn the plot will make sense this time around.
Under the flickering neon lights, the four individuals in charge of Baria's safety sat in silence, each reading different versions of the same chain of events.
Justice Landry, an old and sturdy lawman with a smoking habit he'd only just re-acquired, smoked his pipe while leafing through informant reports, most of them useless, but cleverly anotated so as to not waste the man's short attention span on trivia. Major Olenk, a young brunette in prime physical condition and with eyes burning with repressed intellect, held Jan Rey's file next to after-action reports from the industrial district, taking notes in a mechanical handwriting. Superintendent Telos was only a little older than Olenk, but in terrible condition, his gut barely fitting in the narrow armchairs. He brought relatively little to the meeting, just a cost estimate for caused damages, Rey's civilian file and a list of relatives, all family, no known friends.
The last member of the meeting brought nothing and did not sit down. Milandra Provost represented the Machine Cult, as could quickly be concluded from her piston powered arms, digitigrade legs and the braid of mechadendrites pretending to be hairs on the back of her skull.
Olenk traded a glance with Justice Landry, who gave her a short nod. The major then got up and cleared her throat, "Very well, I trust we are all ready to begin?" Nobody objected, "Good, first let's go through what happened in the last forty hours; Yesterday, early in the morning, the PDF received a call from two citizens who claimed a man had been shot twice in broad daylight, in the middle of the street, shortly after, that same couple called again, barely coherent, and claimed the victim was not in fact, human at all and it had eaten its attackers…"
Landry straightened himself and Olenk immediately returned to her seat. The old man's rumbling voice soon replacing hers, "We identified the subject as one Jan Rey, former PDF, Logistics and Supply Corps. Major Olenk was able to acquire the subject's father and attempted to use him as bait, but mister Rey proved highly unstable and became violent."
Olenk shook her head, "One dead, one missing and a mentally ill citizen executed. Not to mention the damages inflicted on the factory." She gave Milandra a quick glance, but the Magos displayed no emotion. "High-Com decided to ask the Arbites for help then… Justice Landry, if you would?"
The old man nodded and spoke again, "We sustained to casualties outside some broken bones, but were proven wrong in our initial assumption that Jan Rey was employing some form of Hunting Rig… I have forwarded the specifications of such devices to all of your offices, read at your leisure, but keep in mind; it ain't it."
Telos' bloated face contracted into a frown as he asked, "How can you tell?"
"We employed bio-solvent, to great effect, and removed over ninety percent of the subject's epidermis before he was somehow able to fully regenerate and retaliate with enhanced athletic attributes."
"Then how do we kill it?"
Olenk cut in again, "It's clear that the subject is organic in nature, prone to anger and will not attack unless provoked, killing it is not our primary concern here…"
The bureaucrat was not pleased with that answer; he turned to Landry, hoping the Justice would object, but the latter seemed content with blowing smoke rings towards the ceiling.
"What do you mean, it's not your priority?"
Landry leaned forward and barked a short laugh, "She means we lost the bastard, we need to understand what he wants and where he's going next before we make plans to kill him… Also, the subject has acted in a purely passive manner ever since he was revealed, he's running scared, not launching an invasion."
Milandra took a step forward and leaned in over the Justice's shoulder. "Are you suggesting he should be left alone?"
The old lawman did not pick up on the thinly veiled threat, he did not even turn to face her, "No, I'm saying we have all the time in the world. Let's get to know him first… Olenk, who was Jan Rey in the PDF?"
The Major leafed through her files and fished out a single-page list of facts with a poorly shot picture of an exhausted teenager. "Unremarkable, taught himself basic mathematics and reading skills, performed well in physical selection, but did poorly during marksmanship and teamwork exercises. His only assignment was on a two years census of Baria's arms stockpiles for the Munitorum. He and fifty other warrant officers travelled to every military facility on Baria and spent sixteen months logging data in underground cogitators."
Olenk understood the man a little better already. Sixteen months locked underground doing nothing but spreadsheets would have sent her on a killing spree as well.
"Telos? What do you have on him?" Asked Landry, a moment of awkward silence having passed without anything useful coming of it.
"Rey currently works on the docks as a low-level supervisor. His mother passed away shortly after he was released from the PDF, Rey paid for the cremation, but all of his mother's belongings went to the father… An average citizen by all accounts."
"Average?" Cried Olenk, "He knows the exact location and quantity of every item in the PDF arsenal!"
Landry nodded, "If the PDF is compromised, we may need to adopt special measures…"
But Telos groaned and snapped, "No! You have no idea what a census entails, do you? It's numbers; F9 has 9+8+1+5 of 05215120 for hundreds of facilities, thousands of Skus and who knows how many miscounts. He knows what you have an roughly where it is, but there is no way that man has any clue how many slingshots are in a specific facility."
"Still," Landry pushed, " he knows the exact location of every nuclear weapon on the planet, if he feels cornered..."
Olenk wanted to object that these facilities were highly secured, but opted against stating the obvious and instead tried to move the discussion forward, "We get it, you do not want us to actively go after Rey. What do you suggest we do, then?"
Any trace of boredom on Landry's face dissapeared and he rested his pipe on the table to interlace his fingers and glance at everyone from over the arch his hands formed. "Jan's lived in the slums his entire life, knows how to avoid trouble, lay low. If he wants to vanish now, he didn't want to be found in the first place."
He had everyone's attention. They hardly followed his train of thoughts, but everyone listened. "The boy was clearly set up. Wherever he gained his abilities, or whether he always had them, we need to find out, but we absolutely have to find who is pulling his -our- strings, and what they intend. We need to find out what that Blackship is up to on the south pole, what Jan plans to do next and if there are any more like him. Until we have these facts, we do not disable our nuclear arsenal or relocate any stockpiles or declare martial law; we set up a discreet surveillance, establish contact with the subject, gain his trust and for Terra's sake don't shoot more of his relatives."
Telos and Olenk seemed uneasy with this plan, but it was the Major who voiced their concern, "The Inquisition won't answer to us. Anyone we send down there is likely never to come back…"
Milandra nodded behind Landry, then said, "I will handle the Inquisitor and provide the Planetary Defence Forces with advanced munition for their autoguns. In return, I want Rey's corpse after this is over."
Olenk and Landry nodded briskly, both glad they would be rid of the undead abomination in the end, and everyone turned to Telos, expecting him to be the voice of discourse.
He soon noticed and his eyebrows flew comically wide, "Why are you looking at me like that? What on Terra do you expect I'd want with a mutant's carcass?"